Sunny South Bus Tour India: Decorated Temples to Tea Plantations
A Cheap and Easy first trip to India
India-people say you will love it or hate it. Love it because of the beautiful sights, fascinating culture,great food, friendly outgoing people. Hate it because you get sick, get lost, are hassled by rude street hustlers everywhere you go.I am one of the love it people, though I have had my share of hassling and illness, especially during my first 8 month visit in the 1970's. However I have returned to India over a dozen times since and am no longer getting sick or hassled.
Here is a way to love India without spending much money with the help of the state government run Tamilnadu Tourist Development Cooperation TTDC.
A Good Cheap Tour
First rule-take the "Sunny South Tour" run by the Tamil Nadu Tourist Development Corporation. The last time I took this tour, about 7 years ago, it cost $120 US. per week including bus,guide, entrance to exhibits and hotel rooms in simple but good hotels. We had to buy our own food which cost about $5. per meal. In 2011 for the same tour on the TTDC website the price is listed as $280 for two weeks with a private room, slightly cheaper for a double.So you can see the price stays reasonable. Keep your pack very small and light for easy travelling.
Second rule- consult with a health travel clinic or website before you go. If there is a malarial risk take prophylaxis or drown yourself in Deet. Drink only bottled or purified water and only use this for brushing your teeth. Assume all other water may be unsafe to get in your mouth or eyes etc. So keep your eyes and mouth closed in pools and in the shower. Third in restaurants eat only hot cooked food, like rice and dal, dosas, vegetables, chicken, eggs. Snack on dry or packaged food like peanuts crackers and chips, or fruit like oranges,bananas,pineapple that you wash and peel yourself. Don't have ice in your drinks.It's better to be super careful than to let those little dangerous bugs get into you. We bought delicious carrots and fruit in the markets, peeled them ourselves, washed them in our purified water and had healthy delicious snacks. I usually carry a small bar of soap in my pocket and wash my hands often. I also carry iodine or other water purifying drops and my trusty water bottle.
Our trip around Sunny South India
We booked our trip online and traveled to Chennai(formerly known a Madras). You can fly direct from North America with a stop in Hong Kong or Singapore. I prefer Singapore Airlines with its great service and great food. We staid overnight in Chennai and assembled at the Chennai Tamil Nadu Tourist Development Corporation (TTDC) tourist office at 8am. There were two of us white women. All the rest of our group were middle class Indians. Mainly men with their wives. Some men wore traditional white outfits, most wore western styles. The women were splendid in sparkly jewelry and bright silk. We felt a little grubby in our crumples cotton.
The trip is subtitled the "Temple Tour"
The Sunny South Tour is subtitled the "Temple Tour", and indeed it was a sort of pilgrimage to many temples: on mountains, on beaches, in caves. One temple dedicated to the God Vishnu or Govinda seemed to have an inner sanctum of solid gold. At one temple people were piercing themselves with little metal spears and some were spreading ashes all over their bodies and then being rolled all the way around the outer wall-about 4 blocks. Most temples are dedicated to Shiva the God of Creation and Destruction.
There were also lovely parks, scenic tea plantations, rides on lakes, and great silk shopping.
ALL AROUND SOUTH INDIA
This tour takes you to the key tourist sites all around South India. Its a wonderfully inexpensive exciting, educational and hassle free way to introduce yourself to India. Google the "TAMILNADU TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION" Sunny South Tour to get more info. I don't work for them, it is just such a great tour.
Here are some other hubs I wrote inspired by my times in India:
Stories about Shiva the main encarnation in Hinduism-"Shiva is Dancing in the fire...
Stories about meetings between Govinda, Durga and other Gods and Godesses.
Facinating Temples and Gods
The southern part of India has many famous temples. As non Hindus we were unable to enter the inner sanctum of some temples, but we still saw all the colorful sculpture on the outer walls, and met dozens of friendly pilgrims.Mischevious monkeys, dancing elephants, school kids, food and souvenire vendors etc. You are rarely bored in India and it is a photographers dream. Just point and click.
MORE GREAT INDIA STORIES and PHOTOS
- Egyptian Gods and Hindu Goddesses meet and Play
The gods get together for a meeting. Tay assembles the Gods into different groups so they can talk with each other. I first visited India when I was in my 30's and knew nothing about Hinduism. My first...
- Shiva, Destroyer,Creator, Lord of the Dance in The C...
Look up on the ridges. Shiva is dancing. In India on the