27 Apr - 01 May 2011 Chidambaram

South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Tamil Nadu
Clean and spacious double room for INR 660.- or US$ 14.90 per night. Professional staff.
Beer: 650-ml bottles of ice-cold Kingfisher Premium Lager (5 % alc./vol.) for INR 120.- or US$ 2.65 per large bottle in the hotel’s homely a/c bar aka “permit room”.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Hotel Akshaya in Chidambaram, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Spotting those fashionscious, greedwashing and rather camera-shy Brahmins of the Dikshitar caste with their funky hair top-knot aka mun kudumi on their heads, the ritual specialists and almost extortionist money collectors (each of them has an individual share in the temple income) of the impressive 11th-century CE Sabhanayaka Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram, one of the holiest Hindu sites in South India where Shiva is enthroned as Lord of the Cosmic Dance, and learning that those distinctive beacon lights high up on top of the temple’s huge gopuram, the towered temple gateways which are embellished with numerous colourful sculptures, were used as landmarks by sailors far out at sea in the treacherous Bay of Bengal.

Being invited by the Sivasakthi Music & Dance School’s principal and watching young local girls practicing gracefully and dedicated the Carnatic classical dance, the bharathanatyam, which can be traced back to principles enshrined in the Natya Shastra, a Sanskrit treatise on dramaturgy dating from the 1st century BCE (where, amongst others, 36 different eye movements for the dancer are described).

Attending the stunning Carnatic recital of a bharathanatyam dance performance by the famous professional temple dancer Thaniya Kanaka Mahalakshmi at dusk in the Sabhanayaka Nataraja Temple and admiring the incredible range of resources at her disposal when she communicated the meaning of her dance to the thrilled audience: costume and make-up, body language and facial expression, eye movements and stylised gestures - simply wonderful!

Taking the nail-bitingly fast Meenu Travels express bus +919940197917, steered by a flipped out virtuoso of bus driver, who relentlessly played his three air horns, for only INR 22.- or US$ 0.50 per person, from Chidambaram to the uninspiring former French colony of Pondicherry (funny Indian flatfoots in deGaulle-style red k├ępis, well-stocked wine shops on virtually every street corner, richly ornamented Catholic churches everywhere) and thereafter a rather tame T.N.S.T.C. bus (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation +914425366351), for INR 33.- or US$ 0.75 per person, from Pondicherry up the Coromandel Coast (thus passing India’s first atomic power station at Kalpakkam, infamous for its 1987 CE refuelling accident that ruptured the reactor core, resulting in a two-year shutdown; shit happens) to Mamallapuram aka Mahabalipuram, India’s stone-carving capital and another great UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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