Word count of the day 1721; total of 16112!
On day one of our Kanyakumari district tour, we decided to check out the Chitharal Malai Kovil. It's not a usual item on a typical Kanyakumari itinerary, but we had heard of it from some of DH's colleagues who had been there.
We turned left from the Marthandam-Pechippara road at Attoor. Then another left at Chitharal junction. The surroundings were idyllic, with small dwellings and a lot of farms. We wound through the meandering road and were wondering whether we were on the right path when a couple of helpful people on the roadside said we couldn't miss it because there was a huge arch at the entrance. Yep, they were right and we parked in a mostly deserted parking lot and went up.
Boy! Was that a climb! It looked all paved and civilized, but it was kind of like the Space Mountain ride at Disney World, only in reverse and of course very slow. For all its looking very level, it was a pretty steep and steady climb to the top - took us half an hour with minimal breaks.
Fortunately stone benches have been provided at strategic points all along the path. But look who we found while we were about to sit down at one.
He was tiny, but we did not allow his size to lull us into a sense of security. The camera was the closest thing that got to him. We gawked at the poor thing (he seemed injured or too lethargic to move quickly although he was making a half hearted attempt to get away) and started moving towards the next bench we could find...
Anyway, we made it to the top and then climbed down some steps strategically placed between four of five huge rocks especially placed to intimidate anyone daring to pass between them and saw this.. I've been told that they are carvings of the Jain thirthankaras.
And then we came to the temple itself. This picture was taken from a rock opposite. Steps have been cut into the surrounding rocks so that we can climb to get good pictures from a distance!
Another view from above - there is a rock-pool just in front of the temple - tempting if it had not been for the carcasses of several mineral water bottles that had committed suicide...
Bounding down the hill took us just 15 minutes - not long when you have sights such as the one below to hold you up - I mean both the guys and the scenery!
We unknowingly had picked a very good time to climb - it was cloudy, yet there was no rain. In the sun, the climb would've been exhausting and the rain would've made everything slippery. But hey, we have travelers' luck on our side!
Edited to add: Somehow the picture spacing has gone wonky on me - looks alright in the preview, but comes miles apart in the blog! Wonder why!!!