Wednesday, August 10, 2005
First things first, this is not a very good picture. Someone's hand has come in the frame and its too long a shot to make anything out clearly.But I took it to see how the very tip of India looks.
This pic was taken in Kanyakumari from a watch tower. As a kid I would always look at the map of India and wonder if the tip really looked like that.
The bit of land you see is Cape Camorin, though it is no longer called that. The very last bit of land is where Indian land ends. The place is very holy because this is the point where the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet. Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram are very holy places for Hindus, the latter is called 'Kashi of the South'. They say that your pilgrimage could never be complete without touching the water of Rameshwaram.
That large statue in the pic is that of the Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar. His book 'Thirukural' is a treatise on the philosophies of life and is the favourite book of our President, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, a Rameshwaram native, pioneer in rocket science, a man of immense genius. (His books 'Wings of Fire', 'Ignited Minds' and 'India 2020' are inspiring reads.)
Anyway, a piece of land next to the statue is the Vivekananda Rock, where the dynamic disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa received the calling of his life. He is known for his very famous address at the International Conferance of World Religions (?) at Chicago in the 1890s which began with "Dear brothers and sisters of America". There is a meditation hall on the rock, the mandatory souvenir shop, a temple, etc. It is said that when the wandering monk wanted to go on the rock, he did not have enough money to hire a boatsman and he had to swim across. Kanyakumari has a musuem, a park dedicated to the memory of the monk who called upon the youth to "Awake, arise and stop not till the goal is reached."
You need to take a small barge from the mainland to get to the Rock. It was very windy there. A couple of weeks later when the tsunami struck, a few hundreds of people were stuck on the Rock (they were all rescued later). It gave me the shudders to watch TV images of waves lashing out at the rocks.
The best thing about the Rock is that you are outside the mainland and I could see India out in front of me. Sort of surreal.....
We met this old lady and her sister who had come from the grand old city of Kashi with her son to complete her spiritual journey. Its amazing how faith can bind people from distant places and connect them for a few minutes at the core, where it really matters.