Is Trichy a metropolis

The Rock Fort: The huge hall of the Thayumanar Swami Temple and behind it the Vinayakar Temple

An eagle circles around the Vinayakar Temple

Ascent to the Rock Fort

View from the entrance of the Vinayakar temple

The Rock Fort: The huge hall of the Thayumanar Swami Temple and behind it the Vinayakar Temple

View from the entrance of the Vinayakar temple

I am currently in Tiruchirappalli in southeast India; because of the name, which is tongue-breaking even by Tamil standards, the city usually closes Tiruchi abbreviated, and English is almost always spelled Trichy. Two years ago I made a short stop here, but I hadn't written you anything about it; today I can catch up on that (and more).

An eagle circles around the Vinayakar Temple

The syllable Tiru- means ‘holy’ (cf. Tirupati), and that suggests an important temple; in fact there are two. The so-called is located on a granite hill in the city center "Rock Fort" (Manavakottai) with the huge hall of Sri Thayumanavar-Swami Kovil; At the very top of the rock stands the little Vinayakar Kovil with a gold-shining dome. At the gates of the city you can still find the huge, well-known temple complex Sri Ranganatha Kovil.

Ascent to the Rock Fort

View from the entrance of the Vinayakar temple

The ascent to Manavakottai begins in the bustling city center. Although the path leads through a shady vault for the most part, it still drives sweat from all pores and, to make matters worse, has to go barefoot over hundreds of steps; you pass an interesting little cave temple and walk through several large halls full of colorful columns. The Sri Thayumanavar-Swami Kovil is not allowed to enter as a non-Hindu, but a look through the gate shows that he would be worth an extensive investigation; in contrast, the tiny Vinayakar Kovil definitely looks better on the outside than on the inside. The real reward of the ascent lies in the spectacular (even if cloudy due to the weather) views of the city; one can even make out the great gopuram of Sri Ranganatha Kovil on the other bank of the Cauvery in the haze.

The Lourdes Church

The Apostle Jacob as a butcher of the Moors

The entrance gopuram to Ranganatha Kovil

In the outer districts, the temple looks like a market

The Lourdes Church

In the cityscape, despite the overwhelming majority of Hindus, the churches that stand out most, with their playful colors, have adapted very well to local tastes. The prevailing tendency seems to be Catholicism, and the diocese apparently has enough money to maintain the talmigotic, piglet-pink inside, Lourdes Church in the city center. Many smaller churches also amuse the visitor with quasi-Catholic iconography adapted to the full south Indian life. Particularly memorable was the portrait of a rider who appears to be storming the Bastille with a flying flag and a shining sword; when I asked who this figure represents, I got the amazing answer "Saint James the Apostle". Similar images of the apostle can also be found in Spain, where he is venerated as Santiago Matamoros (Jacob the Slayer of the Moors).

The entrance gopuram to Ranganatha Kovil

In the outer districts, the temple looks like a market

Kind brahmins

The forbidden Krishna photo

The entrance gopuram to Ranganatha Temple

Kind brahmins

Visiting the Sri Ranganatha Kovil is quite easy thanks to the efficient city buses. This temple is one of the largest and richest in India and is surrounded by several concentric walls, within which religious life takes place in countless facets. The entrance through the outer wall leads through a massive, wide gopuram, and then you imagine yourself in a brightly colored fair, where everything from dried turmeric (sun symbol, brings luck) to electrically illuminated and animated images of gods (what would we do without semiconductor technology!) sold, which can help the Hindu to a better rebirth.

Kind brahmins

The commercial atmosphere disappears as soon as you cross the last curtain wall; now there is religious seriousness. You wander through hall after hall, you can watch Brahmins having relaxed small talk as well as complex Hindu ceremonies and enjoy the hustle and bustle in the many adjoining side temples. Some Brahmins engaged me in a lengthy conversation in the course of which, to my astonishment, I was neither confronted with that infamous big island in the South Pacific nor with a demand for Bakhshish; Something like this is only possible in South India with its high standard of living and education. Incidentally, the temple has been kept so meticulously clean that even for barefoot phobias, taking off my shoes was not difficult.

The forbidden Krishna photo

By pure mistake (I hadn't noticed the prohibition sign) I even managed to take a photo of a particularly holy Krishna statue in full regalia, around which a puja was currently taking place. I blushed a little, mumbled "Sorry!" and of course deleted one of the easy-to-replace pictures taken earlier. Everyone seemed satisfied with that, and I blamed the unexpected sense of achievement on my particularly favorable karma; most Indians would have done the same, and Sri Vasudeva is known to have a very liberal sense of humor; with Shiva such stunts could end rather unpleasant. ☺

Old steam horse in front of the train station in Trichy

Lime rice (Leman Sadam) with mango pick

Yogurt rice (Dayir Sadam) with buttermilk chiles

Chikkan Biriyani

Old steam horse in front of the train station in Trichy

This is the third time I've come from the north to the south, and every time my stomach starts purring immediately: the South Indian food rocks, and not just in the city of Rock Fort. The area between the bus station and the train station, where the typical low-cost accommodation is also located, is a single street of restaurants, and on both visits mangoes were the fruit of the season, so that one could try countless varieties. From the typical Tamilmeals I've already reported often enough, that's why rice dishes should be the focus today.

Lime rice (Leman Sadam) with mango pick

An iconic dish of Tamil cuisine is lime rice, which was called Leman Sadam on the menu in half English (in pure Tamil it would be called Elumichai Sadam). It consists of rice simply boiled with a little turmeric, which is seasoned with lime juice, asante and curry leaves in a second step; a few roasted peanuts add a nice crunchy factor. In addition, you get mango pickles, which are made here from ripe mangoes and therefore taste considerably more fruity than in other parts of the country, despite the fermentation.

Yogurt rice (Dayir Sadam) with buttermilk chiles

An interesting alternative to this is the Dayir Sadam yoghurt rice, in which the very hearty cooked rice is mixed with raw yoghurt so that it can cook completely in the lukewarm yoghurt and take on a somewhat sticky consistency; the seasoning focuses on roasted cumin. In addition, you get crispy buttermilk chiles (Mor Milagai Vattal), which are also typical for Tamil cuisine: Dried chiles are soaked in buttermilk, dried again and deep-fried before serving until they are dark brown. They have a salty, but not particularly spicy taste and are simply nibbled on to the rice.

Chikkan Biriyani

Tea stand with samovar

In India, vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants are often separated because strict vegetarians refuse to eat when the cook is also handling meat. A small dirty shack at the north end of the bus station served only one dish, namely a respectable Chikkan Biriyani: In the style of Hyderabad, this chicken rice was quite hot, but also highly aromatic with cloves and Indian bay leaves and served with stewing liquid. The shop was on the first floor of a demolished building, and one had a clear view of a litter-strewn courtyard while the rats were happily dancing on the ledge of the window that had been gnawed by time. It still tasted good.

Tea stand with samovar

Almond and saffron milk

Tea stand with samovar

There is a local peculiarity to report with the drinks: Tea is made in Trichy using the samovar method, as I have never seen it in India: the tea merchants have large copper kettles full of hot water and always hold small amounts of highly concentrated, almost black tea brew in stock, which is mixed with milk, hot water and sugar as required for each customer; With this method, my elixir of life, unsweetened black tea, is of course particularly quick and easy to prepare.

Almond and saffron milk

A type of liquid dessert that is cooked every evening in large, shallow pans on the side of the road is particularly popular here: hot milk with almonds and saffron. Strangely enough, it's called Bambe Badam Pal or English Bombay Badam Milk (the actually Persian Badam "Almond" is used throughout Indian English; almond nobody understands here). The saffron aroma effortlessly plays the sugar that has been used too generously on the wall.



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