Why we went to South India

We went to South India for several reasons, but the primary reason was to take this picture at the Hampi Temple Complex.

The object of this picture is a chariot carved from stone.  The chariot originally contained a Garuda, an eagle-like creature from Hindu mythology. The chariot represents the type of cart that Hindu idols are carried in during religious processions. This chariot stands guard outside a temple to Vishnu and is oriented so that the Garuda can gaze at the idol representing the god inside.

Vishnu is one of the three main Hindu gods.  Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu is responsible for its continuation, and Shiva is responsible for its destruction. Each Hindu god has an animal-like vehicle for travel and Vishnu travels on the back of the Garuda. Vishnu is incarnated at times of need. Two incarnations of Vishnu that are familiar in the West are Buddha (not everyone in India agrees with this) and Krishna, whose American supporters — the Hari Krishnas — made it difficult to pass through airports in the 1970’s because of their chanting and soliciting of donations. It wasn’t clear to us if the Garuda gets reincarnated also.

Fun facts:

(1) This chariot is of such significance that its image is on the money.

(2) For centuries, the stone wheels could be turned, but the Indian government decided to cement them in place.

BSNL Broadband

We used Trinetra Tours for our trip to South India (this is the second time we have used them and they are excellent). The welcome letter from the managing director, Tapas Banerjee, included the following:

“I must say that you might find a lot of poverty and deprivation around you. Please do not analyze it at that very point in time. All this, what we think of as sufferings, should help us to see our own lives in a different perspective. Perhaps to realize how lucky we are with material endowments and in spite of this we seek more and more. Also, another way of looking at this issue would be to see these people in their rags so happy and hospitable. Are we the same, in spite of all our material acquisitions?”

We took this photo from the window of a private air-conditioned van on the way to visit the ruins at Hampi.  The women are drawing water from a tank and washing clothes as a cow strolls by.  Scenes like this were common in our travels and made the advice in the welcome letter resonate.