If you have seen the Glucon-D ad of the sun sucking out energy from people, you would know how it feels to be taking a trip around Tamil Nadu, in any season. By the time we were done seeing the Pancha Ratha and the Krishna Mantapa in Mahabalipuram, we were drained. The auto driver who was taking us around had left us at the gate near the Shore Temple, and the 200-metre trudge to the temple seemed like a 2km hike. Once we reached the temple, we found all the available shaded nooks occupied by foreigners recovering from sunburns. This temple is probably the only one still standing among a group that reportedly existed, but I must confess, in that blinding heat, history and mystery were furthest from our minds. Only now, as I look at my photos, I wonder if there really is a city under the sea, and if there is, why nobody has gone in search of it. Maybe if a sage dreamed there were gold in the city, someone would go digging.
Ask any youngster fresh out of college what is the one place they pray they won’t be posted, and the answer comes pat- Tamil Nadu. I know people who have rejected lucrative job offers because the offer came with the requirement to move to Chennai. There are many reasons behind such antipathy towards Tamil Nadu, disclosing most of which are likely to land me behind bars. However, if you are of a religious bent of mind, no place will satisfy your craving for gods and temples more than Tamil Nadu. There seems to have been a competition between the Shaivites and Vaishnavites as to who could build more temples, and the result is a state with more temples than there are pages in War and Peace.
Continue reading Kanchipuram- The Town of Temples
Mahalaya Amavasya is here! Mom woke me up at 5 a.m. to listen to Mahishasurmardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra. For those who don’t know, it’s an radio programme consisting of recitation of the Chandipath, which eulogizes Durga Ma and narrates her victory over Mahishasura. Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s soaring vocals are the hallmark of the Chandipath. Story goes, one year, Birendra Krishna Bhadra was replaced by Uttam Kumar, the superstar of Bengali cinema akin to Amitabh Bachchan. After the programme, All India Radio was inundated by calls from furious listeners, ridiculing Kumar’s recitation and demanding for Bhadra back. Apparently there was such a brouhaha that AIR was forced to re-air the programme with Bhadra on Shashti (sixth) day. Some things can only be done by some people.
If you grew up in India in the nineties, your Sunday TV schedule would have consisted of one of three mythological shows- Ramayana, Mahabharatha or Shree Krishna- followed by Shaktimaan. I never could get myself to watch Shaktimaan, even when I was young and did not know about Superman or Spiderman (my parents frowned upon comics), but I loved the mythological series. I loved the fierce villainy of Duryodhana, the beatific smile of Rama, the pranks of Krishna. I loved the fights, the chiseled (and sometimes flabby) warriors drawing themselves up and stringing their bows, the arrows zooming toward each other, clashing in a shower of sparks and booms. It’s a guilty pleasure; you know the special effects are antiquated and the acting exaggerated, but there is a part of you that secretly enjoys that overblown melodrama.