Two years ago Nithya and I went along on a two day holiday trip to Tirunelveli organised Mystical Palmyra an organisation led by Priya Thyagarajan, a young pocket dynamo with extraordinary organisational skills, and Pradeep Chakravarthy a historian and epigraphist. This was a pilot effort by the duo and around thirty of us made up the tour party. Most of us knew a few in the group, but none of us knew everyone.
Early Pandya Cave Temple, Thirumalapuram
That trip did have some glitches. We visited several temples to savour their architectural, social, and cultural content. But many in the tour group thought that worship was part of the tour agenda. This resulted in the schedule going haywire. But in all other respects the holiday was very enjoyable and we got to see and learn about many interesting facts connected with the places and regions that we visited, including the local cuisine. We also go to know the others in the group and found them to be very good company.
Steeple of hill-top church, Thirumalapuram
Before the trip ended the organisers asked for feedback from all the tour members and by the time the next tour came along in about three months they acted on most of the suggestions. It was decided that these tours would focus on the cultural and heritage aspects, and not on religious worship. Since then Nithya and I have been on all the tours organised by Mystical Palmyra, which translates to a tour every three months or so.
A structure near the rear entrance to the temple at Thiruppudai Maruthur
Typically we leave on a Thursday evening and return on Sunday morning so that we can rest and recover to face the week on Monday morning. We spend two nights on the train and one night in a hotel. And local travel in the region that we visit is in a/c coaches. And over the last two years it has got to the point where we not only look forward to visiting new places but also in getting together with familiar faces in the tour group.
Sculpture in Narumpoonathar Koil at Thiruppudai Maruthur,
The sketches in this post are from the two tours to Tirunelveli. The second one was in December last year. The first three sketches were made on location and the last one was done later using a photograph taken on the trip for reference. Over the next few posts I propose to share more of these sketches and some of the stories related to them with you.