When my friends used to go to Ooty and other places for summer vacation, I always ended up at the one place where you can really beat Summer. Madurai . But in all those years, I have never had a glass of jigarthanda ever. That small problem was taken care of in my recent trip.
But of course, the trip was not just about the jigarthanda. It was about Temples, Spirituality and Sex (it is getting really tough to separate these 2 in our temples however hard we might like to) The ‘enlightened eye’ helps here as well. As a child, we were not allowed to ask unnecessary questions about statues. We just had to close our eyes and pray. Maybe our parents knew about the dangers if we opened our eyes There were the usual sculptures of busty women, men and mythical creatures with their privates out for all to see but this time I saw an especially weird image etched onto a stone pillar. This was at a temple in Thirupparankundram. Tell me what you think of it.
Having said all this, you really should make a trip to Madurai for all the wonderful temples. Whatever sanitized version of religion you might be hearing from your parents, you will see for yourself that our folks in the past really had that naughty edge to them Go and marvel at the intricate workmanship.
We had been to Meenakshi Amman temple, Thirupparankundram, and Azhagar malai. Both Thirupparankundram and Azhagar malai house 2 temples of the Arupadai veedu of Murugan. I have been there before but this time, I also managed to see the sickle of Karuppanna Swamy, a border God for just 54 Rupees. I felt this was a brilliant business idea. You can’t see the weapon of God. Not unless you shell out 54 bucks. Yaay!! Azhagar malai is full of monkeys. So be careful with the food you are carrying. Unless you want to do a rock bottom to the monkey.
Madurai is also about great food and any person will tell you that Madurai is the place where you get piping hot idlis with 5 different chutneys all 24 hours. It is also the place where you get hardcore non vegetarian food. Go to Amma’s mess and Simmakkal Konar Kadai for that. Apparently, the mutton kari dosa at Konar Kadai and the bone marrow omelette from Amma’s mess are brilliant. Sadly, I couldn’t sample it this time.
For a great Vegetarian meal, please visit Sriram mess near the railway junction. Totally loved the food. Do keep in mind that most of the places which serve meals will do so on a plantain leaf. If you don’t like that, visit other places. Here you will have to scoop food from a leaf. You can’t be forking here You get a 4 course meal at Sriram mess. That just means you get sambhar, kozhambu, rasam and curd with rice. Unlimited, of course. You also get unlimited helpings of a poriyal, koottu, pickle and a single helping of appalam (papad), masala vadai and moar milagai / sundakkai. The food is pretty basic fare but incredibly tasty. Especially the sambar. Do have it with extra paruppu and nei (Dal and ghee). The cost is Rs 70 per meal and is great value for money. For 30 Rs more, you get a chapathi and AC. A waste, if you ask me.
And now the jigarthanda, a drink very popular in Madurai but not known outside. I loved the drink. It tasted like a milk shake version of basundhi but lighter. Smelled great too. The texture of one component, made from badam (Badam paste) was a bit squishy. The drink is brilliant. It is made by mixing different items: Thickened milk, Sherbet / sugar solution, badam paste and icecream (Khova flavour) and is made in just a minute. A piece of advice would be to get 2 scoops of icecream rather than 1. One drink will set you back by 25 / 35 INR depending on single / double scoop of ice cream.
All in all, a good trip. I tasted the jigarthanda, had a couple of awesome lunches at Sriram mess and was witness to some grotesque imagery. Konar Kadai and Amma’s mess will be on the radar next time I visit the place.
Recently came across a wonderful article in Kafila about our ancient <a href=”http://kafila.org/2013/03/24/when-the-vishwa-hindu-parishad-went-time-travelling-ilija-