Terry's Indian Blogs

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Early in 2006 Anita Alberts got some contract work in Trivandrum teaching English as a foreign language. Terry decided to go with her for the experience and hoped to be able to help locals in some way with his mechanical expertise. He also decided to keep a blog of his experiences and these are published below

Visit to Tamil Nadu

It’s 50 years since the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were formed from the south Indian state of Travencore. The state boundaries were determined by language, Keralans speak Malayalam whereas Tamil is spoken in Tamil Nadu, which to this day presents some interesting quirks. A temple and a palace complex in Tamil Nadu was for some time ‘owned’ and administered by its neighboring state, Kerala.

A visit to this palace makes a welcome break on the 56 mile journey to Kanyakumari at the southern tip of India. Traveling any distance on the roads in India is tiresome after a few hours. The speed average isn’t better than 25 mph.

 

 A stop at one of the many roadside stalls for a refreshing drink from a tender coconut, is highly recommended. You can also eat the soft coconut flesh if you are hungry. The vendor will skillfully chop the top off for you without spilling a drop.

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Our driver, Shibu, braves the busy road to provide sustenance

Visit to Padmabhapuram palace

This  palace at Thuklai in Tamil Nadu. dates back to the  1600’s.The floors in the many buildings are made from a substrata of crushed lime stone  coated with  a shiny black finish achieved by mixing burnt coconut shell charcoal with egg white and various other vegetable extracts. This gives a smooth, hard wearing, black polished  finish.

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Section of floor

The result is a beautiful floor which has lasted centuries. It is pleasant to walk on in your obligatory bare feet. (Shoes must be left outside the palace) A small section I found loose in one of the rooms gives you some idea. This effect is impressive as seen in the buildings below

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Navarathimandapam

Notice the shiny ancient floor. This Mandapam roof  is spanned by  closely fitted granite cross beams  supported by carved granite pillars, each pillar carved from a solid piece of granite . This replaced a wooden building  in 1744 AD

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The palace was once the capital of the southern state of Travancore and the complex was completed to its present form around the end of the 18th century .It consist of 14 separate palace building on a 6.5 acre site. The whole palace complex is situated in a large fort area which was built around the palace around 1601 covering an area of 186 acres The building structures were influenced by Chinese architecture, which can clearly be seen in what is called the Coupled Rafter type roof, best suited to extremes of drought to heavy monsoon rain,

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Roof style

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The palace in constructed of local materials: granite, lime stone and teak wood

 The Uttpura or dining room, shown below, measuring 236 feet by 29 feet was built on two floors  to accommodate 2000 people for the occasional free meal.

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Uttupura or Dining Hall

 Pickles were kept in Chinese jars on the ground floor.

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Ancient Chinese Pickle jars

My second visit to this area. A visit to the two monuments is worthwhile. The two monuments are on little islands where the three great oceans meet.  The boat looked like it was short of a bit of maintenance and was packed to capacity. We had a bit of a fright when it docked with a great thud into the wharf on the island.

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Ferry

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 Terry , Mette & Shibu

 

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Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial

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 Visit to the Hindu Suchindram Temple

The final part of this day trip was a visit to a Hindu temple which was the most impressive thing I have seen so far in India. The amount of ancient stone carving of hundreds of pillars was astonishing. This amazing ancient  temple has to be seen to believed. Non Hindu visitors are allowed in the temple, but must observe a strict protocol.  It is not permissible to take photographs as cameras are to be left at a ‘cloak room’ before entering. Men are to remove their shirts on entering. Without a photo it is hard to describe the amazing carved columns; each comprising of  six columns of different widths  intricately carved from  enormous single pieces of granite a thousand  years ago. The columns are used as a musical instrument, each one giving a different type of drum note when tapped.

 To give some idea of the complexity, the structure pictured below is the entrance to the temple and only a fraction of the whole. The temple is a labyrinth of passage ways leading to smaller temples and large halls. Luckily, Shibu fixed us up with a guide.

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Hindu Suchindram Temple

Terry Alberts Oct 2006