The Family pilgrimage – Our Spiritual Adventure !!!
Life for me had always been that of a nomad. Two years is maximum time that I have spent at a place after I got married. Though is not strange for me…. Coming from an army background it has been a part and parcel since then. Moreover, I think that this has moulded me to be much stronger, bolder and genial. The day Nikhil told me that we are shifting to Coimbatore, a town way down southern India, it really made me sad…as I never wanted to move out of Udaipur. A place that has been so close to my heart. But no choice…we finally shifted…. Settling down in fact takes time.
Feeling at home in Coimbatore was really tough for both of us. The place makes you feel alienated and isolated….language is one barrier that we had to face ….Each day came with an experience. Whether it was ordering food in a restaurant or buying grocery….it was too tough. I still remember Nikhil made a call to a restaurant for ordering food and he started speaking in English and the hotel manager shouted on phone “No Tamil no order”. How am I supposed to speak in Tamil if I don’t know?….I could feel his annoyance. Everything from shop hoardings to bus routes, is in Tamil….It’s like travelling overseas..I was missing my family. But I never openly discussed it with Nikhil, as I could see him really enjoying his new venture.
There are few people in my family that I’m really close to…and ‘Masi’ is one of them.I have experienced some of the most powerful emotionswith this lady. Many of us struggle to find a close acquaintance but I somehow feel blessed.
I keenly wanted them to visit us… Infact I was even ready to beg It took me over 15 days to convince them to come over….But trust me it is really hard to persuade this boy (my brother)….But at last they were coming…. All 4 of them – Masi, Mumma, Anshu&Pooju…
They landed at Coimbatore, and penning down my happiness is hard to express. Both these ladies are bit on the spiritual side, and moreover Tamil Nadu is a state of most popular temples in the country. From magnificent Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai to splendid Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameshwaram… this time the places on the itinerary were ought to be a must visit to these places. After a day trip around the city, the next thing was Madurai and Rameshwaram.
Though we started our journey a bit late, after a small altercation that mom and I sorted out in the morning. Nikhil was confused and kept asking – Are we going or Are we not going? Nikhil was going to be our driver, with Mumma on the co-driver seat. Rest 4 of us stuffed ourselves on the back seat and we kept exchanging positions throughout the drive. We reached Madurai at 2 o’clock. The temple gates were closed and will only open at 4 o’clock was what the watchman at the main gate told us. Amongst congested, dusty, noisy, and typical hustle and bustle of people, Madurai is a spiritual sanctuary.We could see the grand sprawling temple complex from a distance of 500 metres. The centre tower is not just a chaotic jumble of jaded structures, but well-planned artistic treasure-troves.
We spent our time digging at a small restaurant ‘Modern Sweets’, which served their local delicacies. That time the famous saying felt to be true ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Never thought that this small crammed, stuffy and shabby looking restaurant, would serve us one of the best meals we had ever, and believe me, this is something that all six of us are going to remember for a long time to come. After a finger licking lunch, we made our way to the temple. The temple complex in itself is breathtaking, given the fort like walls pierced with lofty towers, surrounding a huge area of spectacular dominance of architecture. The panoramic spectacle of the temple immediately sinks in – upon entering the temple. This was the first time Nikhil was really mesmerised by the superb architecture. A long winding queue finally landed us to the main temple chambers, where we saw the most revering of sights and we were simply awestruck. There she was, Parvati, known as Meenakshi Amman, and I swear I heard Nikhil saying it out loud, that this is the most religious and spiritual he has ever felt.
The next destination on the plans was Rameshwaram. We started in the evening to reach the very tip of the Indian Peninsula, situated in the Gulf of Mannar. It was a cool and breezy evening. A strong gust of wind blew, dark and fluffy clouds drifted transversely in the sky, lightning flashed across…. it seemed a storm was coming. We reached Rameshwaram late at midnight. The hotel was just next to the temple. Thefour (Anshu, Pooju, Nikhil and I) kids are not the spiritual ones (Nikhil prefers to be counted amongst the kids list)…. I don’t know about them but I could feel a sense of relaxation. The air had a different tranquillity and serenity. The sea that was just a stone throw from our hotel had a rhythmic pulse which was unmatched by any other part of nature. It forges its own sounds and kindles its own symphony…. I truly felt the It was like being wrapped in comforting serenity of warm sounds (that came from the sea) and soft light (that came from the moon that lit the towers of the temple).
We were up for the temple’ Aarti’ before the Sun woke up (4’Oclock). The Ramanathaswamy Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and generally very crowed, but we were lucky. Standing in front of the ‘Shiva Linga’ made me experience the calmness of soul, mind and body.
We waited for both Mumma & Masi who went for the extensive darshanas, at a small tea shop just outside our hotel. When finally we met them, we found a sense of extreme satisfaction on their faces and they just couldn’t stop smiling. Because of our family, Nikhil & I just completed another Dham together and this was a spiritual trip that we are going to remember for a very very long time.
Although this was a spiritual trip, but we, KIDS, managed to enjoy as well, since while returning, we made plans to visit Dhanushkodi, a small deserted town of the British era. We were there at around noon and the sand was already burning hot and the sun was scorching. We parked our car and boarded a small mini-bus, similar to the ones which ply as Metro connect coaches in Delhi, but the road being travelled seemed a lot different. The driver manoeuvred the bus through the swamps and at times it felt as if the tyre would get stuck and then we all would have to get down and push it out, but luckily it didn’t happen and we made our way to the place. We spent a couple or three hours there and sipped on the cool coconut water while enjoying the sight. The sea was beautiful and was far stretched upto the horizon. We started back, but we felt there was something missing. So, along the road, Nikhil found an open place to park the car, which led us directly to an open beach, where hell went loose. We spent around 2 hours in the water, splashing each other, enjoying the high raging waves, and removing the sand from our pockets.