Backpacking trip – Day 4 – Trivandrum

After successfully finishing our Tamilnadu leg we were now starting with our Kerala leg. We reached Trivandrum at 12:00 in the night. After some negotiation with the auto drivers, one of them took us to a nearby hotel called Aishwarya Lodge. After a long and refreshing sleep we freshened up and went to Padmanabha Swamy temple. I must tell, this temple has the biggest fleece scam of all the temples I’ve seen. As soon as we entered we were asked to hire Dhotis. As anywhere in Kerala, any man entering the temple must be wearing a dhoti. As soon as we entered, they thrust a basket of flowers, bananas and coconut and demanded 30 bucks. According to them it was mandatory to offer them. At the next enterance we were thrust a tray full of small oil containers and we were asked to pay 20 bucks for it. And the guy who was manning the lamp where the oil was supposed to be poured demanded another 10 bucks. I was already starting to get pissed at the blatant fleecing when another guy demanded 10 more bucks for letting us visit the gopuram. He didn’t allow anyone to go ahead without visiting the gopuram. I had already lost my mind on this. I somehow controlled myself, since I didn’t want to create a scene in the temple. After having a look at the diety we moved on. On our way out, we visited the royal museum next to the temple. While 2/3rd of it is still getting renovated the part we saw was pretty amazing. They had put wall sized paintings of the King greeting the Dutch when they landed in India and so on and so forth. One exibit that caught my eye was the crystal throne. It was a huge one, completely made of crystal.

One of the places top on our list was the Raja Ravi Varma’s art gallery. We took a local bus to reach the place. There are totally three museums in that premisis. While the biggest is called Chitra gallery, Ravi varma’s gallery is a small building located in a corner. The entrance is same as that of a zoo in the neighbourhood. Looking at the paintings is a delight to the eye. Anyone who admires Da-Vinci’s paintings must have a look at Ravi Varma’s paintings. The notable ones are “Ravana kidnaping Sita” and “Damayanti and the Swan”. The amount of detail that he has captured is mind boggling! While I was dumbfounded by the art, I felt sad about the way they are being maintained. Given these precious pieces of art, in many areas, there is nobody to keep an eye on people touching them. Also there is no protection whatsoever for them. They are just kept open to the incoming wind and dust. When enquired one official said that since these are oil paintings they will catch fungus if they put glass on it. They said they use a varied set of brushes to clean the dust and grime off these paintings every week. I was damn surprised at the ignorance of the officials towards such exquisite pieces. When exiting the museum, I wanted to take a photo of the building for myblog. The cop guarding the place acted rather stubborn telling that photography, even of the building will attract penalty and legal action. Being already pissed at the state of the paintings, I decided not to argue with them and just left. We hadn’t yet planned which place we will visit next. So we decided to go to the bus station, enquire about the available buses and plan there about out next stop. On the way we saw a railway repair garage (the railway station is next to the bus station). Being software guys, we had never seen what goes into a railway coach. We were a bit reluctant about asking the engineers to give us a tour. But we decided to atleast go have a look. While all the mechanics were staring at us, we approached the station engineer and introduced ourselves. We told him that being software engineers we were curious about how the Indian Railways builds and maintains it’s coaches. After verifying some of our credentials (for security purposes) he did explain a bit about the coaches but was pretty discrete about the information he gave (understandable given the security requirements of the country). After taking a few pictures with the mechanics we went to the bus station and booked tickets to Cochin. We visited Indian Coffee house, had snacks and returned to the lodge. We packed our luggage and left for the bus station.

Workers doing maintenance

Workers working on the coach

Wheels disassembled

Wheels disassembled

MK with coach workers

MK with coach workers

Me with coach workers

Me with coach workers

    • Devender
    • August 10th, 2009

    Sum total you had comparatively less enjoyment in Trivandrum. Definately that Temple visit where priests compeling people to pay money unnecessary is not a fair practice. I also often get pissed off seeing such craps. For most of such people temple is not a place of worship rather a business…. huhhh

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