A visit to Trichy and Thanjavur is always a reminder of India’s diversity. As you walk through the most exquisite temples in Trichy, an atmosphere surcharged by the presence of thousands of worshippers surrounds you. It affects you most when you see the young and old, rich and poor, standing in queues for a personal communion with their beloved deity.
The Lord above
Trichy is known for its temples, while Thanjavur is popular both for its temple architecture as well as its silk saris. In Trichy, you trek up 400 steps to receive blessings from Lord Ganesha inside the Rock Fort temple, said to be thousands of years old. As the steps simmer in the scorching heat, people run up them. The experience awaiting them is worth the effort. Besides, the view is breathtaking.
Divinity for all
Trichy and Thanjavur can be visited over a weekend by train from Cochin. The famous Sri Brahadeeswarar temple (or Bragatheeswarar) temple is a special place. It is said that Chola king Rajarajan Cholan dedicated the temple to the Dalit or downtrodden sections of society — possibly the first step towards the eradication of caste in the country.
Compared to many other temples and religious monuments in the country, this one is less commercial. An interesting thing to do is walk through the temple complex in a mundu or veshti (traditional garment worn at the waist) like the locals and discover the serenity within.
The Sri Brahadeeswarar temple is said to leave no shadow on the ground. You can’t help but marvel at the vision of those who built it. Just how ahead of the times were they?
This world heritage monument is a must-see. Equally amazing is the precision and longevity of the paintings on the ceilings, all in natural colours.
Another must is a visit to the Thanjavur palace. The upkeep is not up to the mark but, interestingly, a part of the palace is still used by the royal family. One of the souvenirs to pick from the palace museum store is a reverse glass painting done in the Thanjavur style. A visit to Thanjavur is a call to learn more about India and her infinite beauty. An invitation not just to indulge your wanderlust, but also to grow spiritually.
How to get there
Trichy and Thanjavur are well-connected by air, rail and road.
Trichy (or Tiruchirapalli)
The local bus service is available round the clock and connects most tourist spots. You can catch it from the central bus stand or the Chinthamani or Mani Guard Gate bus stand. If travelling in a group, it is better to hire a cab. Better still, an air-conditioned one. It is hot and humid in Trichy from May to September. Indian Airlines offers direct flights to Trichy from Chennai and Kochi. There are also good rail connections with other southern cities and towns such as Ernakulam, Madurai, Chennai and Tuticorin.
Web site: http://www.trichy.com/
The nearest airport is Trichy, about an hour’s drive away. You can also drive down from Chennai or cities like Ernakulam, Thiruvananthuram, Bangalore and Kochi. By rail, Thanjavur is connected to Chennai, Madurai and Chidambaram.
Web site: http://www.thanjavur.com/
- Trichy: 65 kilometres
- Madurai: 200 kilometres
- Chennai: 350 kilometres
For Rediff.com, 13th April, 2006.