January 17, 2014

Of Shores and Temples

Kanyakumari
The rock lies about 200 meters off the shore of the cape. He paused for a while and then jumped into the merging waters of the three great seas. He swam up to the last bits of Indian rock, meditated there for 3 days and attained enlightenment.



So goes the (highly controversial) legend of Vivekananda. Why he went there? I do not know. Why I went there? (After so many attempts at making people accompany me to this place.) I do not know that either. But finally, this family trip of ours did fulfill the calling.
Kanyakumari hasn't got as much to offer you that could keep you there for more than a day. I somehow managed to keep my family rooted there for two days. Cause I loved the place. I had always known I would. Why? I do not know that as well.

The wind and the waves seem confused. Coming in from three directions. You yourself wouldn't know which way you would sway the next moment. The sun rises from the green waters of the Bay of Bengal and sets in the blue of the Arabian sea.
I guess there might be some truth in Vivekananda having stayed three days on that rock. For I know time becomes a totally different dimension when you are sitting at that spot. How? Go and find out. And take me with you.

Rain, Rainbows and Coconut Forests
Never saw a greater turnout for a sunrise (except Chhath puja :D )
Mum
And Me
Vatakottai Fort
Stream meets the Sea
Cause I made them stay a day longer
You don't simply avoid local sight-seeing :-/



The rest of the tour was more or less temple tourism. It began in Kanyakumari itself. The Suchindram Temple - where a male must be naked  waist-up to enter the temple.


Madurai
Porthamarai Kulam (Pond with a golden lotus) is located in the campus of this great temple with four pyramidal gopurams (entrance towers). Lord Shiva promised a stork that no fish or other marine life would grow in it and it doesn't. Tamil legends state that the lake is supposed to judge the worth of a new piece of literature. Authors place their works here and the poorly wriiten ones sink while the scholastic ones float.

Temples. They wouldn't let you carry anything that you would like but your money. Always your money. Special darshan, parikrama, abhishek, moksha - these do not come under the priceless category anymore and hence your mastercard can get you these.Take the top ten temples of India and their revenue will outdo the Fortune number one by heavens.
The highpoints were the windmills enroute Madurai and the Meenakshi Temple.

Windfarm - Just outside Kanyakumari
Meenakshi (Parvati) Temple

Rameswaram
They needed to cross the sea. They had to build a bridge. Two of them could identify pumice (rocks of igneous origin that could float on water). So they went about looking for such stone and marked them by writing 'Ram' on them to help others identify which rocks to pick.

My interpretation was termed obnoxious. 
Lord Hanuman built the bridge. Rocks floated because Lord Ram's name was written on them. Period.

Somehow, nobody thought of boats. The technology was sound enough for existence of a Pushpak Vimana (an airship that traveled with the speed of your thoughts) but not a decent boat. 
I kept this thought to myself. Religious sentiments. Faith. Whatever keeps the earth spinning.

The Ramnathaswamy temple has 22 kundas (water-wells) and a pilgrim is supposed to bathe in each of them. The temple is huge with long corridors and each of those kundas are separated by considerable distance. You usually would not have a lot of time at hand due to early closure timings of the temple. So it would a kind of temple run cum treasure hunt as you run from one kunda to the other through the corridors.
Apart from the temple run, the Pamban bridge is a treat - connecting main land India to the island of Rameswaram over the gulf of Mannar.


Pamban Bridge (not to be confused with the bridge that Lord Rama bulit)


Thiruvananthapuram
The Padmanabhaswamy temple has 6 vaults. Of these one vault has not been opened. Two snakes are carved on the door. There are no locks, no bolts, yet they cannot be opened. The priests and astrologers claim that human efforts to force open the vault would have apocalyptic results. The treasures of other vaults were inventoried and their net worth is estimated to exceed 50 billion US Dollars. The unopened vault is estimated to contain treasures worth 1 trillion US Dollars.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple

To enter the temple you must wear the traditional dhoti.
Another noteworthy place where you need to lose your clothes is the Kovalam beach. The waves there are huge. So is the fun.

Kovalam




***************************************************************************
Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation or hurting religious sentiments intended.
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline.
Everything is relative to your perspective.

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