Oh my god the journey from Munnar down to the lowlands was like a scene from a Tintin book, narrow winding single lane cliff edge road with vertical drop offs into the valley below, at one point we came round a hairpin bend to find a tractor sideways across the road. (on Video), looking ahead I could see where our road was going along a shear cliff and would have happily walked down if the bus had slowed down enough for me to get off.
Finally we hit the bottom and drove more slowly along a long straight road to Maduari, a huge temple town where we stayed in a Lonely Planet recommended Hotel "Maduari residence" that had a central courtyard 6 stories high with a glass wall elevator, not what we were expecting, including an all you can eat yummy breakfast ($18.00), not bad for R800 night for a double room. The Temple is huge, 4 towers about 120ft high one on each side of a square building complex about 1/4 mile on each side!
Inside hundreds of Hindu statues stand amid hundreds of stone columns and dark corridors, in the center is a olympic pool size pond called the tank with a large gold leaf lotus flower sculpture.
All around us Pilgrims are praying and chanting to individual Deities and offering food to there gods, some areas are off limits to Non-Hindus. India is mostly Hindu and for the most part regardless of cast or wealth they truly live and breath there religion.
The bazaar near the Temple in Maduari is way older than the Hindu temple and is full of tiny tailors shops where I had a shirt made for R300. Its hard to appreciate the fine detail in the Temple from a distance and we were lucky to spend a lovely evening and sunset on the roof top of a shop overlooking and close to the temple, a lovely sunset along with saffron tea courtesy of friendly store owner from Kashmir.
The following day we went with Khristelle a young French girl, by bus about 16km to another Hindu smaller temple cut into solid rock, and on top of a hill with 1,600 steps is a Moslem Mosque. The Temple also had a school for Sanskrit priests they spend all day reading and chanting. A full tour of all corners was given which was not the norm as most temples have off limit areas to non Hindus, we were even blessed by the Priest (R 20) and given a garland of flowers. Out into the heat of the midday sun we climbed the 1,600 steps past a troupe of Monkeys and over bare red rock carved with pilgrims names and footprints to the ancient Mosque which had view back over a flat plain as far as we could see in all directions. At the Mosque we were protected by young boys with catapults as the Monkeys bite…
Lunch at a local cafe was the normal meal (R30) served on palm leaf.
Arriving back in town we took the 10pm train to Trichy.