We left Madurai early in the morning on our way to Thanjavur (200 kilometres away) via Tiruchirappalli. I must say that I was once again impressed by the green colour of the rice paddies and the rather exquisite rock formations one could see from inside the bus.
Upon reaching Tiruchirappalli we briefly drove by the Gothic Church of our Lady of Lourd, (said to have preserved its antiquity by having kept its initial architectural features by not having been repaired), which I happened to photographed from inside the bus. Its architecture looked impressive at the first glance and I felt we should have visited it, even if briefly.
We visited the Amma Mandapam Place instead, whose columned entrance lined by beggars and sick people displaying their visible diseases created the first impact. Although they didn't approach those who walked in their piercing eyes and stretched out arms were clearly touching.
Once we stepped out in the open courtyard the atmosphere was similar to any other worshipping place we had been to before despite the fact that the temple priests were lined up in a row with numbers placed on their allocated places. We were told they are often requested to pray for childbirth and similar services.
Several little shrines were spread around the courtyard, which overlooked the banks of the river Cauveri, one of the sacred rivers of India, where several ceremonies and rituals are regularly carried out, with pilgrims' bathing in its waters for good fortune being one of them.
Image of Vishnu lying on a multi-headed serpent (detail)
On our way out we came across an elephant being fed close to where some families were lying down. I wondered if the yellow coloured clothes they were wearing had anything to do with the identification of casts, as I had briefly read somewhere.