Diary 4 and the central part, I have now
entered the south-eastern part.|
4. I enjoy my breakfast at the balcony, facing the Indian Ocean, and for almost five minutes. The fisherman are emptying their nets and mending them. I find the car and set of towards Gingee Fort. It is through the coastal planes at first, then through a waste wetland with some farming. It seems to be both fresh and salty waters.
Some areas have actually ponds for salt harvesting, and here are numerous small and bright white mounts of salt. I pass a small Acacia bushland with yellow grass. Some huts look real poor, but not like the ones of the seasonal workers. I pass a single Lotus pond with pink flowers, and what might be lilies with white flowers in another pond. Then an area with huge piles of granite boulders break the horizon.
I follow a patchwork of small roads, leading through villages and small towns. After 130 kilometres, which feels like 500 on the narrow roads, I finally reach Gingee. It does not look appealing at all, and I head straight on to the old fort, outside town on a pointy mountain. Here are actually several building, both on the lowland and on another hill.
Bit I think Gingee Fort will be enough. Just before I reach it, the large Siva Temple lures me in. A huge granite roof covers a large area, but the temple it selves are nothing special. The fort is surrounded by several large granite walls. Like the other places, each block is not perfect square, but cut to fit the former one.
Within the walls are several constructions. Some are pretty well preserved - or restored, while others are ruins. Here are a granary, a magazine and alike. And of cause a temple. I fail to talk my selves into the climb to the top this misty day. I also fail to talk myself into seeing the other peak with its buildings.
Some huge Bodhi trees are filled with starlings, and some monkeys are picking things in the grass. Here are a few locals, but an empty feeling. When I have seen all at the valley, I head on. At first, it is through some more dry bushland. Then is start looking like forest, and one part is actually a forest reserve.
On the other side, a huge plain give way to a lot of green rice fields. Some areas are completely flooded, and might act as tanks. I make a few photos in one of the towns I passes, just to show how they look. I stop in one, only to have a cup of tea.
I finally make it to Tiruvannamalai town, which is surrounded by low mountains and is where a huge temple town is found; Arunachaleshwar Temple. It is around 250 times 500 metres, allied with a massive wall, around ten metres tall. In the middle of each side, a huge temple-like construction towers up. I count 14 stories on one of them.
Inside are quite some pilgrims, and I follow the stream. Besides from the four huge towers, here are so many other buildings, and a huge gath. I follow the pilgrims into the main temple, and it is truly astonishing. Several huge areas without pillars are build in granite alone. The carvings are excusive, the light ridiculous bad.
I'm not aloud to make any photos, and in combination with the lack of light, that does make it hard. I follow the line all the way to the most secret, where the burning butter thickens the air. Flowers, rice and others stuff are scarified, but people are fare from ecstatic. It is just an experience, as it is for me. Here are a few holy men, but it look like they are visitors as well.
I get out again, and follow the wall the entire way around. Here are a lot of stands with things for the pilgrims: Flowers, colourful plastic, snacks and clothing along with souvenirs. I jut want a proper meal, and I get almost all the way back to my car, before I succeed. And I haven't a clue about what I get on that banana leaf?
I had thought of sleeping here, but I like to catch-up some of the lost time, and head on. 160 kilometres sounds like nothing - except in India (or Madagascar). But small roads, ox wagons, goats, suicidal mopeds, slow tuc-tucs, cows and Indians in general, make it a challenge. The area look like rich farmland, but the huts look so poor.
My next site is out of the town and pretty impressive. Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple is made in granite, and every surface have impressive carvings. Outside are some huge statues of a lion and a cow, along with small temples. The main temple is one big room, and some sort of mass is on.
I follow a local, who is listening to something entertaining on his smart-phone, real loud. The statues outside are covered in colourful LED lights, and I figure I can get away with a few photos without flash. I can't. Well, outside I get to make some photos, before I head on.
I have 80 kilometres to my next planed bed, and figure I might make it. Well, if I have chosen another road perhaps. The shortest and fastest accordantly to my GPS, is by real narrow country roads. Through small and real remote villages, and behind a wide-arsed bus.
The sun is from the back, and I do my best to get some photos of the huts, hens, cows and people along the road. It is strangely enough being sealed quite recently, but is still used for drying crops. And then the sealing disappears for some time, and worse; so does the sun. At least, I get to some small villages and then bigger ones.
The ox wagons start coming home in groups, and there are not room for both of us on the road. Actually, I have to stick a pair of wheels out in the unknown, when I meet a bike. Then the train will cross the road - eventually, and I waste a long time at that crossing.
At seven, in the pitch dark, I reach Tranquebar / Tharangambadi, and drive right to my hotel. I find dinner a bit further into the town, and return to work.
Every hour, the Catholic church next door play a loud "ice-cream truck tune" some digital bells and tells something in Hindi. Not the way to be popular by me! Gingee, Arunachaleshwar, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and poor countryside.
5. I start the day finding the car with two flat front tires. But it could be worse, as the neighbour is a tire-fixer. I role the tires into him, and instruct the receptionist to tell him to fix them, when he wake up. Then I head down towards the water. I had expected Tranquebar to be at least a town, but it is just a village.
I thought I was at the edge of town last night, but the ten shops ARE the town. A path leads down to the mangrove and here, some fishermen are storing their small boats. The hut are made entirely from palm leaves, and it is not rich! But the people living here greats me with a wide smile and a shake with the head - Indian style.
I cross the river, and reach the old Danish area. Here are still some of the grand houses, although they have lost some of their glory by now. One area seems to be restored with copplestones and renovated houses, some say the Danes pay for it.
I reach the sea, and here are recently placed a lot of huge boulders to protect the coast. I follow the coastline, and end up at the new harbour, still being constructed with more big boulders. In a little hall, the fish auction is on, and quite some people are gathered here.
The catch is small fish and a lot of hermit crabs with nice shells. The sun refuses to join in, else it would have been so great photos of the colourful boats on the little beach. I wait for some time, while I look for empty shells, but give up.
I do a loop within the old Danish colony. It was a colony from 1620 to 1808, and here are still the old typical Danish street names like Guldsmedegade, Nygade, Kongens Gade and alike. A model show the former layout, and brick-walls can still be seen in the area. It is the typical small Danish bricks, designed to be handled with one hand, the tool in the other. Might have been brought as ballast from Denmark.
The fort: Dansborg is in real good condition, although it could do with a bit of paint. Then again, is look more authentic now. It is not one of the huge Indian granite fortresses, but at that time, none was stupid enough to challenge Denmark - well, except Nilson.
I do a tour around and along the beach, which is wide and perfect here. I head down Kongens Gade, and a man insist on showing me the old Danish church. I fail to figure, if he is the priest or caretaker, but he sure tell me a lot - on what might be Hindi? Then we see one of the Danish Graveyards, then the other.
I offer him something to drink, while we wait for the fort to open. I thank him for his time, and to my relief, he head on. The fort is fare from large inside, but here are magazines for everything, from grain to soldiers. I try to capture the different angles, but could have used the sun.
Then I head around the houses within the former walls, and it is a poor area. Right outside it is a mangrove swamp, with one scarred pig. Back in the village, I make sure I have seen all streets, and it is not even noon! A tea brake and then back to mount the wheels. I have a hard time spending money, as the car does!
60 kilometres to next sight, and as usually, the GPS is too optimistic. In average, here are twice a long by road, as in the air. And it the GPS guess I can do 60 in average, I can at best do 30 Km/t. And I have stopped stopping to make photos a long time ago. I'm in race-mode, and it can't be done any faster. Well, the few true highways could, if the car wasn't castrated.
It is through pretty much the usual landscape, but here are a few more of the old Indian car: Ambassador. They still look great! I pass several larger temples. Some of the modern colourful type, with red and white walls around, but also some old granite ones.
They have a lot of them , and I only see the more interesting ones. And next stop is one of these: The Chola Temples, outside Kumbakonam. They are found on a perfect lawn, and a fantastic granite work. Every surface, even the sealing is carved with delicate patens and figures.
Here are only a few locals (I only think I have seen pales in Bidar, and only a few). The Corona-virus does not help, I guess. Some say, India have stopped issuing visas? A two, I have seen it all, and the town did not look interesting. I have only 300 to Kodaikanal, but no chance I can make that today. But I must be able to find a hotel along the way, saving some more time.
At first, it is through a pearl-string of small town, where the road twists its way through. It is slow and demanding. Then I find a toll-road, which is four leaned is some parts. But roads does cross it frequently, and it is partly blocked. I make a detour to avoid the centre of a huge city, and end up driving another way. I now enters the Keral district.
A bit after sunset, with 100 Km to go, I reach
Batagundu. The last bit should be mountains, and I would like to
see them!. I am on the other side of town, before I get to ditch the
car at a junkyard. I walk back, asking for a Lodge. "Hotels" are
restaurants, despite they have A/C rooms. I find one, but it is too
grouse. The next is all right, but I end at the first one for
on a banana leaf. Guess these leaves are sprayed with whatever they
can get their hands on. It is a strange town: I fail to find tea,
and hardly anyone sell water.
Tranquebar with Dansborg, Chola Temples.