India is roughly comprised of 28 states and a few other territories, each with it's own unique character. Just about every state has it's own predominant local language, besides Hindi which is commonly spoken all over the country. The place-names are often a reflection of the local tongue. Here in the populous South-eastern state of Tamil Nadu, some of the names can be tricky tongue-twisters (see "daily distances" at the end of this post). It's not surprising then that locals refer to many of these places by abbreviated names, which in itself can be tricky when asking for directions. The food as well is distinctive, and locals take pride in their famed South-Indian dishes - to which I've rather taken a liking (fortunately for me the food is cheap). Tamil Nadu state has many temples and other holy sites, which often consist of beatiful elaborately decorated structures in the "Dravidian" style (such as in the region of cities like Thiruchirappalli and Madurai) (see top picture). The town of Mamallaporam is a world heritage site due to it's ancient rock-carved temple (see second picture) and other structures, as well as being a laid-back beach haven for travellers. Since leaving Cape Comorin we've woven our way, often on back roads, via many of these places of interest. On the back roads the traffic is not that hectic, and one sees more of village life such as the practice of spreading harvested sheaves of rice in the road to be threshed by the traffic (I also did my part in the process). We even deviated to the small coastal village of Pichavaram, where we took a row-boat on the backwater channels amongst the mangroves. This village, as well as many others along this section of coastline, are still in the process of rebuilding after the devastating tsunami of 26 Dec 2004. We also spent a day or 2 in the former French territory of Pondicherry, where the "flavour of France" is still very evident. For the past few days Leana and I have cycled apart, but then (inevitably) more than once we ended up at the same place at night as budget accommodation in peak season is rather limited. Now we're both in Chennai, staying at a very interesting old travellers favourite lodge (see bottom picture). I'm not sure where I'll be going from here (I'm even considering hitching a ride on a ship to Thailand, but my initial enquiries don't make me very optimistic about this option). My options are further limited by finances which are in a rather desparate state (please see my request at top r-hand side of page). Daily distances cycled since Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) have been:- Tirunelveli 83 km; Sattur 83 km; Madurai 81 km; Tirupattur 70 km; Pudukottai 58 km; Thiruchirappalli 55 km; Thanjavur 63 km; Mayiladuthurai 78 km; Pichavaram 58 km; Pondicherry 93 km; Mamallaporam 102 km; and Chennai 66 km. Total distance cycled since Cape Town is 34 750 km.