Sridhar Venkatasubramanian

Fantasy Inspirational Others

4  

Sridhar Venkatasubramanian

Fantasy Inspirational Others

An Enchanting Tale Of Our Tour Of South India-Part 12 Of 20

An Enchanting Tale Of Our Tour Of South India-Part 12 Of 20

3 mins
16


OUR SOUTH INDIA TOUR IN 1975

 

My father’s hometown and other stories

 

From Rameswaram, we proceeded towards Madurai. 

 

Madurai is well known for Meenakshi Temple. It is also called ‘Thoonga Nagaram’ (a city that never sleeps). You will get hot milk and idlis even well beyond midnight, in small roadside shops. Again, Madurai is very famous for its jasmine flower. People say that idlis in Madurai are white and soft like jasmine flowers. 

 

My Father’s Hometown

 

My father had spent the first four decades of his life in Madurai, before his transfer to Calcutta in 1966.

 

We boarded the train at Rameswaram at around 3’o clock in the afternoon. The train was scheduled to reach Madurai by 9.00 p.m. But it was running late. I kept looking out of the window and reading out the names of the stations we were passing through. After some time, we stopped at a small station bearing the peculiar name of ‘SILSIMAN’. When I pointed that to my father, he said that we are now very near to Madurai. Already I could see his eyes were misty and travelling down memory lane. He told that within a short time, we will be seeing the lights on the huge GOPURAMS or Pyramids of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. The sight of the pyramids of the temple were indeed a sight that would take one’s breath away.

 

In Madurai, we checked into a hotel called 'College House’ which is very near to the railway station and the temple. It was a pretty decent hotel. The food was sumptuous. In the evening my father specially ordered Vazhakkai Bajji (Raw Banana slices dipped in besan and deep fried in oil). It was heavenly. He fondly recalled that when we were residing in Madurai, some ten years back, he used to often bring that item for us, while returning from office.

 

During the next two days, we spent roaming around the streets of Madurai. My father knew the lanes and by-lanes around the temple like the back of his hand. Even the auto-rickshaw drivers were surprised when he directed them through the narrow alleys. He took me around various shops that sold bronze items (where we bought some traditional lamps) and snack shops selling ‘Kara Sevai’ (a savoury akin to ‘Kurkure’). Then we went shopping at an ancient shop selling ‘Eeya Sombu’(a vessel made of an alloy of tin and other metals). It is said that when cooked in that vessel, the rasam (a South Indian delicacy) acquires a unique smell and flavour. 

 

Then he took us to a place near the railway station where he used to hang out with his schoolmates during the summer holidays. There were quite a large number of tamarind and mango trees. He recalled how they use to climb the trees to pluck and enjoy the fruits. 

 

We also met two of my father’s school friends and some of his office colleagues. Oh boy!! How glad they were when they got to meet him after almost a decade.

 

We also visited two more houses of Lord Karthikeya. The first one was Pazhamudhircholai which is situated atop a hill 25 km away from Madurai. It is a very beautiful hill covered with a lot of trees bearing fruits and of course, there were equally quite a lot of monkeys. There were natural springs too on the way. The water from the springs was sweet and carried the aroma of herbs that grow on the hill. It was a wonderful trek up the hill, although it being the summertime.

 

Another temple of Lord Karthikeya, near Madurai, is at the foothills of Thiruppuramkundram, a huge monolithic rock more than one thousand feet high. It is a very popular pilgrimage destination, next only to that of Meenakshi Temple. Thiruppuramkundram is about 5 km from Madurai railway station.

 

In the next episode, I will share the story of how a stranger helped us when all hope was lost. 


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