Photographer's Note

Kerala - Munnar - Eventful journey to tea country

As said with my previous photo, it was time to go back to Kerala.
From Madurai this would be easy by bus. Both directly and if desired with a switch in Theni.
However, meanwhile Kerala had experienced events that would affect my journey, that of many others and also the lives of many Indians.

In Kerala theres the Sabarimala temple, the site of one of the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimate of between 17 million and 50 million devotees visiting every year. (Info from Wikipedia)
This temple, however, was prohibited terrain for women between 10 and 50 years old.
The Kerala Supreme Court once ruled that this prohibition should remain because it was in accordance with the practices that prevailed since time immemorial.

However, on 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India overturned the restriction on the entry of women, declaring it unconstitutional and discriminatory. The ban was not an essential part of Hinduism.

On 2 January 2019, for the first time two Indian women in their early 40s entered the shrine.
This for the first time since the Supreme Court verdict, after attempts of many others failed due to protests by devotees. That day it was possible because both ladies visited the temple under police protection.

Strictly religious groups protested immediately and certain days were declared a general strike throughout Kerala. Also the busses in Kerala were on strike.

Since I had booked a hotel in Munnar, Kerala and my hotel in Madurai, Tamil Nadu had no room left, I searched for a way to make the journey.
I was told that it would be possible to make the trip by car (and with a driver).
I did indeed get there but I was on the road all day.
This because of blockages of the road and a long detour along small roads that had to be taken.

I noticed that all Indians that day were willing to help but were extremely scared of the strikers or at least of the strict religious groups who had declared the strike.
That strict religious aspect was a new experience for me. Until then I had always experienced India as very tolerant.

It's clear that in India too the old customs are no longer accepted indiscriminately and that women claim their rights.

Just before dark, I reached Munnar and the hotel that I had booked.

There I was told that it would be difficult to find dinner since because of the strike restaurants (even those of bigger hotels) had to close their doors. That problem turned out to be a little easier to solve.
I hung around at the closed entrance of a larger hotel until someone came out and told me to go to the back door. There the same person opened the door, led me through a corridor to a back room where a few Indians enjoyed a meal. I received a menu and was allowed to order.

So this was my arrival in Munnar, the capital of the South Indian tea land.

Later I would go through another strike. Then I was able to make my (smaller) trip with an auto rickshaw instead of the bus.

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5077 W: 17 N: 12169] (49028)
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  • Date Taken: 2019-01-03
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  • : 30
  • : , Workshop
  • Date Submitted: 2019-08-03 13:00
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Points: 50
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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5077 W: 17 N: 12169] (49028)
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