Another temple but dfisappointing
Dec 9, 2008
• Sri Meenakshi Temple
• Triumalai Nayak Palace
• Gandhi Memorial Palace – bloody closed!
It’s overcast and cool, just the way I like it! But first a nice cup of chai and then I set off for the Sri Meenakshi Temple.
A guy saddles up beside me as spins me a yarn, an English teacher – sure. He leads me to a store and I am invited to the roof top to admire the view – and what view. This is the technique for getting tourists into the store.
The LP has turned back to the LL as all the temples are covered in palm leaves to shield the workers from the sun as the temple spires, if that’s what they are called, are going through a massive restoration process. The only problem is that they only work on one spire at a time so I cannot see the outside – a pity as I was led to believe that the spires are adorned with beautiful sculptures.
I have been lead here to be sold – carpets from Kashmir and they are exceptional. This to me is the highest form of art – it’s a practical art and they’re beautiful. He’s a Muslim and actually tells me that 20% of Muslims are evil – like wow. He’s a good salesman and shows me many carpets and in between chatting away about everything and nothing. We talk about Gandhi and how he wanted partition. I asked Ahmed where he got his information and said that everyone I meet under thirty thinks this and that he should study Indian history. I do love a good pontificate!
Green tea and cookies – the works, and a carpet, two metres by three, including shipping and insurance costs only $600. And they’re perfect. The attention to detail is absolute.
I make my way out and head to the temple and sure enough, here’s the Italian job approaching me. “Bon journo”, say I and we shake hands. They are disappointed too due the covering of the spires.
The temple and its wonderful. The temples are supported by many columns and many devotees circling each deity and I wonder about the power to brainwash these simple folk. It’s fascinating to say the least but I can’t ‘dig it’ – it’s a ritualistic tradition that defies logic.
There are workmen everywhere, painting this and painting that and I stare at the workmen and the devotees who pay no attention to the restoration – they’ve just come to worship.
Next, the Triumalai Nayak Palace and what a grand palace it is. Apparently the British filled in the moat and made it into a road – like whose boss around here. Again the palace is going through a restoration process but like anywhere in India there are only about five workmen working on a single project, and slowly, so it should be done in about 500 years. With all the one billion souls in India one would think that a few more than five could work on this.
And now the biggie – the Gandhi Museum. I take a rickshaw peddled by an old man who looks about 150 and he’s a bit worse for wear. I go in, pay 100 Rupees and then I am told that the Gandhi Museum is closed due to a Muslim holiday and I just paid100 Rupees to go into the Government Museum. I don’t want to see a stuffy government museum and ask for my money back. A good Indian argument pursues. They try to bullshit me into saying its 100 for a foreigner and five for an Indian. A couple comes by and they speak English and after a debacle they walk off and I am prepared to do a Gandhi – sit in passive resistance until I get my money back. They finally hand me my money back and as I walk away I can hear their tone. Sod them.
Oh yes, the reason I wanted to come to this museum is that in 1921 Gandhi discarded western clothes and wore only a Khadi (homespun). In addition the museum contains his bloodstained Khadi when he was assassinated in Delhi.
My old rickshaw driver is waiting for me so off we head back to the hotel and as we ride along I get smiles and stares from the kids and just stares from the adults in the buses.