Kannur was an idyllic 3 days. after which I headed back down to Trivandrum. There, some family friends picked me up and brought me to their house, where I dozed a bit before hopping a bus to Kanyakumari, at the very southern tip of India. Kanyakumari is in Tamil Nadu, and it is located at the confluence of 3 seas. Inevitably, the sunset/sunrise is gorgeous, and I managed a fabulous picture of the former. Kanyakumari is the sight where Gandhi’s ashes were set adrift in the ocean, and where Swami Vivekananda meditated on the social justice aspects of Hinduism. Both events are commemorated by excellent memorials.
Then I hopped an overnight train to Rameshwaram, which I shared with about 10 other people, all elderly. It was nice to be in A/C and have the compartment to myself. At the very early hour of 5:20 am, we arrived, and I departed and wandered my way through the dark to the main temple of Ramanathaswamy.
There are 4 main temples in India that form the Char Dham, sites of pilgrimmage undertaken by all Hindus in their lifetime. Two of them I’ve seen – Dwarka in the west and Badrinath in the north. This third one is in the south, and I decided, since I was in the area, that I would go visit.
So, before sunrise I showed up, and made my way to the water to take a quick dip (or rather, dip my toes). Then I dried off to some extent, and made my way into the temple.
The temple is enormous. I walked the corridors for quite some time (coming across an elephant in a pen at one point), stopping for darshan at various points. Then I meandered my way to the center (after considerable wandering and getting a bit lost) for a brief puja, and then made my way out again. Then I hired a rickshaw driver to take me to the end of the island, where I could just barely make out Sri Lanka in the distance.
At Rameshwaram, it is said that Rama took his steps toward Lanka to free Sita from the demon Ravana. It is also said that Ravana’s brother surrendered here, and offered penance. After defeating Ravana, Rama offered penance for his sin of killing a Brahmin.
After leaving the temple, I made my way to the bus stand, to take the bus to Madurai. Just as a note, always ask about where the bus stops…. in my case, it took almost 5 hours to arrive as we kept stopping everywhere…..
Madurai is the home of the Sri Meenakshi Temple – a blinding display of S Indian architecture. Also huge. Tonight, I take the train back to Trivandrum, and find some way to Periyar…..