April · Temples

The Old Lady and the Hill

A few years ago I was interning at the circus in Kerala. Each day we would go out and put up posters, talk to people and try and drive as many consumers to the show. Work was from 9 am to 6 pm with a one hour break in the afternoon for a quick nap. Work was hard and it was hot as hell. I would go to this really small gym at 7 pm everyday just so that i would have something to do in the evening.

Vishu is a festival that is celebrate in Kerala and i happened to have the day off. I decided to go and see Sabrimala. I have heard a lot about it in the past and have lots of friends that make the journey each year. I never was interested as it meant that i had to stop smoking for a month and walk quite a lot to the temple which was on a hill.  Anyways I asked around for directions and it turns out that the base of the hill was only about 60 KMs away. Quickly got dressed and left to to to the temple. The idea was to go to the bottom of the hill and see what happens. I had heard that the river that flows at the bottom was pristine and the arathi that happens there was something that should not be seen. Rode to the pumpa quickly, did only one stpo for chai on the way. India runs on Chai. Usually i would stop a  couple of times at-least but this time i had heard that this was the only day that the temple was open and i shouldn’t miss it.

Sabarimala2Reached the river at the bottom on the hill. It was beautiful. Lots of water flowing in the summer which is amazing as always. The river was clean and the fire setup at the bottom of the river was huge. I spoke to a shop keeper about how far to go up to the temple. He tells me its only one km. I mean one km isn’t far at all and i decide to climb up. As i start to climb i see pilgrims of all sort of shapes, sizes etc climbing. There are these guys that have a palinquin that carry people up the hill too. It takes 4 people to carry one person. Usually old people use this service. Halfway up the hill i noticed an old lady who was about 90 climbing the hill unaided. I mean at 90 she still had the energy to climb. Spoke to her for a couple of mins and she had started climbing early morning. It had taken her 2 hours to reach where i had it 20 mins. I mean to go along and to keep climbing is a miracle. I quickly found out that the distance between the base and the temple was 8 km. So anytime someone in Kerala tells you its around the bend or its just here, remember that it is 8 km away.

sabarimala_templeFinally reached the temple without any smoke breaks as nobody was smoking on the hill. I had a smaller queue to wait in than the piligrims. The setup is that we get about 5 seconds whereas the piligrims that wear the mala and give up a bunch of things get longer to say their prayers. Anyways what i saw was amazing , the top part of the temple was built of gold / gold plated. Apparently someone had donated it to the temple. The light from the temple apparently can be seen from miles on end. Surprisingly my Wife has a property a few kms away from the temple and their is a point in the estate that you can see the temple and the light each evening. What was even more surprising was there were old people who put in the effort to walk all the way up to the temple. Its real effort and for that age its amazing.

Quickly walked back down and rode back to the circus. Apparently people were looking for me to help with a bunch of things.  I was told that stuff like this rarely happened. I was lucky to go to that particular temple as a lot of people wanted to but couldn’t go for some unforeseen reason. Anyways the experience was lovely. The path back followed the edge of the forest which was quiet and the ride was brilliant. Looks like i will go back if and when i can.

Cheers

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