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Incredible India

Half cut and stoned

We have almost finished our tour!! (There’s a bike shop 40km away with two spare boxes for our return flight from Chennai airport on Tues).  Right now we are in Mahabalipuram, a small seaside town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. From dawn till dusk, the cutting drills squeal like manic mosquitoes transforming granite into sculptures.  … Continue reading »

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Pondy rocks!!

Pondicherry was fun. There are 5,500 French nationals living here (total pop of Pondy, 1.25m) but also a strong community of Indian citizens who are descended from French settlers. Bollywood dance classes, cookery classes, fine dining… We danced with a reggae band, and a swing band, both from La Reunion, but also enjoyed Indian classical … Continue reading »

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Greenbank pool with coconuts

We manage to cycle into Pondicherry on delightful quiet rural roads, avoiding the truly horrid highway 32 (we were forced to use it to cross a river yesterday). Farmers are struggling in drought conditions. In Tamil Nadu rainfall for the most important  NE winter monsoon is 62% short of normal, and last summer’s SW monsoon … Continue reading »

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Through the Cauvery delta

      Brihadeeswarar is a really impressive Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva in Thanjavur.  The central gopura is 60m tall, no wonder it’s called “Big Temple” on road signs!  It was built by Rajaraja I (985–1014), a powerful leader in the Cholas dynasty (these were the guys who ruled southern India for over 1,000 … Continue reading »

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Marvellous marble

  Road signs show that Chennai is only 350km from here – so close!! We will detour through settlements from Pandyas, Cholas, Vijayanagar (kings of Hampi), and Nyak dynasties (yes Charles, yet more temples) and hopefully a beach resort or two! While I anticipate the pleasure of family and friends, and my own bed (and … Continue reading »

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Madurai

We bounced along a levee and found quiet lanes to reach the large city of Madurai, one of the oldest cities in South Asia (2,500). It’s river, the Vaigai is a smelly struggling stream in a wide, littered river bed waiting for the Monsoon rains (the current drought is the worst since 1901 ‘India Times’ … Continue reading »

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Pissed!

 This will make you laugh! Pamban bridge connects India to a large island that peters to a sand spit and tiny islands just short of Sri Lanka. It fact one of those islands is the shortest land boundary between any two countries. The bridge is a tourist attraction with dozens of wealthy Indians leaning on … Continue reading »

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Industrial India

The Kaumaram sect of Hinduism worships lord Muruga, the god of war. It’s popular here in southern Tamil India as we discover at the ancient Murugan Temple, site of a bloody battle, in Tiruchendur. There are 100s of devotees who queue to make offerings, then bathe in holy well water to cleanse themselves after a … Continue reading »

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Un-enchanting chanting!

Kanyakumari has a Land’s End tackiness with its dozens of souvenir stalls and ferry boat trips to Vivekananda Rock. But it is also a pilgrimage site for Christians, Hindus and a large group of chanting Russian Hari Krishnas teaching Indians how to pray!! (We sneak into the foyer of their hotel to use it’s WiFi … Continue reading »

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Thiruvananthapuram to Kanyakumari.

It’s been slow progress to Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India: we are diverted by beautiful beaches, a friendly family or the luxury of a western style hotel, but also because by lunchtime, it’s too hot to ride (32’). The wealth of central kerela is less evident further south, with the unwelcome return of beggars, … Continue reading »

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