Dhanushkodi and the Bridge of Rama

The dark grey skies and slow drizzle adds to the sense of melancholy as one reflects on the unpredictable fury of nature. What must it have been like to live here, so far from anything else, so close to the edge of land, at the mercy of the ocean. What would have possessed the inhabitants of Dhanushkodi to persist, on this thin sliver of land, surrounded by salt water, braving the elements, with what would surely have been an omnipresent threat of annihilation hanging over their heads? Could it have been the faith that they would be protected by their lord, or was it simply that they had lived there for centuries and it was home.

The Forgotten Chettiars…

But the red dust and eerie silence is quietly watched over by some of the largest, most beautiful, stately mansions one has ever seen. They fill this village, and all the others in the region, reminiscent of a bygone era, when the rich and enterprising Chettiar community, financiers of the royals, lived like kings.

From Tharangambadi to Tranquebar.

Just ahead of the market is the old Landporten, the stone gate which marks the entry into the old town. Making our way through the massive arch and onto the cobblestoned main street the scene subtly changes. As the humdrum of the market fades away and one looks around the quaint streets and the old pillared mansions, the small churches and open skied traditional tamil homes with a hint of a European touch, a certain calm descends and time slows down just a little bit.

Of Kings and Idlys

With high towering column and intricately carved ceilings, King Thirumalai’s palace is beautiful and unique. Built in traditional dravidian style, the palace has a European feel to it, which can be attributed to the Italian architect the King consulted with. You can also see influences of his travels around India, in the carvings around the columns, the curved arches and the Rajput style of windows and latticed screens.

Seven Buses and an Auto …

Seven Buses and an Auto … To see a Temple. Yes, you read that right. It took us seven buses, those deadly state transport buses, and an auto to get from our hotel in Tanjore to see the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Trichy. It would have taken eight buses but the last leg of our journey we decided to splurge a little and take an auto back to the hotel, or lodge as they more popularly called in Tamil Nadu. Unemployment and a plan to travel the country for a year does not add up to fancy hotels and comfortable transport, and exploration on a budget means cheap hotels and state transport buses.

Tamil Nadu, And so it Begins!

The first leg of our South India journey will take us down the eastern coast of India and through the temple state of Tamil Nadu. Over the next couple of weeks we will traverse a 1000+ Kms into the heart of Dravidian cultural history and walk the path of the glorious Southern Empires of yore….