10th December, 1935
Visited the Temple under the guidance of an eighty year old Hindu. The temple is reputed to cover three square miles and some parts date back thousands of years whilst one part was built as recently as fifty years ago. A portion of the temple is left off as shops and a large income is derived from rentals. There are thirteen great Gopuras or gate towers covered by minute and intricate carvings. Really wonderful but the only impression I get is that the old rulers kept everyone working to keep them out of worse mischief. Some of the pillars are carved out of huge blocks of stone and have stood for thousands of years. At one alter we were garlanded with flowers placed around our necks, which cost us roughly five rupees – or 7/6 sterling. The garlands looked like ropes of camomile flowers. We visited many halls or temples and usually there was a large following, the natives looking upon us a curiosities (or monstrosities – we could not read their minds or understand their language). We then visited the Hall of A Thousand Pillars, all carved. There are 999 to be correct but anyone counting them makes the total 1000. Whichever way you look at them they are all in a line. In the middle of the hall it was rather dark and there were hundreds of bats and the stench!!! In all these old temples one can smell the bats immediately, – a horrible sickly smell. There were hundreds of religious fanatics there – all marking themselves with whitewash, bathing and prostrating themselves before various gods. We were fortunate to witness a procession – drums beating loudly and some musical instruments squeaking. A white cow, a camel, three elephants – one small, one large and a tremendous fellow – all draped in coloured cloths. Then followed the gods, borne on bamboos by natives staggering under their weight. Then a smaller procession with men with more drums and squeakers – or flageolets. When in the temple at Madura we noticed a card on one of the pillars and asked our guide to read it for us. He said “No spite, – no spitting”. A minute later he stopped behind and blew his nose on the temple floor. The people seem to have nothing to do but hang around the temple and some sleep on the floor there. What a religion – so many sects and all mythology (some not nice). We see another temple tomorrow but not at close quarters if I can help it.
Left Madura about 3pm and are now at Trichinopoly retiring rooms in the railway station. I had just got my hands and face almost well again from the sunburn and I am now in a terrible mess again. Insect bites at the temple – possibly from the garland of flowers. Bites on my wrists, hands and face. When I looked in the glass I got a shock for my left ear looked just like the handle on a pint pot. Mac counted the bites on his legs and they numbered 85. One of mine is as good as the whole of his 85.