I’ve been on some scary rides in my time and impressed my boys by riding Space Mountain at Euro Disneyland in Paris. However nothing quite compares to an auto-rickshaw ride in India!
Let me set the scene for you. The whole family squashed onto a shiny, vinyl seat on a covered three wheeler motorbike. One son squeezed into the front with the driver. All number of Gods and Deities on the auto’s dashboard and om stickers all over the windscreen.The driver racing up tiny lanes at breakneck speed past cows munching on rubbish and us clinging on for dear life. I know it would sound like a nightmare to most and I can understand that you may feel that way. However our family love it!
The reason we love it is because of one word…SURRENDER. Instead of thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong we think the opposite. We surrender to the sheer freedom and craziness of the moment. One night in Trichy we were heading straight for a packed bus when the driver veered off to the left at the very last moment. Our boys shouted out “That was mad Mum!” in sheer delight!
I’m not advocating taking reckless risks every day of the week. However part of being a genuine traveller is immersing yourself in the moment and doing some challenging things every now and then.
On our last trip my mother Padma and I discovered the auto-rickshaw bus. Now we can travel from the Sripuram Ashram all the way into Vellore (20 minute trip) for only 8 rupees!
The best things about the auto-rickshaw bus are:
Loud blaring Hindi music combined with fast speed ~ very exhilarating!
Great chats with local people.
A cheap fare.
Interesting views of everyday life.
Living in the moment.
Please excuse the slightly out-of-focus photos above…we were probably going through a pot-hole at the time!
Small doses of terror can be fun? Is she crazy? Yes…well maybe just a little…
Last November I was volunteer teaching at the Sri Narayani Vidyalaya School in Thirumalaikodi, India. On my way to class I photographed these children waiting to show Principal Ramesh their wonderful zoo assignments. You can see from their faces how proud they were … Continue reading →
If you are travelling to South India make sure that magical Madurai is on your itinerary. Madurai is one of the oldest cities in India and is full of wonderful sights. My “must sees” in Madurai are:
Sri Meenakshi-Sundareshwara Temple…This temple is well worth the visit with its massive gopuras and statues. It is one of the largest temple complexes in all India. Be prepared for a queue to get in as it is a very popular destination for Indian tourists. Every day anywhere between 15,000-20,000 people pass through its front gates. It is open daily from 5am-12.30pm and between 4-8.30pm.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace…Only one-quarter of this palace still survives. It has two eighteen metre high rows of columns on either side of the palace which are amazing to walk through. An old museum and many stone statues are housed in an adjoining hall and garden. I really recommend the wonderful light show (in English at 6.45pm nightly). This show depicts the Tamil saga of the “Heavenly Pavillion” and was very entertaining.
Gandhi Memorial Museum…This is a well organised museum which depicts India’s history and the life of Mahatma Gandhi. When travelling to the museum you cross over a large bridge. On your return ask the driver to take you on the lower road under the bridge ~ this will give you a great view of Madurai’s washing being done on the banks of the Vaigai river. Vast lines sway with coloured clothing as far as the eye can see.
Puthu Mandapam…This pillared hall can be found at the eastern side of the Sri Meenakshmi Temple. Here you can buy fabrics and waiting tailors will whip you up an outfit within the hour. I got a lovely white shirt made for 200 rupees.
We stayed at the Park Plaza Hotel located at 114-115 West Perumal Maistry Street, Madurai. It is a mid range Indian hotel that is very clean and well located just a short auto-rickshaw ride from the temple area. The great thing about this hotel is that the rate includes breakfast and dinner. We loved eating here as the food was tasty and the menu extensive.
“You cannot stay on the summit forever. You have to come down again…One climbs and one sees; one descends and one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself…by the memory of what one saw up higher. When one no longer sees, one can at least still know.”