We set out from Gwalior for an overnight journey to Indore.
A city of foodies. It has developed a lot in the past decade, learned to progress with time and can be called the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. The people here are smooth-talkers. The talk is so saccharine-coated here that it tends to repulse *sometimes*... but, Indore will be loved for its accented tongues and rich cultural diversity.
A few hours journey from Indore took us to Ujjain.
The city of Mahakaal Lord Shiv, called by many names in the past. This city boasts of its antediluvian culture. There was Mahakaal temple where you have to wait in a long queue to go to the temple situated in a cave filled with the aroma of marigolds and a commotion of spirited people. Then there was the Bhairav Baba who's offered liquor as "Prasaad". The place I loved the most was the ghat situated on the banks of River Shipra (or more correctly Kshipra). Simply divine. The agnostic in me had taken a backseat and I had fully immersed myself in the mood of the city. If God exists, he must be feeding on human faith in India 'cause it is in abundance here.
Then we took off to the commercial capital of India- Mumbai. This was the first time in my life that I had boarded a flight, believe it or not, till now... I had been traveling in a world where buses and trains were the only feasible options.
Not much to do here especially when you are with family. The Gateway of India and the Hotel Taj facing each other is a sight to behold. The Haaji Ali Dargah is so humbling, it takes you down to your knees while you watch in awe. We also went to see the Siddhi Vinayak Temple, the hanging gardens and Mahalaxmi temple. But, more of the time was spent crawling in the traffic. The Victoria Terminal Station is majestic and brings so many deja vus for a regular Hindi cinema goer. Mumbai is too busy to wait for anyone.
In the evening, we were flown to Chennai. This is the place about which perhaps I have the most to say about-
Tamilians don't like Hindi. Period. What I thought was a mere predisposition by the North Indians- the ones who call all South Indians- Madrasi and mock their accents and even language. But, turns out that the Tamilians indiscriminately loathe the Hindi language and those who mouth it. Hope things are a-changing now. No signs for it though. Chennai... a city of the learned ones. The ones who prefer The Hindu- a supposedly boring newspaper over other gossipy yet entertaining ones. A city of South Indian culture and human zeal. People are not fans, they are worshippers her. The abundance of faith makes Chennai so Indian! The co-existence of brain and faith (heart) in the same land is a little scary for me. The words written outside the gates of a famous temple had such an effect on my mind that I will never ever be seeing Hinduism in the same light of piousness as before. Chennai tainted Hinduism for me with the words- "Non-Hindus are not allowed inside" written on the notice board outside the temple gates. I felt like returning... I am a Hindu and I felt so unwelcome!
ANYWAY! The temples of Mahabalipuram were a treat to the eyes. The sea shore temple and the history behind it was mesmerizing. We were accompanied by a few hundred schoolgirls during our visit to the temples. It seemed like an excursion. Their "Miss" was so strict and "khadoos"... it seemed funny.
We also saw a sea lion perform amazing stunts at a resort and a crocodile zoo filled with crocs and crocs on one another soaking up some sun.
More later.... am tired now...