Pretext: (Don’t expect me to write on Mahamaham – a Hindu festival celebrated every 12 years in the Mahamaham tank located in the heart of the south Indian temple town Kumanbakonam. And taking dip on Mahamaham kulam (tank) which is believed to bring good deeds and remove sins.)
Mornings are meant to be fresh and traveling during that time would be optimum. And my travel from Ariyalur to Kumbakonam was appropriate with the mood and the activities of morning caught my attention. I could see so many students riding in bicycle to school and most of them were girls. All where pedaling standard bicycles that was given by the state government for free of cost. It was wonderful to see them, cycling in uniform in a line or two, leaving no hindrance to the freeway and utilizing the benefit of government in right way. The free bicycles were provided to all govt. and govt. aided high school students, from very long time, but who utilize the most were the students in rural – with schools at distant. I know some people who have resold their free bicycles (not only cycles, but many freebies) but seeing these students using things to the fullest make feel same. I believe not everyone is in need of freebies and people have better things than the government supplied and the govt. has to realized this and make certain the freebies are given to people who deserve. And by doing so, the taxation could be reduced or utilized for other essential.
On our way we come across many villages with cafes transformed into mini hotels at the morning hours, providing basic cuisine like hot Idlis, Vada, Dosa etc… and at one place someone transferred a plate full of steaming Idlis from their home to their little shop outside left us with desire. But as we were heading for the temple town (Kumbakonam) with an intention of taking holy dip at the Mahamaham tank, parents hesitate to eat at those outlets as mostly aren’t pure veg! Glad we could find a moderate mess at a village town close to Kumbakonam and parcelled the breakfast and moved out and settled on a by lane aside a dry channel before entering the town. The preparation for the big day (Mahamaham) was in full swing then and many parking’s were created along the way and about 6 or 7 km away from the Mahamaham tank and we couldn’t access right into the town, but was forced to take the specific routes designed for the Mahamaham festival.
I put on navigation on the Google maps pointing at Mahamaham tank before entering the town and many indications were also kept alongside the roads directing to the tank. But at a distance of 2 km, the road marked as leading to temple, was blocked and was asked to cover the distance by walk leaving the car somewhere. The weather was hot and walking through it (in bare footed) put pause among others. But we decide to move further to find any other route and as expected the Google maps showed me an alternate way that passes through little streets. I also noticed the distance gets lesser as we move further on the route and at last found a parking lot with a distance less than a km to the tank. Leaving me at the car along with my dad, others went to take dip in the Mahamaham tank and later my cousin returned, taking some quick dips in few wells (yes, there are about 20 wells inside the tank and the water level was sustained to knee) to send my father to partake.
|Pretty green landscape/field near Sirkazhi|
As time passes into noon, the weather become hotter and we couldn’t sit inside the car without switched on to AC. There wasn’t a thing to provide shelter and all cars are parked under scorching sun opposite to a big marriage hall. The people kept arriving and outgoing on all major roads leading to the tank and to my surprise my family returned to the parking lot in an hour and some! I heard from them that people are allowed to enter the tank from one back and exit on the other. Though the tank was crowded it wasn’t complaint but the temples around them have queue that extends for a km kept them away. Going to Kumbakonam and coming out without pictures of a temple and so make disappointing, but I didn’t get a chance to prove it was a temple town. Perhaps I could visit Kumbakonam at any other time in future as that wasn’t the right moment to explore the town and no one could make a way rather designed by the police department.
I could see ample police all over the town and many cops were brought from faraway districts like Thirunelveli and more than 15 gates where created for the Mahamaham to control the crowd. It was estimated as more than 1 million people have taken holy dip at the Mahamaham tank on the Mahamaham day – Feb 22, 2016. On our way back to home, we took ECR (east coast road) via Sirkazhi, Chidambaram and Pondicherry. The roads were pretty fine except going through many curves and speed breakers creating mild difficulty, but the scenes on this road make forget those. Near Kollidam (between Sirkazhi and Chidambaram), we come across rows of shops selling handcrafts made of bamboos. Though we were into late afternoon, we couldn’t stop anywhere to take leisure photos and also on this road we are pleased by the sights of some pretty green fields making vast carpets of green.
|One of the many shops that sell bamboo handicrafts near Kollidam (Sirkazhi), on ECR. The shops sell mostly basket swing chairs, rocking easy chairs, stools and fruit baskets all made of bamboos.|
We had our lunch at Sirkazhi and I went for tamarind rice unlike others who went for meals. It was something I could not forget, because what I ate was tasted as my favourite Puliyotharai which is given in temples. It was a small pure veg. restaurant on the street of Vaitheeswaran Koil – a well-known Hindu temple for palm leaf astrology and the Lord Shiva here is referred as god of healing. We parked the car in front of the hotel and they served me a plate of tamarind rice at my seat. I ever had Puliyotharai as my entire lunch and I could still recollection the flavor and the desire for it continue to exist. We had our evening coffee and snacks at Pondicherry and continue to drive on scenic road, but it doesn’t look scenic anymore as it was on its transformation from state to national highway. Ever like before we witnessed number of vehicles coming on the opposite side of the road which perhaps heading to Mahamaham!