From East to West India

I left Auroville with a sad feeling. After I lived one week in the western community where I met very interesting people I could easily stay longer. But there was more in India which waited to be explored. On my way to the south I left the east coast and drove towards the inland to Madurai. For the next hours dominated once again friendly brown faces and crazy drivers of any type of vehicles the streets. Now I got used to the madness on the streets. And when again a truck drove on the wrong side of the highway I didn’t even paid attention where I was before cursing.

In Madurai I drove the last part towards my destination through narrow streets. I checked out before in the Internet a central, somehow okay rated but anyways affordable hotel. I looked at this incredible narrow road for my hotel and asked myself at the same time how it should possible to park a car her. And as I couldn’t find the hotel I switched to plan B: The parking of the famous temple Sri Menakshi Sundareshwarar. I asked the guard whether I could stay at the parking for one night but he was more concerned about my “luggage” on my roof. I told him with body language that I would defend my spare tire on the roof with my fists which make him calm down and eventually let me stay for about 60 cent the night.

The temple Sri Menakshi Sundareshwarar is one of the biggest temple complexes of India. Parts of the temple are more than 400 years old. The so called “gopura” is typical for South Indian temples and therefore also part of the temple complex of Madurai. The “gopura” is the temple tower which is covered with countless gods and daemon figures. The temple complex in Madurai has twelve of such tower and these colorful painted towers seem to tell all a special story for itself. The entire temple contains about 33.000 god figures/carvings. If someone studies all the stories behind I am sure a lifetime wouldn’t be enough for it!

To enter the temple I had to remove my shoes like all the other visitors. I walked barefoot through the holiest halls. Even after visiting so many Hindu temple I still find this religion and its temples weird, full of secrets but also cheesy. What I don’t like at all is the exclusivity of the Hindus to enter some temples or parts of the temples (for Hindu people only). They separate the people in the house of god which supposed to be all the same once they find them. Anyways people from all over the country come to visit this place and priest held in the many shrines almost all the times special ceremonies (puja) which give the temple a mystic aura. Who already has enough of India temples can find in my opinion here still some excitement even if the meditation chamber isn’t the best place of the temple since the facility manager took this place for welding, drilling and hammering.

Einer der mächtigen Tempeltürme
One of the big gopura towers
Unzählige Figuren erzählen die verschiedensten Geschichten
Countless figures telling different stories

The city of Madurai has a little bit sleepy and relaxed character. But maybe I already got used to the noise of Indian cities and an India newie wouldn’t agree with me. But I could walk relaxed at the bazaars without getting bothered by annoying street vendors. I also like the campaign “plastic free city” which started this year. I think it’s a long way to go for Madurai but I also never saw so many bins at a place like around the temple. But as much further I went from the temple as much dirtier it got and I asked myself if this campaign is again an election advertisement of another politician and in some years nobody wants to remember it. But I wish the city all the best! Meanwhile I got quite tired and decided to sleep. At this point I already had since two weeks mosquito nets in my car to sleep with open windows without getting bothered by the annoying animals. The main condition therefore is that no mosquitoes find their way into the car while I am getting in. This unfortunately happened to me while tooth brushing. About thirty of these bloody creatures made it to the inside and for the next 30 minutes I was busy to kill each one of them (bad mosquito karma now). This must look quite funny from the outside when I jumped from one end of the car to the other one to smash the beasts on the window with the torch in one hand to spot them…

The last time on my journey I was driving a longer part towards south. The road ends in Kanyakumari where the Gulf of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean are coming together. The energy of the sea was transmitted to the air and a constant strong wind was blowing. Here at the most southern part of the country I saw the first time wind power plants! I liked that!

I wanted to spend the night on the most southern point of the journey in my car. While I was looking for a suitable place for camping I got lost and landed in the parking yard of a hotel. I left the car there and walked around but couldn’t really find a better place to stay than the parking of the hotel. So I went to the hotel and asked “Hi I came all the way from Germany by car and want to ask you if it’s possible to sleep in….” – “No”. I couldn’t even finish my question when the hotel manager interrupted me unfriendly. Not a chance for a maybe or exception. So I asked for the cheapest room and now I could stay in the car (makes sense…). And it was a good decision because the bed in the room looked like already ten guests have used it without being cleaned. When I checked out they even asked for a “service tax” which I refused to pay. That seems a bit too wrong for me.

Der südlichste Schlafplatz auf meiner Reise
The most southern camping point on my journey

Kanyakumari is not the most beautiful town of India but the atmosphere is unique. I believe there isn’t any place on earth where sunrise and sunset are more worshiped and celebrated like on this place. Big groups of Indians walked to the most beautiful view points. While the people enjoyed the sunset in silence they cheered and clapped in the hands when the rising sun brought a new day. In myself I was cheering as well and I was very proud that I made it to this point! From now on my compass would show towards north most of the time to come with every driven mile closer to my home.

Das Meer war sehr rau hier am Südzipfel des indischen Subkontinents
The sea was very rough at the southern point of the Indian subcontinent
Eine herrliche Sonnenuntergangstimmung gab es am Abend
A terrific sunset atmosphere
Der neue Tag wurde begrüßt, als hätte seit einem Jahr die Sonne nicht mehr geschiehen
The new day was welcomed as it was the first sunny day since years

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Mathias Written by:

One Comment

  1. Anja
    27. March 2017

    Lieber Mathi, ein Montag und ein Abend am Computer gehen in Dresden zu Ende. Ein Mal mehr folgte der Arbeit das Vergnügen, in deinem blog zu lesen und dich ein wenig auf deiner Reise zu begleiten. Sehr schön geschrieben und tolle Fotos! Ich wünsche dir eine gute weitere Reise! Deine Anja

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