Chennai - mahabilipurum
21.12.2016 - 22.12.2016
Day 4 - 21/12/16 Chennai
We were finally able to remit payment to the walking co so we are ok for this afternoon. We met Rucha's husband Ashish Gupta.
This morning we went off to Fort St George museum. This was the birthplace of British empire, almost as an offshoot of the British East India Company. Founded on acquiring fine painted cloth for the European market. They ploughed the profits back into spices where the real money was.
They had some amazing military pieces and even the original flag that was raised by Nehru at the Fort upon the granting of independence to India. There was not a lot more to see at the Fort so we came back to TTL, bought some veggie puffs at French Loaf and carrot cake at the Old Madras Bakery.
Back home to await the commencement of the Peacock walk at 4:00. We travelled to the start point with Mike and Linda, outside the Kapaleeshwara Temple. The other member of our party was Irish Rebecca whom we briefly nodded to in the Bakery earlier today. Our guide was Aquila a lovely Brahman lady. Her explanation by means of stories was highly entertaining and informative. The tour ended at Santhome Basilica, the goal of yesterday's search. This time we were able to view the 'relic' of st Thomas' finger bone.
Well Kristine, we have just visited one of the only three churches built over an Apostle's tomb. You have done James. Come here and do Thomas and go to Rome for the other one and you have done hat trick!!!
I'm not sure what it all means but in this country which is so steeped in religion, it did mean something.
Aquila took us for a "snack" after the walk and then it was back home to bed after trying to work out the blog technique.
Day 5 - 22/12/16 Chennai
Our last full day in Chennai before we launch ourselves upon he rest of the south. Having been to St Thomas' tomb twice we felt the need to visit some others of his holy sites. So Little Mount was the first stop to see his cave, his giant hand and footprints, tastefully circled in red paint, and various crosses and springs.
Then on to st Thomas' Mount where we think he was martyred and when you can get a fabulous panoramic view over the city - on a clear day which it really wasn't!
Our R700 auto ride left us at T Nagar to sample the market wares. At this point we saw our first accident. Evidently a motorcycle and an auto had collided and a crowd pleasing altercation took place complete with fisticuffs and a Indian expletives. So unlike our experience with an Indian truck driver in Arncliffe a few weeks back.
After all this fun we had some lunch and then Carol bought some material for salwar khameezs for Fiona and herself. We will get them made up when we return in January (will also check the spelling). We were introduced to mr Nalli the third generation owner of the Old Nalli fine cloth merchant's establishment.
After lots more walking we found another shop from which Carol darling acquired a block printed vegetable dyed top. Very tasteful.
At this point, we discovered that there were long queues at all ATMs in the locality. Ready cash is in short supply due to deliberate government policy to stamp out corruption and tax avoidance. Cash is in particularly short supply today and tomorrow.
Most things we can use a credit or debit card for but definitely not for local transport. As we move off to Mahabalipurum tomorrow, we unfortunately needed to conserve our cash for the fare and consequently we had to forego the pleasure of an auto ride back to the B&B. It was a 2.9km walk (excluding detours around fallen trees, parked motor bikes and piles of rubble) on tired feet. However the silver lining was that we found a queue less ATM with lots of money in it and were able to withdraw 5 crisp new R2000 notes.
It wasn't worth getting an auto from there so, using google maps on the phone, we navigated directly to Pantry d'Or and stopped for dinner before getting back to our temporary home.
It was a big day, quite hot and muggy. But we managed.
Day 6 - Chennai - Mahabilipurum
We were on our way at about 10:30 this morning after saying farewell to our new friend Deborah the yoga lady from LA and our lovely host Rucha.
Rucha had booked us an Uber taxi to take us to the Mah....... bus stand. The taxi ride was only R100 for a distance which would have cost more than double in an auto. And a/c comfort as well!
The bus trip was a real surprise. We were the only passengers and it cost us just R54 for a distance of over 50 km.
Us on the bus
Imagine our surprise when we had to pay R 100 for an auto ride from the bus station at Mah..... to our accommodation at the Butterball B&B. Admittedly the way he took us seemed impressively long and complicated, however we had to accept that we had been conned later that night when we discovered that Butterball is only 2 minutes walk from the bus stop and is literally just up the road in the same street! They say that there is one born every day - and thus we are defined!
Mah.... has lots of beautifully carved stone temples dating from 6 - 700 AD.
To each according to his need if you know your hindu symbols - this is Siva's - lucky bugger!
Carol at the Shore Temple
They are wonderful to experience. We spent the afternoon walking the walk and ended up at the Shore Temple, after which we were honoured guests at an Indian Dance performance.
Honoured guests complete with floral Lai's.
This the real thing - not a poster!
Another good long day. I'll sleep well tonight.