We spent a quiet New Year Eve at Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of Indian mainland. We were on a family trip to South India, that was gradually nearing its end.
On 1st January, 2015, we woke up to a new year with a quick breakfast and then a train ride.
Our next destination was Madurai. Another city, after Chennai, known for its silk trade.
We reached Madurai in the afternoon, and landed in a pretty posh hotel. After taking some rest, we set out to visit the Meenakshi Temple.
The Meenakshi Temple was an immense temple, in area, in grandeur, and in height. Our hotel was about a kilometer away from the temple, and the temple top was visible from there.
The temple has four gates, in north, south, east and west, all as enormous as the temple itself. However, unlike many other temples of south India, these were brightly coloured and decorated.
We entered from the East Gate.
We went to Rameshwaram. Known as ‘The Temple City’, this place has many mythological connections. It is also known for being the birthplace of former President of India, the “Missile Man of India”, APJ Abdul Kalam.
Rameshwaram is actually on an island, connected via a bridge. Tourist vehicles usually stop for a few minutes on the bridge connecting mainland and the island. The view from there is breathtaking, just awesome.
At first we visited a temple popularly called ‘Rameshwaram Temple’. It was also as immense as the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.
Our bus made its next stop at a place known for its mythological importance. There was a temple dedicated to Hanuman (the monkey-god, assistant to Lord Rama).
Legend has it, that when the evil Ravana abducted Rama‘s wife Sita, and took her to Lanka, Rama gathered an army of monkeys to fight Ravana. In order to cross the sea, they threw rocks in the sea, and they floated, thus making a bridge for the monkey army. Thus Ravana was defeated and Sita freed.
The priests at the Hanuman temple showed us some such rocks that float on water. They also offered us to take some rock pieces as memento, for a high price though.
Then we went to the ‘Gandhamadan‘ hill. It is said that Hanuman had carried the mountain to that location when he couldn’t identify the herb required by the doctor to treat the injured brother of Lord Rama during the war with Ravana.
Ultimately it was time to return.
We had a little New Year Party, and cake cutting on the hotel roof when we reached Madurai.
It was the last day of our trip. So there was a tinge of sadness. We packed our bags and rode on our little tourist bus. The destination was a nearby hill station, Kodaikanal.
It was a very long drive before we first spotted the mountains. As we climbed up the hilly roads, it began to get chilly. Really chilly.
Then it began to get foggy.
We also went to park where you can walk by the mountain side for 1.5-2 km. The bus dropped us at the starting of the park, and picked us up on the other side. It was a lovely experience, the mountain view on one side of the road, and little local shops on the other side. There were small shops selling locally-made chocolates. I bought some for Hank, but he didn’t seem to like it much.
We had a little picnic by the side of the lake.
After that our little bus carried us back to the Chennai Central Station, for returning back home.
In that crowd, once my grandma got lost !! We searched and searched, and my parents finally found her. But I was still searching on the other side of the station !!
Then my parents got the station-master to announce my name on the microphone, and thus I came back to them.
We reached home on the night of 5th January. I returned my normal life immediately, and went back to college to complete the registration for a new semester.
Hank and Andy were already there. Brian joined us in a few days, late as always..
A new semester awaited us. New fun, new stories, new people, new studies.. Look up this space for more stories from a hostel room of an engineering college..