No help at the bus station
After breakfast, a rice pancake with a curry and a green yogurt sauce, I head to the bus station for the trip to Trichy. They are incredibly unhelpful there; the only thing I hear is that I have to go to the last terminal. Five minutes later, a bus arrives with a board that has Trichy written on it. I still ask the driver, to make sure I will still be able to start my exploration of Trichy later in the afternoon; it turns out to be the right bus. The distance between Thanjavur and Trichy is 55 kilometers, so theoretically, it will be a short drive of one to one and a half hours.
Annoying the passengers pushing the horn
About five kilometers before the final destination, we get a flat tire. Everyone must transfer to the next bus. I let the first one pass, as it is already full, and three-quarters of the people on my bus squeeze themselves in. There is enough room on the second bus. I take a seat in the front and can put away my backpack in good order. A remarkable detail; when one wants to pass another vehicle on the road, they use the horn. That is nothing new to me. Still, this driver keeps pushing the horn until half of India is deaf. Even the other passengers and people on the street that we pass seem to get annoyed by his behavior.
Finding my hotel on Junction Road
Arriving in Trichy, I ask a rickshaw cyclist to take me to the hotel of my choice on Junction Road. However, he appears to be illiterate, who moreover cannot speak English. On Junction Road, with the travel guide book in my hand, a backpack on the back, and a daypack in front, I look for my destination. After ten minutes of searching and after losing one liter of sweat, I find the hotel. It is a simple room, with a single bed, but clean and a lot more spacious than the one in Thanjavur, so I rent it for one day.
Fancy lunch in a dark restaurant
This afternoon I want to have a decent meal, so I choose a rather chic restaurant – by Indian standards. The dining room is rather dark, not atmospheric. The clientele consists mainly of Indian men with shirts and ties, and the women accompanying them have an arrogant attitude towards the helpful staff.
Some issues with the timing
Helpful, but they remain Indians, of course. This is apparent when the noodles get served on my plate. It is quite a job for my waiter to aim the strings on my plate with a spoon and fork. Furthermore, my coffee is almost finished when he comes to bring accompanying jasmine cubes and cumin seeds. Not that I need them, but the timing speaks volumes. The fancy lunch costs 110 rupees, for tomato soup, noodles with vegetables, a soft drink, and a coffee, tip included.
My exploration of Trichy starts with visiting Rock Fort
Then it is time to start my exploration of Trichy. First, I walk to the Tourist Information Bureau, but that appears to be closed today due to local elections. On the way to the bus station, I notice my body is still not acclimatized. For the past two days, sweat has just flowed in thick drops from my head. I intend to keep drinking well. For no money – 2 rupees – I ride the local bus to the rampart of Rock Fort, a massive rock housing a Ganesh temple. To go there, you must first go through a typical market (within the enclosure) until you reach the entrance of the temple. On my way, I only come across two other white tourists.
No need for a local guide for my exploration of Trichy
At the entrance, an official guide tries to offer me his services. He says that I can enter the real temple area in his presence, something that only Hindus can typically do. I have already seen some temples during my travels, so that is not a convincing argument. Plus, I still have enough temple visits planned on my travel route. He also wants to join me tonight to a unique, religious dance festival on the dam, two kilometers outside the city. This could be interesting, but I say that I want to do my exploration of Trichy on my own and continue my way.
Barefooted to the top of Rock Fort
You have to climb a lot of stairs, barefooted by the way, inside the rock to reach the top. Along the way, you come across some halls and niches with Ganesh images, demons, and the like. As informed downstairs, I cannot enter the real temple, which is halfway through. I take a look inside at the entrance. Almost at the top, I stop to consume a refreshment. It strikes me that the temples seem to work with fixed prices, the amount for the soft drink is 11 rupees, just like yesterday in Thanjavur.
Spotting my temple target for tomorrow
On top of Rock Fort, you will find a Ganesh capitol. I take a picture, the flash betrays me, and the brahmin tells me not to take pictures. However, I have paid extra for my camera at the entrance. So I apologize, but on the other hand, I am also quite satisfied to have photographed a magnificent view of the city. In the distance, I also spot my target for tomorrow, the Raganathaswamy temple complex, around 120 acres, it seems. That should become one of the temple highlights of my journey.
A refreshing cold water shower
This concludes my first exploration of Trichy, so I descent and take the bus back to the hotel. After all this sweating today, I want to have a refreshing shower in my room. A shower is too much said for a straight jet of water, but it is relaxing. Only with cold water by the way, but that is only advisable given the temperatures here.