|We were due to leave at 9am so with a late arrival and a later start looked forward to a bit of a lie-in. No chance. 5am and the music from the temple started. As it is a religious festival and pilgrimage period until 15 Jan, the music apparently started earlier and lasted longer than normal. We were told it went on for two hours (we think we got back to sleep!) and also managed to drown out another call to prayer in a different part of the city as well - Hindu temple and Muslim call to prayer. And the good news is we get it all again tomorrow!!
We had a morning cycle rickshaw tour today. There are still a few rickshaws around though most have been replaced by tuktuks. Our guy looked about 60 and very skinny but still managed to run and pull the rickshaw to get started, and we joined the throngs of traffic - waving to the local kids who were staring! We went down the back roads, and underneath the flyover rather than over it. Down here was a little shopping world all on it's own - mainly cycle or rickshaw related - a number of stalls just selling bike seats! We crossed the river, and there were people washing bikes, clothes and presumably themselves in water that the buffaloes were swimming in! We went past the scaffold selling area - well Bamboo poles and G watched a man carefully padlock his gates together, but they were only tied to their posts on each side with string - a pair of scissors would have allowed access to the yard!
Our first stop was Meenakshi Temple an enormous temple dedicated to Shiva and his consort - Meenakshi. The majority of it was built in 16th century, and has 9 huge towers all covered in hundreds of images of gods, goddesses and animals in pale blue, pink, green, yellow. It is repainted every 7 years. It is a big place for pilgrimage and was very busy. Inside are loads of stalls selling all sorts of images, jewellery, flowers, toy guns! We spent a long time walking round as there are loads of smaller places of worship inside. I also became a model again - we were sitting in the hall of 1000 columns and an Indian man came up and sat beside me and his friend took a photo, and then they swapped places! It had happened in Malapuram as well - a photo on camera, mobile phone and the. Video as I sat on a temple wall!
We got back on our rickshaws and went to a palace built in 1636 for the maharaja It is only about a quarter of the original size and very run down but still ad some colourful ceilings. Our trip then took us via the banana wholesale Market to a cotton factory. The Market was quite interesting - lots of stalls, and to ripen the bananas they put them in a dark room, and burn cow dung (which seems to have so many uses - ripening bananas, cleaning houses outside, and used in the temple to create the ash the Hindus rub on their forehead!). The cotton factory wasn't up to much - a little bit of sewing towels and printing some paper. Apparently the cotton weavers were on lunch! Back to our hotel at 2pm quick room service lunch then free time.
Set off again at 4pm and walked across town to the Gandhi museum, which held the history of India and independence. Tuktuk to a hotel in the centre of town for an early dinner on the rooftop as the sun came down. We then went back to Meenakshi temple as every evening there is a procession and ceremony around the inside of the temple with pipe music, drums and clouds of incense when an image of Shiva is carried round to sleep by the side of Meenakshi and moved again in the morning. Bit of a scrum to watch it and then follow it round and not sure if the photos are any good! Tuktuk back to the hotel, and another day ends. Leaving at 830 tomorrow, and really looking forward to the early morning music!