Thursday, April 2, 2009

Trichy, Tamil Nadu.

We left yesterday from Pondicherry with a train that took us to Trichy, also know by its easier name: Tiruchirapalli. At the station, we discovered that both our cell phones were missing. I had placed them in a small pocket that we found open, so it's unclear whether they just fell or were... borrowed permanently. I felt a little demoralized as during this trip I have lost several objects: my I-pod on a plane, my wallet on the way to Munnar (it fell out of my bag and someone witnessed a girl quickly picking it up), a special pair of earrings in Varkala, and now the cell phones... Even though we have few belongings on us, it seems like I can't keep track of them... My mother told me she read somewhere that it's pretty usual to loose things while traveling, anyone have any stories to share?
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Luckily, during our train wait I was distracted by our sitting area neighbours. These two men came in at different times and easily made them selves comfortable. Really something.


Now we are in Trichy. We came here to get a look at three main sites: the Rock Fort Temple, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (dedicated to Vishnu), and Sri Jambukeshwara Temple (for Shiva.) We saw all three today. Below is one of the first images to greet us on the way up to the Rock Fort Temple, which sits on top of a 83m high stone hill that stands lonesomely in the middle of the plain arond Trichy.


As we walked the 437 steps up the rocky hill, we met yet another group of smiling children. They waved to us while screaming "Hi!" almost to the top of their lungs :-)
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The two temples at the Rock Fort were crowded with people doing morning poojas, and the space was full of the sounds of drums and bells and the smell of incense. We discovered the best piece on the hill right after saying hello to the children, see below.

(This dynamic looking Shiva is very reminiscent of the work we saw at Mahabalipuram - you should be able to make our some Pallava traits in the carving.)


(Here is the view from the top of the hill. In the forefront, the Shiva temple halfway up the rock. Immediately to the left, in the background, a huge church. Oh, the lovely diversity of India.)


(This was the last sculpture we saw on our way out of the Rock Fort: a nicely oiled and flowery Ganesh. It's really great how sensous the sculpture gets with all the dowsing in oil, milk, tikka powder, etc.)



(After darshan - seeing God - David and I were fed prasad in the form of a small glass of sweet milk. We discovered its sources live in one of the side temples along the stairs! Margot, we think of you every time we see nandis and nandinis...)
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After taking an extra long break from the heat, David and I visited the main Vishnu temple in Trichy, a really large complex encircled by four walls. Below are some images from there:

(She was at the base of a column and reminds us of our friend Keely!)

(Look closely at this image to find the incospicuous genitalia...)

(The lower parts of these colums have turned black from the many years of dowsing the sculptures carved on them with oil and milk.)
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Below is a closer look at a couple of sculptures that have gained a particular look through all their divination...
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(Vishnu sitting on Shesha, the king of snakes.)

(Vishnu crowned with flowers.)

(Along one of the walls surrounding the temple are large emblems of Vaishnavite worship- a bit like a logo...)

(Colorful back doors to the inner temple.)
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Next we visited Sri Jambukeshwara Temple, a much quieter and more intimate space. Again, below is a little overview...
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(Outside of the temple: typical Dravidian architecture, very wide spread in Tamil Nadu.)

(Finally documentation of the elephant blessing one of us! I waited for David to get into position to get a good shot, dropped a 2 rupee coin in Shakti's trunk, and enjoyed the gentle weight of her trunk on my back :-)

(The men sitting around were playing some sort of game- many people just hang out on the temple grounds.)
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This temple had some really beautiful portryals of plants as well as some interesting small panels that we weren't able to understand in terms of iconography. The pictures I took of the flowers and plants really aren't great, but here are two panels that caught our attention:
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(Is he a shy rishi?)
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Tomorrow we're already off to Thanjavur, where we will go look at some more art, this time mainly Chola work. As we come to the end of our travels around Southern India, we both think we will be returning to Tamil Nadu sometime in the near future, with a careful eye to temperatures and seasons... Meantime, we will enjoy the next couple of days of exploration before making our way to Srilanka and meeting with our families (we are very very excited about that.)
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A presto,
Bici

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