Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Bank of Cauvery


I was on my way to Sri Rangam, situated on the bank of Cauvery River which flows from the state of Karnataka finally to sink in the Bay of Bengal. Srirangam is just a few kilometers away from Trichy, Tamil Nadu. I was accompanied by my friend who was on his to Madurai. We boarded into the Vaigai Express at the Egmore Railway Station. The Egmore Railway Station is the hub for travelling to South Tamil Nadu. Many trains are operated from here to visit various places of the south. It was built in the British period, painted in red, still looking good.

W, M, A?!

We’d reserved the tickets earlier so we had no urgency to rush into the station. But the train arrived only half an hour late. By the time the station was filled with co-passengers. Some of them were in black dress going to Sabarimalai in Kerala. Many devotees go Sabarimalai to worship God Iyyapan every year in December – January. They have to keep fasting for a month before to worship the ‘Magara Jothi’. We were allocated corner seats next to the door. The seats arrangement for three persons in a row, but only two can sit comfortably. It is hard to sit on the corner seat. Though we found to sit uncomfortably, we sat opposite to each other for a better conversation. I could see a number board indicating the letters ‘W’, ‘M’, ‘A’. I was thinking what it meant. I couldn’t get it right.

The train departed at 1.00 pm instead of 12.30 pm. It was moving slowly until we reached Tambaram. After reaching Tambaram, The train woke up and moved a little fast. Then the vendors in the train coming one by one taking variety of foods, Sambar Saatham (Dal Rice), Puli Saatham (Tamarind Rice), Thayir Saatham (Curd Rice), Chappatis, Pooris, Vadai along with Coffee and Tea, etc. That made us to be hungry. We had taken lunch from home itself. I had taken Lemon Rice and my friend had taken Tamarind Rice with Chutey. The train in middle took rest at the Melmaruvathur Railway Station, where there is a temple dedicated to Hindu Goddess Adhiparasakthi. The month of December is dedicated for worshipping the Goddess. Usually the train doesn’t make a stop here. Since, the Railway Department wanted to cash in on the huge pilgrims visit and do a needful; it had made an arrangement to stop some trains running through this way. Whatever it could be, it was convenient for the devotees that they could find it comfortable travelling by train. By the time I found the abbreviations for ‘W’ as Window seat, ‘M’ as Middle seat, still had no clue about ‘A’. It became difficult to sit for long time especially on the corner seat. And the persons sharing the seat with me in the row didn’t seem to be concerned about my uneasiness. I had to adjust till I reached Trichy. Yeah! I finally found the abbreviation for ‘A’ may be, intentionally, as “Adjusted seat”.

TRICHY JUNCTION

On the way, the train was passing over many stations, Tindivanam, Villupuram and Ariyalur. I expected that the train would stop at Sri Rangam station where I had to alight but the train didn’t stop and continued only to reach Trichy Junction. The Gopuram of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple was visible some years before, now the growth of the city hided the vision.

It was my cousin waiting at the Trichy Railway Station to receive me. With the heavy bag I had, he was very useful to give me an extra hand. The train reached the station at 7.30 pm. My friend who accompanied me in the train had to continue to reach Madurai to attend a family marriage function. So, I said sent him off and walked out of the station.

I revisited Trichy after about 15 years. The city was unidentifiable with many changes. I could remember some of the places that I had to look for. I stayed at my uncle’s home.

SRI RANGANATHASWAMY TEMPLE

The next day I planned to go to Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. It is the abode of Lord Sri Vishnu whose idol was here in sleeping position. The temple’s Gopuram, which is the main entrance, is one of the largest Gopuram in the country. It is said that from the top one can see the country Sri Lanka. As it was December, it was crowded and I had to follow a long queue. Apart from the main Gopuram there are 21 Gopurams are situated at this land which is spread over about 60 hectares. It may take hours to see all the places here. The temple has story that related to Rock Fort Temple. The God Ganesha is the reason for the establishment of this temple, who placed the idol of Sri Vishnu near the bank of Cauvery and went up the rock and sat there itself which was now worshiped as Vinayagar Temple.

Information: Visiting time: Morning 6.00 am to 1.00 pm – Evening 3.00 pm to 9.00 pm

SRI JAMBUKESHWARAR TEMPLE

In the evening, I went to Sri Jambukeshwarar Temple which is dedicatd to Lord Shiva and Parvathi situated just near to the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. The place is called Thiruvanaikoil. It is also one of the old temples in the country. The water is flowing over the Lingum, I’m not aware from where it is coming. If anybody knows, please let me. The temple was so calm and many people do Meditation here. With the devotional songs, the place is so good to soothe our mind.

Information: Visiting time: Morning 6.00 am to 1.00 pm – Evening 3.00 pm to 9.00 pm


TRAVEL INFORMATION
Trains:
From Chennai Egmore there are 3 trains which go to Trichy.
Vaigai Express – departs at 12.30 pm – Fare Rs.100/- (doesn’t stop at Sri Rangam)
Pallavan Express – departs at 3.00 pm – Fare Rs.100/- (stops at Sri Rangam)
Rock Fort Express – departs at 9.40 pm – Fare Rs. 140/-

Buses:
There are so many buses from Chennai – Koyambedu Bus Terminus to Trichy for every 10 minutes. Travel time is about 7-8 hours and the fare is about Rs. 130/-

Air:
Trichy has an Airport for domestic purpose and it is proposed to make it International Airport

Accomodation:
There are many hotels available here for all standards of people from budget to luxury.

Location:
To find the location, click the tag below ‘Location’.

Note: Please check the exact times and rates before making any conclusion, it may vary slightly.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Clouds over the Head

We were wakened up so early. I couldn’t open my eyes. I was so exhausted. We had alighted at the Tirupur railway station only at about 10 o’clock in the last night after nine hours of journey from Chennai. Tirupur is in Coimbatore district, South Tamil Nadu. I couldn’t sleep well in the night because of tiredness. But I got to be ready to catch a bus to attend a wedding ceremony in Madurai. It was still dark and so cool. The dew was hiding the houses nearby. The street lights were glowing through the dew. I brushed my teeth without any effort as my hands were shivering well enough to clean them. The water was so cold and I could take only hot bath. The call-taxi had come by the time we were all ready. The driver seemed as he must have just got up. I was seated in the front with a hope that he drive well. He had completed his last trip only at 11 o’clock last night. While on the way to bus stand, I could see people were walking and running to burn their fat even in that cold morning. Some of them were in their sweaters hoping to sweat out! Otherwise the roads looked desert except a few vehicles were crisscrossing the signals at a junction with four loads.

We reached at the bus stand at 5 o’clock. The bus stand was so busy even at that early morning. People were moving here and there. After finalizing, we settled in a bus to Madurai which was to start by 5.30. The bus was not crowd with lot of seats were still unoccupied and that confused me to choose the right one. I was accompanied by my mom, aunt, younger sister and cousin. They got their seats and left me to sit alone. I found a window seat to place myself as I liked to watch the things that moving in the opposite direction to the bus. But my assumption was wrong. The bus started moving slowly to reach the main road. Soon after the bus reached the main road and started picking up the speed, I started shivering as the cold wind blowing over my face and body heavily. I tried to close the window door but it was so hard to shut down, I wondered why! I couldn’t bear it any more. So I decided to move to any other seat and found one. The guy who was sitting near the window started sleeping even it was winding cool. Since I was tired without sleep I also decided to sleep. But I could hardly close my eyes without seeing the things on the road.

After passing some kilometers, the bus was moving towards Ottanchatiram which was situated near Palani, where one of the six abodes of God Murugan is situated. Ottanchatiram is some kilometers away from Madurai. It was more of a village; thatched houses, greenery fields, cattle wandering around the fields, some primary schools with the bells yet to ring and of course a local court (Panchayath) with a banyan tree rooted again in to the earth from where it’d come, showing the truth. Though I was not sitting near the window I could see the scenery on the way. There were hills along the road on both the side firmly standing and stopping the movement of the clouds. The clouds were so near. It could be just around 30 feet over the head. That was the first time I saw clouds so near. If you can climb the hill, you can certainly touch them. The white clouds were resisting movement any further. With the snow falling over the hills, the atmosphere was marvelous to see. The hills were not too height. There were green trees and grass all over it. Though the sun was hiding, its thin rays were enough to make the atmosphere glow; feeding the nature.

As the bus was nearing Ottanchatiram, I could see a mother of hills. The bus was moving towards it. The mother hill was so stronger than her children hills. It seemed to be a few kilometers away to reach there. The bus was moving and moving, still we couldn’t reach it. I was longing to see its top. It was possible only after some more minutes. It was a huge hill (maybe I’m exclaiming it more as it was the first time I saw a huge hill near). Near the hill, there were more shops; it was a hub for the people in the nearby villages. The place was so busy just like metros except their tension. There was a bus stand. The bus stopped there to take some more people. Now, the bus was so crowded with school going children, working people and some passersby. Some were lifting up luggage on the top. The conductor became busy to ensure that all have tickets. The bus started moving right opposite direction to the hill so I couldn’t see it again. On the way, I saw a ‘Sandhai’, a market where the people of nearby villages gather to sell or buy or just barter the things they want right from cattle to grains. I saw many cattle in that ‘Sandhai’. Before I realize the things happened in the market, the bus moved fast finally to reach Madurai. I have left the sights I enjoyed seeing on the way and taken its memories and penned them into words.
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