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Tanjavur, India

19 Mar
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Brihgadishwara temple, Tanjavur, India

Tanjavour is Tanjore, the old city symbol of exquisite Indian art and poetry. Most of the road from Madurai to Tanjavur is on a highway but still takes about 4 hours to get there, locate the places to visit. Many sites in India are closed for lunch and based on the opening schedule of the places I decided first to visit the Royal Palace.
The disappointment was at the maximum. First, the entire thing is a ruin, but in the sense of archeological ruin but just a ruin of neglect that descended upon it and left as is. It is one of those deserted palaces that people dismantle, where animals roam and bats take over. There are many in India like this. The difference is that somehow this palace is supposed to be a highlight. It has several enclosures glorified as museums, hidden and dark, and at each one of them you have to pay an entrance fee. You have no clue where to go next and the English spoken by the people I asked did not removed the confusion, I never saw anything as disorganized at this place. Except a Bell tower that may be worth visiting, and a manuscript library, the only reason to be here is if you stay overnight in Tanjavur and you have nothing else to do after you visited the temple. The only thing that stayed with me from this Palace was the smell of guano from the bats that I was able to get rid of only the following morning.
From there, around 5:00 pm I went to see the temple that opens in the afternoon at 4:30 pm.
Brihgadishwara temple is magnificent and I spent easily 2 hours to roam his immense surface. If Madurai‘s main temple had 12 towers, this one has only one, named vimana, but with 13 floors and in front of it is the largest statue of a Nandi Bull in India, 6 meter long. It is no entrance fee and cameras are OK, except in the sacred area. The non-Hindus are permitted to enter the sacred area and are even blessed. Inside the vimana it is a large Shina-linga, under the four headed snake canopy made out of a gilded metal.
The temple was commissioned in 1010 by a well known ruler of the Chola dynasty named Rajaraja, or King of the Kings and represents the best example of temple building of the Cholas.
Besides the 13 stories Vimana and the Nandi Bull, the large complex has a number of temples spread around and dedicated to various deities visited by Hindus to get blessings.
The sunset brought a magical yellow tint on the temple and in the evening the temple was floodlit. I spent some time just enjoying the serenity of the place but we had to get going and spend the night in Trichy, another place with many temples. Before I got to the car I stop in front of local blessing Ganesh. He took my 1 rupee from my hand and blessed me on top of the head with his trunk. I did not have time for a photo but I felt his blessing with me all the way to Trichy. The drive to Trichy was OK and got here around the Central Bus Station area where are most of the hotels.
The hotel prices went up considerably, more than doubled, in comparison with the Lonely Planet travel guide that I have, outdated a little bit and I booked a not so inspired guide-recommended Femina Hotel, noisy and full of mosquitoes. But based on my current experience the price difference in hotels in India is not significant and going for a higher level and newer hotel is worth the money.
Another thing that is prevalent in Southern India are short power outages. You drive around and see that parts of the city or the highway lights go dark, stay like this maybe 10 seconds to a minute and come back. In the hotels I stayed this happened the entire night, making my iPhone beep when it went again back to charging.

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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Blog, India

 

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