I spent a few days exploring the temples in Madurai and Tiruchirappalli (also known as Trichy). What an awesome experience! Both cities are loud and chaotic places, but in the temples you'll find an oasis of serenity and cheerfullness. Hindu people who come here show a kind of devotion that is quite alien to me, but I did enjoy the atmosphere a lot. You'll find pilgrims, families and surprisingly few western tourists. There are places inside the temples that are off limits for non-hindus, but I could explore large areas (and the temples really are huge).
Most hindus were very welcoming and many thanked me for visiting. Odd, isn't it? I was often asked to take a photo of them, and again they thanked me, if I did so.
In Trichy I was lucky enough to arrive for a 20 day festival, that happens once a year. The Brahmins would carry around statues of hindu gods which are shown to the public only once a year. Many Indians were very eager to catch a glimpse (and take a photo with their cellphone) of these statues. There was a strange, but very enjoyable mix of devotion and cheerfulness in the air. A mix I never experienced in any other religion.
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