The streets canopied by mansions gave way to roads filled with highway dhabas, empty fields as we near the city of Madurai. We entered a city laid out in concentric squares; a city that cradled an infant civilisation, the city of Madurai. We visited the heart of the city, Meenakshi Amman Temple. The temple was filled with devotees and travellers, the goddess was indulged in frequent poojas and processions. The team was greatly surprised at the procession that happens every night where the god retires on a chariot to the goddess’ shrine. The thousand pillared palace was an architectural delight. We tapped on the pillars to hear the different notes. As the evening set in, the daily ritual of carrying the god to the shrine of the goddess began. To our astonishment, the golden chariot was followed by an elephant and a camel, which was a common sight to the natives. Our guests watched the procession in amazement while the locals were more amused by them.
The next morning, we had arranged for a rickshaw ride through flower markets where the photographers went all out. We had a hard time catching up with a photographer, an extremely talented 23-year-old woman, who ducked and dived to capture the minute nuances of the market life. Every car ride was subject to frequent stops. Women with jasmine flowers on hair, children playing traditional games by the streets - everything triggered excitement in our guests. To our delight, we got to witness a marriage procession on our way out of Madurai, where the bride’s family was walking together carrying gifts for the groom’s family.