Everest Trekking organized and led two tours of southern India. Starting in Chennai, our 600 km route took us south and west through the prosperous province of Tamil Nadu, population 63 million. The province lies in a rich fertile plain that faces the Bay of Bengal. It has many ancient, spiritual cities including Mahabalipurnam, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Trichy and Madurai with colossal wedge-shaped temples, palaces and stone carvings that date to to the 6th century AD. The western ghats that run north to south are a chain of mountains that provide a startling contrast - high ground, cool nights and the abundant wildlife of Periyar National Park.
We concluded our India tour with a tour of Kerela, a sliver of dense greenery squeezed between the Arabian Sea and the central mountain range. Kerala is blessed with a lush tropical landscape and the Venice like backwaters that stretch from Cochin to Alleppey. Here is a rich history dating back to St. Thomas who settled in 70AD. The province has a literacy rate of close to 100% - the highest in India, thanks to land reforms instituted by the country's only communist government.
Following two weeks in India, our group flew from Cochin to Colombo for a quick 6 day tour of Sri Lanka.
Here's a photo summary of the tour. We plan to repeat this tour in 2005 which will likely include some of Northern India.
#1 Pongal is a Hindu festival celebrated in late January. It is a time of celebration, feasting and visiting sacred sites. Colourful clothes and flowers are worn and the thresholds of doors are painted with chalk designs.
#2 The sacred 'Krishna's Butterball' at Mahabalipurnam. This stone and the nearby temple are worshipped by all Hindus. Here we see a land void of earthquakes!
#3 Snake charmers are common. At the sound of a flute, the cobra rises from the box and performs, with bobbing head and darting tongue.
#4 Temple elephant blessing -For a small charge, the elephant will take the rupee note from your hand, hand it to his mahut and bless the donor with a tap of his trunk to her forehead.
#5 River fishermen near Trichy.
#6 Elaborate painted stone temples - Trichy.
#7 Flute player at a Hindu festival.
#8 Saddhu at a sacred site at Mahabalipurnam
#9 Girls in festival costume.
#10 Fertility deity - Madurai.
#11 Wild elephants emerging from the lake in Periyar National Park.
#12 Flute seller in Cochin.
#13 Ancient Chinese fishing nets - Cochin.
#14 Four men are required to raise the Chinese fishing nets at Cochin.
#15 The catch from a Chinese fishing net (January is not a good month for fishing).
#16 Indian spectators of fishing nets - Cochin.
#17 Lakeside swimming pool at the Kumarakom Resort - Kerela.
#18 grounds of the Kumarakom Resort - Kerela.
#19 Francoise Wolfsohn and Olga Kempo, both of Vancouver, enjoy the sunshine of Kerela.
#20 Elephant orphanage - Sri Lanka.
#21 Residents of the elephant orphanage return home to dinner.
#22 Debbie Riley of Winnipeg enjoys the exhilaration of elephant riding - Sri Lanka.
#23 Bentota Beach Resort - southern Sri Lanka.
#24 Beach scene - Bentota Beach Resort
#25 Tea plantation near Newara Eliya - Sri Lanka.
#26 Buddhist monk resting near the temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka
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