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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

India: Trichy

Trichy suburbs
The suburbs of Trichy, as seen from the Rock Fort Temple

It wasn't tricky to get to Trichy, just time-consuming. Trichy, whose full name Tiruchirappalli is only ever used by those inside the bubble of railway bureaucracy, is an interesting and bustling town in the central south, and its sights are well worth the severe shuddering of the bus journey from Pondicherry.

The Rock Fort Temple
The Rock Fort Temple

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
The gopurams of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tiruchirappalli - beautiful but totally unpronounceable

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is another place where peace is but a distant memory. With seven concentric walls, 21 gopurams and a total area of 2.5 square kilometres, the temple shocks with its scale alone, and the fact that the biggest gopuram on the outside wall is a monstrous 73m high makes it hard to miss, and worth not missing.

A magnificent gopuram in Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
A magnificent gopuram at Sri Ranganathaswamy
Ancient Tamil on the walls of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
Ancient Tamil writing on the walls of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
A colourful door in Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
A colourful door in Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Drinking in Tamil Nadu

A painting of a Hindu god
The Hindu gods are quite beautiful, even when reclining

And so was Friday night. In time-honoured fashion we elected to pop out for a quick beer after our evening meal, and this time we ended up in the Bar Paradise, a downstairs cubby-hole that had practically no lighting and where the atmosphere reeked of schoolboy rule-breaking. As I've mentioned before, Tamil Nadu is fairly unimpressed with the concept of alcohol (as in most of India, marijuana and alcohol have the reverse roles that they do in Europe), so they make you drink it behind firmly shuttered windows and doors, preferably underground, and definitely not after 11pm.

1 This is not just an Indian phenomenon. There are plenty of westerners wandering around the continent who have spent too long in an ashram (an ashram being a retreat set up by a guru), and some of these people, though by no means all, can be a real handful. Ashram casualties come in a number of flavours, but they have one binding characteristic: they make no sense whatsoever. Most of them seem to be stuck in the sixties or seventies; indeed, a western writer I met in Chennai said that when he first travelled in India back in the seventies, people never talked about beer, backpacks or beaches, because the only topics of conversation were which guru you were going to and which ashrams you'd visited. India in the seventies was evidently full of people who wanted to have their magic pie and eat it.