A pilgrimage town in Tamil Nadu – definitely the most crowded one I have seen to so far. I’m not just talking about people – you have to carefully weave your way through the narrow streets and avoid others who are apparently in a hurry to get a peak inside the temple – the cows and goats! For those who find multitasking hard this can be quite a challenge – you need to look up to avoid running into an animal or a person but at the same time you have to look down so you don’t step into some little surprises left by the former (or latter?!)
Everything in the town is centred around the Ramanathaswamy temple. A little history lesson for you all – When Rama decided to worship Shiva he needed a lingam. Since hanuman took too long to bring a lingam , Sita made a mound of sand which Ram could use in the mean time. The temple houses the worlds holiest sand mound!! There are also water tanks which the pilgrims use to bath and drink from.
The day I went in for a darshan (viewing) was apparently an excellent day! According to the Hindu calendar it was shiv and Parwatis wedding day. Despite the 2000 people inside the temple I could feel a strong energy inside though there was a minute or two in the middle when I thought I would pass out with the heat and claustrophobia.
I got asked the unavoidable question about my nationality about 20 times and of course once they knew I was Indian the usual string of questions followed – why are you travelling alone? Your parents let you travel alone? When do you plan on getting married ? Why aren’t you at home? Don’t you feel scared? 7 weeks of answering these questions and I think I’m ready for a rapid fire round to check speed and efficiency of answering.
The next morning I headed to Dhanushkodi. It’s about 20 km from town and plays more of a role of being the last point of India than Kanyakumari. It plays quite a significant role in Hindu mythology. The Adams bridge (a chain of reefs and sandbanks) can be seen from here. This bridge is said to have connected Sri Lanka and India back in the day with the former being just 30 kilometres away!! I wish I had brought my passport on this trip so I could have hopped across to another country as well!!
I also stopped at a temple containing Ram’s footprints. This is the highest point on the island and has a good view over the coastal landscape!
Dhanushkodi was struck with a devastating cyclone in 1964 and to say the least – it left the town absolutely shattered. Remains of the railway line can still be seen along the roads. Rusted and mangled -it gives you the chills.
I shared an auto with a family from Coimbatore to see all these places and despite the fact that none of us understood each other because of a language barrier our auto driver played the role of an interpreter. He spoke English Hindi and Tamil!! He took us around and showed us Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s school as well as a small museum built in his honour. In a small street tucked away – I saw an amazing little museum. Everything ranging from write ups, to pictures to awards, to achievements – it was all there! I had no idea this place even existed! Our auto driver was also walking through the gallery with us and seemed very pleased with himself!!
Done with the busy and crowded little town I was bracing myself for the 10 hour long bus journey to Kanyakumari!