Madurai, India | 28 January, 2007 | $4.52
Madurai was fascinating! This was my first real taste of the chaos and jumbled, statue-covered temples of Tamil Nadu. After seven hours on the bus I was ready to get a look at the temple. Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple is like nothing I had ever seen before. In retrospect, I wish I had a map of the temple to consult because I just followed the crowd through hallways, courtyards and into small shrine-filled rooms and probably missed a lot of amazing things.
At one point an elderly woman approached me, dipped her finger into a stone statue and pressed a dark red paste onto my forehead. I continued to acquire markings and bindis on my forehead from passing worshipers throughout the day. Every corner I turned I saw something amazing—women painting colorful patterns on the floor, a long hallway of countless statues, a wedding party picnicking in the courtyard, an elephant tapping people on the head in exchange for one rupee, women in colorful saris flowing past stalls of religious memorabilia… I even saw a fortune telling bird! This temple was truly a magical place.
The following evening I got on a night train to Thiruvananthapuram. It’s often easiest to buy train tickets out of a town as soon as you arrive, but in this case I wish I hadn’t. Madurai is once of the places on my trip I would have liked to spend more time exploring.
More (better) photos of Madurai can be seen in the gallery.