Hiking and being asked for my socks was not the only thing we did during our Tiruvannamalai trip. My copy of Lonely Planet describes Tiruvannamalai as one of the hidden gems of Tamil Nadu. I’m inclined to agree. It is a temple town with a huge Shiva temple and a number of ahsrams in and around the city. It is also a major pilgrimage center. In fact, Daniela’s boss during our time in India is a Brahman who goes to Tiruvannamalai to meditate as often as he can.
I enjoyed the temple complex mostly because of its architecture. As I understand it, Hindu temples are supposed to be pure and peaceful inside. From my observations, they can best be described as manmade caves. When the kings of old wanted to build a fancy temple, they could not make the temple itself fancy, so you don’t see anything at all like cathedrals or mosques… with the temple building itself. But what they could go crazy with was the rest of the temple grounds and especially the gates.
Inside the temple grounds, there was an elephant with a big shiva tikka taking donations. You walk up to the elephant and give it a coin. It takes your coin with its trunk, drops it into a basket and then blesses you by touching your forehead with its trunk. Charlotte went through most of our loose change this way.
Along with this, I was probably single handedly responsible for any future rules at that temple banning westerners. The temple complex actually has several temples; mostly small ones and one big one. We were inside one of the small ones and the priest was giving out blessings. I leaned over to our companion, Shiva (we went to a Shiva temple with a woman named Shiva) and asked.
You don’t suppose that he would let me take a photo, do you?
Let me ask.
She conferred with the priest, then told me that it is okay. They would not allow it in the larger temple, but here is okay. The part I did not “get” was that I was supposed to wait until he was done giving blessings to the current crowd.
Boy was he angry!
I hustled right out of there! So if you ever visit the place and are not allowed in. Feel free to blame me.
Perhaps the sock man was karma…