I think the next few blog posts are going to be out of order (unless I figure out how to order them on blogger).
We left Tirumala and headed to Kanchipuram, which is known as a sari/silk town and the Veranasi of the south. For those of you who remember, Veranasi was my "high expectation, low yield" stop of my previous India trip so I was a little leery - but game.
Kumar once again negotiated traffic with a fierce horn, steady gaze and nerves of steel. We arrived by 2:00 with the plan of 1) lunch, 2) sari shopping, 3) temples (they did not open till 4:00pm). We had an ok veg lunch (I had another masala dhosa) and then Kumar's "friend of a friend" met us to take us to a sari shop. Honestly, I was a little tired and grouchy and was not thrilled by the prospect of the *let me show you 8,000 saris starting price 10,000 rupees! ($500)*. Frannie helped by ignoring the salesman who wanted us to stay in the back room and barged us into the front room where sari's were thrown around like confetti. I did end up finding a sari that I liked and sent it off with the tailor last night to have the sari top made....now to find a place to wear it!
We then headed off to see some of the temples in Kanchipuram. we started at the Kamakshi Amnan Temple. This is a temple to Shiva. It was fairly quiet and I had a real *I am in India* moment when we rounded a corner and found ourselves in a deserted courtyard, with an elephant headed directly at us. It was amazing. Unfortunately, we were not allowed in the actual sanctuary since it was Hindu's only, but it was beautiful.
We then headed to Ekambranathar Temple. This temple is famous for being the site on an ancient Mango tree which was where Shiva married Parvati. We saw the stump of the ACTUAL tree and then again the tree which I assume had been replanted. This temple was a high point. We had several great interactions with priests who blessed us and one in specific who was THRILLED to practice his English, explain who the gods are and their meaning and even pose for pictures.