It is not very common to get opportunities to revisit temple towns in short intervals but then it happened for me this time.
After finishing the Temple lap at Kumbakonam, we had to leave to Kancheepuram the same day as we just had two days at our disposal as my family was scheduled to return to Bangalore from Chennai by then.
We faced a minor problem here as Kancheepuram and Kumbakonam while not too distant from each other , are located on two different routes and are not connected by a train either.
We had to take the Chennai bus from here and get off at a town called Chengalapattu.
We took a bus from Kancheepuram, a modest Hi-tech Bus in the evening at 5 PM and the bus rolled on labouriously in the ‘roads under repairs’ slowly, (mentioned earlier), till we hit the four track Highway once again.
Then onwards it was a smooth ride as far as the roads were concerned but the earlier delay had taken its toll on time. We reached the so-called ‘diversion point’ at Chengalpattu only by night 9-30PM. We alighted from the bus into a dark corner with the big Highway passing above as a fly-over.
The place was dark, just a bare road -side, no shops, no shelter and no one else was around. ‘They must have some shelters and put street lights at such transit points,’ I was thinking. I could see some anxiety in my wife’s eyes and the children were tired after a 5 hour travel too.
A North Indian student, who had travelled with us on the bus and also a fellow passenger till Walajabad (where he studies Engineering) on this diversion, kept assuring us that the ‘buses are there’ and that I need not worry.
Not more than ten difficult minutes had thus passed, when a Bus to Kancheepuram rolled into a stop before us. We were greatly relieved to board this bus at a late hour of 10 PM and at an isolated spot like this one. The journey was supposed to be just 45 minutes on this spartan ordinary State Transport bus and the fare was a ridiculously low Rs 11/-
We alighted at Kancheepuram bus stand and even an otherwise bustling ‘Temple and Silks town’, needs to sleep at 10-30 PM and so it had.
But we quickly got into an Autorickshaw without much argument on fares and proceeded to try our luck for accommodation at the decent MM Hotel where I had stayed over the last time around.
Our luck held and it was a relived and tired family of ours that sank into the cushions of the bed in the Air-conditioned Triple Bed-room at 11 pm. The Hotel arranged an extra bed for the fourth member for Rs 100/- per night and one night was all we were going to stay here anyway.
The next day we woke up a little late and finished our breakfast at the Saravana Bhavan Restaurant in the ground floor. Let me tell you one thing about this famous Veggie chain restaurant here. They have more than 15 branches in Chennai alone and some more all over TN, and have gone international with outlets in UK, USA and Dubai as well.
The food is quite tasty but expensive. The regular Idli -Vada / Dosa Coffee tiffin can relieve your wallet by about 50 bucks per head. The South Indian Meals are available in two varieties costing anywhere between 50 to 80 bucks.
But then it enjoys patronage as the Leading Vegetarian caterer and you do not have too much choice in TN if you want to strike a balance between hygiene, quality and price.
We proceeded to the famous Kamakshi Amman temple which was a 10 minute autorickshaw ride from our lodge.
We purchased the regular pooja items and it was an encore of what we had been doing at other temples earlier.
The Interiors of Kamakshi temples bear testimony to the famous Dravidian architecture of the Cholas and Pallavas period as well as the later Vijayanagar Kingdom.
The name Kancheepuam also struck a chord in me as the Capital city of yesteryears steeped in Indian History which the legendary Kannada king, Mayura Varma of Kadamba dynasty won back from the Pallavas in the 4th Century. Later the City passes through many hands of royal dynasties earning greater fame all along.
Remember Dr Rajkumar’s excellent performance in the role of the king in Kannada movie Mayura of yesteryears, as that of a prince who grows up in exile and who later comes back to Kancheepuram to claim back what was rightfully his throne…
Hmmm…!! Some sweet memories, that!!
There is long corridor, surrounded with sculpted stone pillars all along leading to the artificially lit sanctum sanctorum ( Garbha gudi) .
The decoration was tastefully done with flower garlands and we had an eyeful of the idol before we sat down in the Dhyana hall facing the Goddess for a few minutes of peace. One can see the austere devotees do meditation , japam , or recite Lalitha sahasra namam to their heart’s content in the holy sannidhi.
Then , we had to pay a visit to the Nadi astrologer and donate some items and pay fees etc. My wife selected all the items with care and interest.
We then went over to the Nadi jyothisyar and the rest is too personal to recount here.
Suffice to say, the trip came to a fruitful end and we returned by an evening bus to Chennai.
The Bus journey took 2 hours and we reached my room, a tired but satisfied lot, having completed the Temple circuit in an eventful 48 hours.