Tamil Tales is a series of experiences from my recent backpacking trip to the state of Tamil Nadu (TN). Hoping you would enjoy the journey as I take you through the inner echoes on outer experiences
I was relieved to see my luggage safe at the tour operator’s office; guess after all trusting your instincts helps. The bus for Rameswaram was ready to go and my seat was secured. The tour operator waited till I boarded the bus and called twice to check how my journey was going.
To be honest, it was going a bit cranky, the driver was playing some funky Tamil music on full volume. When I asked a co-passenger on the next seat to request the driver to lower the volume; in his broken English he said “music stop, driver sleep, and accident; you want sleep or no accident?” This sounded like Puneri sarcasm in English with a Tamil accent. I plugged in my earphones, played known songs, and closed my eyes – an attempt towards sleeping. The bus reached Rameswaram around 1 am! Usually, I plan my travel in such a way that I don’t end up reaching unknown places at odd hours; this time due to weather and limited transport options during the COVID period couldn’t plan it accordingly. However, the hotel manager, where I have my stay booked , was a gentleman. He offered to send his known auto fella for my pick up. Until I got down the bus was not much bothered about time. The moment bus dropped me; I realized at that hour- it was me, 2 random auto-wallas, and 3 stray dogs on that chowk. I clearly remember the scene as I am writing this so imagine the impact 😊 I asked the bus driver can he wait until the auto I’m looking for comes, he immediately agreed “ok ma”. The stray dogs and one of the random auto-walla were coming towards me, there was nothing to scare actually, but they say right? The human mind imagines and exaggerates the situations; especially the bad ones, same happened!! And suddenly like they showed in the Dhoom movie one auto appeared out of nowhere, I checked the number so that was my auto, or shall I say rescue chariot who safely took me to the hotel.
The next day morning I visited the Rameswaram temple to seek blessings of Lord Shiva, this is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples. According to Ramayana, Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva (Ishwar) after killing Ravana – a Brahmin and to absolve himself from “brahman hatya dosh”; that’s how the place got its name. The temple is again a marvelous piece of architecture and art, the long corridors, 1000+ pillars-gopurams, and temple tanks, every corner of it! As you pass through the main corridor you notice the story of two lingas in the temple depicted on the walls. Yes, there are two lingas one that Devi Sita prepared with sand – Ramalingam, as Hanuman Ji delayed getting the ‘Vishwaligam’ from Mt. Kailash. Devotees are first to take a dip in the 22 temple tanks- “Teerthas” then pray to Vishwaligam and then seek the blessing of the main Ramalingam; however, due to COVID protocols the tanks were closed. The temple also has Jeeva Samadhi of Maharshi Patanjali behind the Nataraja shrine. I felt blessed to be able to pay obeisance to Yog Maharshi at his Jeeva Samadhi.
Another important place to visit in Rameswaram is our former President’s Bharat Ratna APJ Abdul Kalam’s memorial and place of residence – which gives you a glimpse of his ordinary life and extraordinary achievements. To me he is the person who gave a vision of millennium “India 2020”, who “ignited Minds” of Indian youths with hope, whose life is an inspiration to “Wings of Fire”; who taught to learn from one’s life “Turning Points” and to believe in oneself as “You Are Born to Blossom” his writings have always been a source of inspirations – he was a powerhouse of knowledge, unmatched scientist, true to heart Indian and moreover a superb human being.
On my way to Dhanuskodi I stopped at Ramar Patham; means the feet imprint of Lord Rama. It is the highest point in Rameswaram giving the entire city’s view. It is believed that Shri Ram and his army rested and planned their strategy for Lanka. Here I met two interesting people. A 10-year-old girl Samupriya selling chopped fruits outside the temple and her grandfather. She caught my attention as she was sharply negotiating with a man 5 times her age. While I was buying from her and chit-chatting about whether she goes to school, about her studies, and what she aspires to become; her grandfather questioned me about my qualification and profession. I told him I’m a CA and thinking that he would not know was about to explain what it is he said “ah auditor”. I was surprised that a person who is earning his livelihood sitting outside the temple knew about it. I asked him how he knows; he promptly gestured to record his answers on video like I did for Samupriya, and talked about his interest in reading and acquiring knowledge.
Later, I headed to Dhanuskodi a ghost town on the southern top of Pamban Island Tamil Nadu. The road to this town has a scenic view as it has the Bay of Bengal – giving a tranquil feel on one side and the Indian ocean- with its roaring force, towards the other. While providing the guided ride the cab driver giggled and said due to these characteristics he thinks the Bay of Bengal symbolizes men and the Indian Ocean women. Towards the end of the road, these two water bodies meet creating an idyllic confluence. The place has a connection to Ramayana as Lord Rama and Vanar-Sena built a Setu using floating stones to enter Lanka and after returning victorious Lord Rama destroyed the bridge using one end of the bow hence the name ‘Dhanuskodi’. The town suffered significant damage in 1964’s devastating cyclone and the ruins can be seen here.
The place is quite scenic, even a wise mind who understands that beauty cannot be captured enough in-camera keeps clicking in an attempt to seize the moments and memories. I was no exception to it. Even though the Bay of Bengal is said to be the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean that meets the ocean at Dhanuskodi; their colors are different hues of blue. The Indian Ocean with its force, light blue colors like that of a sky and white sand; looks enticing and the Bay of Bengal with its calmness, cyan color, and regular sand looks equally alluring. Isn’t it similar to human moods? At times we are chirpy and energetic, and there are times when we like to stay calm and in solace, both can be perfectly full of life in their own way!! As I let my mind immerse in nature and surroundings all my ‘mind ears’ could hear was the sound of wind and waves. For a moment; half a second maybe, I felt both these sounds are merging to be one! I believe life in its truest form is made up of moments like these.
With these experiences it was time to leave Dhanuskodi and Rameswaram; had a bus to catch for my next destination. Gazing through the bus window from the Pamban road bridge saw the seashore where earlier fishermen’s boats looked colorful ready to sail during daytime were now looking all alike in silhouettes resting at the shore waiting for a fresh start on sunrise!! And I was waiting for my journey’s next halt; wanna join me there? (to be continued…)
Join the journey in the next blog post of the series “Tamil Tales”.
Link for the first part https://soulsanvaad.com/2021/10/31/tamil-tales-chennai-to-kanyakumari/
© 08.11.2021 The copyright and other intellectual property rights of this content and pictures are with the author and Soulसंवाद .