Madurai - Kochi

Next day we had sightseeing in Madurai. We started at the local water-tower, set nicely on a lake.

The Hindu temple of the town is one of the most sacred in India. There was a huge crowd of pilgrims - what a magnificent sight. It was also interesting, that there are hardly any tourists around. Maybe because of the recent Bombay bombing.

We also returned to the temple in the evening, to see the "bedtime ceremony". The Goddess is taken to the God with music and flowers for the nighttime. There is a strict daily ceremony for the gods in Hindu temples - wake up, breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, swinging and bedtime. It is like playing with dolls (God forgive me - I mean all the 330 million gods of the Hindu pantheon...)

On 2nd Jan, we spent the whole day on bus, did 320 km in 12 hours - the quality of roads only allow this speed. We crossed to Kerala state, which is economically more developed and has a more relaxed feeling than most part of the country. While there are 933 woman to 1000 man in whole India, the proportions are different in Kerala as many men work in Middle East.
Next day we had to sit again whole day, but this time on a boat. It became extremely popular to have boat trips on the backwaters of Kerala in the last decade or so. There are groups, like us, who rent boats (Explore also has a trip just to cruise around this area), but wealthy tourists can rent their own private living boat for several nights - we saw several fat old tourists cruising along the canals. The atmosphere is great - palm trees are lining the riverbanks, and we could see wonderful birds as well as interesting colorful boats.


The atmosphere is great - palm trees are lining the riverbanks, and we could see wonderful birds as well as interesting colorful boats. We then arrived to Kochi, a town with a cosmopolitan feel. There is a the oldest European-built church here, 500 year old Portuguese houses, a Jewish synagogue, Chinese fish-nets, and so on. Next day we had sightseeing in town. I liked the synagogue the most and found it interesting that as there are only 12 Jewish people in town, the guides often invite the tourists to join the Friday evening ceremony. According to their rules there has to be minimum 10 men to hold the meeting and it is often difficult to gather. This week there was a great event in town, as after 21 year, they held a Jewish wedding. Because of the recent attack in Bombay, it was held under close police security, but all local newspapers had a long coverage of the event. The Jews arrived in 72 A.D. into this area after the Roman legions attacked their temple in Jerusalem, but after India became independent, most of them returned to the Promised Land. We also had a wonderful evening cruise to see the fish-net at sunset. 

In Kochi, we also went to a theater to see a Kathakali dance, which is one of the seven classical dances of India. It was performed by men only and was very interesting, but the half an hour performance was just long enough for us. the original performance takes several full nights. I then had an ayurvedic massage, which is done with lots of oil, but I loved it.

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