Ivan and I took a bus inland towards Thanjavur. This should have been a 4-hour bus journey on a single bus.
However, as neither of us spoke/read Tamil (Ivan speaks a bit of Hindi – but hey, it’s not Tamil), we were directed by people at the bus station towards a bus which brought us to a bus station in another town. We then took a bus to yet another bus station in another town. And then another bus from another bus station in another town to Thanjavur.
Ivan kept getting mauled (roughly elbowed and pushed) by local students getting on the buses – he was condemned to the aisle seat by me as he has a longer temper fuse than I do. If I had been sitting in the aisle seat, I would have blown up an hour into the bus ride and probably would have started glaring at anyone who happened to knock their way past me. A bruise developed on his upper right arm. I have no idea how he put up with all that shoving and still remained calm.
There was apparently a direct bus which would have taken us from Chidambaram to Thanjavur for 100 rupees each, but we didn’t see it.
We took a total of 3 buses and 5 hours to get to Thanjavur. We saved 10 rupees each.
Money saving reached a new low, but I guess every cent (literally) counts.
I was glad to have mailed 5kg of my baggage back to Singapore at the post office in Chidambaram. My backpack was much lighter, but my arm muscles were still not happy hauling my backpack up and down three buses. It takes talent to lift my backpack up to the narrow baggage ledge.
The main attraction in Thanjavur was the Big Temple (seriously, this is how the temple was referred to in English on a road sign!), or the Brihadishwara Temple. The Lonely Planet guide book recommends that visitors to the temple should visit it once in the evening and another time in the morning to see the way the light hits the carvings on the temple.
This temple compound is huge, and one of the nicer ones I had seen in Tamilnadu. However, the compound was a little dirty within clearly marked areas of the compound.
The Palace and the Saraswathi Museum is another place to visit if you are in Thanjavur.
I was very fascinated in the stuff they had in the Palace library. They had books from the time when Asia was still an unknown variable to the Europeans. Sadly, no photos allowed in the library. I spent some time pressing my face against the glass display cases.
There was a small amusement park next to the Big Temple in Thanjavur. It was one of those pop-up amusement parks. The entry fee was 30 rupees, and it was sad.
Not many people were in it, but we were in Thanjavur on a weekday. Maybe it will be crowded on the weekend?
I didn’t go on any rides because… the safety precautions were kinda scanty; I am older and wary; and the structures looked rickety.
EDIT: D assures me that these rides are safe!