Just came back from a short south india trip covering Kochi (Ernakulam), Munnar, Guruvayur, Madurai, Trichy, Tanjavur and Bangalore.
The last time I visited Kerala was about 15 years ago and I seem to have forgotten how beautiful it was. One of the lasting images of kerala is the relative well-to-do-ness of the local population. This is amply evident by the fresh coats of paints on most houses as well as the lack of slums near most urban areas. The breath taking beauty of the backwaters was amazing and taking boat/ferry’s around kochi harbor and the backwaters is highly recommended.
Took a day trip to Guruvayur to visit one of hinduism’s holiest temples. It was nice to see that the temple priests still stick to tradition, though I did have to buy a dhoti to be allowed in.
Continued with my love affair with the hill stations of India and took a trip to Munnar. Munnar is famous for its tea plantations and it was no surprise that all the hills in and around Munnar were covered with tea estates. The relative cool weather was a welcome relief from the heat of the plains as well.
After Munnar we slipped over the border to the temple city of Madurai. It was sad to see the meenakshi temple becoming a place of commercial activity with shops being allowed to be set up right within the temple complex, but atleast non hindus were allowed into most of the temple complex unlike guruvayur temple which was for hindus only.
We moved on Trichy and stopped over for a couple of hours just to see their temple built upon a hill. It was another disappointing experience of a temple being converted to a place of commercial activity and so we left to go towards Tanjavur.
Tanjavur still has the old town feel to it and its temple complex has been the best kept of the ones visited in my trip. Its open for everyone and is big and clean. The architecture is typical of the great cholan empire and is one of the best preserved monuments from that time.
Ofcourse both kerala and tamil nadu dont seem to have made much progress in learning any of the other indian languages. For some reason they seem stubbornly stuck on speaking the local language and hindi and english are not spoken for the most part. Inspite of the problems of communication, its been a great adventure.