Oxen and mansions, Chettinad/Madurai, January 31

Today is a slower-paced schedule, which is a welcome change. And we don’t have to go into any damn Hindu temples. I’m kidding, of course, as the temples have been great. But a day off from Lord Shiva feels welcome to this Jewish guy.

We have stayed at some terrific hotels, and this one, set […]

Chola temples, bronzes and terra cotta horses, January 30

After breakfast, we’re shuttled from our hotel to our minibus for an 8:30 start. As usual, there’s a lot to see and talk about, goats being herded, flightless ducks eating the remnants of rice stalks, which they’ll help to fertilize with their droppings, Jay brings topics alive by using articles from today’s newspaper. Local boys […]

Stars of the show, Tamil and Chola, January 29

After breakfast at the hotel, we set out for the capital of the Chola Empire, Chidambaram, one of Tamil Nadu’s most important holy towns. We are traveling comfortably in a minibus, which has a capacity of ten. With Ravi, our driver, and Jay, our guide, we are only six. Ravi has done an excellent job […]

Living in peace and harmony, Pondicherry, January 29

Breakfast at the hotel, and then on the road again, heading south for Pondicherry, which was ruled by the French until Indian independence. Along the way, we see a man on a moped, virtually hidden by the pots he is carrying for sale, and bullocks with colorful horns, painted for the harvest festival. We talk […]

Rocks and “rocking”, Chennai, January 28

After breakfast with the Sugarmans, we drive along the coast to Mamallapuram (formerly called Mahaballipuram). This is a kind of open-air museum of Tamil art in rock, which is the work of students under the patronage of the Pallava rulers. Strewn along the coast are some outstanding examples of 7th century sculpture – forms of […]