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It took us a little while to get started, but after a breakfast of toast and jam (we didn’t trust this particular place with anything else) and the long check out procedure, we grabbed a tuk-tuk to take us to the ‘Big Temple’ (Brihadisvara), built in 1010 by Raja Raja I.

Off with our shoes at the first gopura (they were placed in bags in a very crowded little arcade packed with stalls), and we wandered around the huge compound, around another giant Nandi in its own pavilion, through small shrines, and around a colonnade sheltering many lingams (a priest was busy washing one); all towered over by the 61m tall vimana (tower). We got the usual requests for selfies with locals. There were lots of people about, either filing through the shrines to get their blessing, or lazing about in whatever shade could be found. Some mats were laid across the flagstones, but our sensitive feet had a tough time of it, and it was only 10am or so. Despite this, it’s enjoyable walking around in bare feet.

Another tuk-tuk ride – frustratingly, we’d sometimes pick a tuk-tuk and then be kicked out of it and shepherded over to another by some guy whose turn it was next according to the impenetrable rules of tuk-tuk precedence. Anyway we made it to the Royal Palace, which is a bit of a ruined mid-renovation mess, but did have some hidden gems – an incredible library museum with some beautiful medieval Sanskrit leaf books and a weird and wonderful collection of books and manuscripts collected by Serfoji II (1798-1832), including some bizarre illustrations blending animal and human faces (Doctor Moreau’s lost sketchbook perhaps?), old maps, illustrated Chinese torture methods, miniature paintings and more. There were some dusty rooms with 12th century bronzes in them, some bits of sculpture, and then, hidden away, a spectacular durbar hall, sadly covered in graffiti in places, but gorgeously decorated in vivid colours.

Back to the hotel and we got a good driver this time, who took us the half hour or so to Tiruchirappalli (known as Trichy) and our next hotel (the Marriott). When we went downstairs to have lunch, they had a trio playing very loud music, and the bar was the usual dark, deserted, creepy room (we didn’t stay for a drink), so we stayed in our room and got food and drink sent up (yes, only one type of beer available despite the menu). I had a chicken panini which thankfully was fine.

For some reason I’m coughing constantly again, and it’s getting bad… 

For dinner, I had a chicken tikka pizza that was actually pretty good. 

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