I realised as I was doing the very familiar bus journey from Tirunelveli to Madurai that I seem to have become pretty de-sensitised to the chaos going on around me.
Near misses with on-coming traffic, animals, people in the middle of the road are now just a way of life here. And despite the pretty extensive time I spend in Madurai I did start to question how much of the city I actually see, how much do I actually take in. Not much is the answer.
So a quiet afternoon in Madurai provided a good opportunity to take some pictures.
Its a short collection as I was very aware of being stared at by people and the photos that I really wanted to take just felt wholly inappropriate or at least very insensitive to the the people in them!
This is only a small sample of the transport you see in and around any Indian city or town. What I couldn’t quite capture was a decent video of how the buses, lorries, cars, mopeds, bicycles, cycle rickshaws, autorickshaws, animals and people all share the same road space with what seems to be little or no order. Its the one thing that every visitor is sure to talk about as it takes some practice navigating your way across from one side to the other.
Sure, they drive on the left here……………..apparently! But I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been looking to the right for on-coming traffic to have a rickshaw or worse come whistling past from the left!
The funny thing is it works!!
Most of the time.
Chaotic or organised? Its worth the 3 minutes to watch this clip, click on green text below.
Every vehicle is colourfully painted and often ‘blessed’ before journeys to safeguard from accidents
A rare moment – traffic actually stopping at the lights!
This is a quiet moment in Madurai
Every truck has ‘sound horn’ its very much an accepted practice here!
This has to be the number one thing that everyone loves about India?
There’s definitely no short supply of choice, literally every street is scattered with options. From a lady selling bananas in the middle of a very busy bus station, to a street side stall selling snacks, to some of the nice rooftop restaurants, there’s certainly plenty to whet the appetite.
Admittedly in my ignorance I hadn’t quite realised the huge variety on offer here. Yep, its largely vegetarian in this part of India, definintely spicy and rice is the main component to most meals, but look beyond that and you get much more than rice, dhal and a popadom.
Every variety of banana on sale here
Snacks prepared on street side stoves
Hidden street which is full of fruit and veg
Sugar cane press providing yet another sugar hit for everyone
Women will sit and weave jasmine flowers together for women to wear in their hair
I’ve become quite accustomed to waking up to the sounds of chickens and geese in Manur which live right next door. Its never any great surprise to me to see a goat, a cow, chickens, geese and turkeys whilst walking around here, but this is a rural village. Even this morning I looked up from my laptop to see a guy walking down the main road with a bull. Perfectly normal!
Madurai in some ways still has the feel of a village but its a pretty big place, the 3rd largest city in Tamil Nadu (which is approx half the size of the UK) with a population of 1 million. Its chaotic, noisy and at the moment incredibly hot. With 1 million residents plus visitors and tourists milling about trying to go about their business the last thing you’d expect to see is cows, goats and bulls thrown into the mix. This is only a very small sample of what you might see.
This is one of the many goats that lives at the end of my street in Madurai
This is actually quite a busy road in Madurai but literally everything shares the road here
One of many cows eating the litter on the streets – one way to manage waste in the city
Last but my no means least.
Madurai is no exception.
Home to the Meenakshi Amman Temple, one of the largest in Tamil Nadu.
Its an impressive site.
Four separate towers, one at each point of the compass in the centre of the city. Its one of very few temples to have 4 different entrances.
Situated in the centre of the city, constantly busy with shoppers, tourists and touts its nice to be able to walk all the way around away from the traffic. Its definitely a must see for any tourist but even now as a relative ‘local’ I have to say I enjoy walking around there, nosing at whats going on, looking at the different shops, going into the tailors market and laughing at the touts as they try their best lines to try and get me to buy things, which I now smugly reply, urm well I’ve been here 4 months so no I don’t want anything!
This is a reflection of the temple in a glass building opposite – only noticed as I sat to get out the sun for a bit.
This building is right next to the temple. Typical India, beautiful temples next to less desirable buildings
One of the four towers of the Meenakshi Temple
Entrance the tailors market
East Tower entrance to the temple
This is outside another temple near to the bus station
These are based all around the temple
View of the temple from one of the rooftop restaurants – perfect spot for an early evening beer
Of course this is only a tiny snapshot of everything that you can see on a daily basis and probably only a fraction of a typical day here but just goes to show when you really look at a place you start to really see it, good and bad – maybe, Something a bit different!