We started from Ramapuram on that Sunday morning around 8.00 A.M. Bala, Prakash, and me started from Bala’s room in Prakash’s car. Dinesh and Mahesh joined before the tea stall on the Shanthi Nagar main road. We thought of having a cup of tea and Vada, there in that shop. Dinesh told that there is a good shop on the highway that he is aware of. We were persuaded to drop that idea. “Swami” Mahesh marriage was fixed on September 1, in a month’s time. It was a rare occasion that, he joined in this trip was our fortune. Prakash was driving the car steadfastly on the Mount Poonamallee road. We just stopped once for filling petrol near Kattupakkam. Driving in this road makes you mad with lot of intersections and cattle stuck in the middle. Prakash’s hunger pangs were running hot, and uncontrollable. Driving on these roads obviously makes you tired by negotiating vehicles coming on the wrong side, slow moving trucks, and the minivans loading the goods occupying the half of the road meant for fast moving vehicles.
We stopped for breakfast at hotel Welcome after crossing the Sunguvarchatram. I remembered my trips to Tada and Nagala, where our breakfast location was always non-descript hotels serving the local flair lying in the deep and remote villages. This hotel was mostly unexciting rather than being most welcome. The food was still needed for us, and we had nothing to complain about the food. Development of the SIPCOT factory and the NH has robbed us of the small homely food stalls that might have existed before the road was widened. Thanking our heavens for the breakfast, we started from there. We reached Kanchipuram around 9.45 A.M.
Visit to the abode of god Vishnu
We visited the famous Varadharaja Perumal temple. Temple stood tall and gopura was majestic, awesome and inspiring from a distance while walking towards the temple along the Agrahara Street. Architecture of the houses was an indication to the old and historical significance of the temple. The 100 foot high gopura welcomed us. The side walls of the temple complex were up to a kilometer in all the four directions. Calling Perumal temple as “Vinnagara kovil” (spanning the sky) in Tamil does make sense. With full devotion, we entered inside one of the 108 divya desams of the Vishnu. After the darshan of Ambal, and Perumal shrine, we worshipped the golden lizard fixed below the roof. There was Sun, Moon images sculpted above the lizard. It is supposed to bring good fortune for the devotee.
The sanctum was at some height, lending the good view to the outside praharam from the side windows. Lord Vishnu was standing at some height at the centre of Sanctum. There was a well at the North east corner of the Praharam. Adjacent to the Praharam, there was this thinnai (resting places) of five foot height. I asked Prakash, whether he could climb on it without using steps on just upper body strength. Immediately every one of us jumped up, and proved their agility and stamina. I got nostalgic about my child hood when we were running on streets and climbing on these thinnai’s. “Pattusu” Bala had some problems climbing, but he made it ultimately. Any one devotee who comes daily to the temple and repeat this exercise will get fitter after every visit to the temple.
We visited Chakkarathalvar sannithi near the temple pond. There was a hundred pillared mandapam which was such an architectural marvel. Entire mandapam is a monolithic structure sculpted from a single rock. Every pillar had a cavalry soldier shown in a sitting position with the sword held high over the right hand. There was image of two soldiers being stamped by the galloping horse. We stopped awe inspiring over the dedication of the sculptors and builders of Pallava period. People worked for passion, values and a vision towards achieving the great work. Our local guide told us that the people used to get only their basic needs satisfied for doing the work in that time. The people were simple, skillful, dedicated and hardworking at once.
We become six
Dinesh narrated his college time experiences when doing his engineering at Meenakshi College in Kanchipuram. He told about the Ratham car festival at the Perumal temple, when he gets a local holiday for college. He told that he went for theatre to see “Sillunu oru kadhal” movie for five rupees ticket. Our friend “Singa kutty” Dinesh joined us from Vandavasi. Mahesh and I were waiting near the car sitting on the entrance of an agrahara house. One person came and asked money for having tea. Mahesh told “Change illa”. He quipped to me that the person might be even the Lord Perumal himself coming to visit his devotees. Mahesh stood true to his title “Swami” through this kind of small talks. But, yes the spiritual power of this place is such that even gods might choose to walk as humans on this land. We had some guava fruits near the temple.
Swami Mahesh’s Thiruvilayadal (God’s play)
It was eleven A.M. We had to go the mandapam for Seemandham function which was our main objective. But Swami Mahesh persisted that we visit the Ekambareswarar temple. Kanchipuram district is famous for its Shiva temples. This one was right inside the heart of Kanchipuram, the district capital. We worshipped the female deity first and then the lingam inside. There was this Mango tree, which is 3,500 years old, under which the auspicious marriage of Lord Shiva and Kamakshi Amman was held. The divine couple gave their appearance to his devotees under this tree. Surprisingly the mango tree has stopped growing in height and expanded and covered the vast expanse over the radial direction.
Tryst with Kanchipuram silk
We had good food at the function, containing 21 items in total including the pickles, beetroot sweet, and the milk payasam (kheer). It seemed that the Mother Annapoorani took a special care of us on that noon. We were not able to have some extra white rice with rasam or sambar; for that variety rice combo and the sweets satiated our hunger and filled our stomach. Dinesh took as special liking to the ice creams served outside the lunch hall. Wishing our host Hemachandran sir, we bid good bye to Mandapam. We went to purchase Kanchipuram silk sari for the marriage of Mahesh. After lot of thought, Mahesh chose one green sari for his mother. We thanked Lord Kamakshi and left with the wish of visiting the Kamakshi Amman temple in one more beautiful visit.