Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali

We have been trying to figure out how best to describe our time here thus far, and it has become apparent that without the mind of a poet, and the words from many languages, it would be impossible.  Therefore, I will have to rely on pictures more than I originally intended to.

Today was Day 3 of our trip as well as Diwali. The reasons for celebrating vary throughout the country but everyone uses fireworks. The core of the celebration is good prevailing over evil with oil lamps lighting the way for good to return. In addition to these lamps people enjoy lighting off VERY LOUD fire crackers. Right now the air is so thick with smoke that the buildings across the street are hazy. The sound makes me jump but being outside and surrounded by the color and the excitement is as exhilaration as it is irritating. Most older people complain about the celebrations while conceding that it is necessary for them to purchase the crackers for kids, so the tradition carries on.

Now to return to a chronological telling of our trip. The first day we did a bit of a tour of the city. Chennai is a busy city with so much going on at all times.

Yesterday we went to Mamallapuram which is about 60km outside of the city, but the traffic was so bad getting out of the city it took us a long time to get there. Additionally, the North East monsoons came late this year and started full force yesterday. Mamallapuram has amazing temple and cave carvings which were started in the 7th century. The shore temple is the last of 7 remaining and after the 2004 tsunami more of the temple was revealed.

Today we went to Kanchipuram which is where more temples were located and built by the same family. The largest temple in Kanchi is still a functioning place of worship of Shiva and with today being a Hindi festival it was a great time to be there.

The next temple was one of the oldest and is also for Shiva although it is more of a monument now than a functioning temple.

The last place we went was a temple for Vishnu which has stricter rules about non-Hindus so we could not go very far. We were able to see a hall of 100 pillars (which is any amount above 10), in this case there were exactly 96 pillars. Marriages and Pujas are conducted there and each pillar was carved from a single stone. The intricacies and beauty of the work is so well preserved it is incredible.

We also got to see some people hand weaving silk and had some delicious South Indian coffee. Tomorrow we are hoping it doesn't rain too much as we want to head over to Central Chennai and just wonder around. We are both having a great time. One thing that I enjoy specifically is all of the animals coexisting in the cities. Cows on the medians. goats cleaning up rubbish piles, dogs resting under our car, and monkeys causing trouble at the temples. Granted the animals do not always look healthy and it can be heart breaking because I want to hold all of them but I suppose you have to take the good with the bad.


  1. maybe you didn't want to rely on pics, but I'm happy to see them.

  2. I also like the elephant.
    And I prefer pictures.
    And Beth, you look so sweet and innocent in that photo - I LOVE IT!

  3. This looks amazing! I'm so excited for your travels. And what is it about that Elephant. I really like the pic of him and Matt.