It took a 7 hour train to get to Madurai. This city is one of South India's oldest cities and has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries.
True to form we spent some time wandering around and shopping. We found a covered market which was based in a site that looked ancient. Looking up into the roof there were amazing designs carved into the rock. It actually detracted us from the goods!
The main site in Madurai is the Sri Meenakshi Temple complex. This is a breathtaking temple covered from top to bottom in a profusion of multicoloured images of gods and goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The main sights of the temple were covered though as every 12 years they repaint it - and this was the 12th year! Typical!
We did see a ceremony called 'Putting the Gods to Bed' though. Admist much chanting, ringing of bells and music, priests carry in carvings of two Gods to put them to bed. This was an amazing experience but unfortuantely spoiled by tourists determined to take pictures of sacred area, getting in the way of worshippers. Admittedly it is nice to record such wonderful sights but you do have to be a responsible traveller!! - though I was sorely tempted to take a photo of the priest who, whilst performing his rituals and only wearing a skirt piece, had a mobile phone stuck down the front. The joy of technology.
The city like most of them in India, was busy and crowded and I looked forward to escape to the beaches once more.