I was really hoping I'd get to see an Elephant not in captivity while in India, but I figured it was a real long shot. As it turned out, I saw two of them on two separate occasions, both walking ona road. The first was on the highway between Nagercoil and Madurai and was being used to pull a cart. The second was on a road west of Nagercoil and was leading a parade for some kind of celebration. So, unless I just got incredibly lucky, I guess they're not so rare after all. Pretty cool.
One thing that you notice in Tamil Nadu is a symmetrical drawing outside the houses in Tamil Nadu. This is called Kolam, it is done by the ladies at home every morning after a bath. They use rice powder to draw the kolams, which are symetrical designs. It is considered auspicious and supposedly beleived that kolams can bestow prosperity to the home. You can read in detail about the same in wikipedia.
Women in Tamil Nadu dress very conservatively. Most women wear the traditional saree which is a short blouse, an underskirt, and five meters of fabric wrapped around, pleated, and tucked to make a beautiful dress. On younger women and in the cities you will see punjabis. These outfits consist of a tunic-like shirt that has either short sleeves or long sleeves and goes down to around or below the knees. Loose fitting salwar or tight from the knee down churidar are worn underneath. A scarf should then be place over the shoulders with the ends hanging down the back to cover your chest.
If you dress in western clothing, be sure to cover up. Shoulders and knees should never be exposed and its best to wear long, ankle length, skirts.
Coconuts are aplenty in Tamil Nadu. People like to offer them whenever they have visitors. Although I don't care for the taste, they are sort of sweet and the coconut milk is said to be great for hydration. You'll need extra hydration in southern india during the hotter months!
When eating out make sure you try at least once some poori and mango chutney. Poori is a puffed bread that you pop before eating. The sweet chutney, which is something like jam, goes so well with it!
hot humid day, temple gates open only at 4pm. two hours to go and a flight to catch. got the caretaker to let us in for a few moments, got the shots, time to move on...
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