Sunrise @ Kanyakumari (All Rights Reserved)
A brief history and description about this wonderful place (straight from wikipedia):
Kanyakumari (a.k.a Kanniyakumari or Kanniakumari) is a town in the state of Tamilnadu in India. It was also referred to as Cape Comorin earlier. Located at the southernmost tip of India, it is the geographical end of mainland. This a popular tourist place in India. Kanyakumari takes its name from the Hindu Goddess Kanyakumari (also called Kumari amman) (roughly translates to The Virgin Goddess).The Kanniyakumari amman temple is situated in the town of its, on the sea-shore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies – the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
According to Hindu legend, Kanya Devi, an Avatar of Parvati, was to marry Shiva, but he failed to show up on his wedding day. Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin goddess who blesses pilgrims and tourists who flock the town. According to another Hindu legend, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth as he was carrying a mountain with his life-saving herb, Mrita Sanjivani, from the Himalayas to Lanka (Sri Lanka) during the Rama-Ravana war. This chunk of earth is called Marunthuvazh Malai, which is literally translated to “hills where medicine lives”.This is said to be the reason for the abundance of unique native medicinal plants in the area
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I believe that’s enough history and description.
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I was a little busy that day. I was working on something really interesting. unknowingly I avoided all the distractions. I was too busy, to be distracted. My cellphone started to ring. I saw it, it said “Dad calling”. I picked the call, still thinking about work. “Hey beta (son)! how are you?” he asked. “I am good dad, how are you?” I queried without bothering about the reply, I remember he said something. He guessed I wasn’t listening, he said a bit louder “you were planing to come home right?”. I looked away from my computer screen “yeah”. “Don’t come beta, we are coming there”. Now that was something I really wanted since I moved to Bangalore, I always wanted to show them where I live, where I work etc. “really? when? what time? train or flight?” I asked in an extremely excited state. He replied “I will tell you the details later and please calm down. I know you want us to come there since, I don’t know, July 2010. I couldn’t because your brothers were busy with college and I with my work. But next month their vacations are falling on the same week, so I thought this’d be the best time”. “Thanks dad, I have been planning this for sometime, we’ll roam around Bangalore, places like Ooty, Coorg, Coonoor, Mysore, Goa, Mangalore, Tirupathi, Kuta wherever you want” I was literally shivering with excitement. I could sense he was happy, “Oh you planned already that’s great, but actually I discussed with your mother and brothers and finalized Kanyakumari”. We had a little father-son talk and hung up. I looked at my computer screen, things were a little different now. I was excited and angry at the same time. Excited for obvious reasons and angry because I have been planning something for so long and now I hear I don’t get to plan.
My head was filled with contradicting thoughts that day “Why Kanyakumari? Why ? Why? Why? What is this? the 80′s? I always thought Kanyakumari was an excellent tourist spot in the 80′s or 90′s or something. Why now ? At least my whole family is coming. It doesn’t really matter where we go. Oh wait. It does. Why Kanyakumari? Why am I not the part of vacation planning comity ?”. I booked the tickets. I had to.
I receive my family at the airport. It’s July 22, 2012. Mom and dad are the same but my younger brothers are growing like bamboo trees. They are almost about my height now. I fought and won against both of ‘em so many times (well they were kids then, and I used to be naughty), now it looks difficult against either one of them. 17-18 is a very crucial age for a boy. Been there done that. They are Praveen and Chandrakant, mom calls them pinku and chintu, Me, I have my own nick names for them, paks and chaks.
In next 26 hours we visit Tirupathi. Tirupathi is one of the most famous and crowded temples in Asia. I read somewhere that number of visitors per day exceeds 50k mark. Yes it is that huge. At least one of the places that I originally planned is in the real plan. We reach home (my rental home at Bangalore) by 7:00 PM. Dead tired. we eat one of the most delicious meals on the planet. I didn’t know my cook had this much talent. This is probably because of the pink slip warning I gave him the previous day. I lay on my bed wondering about the next day. Tomorrow we are supposed to board the bus for Kanyakumari, tickets and everything is ready, but I think I am not. Why dad chose Kanyakumari?. What if that place is not good? I see paks and chaks sleeping like the kid they used to be, only taller. It’s been like a year since i saw them like this. Peaceful. What if they hate me for taking them to Kanyakumari ? I see the time it is 2:00 AM. I close my eyes hoping all my thoughts would disappear the next day.
We board the bus the next day. It is a 15 hour journey from Bangalore and bus is already 2 hour late. I had a bad feeling about this and now this delay. The comfortable sleeper seats in the bus are the only thing apart from my family’s presence stopping me from bursting into flames. The tiny amount sleep from the previous day is beginning to take over my thoughts.
I open my eyes, everyone’s still asleep. Darkness is disappearing. The disappearing moon looks beautiful. The orange-colored sky draws my attention. It is one of the most beautiful part of nature. I hope the beauty in nature continues throughout the trip. 2-3 hours after we crossed Madurai, I saw a lot of windmills. It’s like a scene from a Bollywood movie. Endless fields, full of windmills, vegetation. Nature.
South Indian Windmills
The cold morning breeze did nothing but calm me. Before I know it I see a marketplace. Lots of shops. Address on one of the shops says …Kanyakumari. We reached and 15 hours seemed like nothing. I booked a hotel called Sangam (it means some sort or union). People are very friendly. They guide us to Hotel Sangam. Paks, Chaks, Mom and Dad are planning on taking a shower. I say ” I’ll be back in 30 minutes” and leave the hotel. After walking for like 50 meters from the hotel, I see the most exquisite scene. I realize that I am in south-most part of mainland India. I can see ocean in left, right and front. All my worries gone in that instant. People selling tea and sea shells and photos cover the beach area. Foreigners enjoying the view with Indian tea, Indians from different states, native kids running all over the place, this is better than my imaginary “dream vacation with family” place. Let me explain it in other words. For girls: It was a dish with “pure beauty” sprinkled with “dewdrops” as the main course, “bliss” as the side dish, “divine scenery” for drinks and “awesome places” for dessert. For guys: If all the tourist places are drinks, then Kanyakumari is “Johnny Walker Black Label (on the rocks)“. No exaggeration. Just truth.
That was just out of the world. I rush back to the hotel after taking a few pics. I look around and find everyone’s ready. I bath in 4 minutes. I say “You have gotta see this paks, chaks, dad, mom. This is like the most wonderful place ever and ..”. “I know” paks jumped in “dress up fast and we’ll move”. “Yeah of course paks” I say. We move in next 30 seconds. I can see happy gestures of all my family members. Trust me there is no feeling like that in the world.
Chaks in red Paks in black
Paks and me
Chaks and me
After spending 42 minutes at the last point of India, we move to the ferry area. The ferry costs less than a normal ice-cream and takes you to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and immortal poet Thiruvalluvar’s statue. Here are some of the pics:
Clockwise from top left (Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Thiruvalluvar’s statue and of course me). we went there in a ferry.
Mom, Dad and the ferry
My family and the Rock memorial
At the bottom of the huge statue
That was one heck of ferry ride. (back to the present). We talk about the splendid scenery. The height of the statue, the meditation center inside rock memorial. We roam around and see the museum, M. K. Gandhi memorial, We move back to the hotel.
Words from the father of nation
I actually believe the sight is unequaled int the world. I come back to the ocean. I sit there. Doing nothing but admiring this unequaled scene. I see some new species of crabs and fishes. I can’t wait to see the sunrise here. I have read and heard so much about it. This is where people forget about their differences and enjoy what I can only describe as beautiful nature. I see a foreigner woman and her daughter (most probably French) sitting at the top of a boundary. They were trying to chat with a native lady selling flowers. I see them wearing flowers on the back of their heads, much like the natives. I am close enough to hear their conversation, not that I am eavesdropping, just a coincidence. The flower lady is talking in Hindi and French women in broken English. They are pointing towards the ocean and asking some curious questions. I don’t understand how they are communicating ? French woman asks in broken English “This ocean three is right?”. She is probably asking is this union of 3 oceans ? The flower lady replies in Hindi “Yes this is big ocean lots of fishes and good sunrise. You want to buy more flowers?” They seem to enjoy each others company.
I go to bed. I can’t sleep. But I have to, I have to get up early tomorrow. I can’t miss the sunrise.
We move early in the morning. It’s still dark but the crowd on the street is huge. No one wants to miss the magical sunrise I guess. The shops are open by 5:00 AM. This is the golden time for tea sellers and photographers (one 6 x 8 inch pic costs 40 bucks). We wait for the sun to rise with tea. Paks said he’d some as soon as he can, he has an upset stomach. Chaks says “Come on bhaiya (elder brother) take some pics, it looks so nice”. Here are the pics pre-sunrise.
This is just 0.1 % of the public. Others are enjoying tea in the back
The sunrise is really magical. Okay, If Kanyakumari is Johnny Walker Black Label on the rocks, then This sunrise is the soothing music in the background (which basically completes the scene). I see transformation of the sky from black to orange to sunny. I hear like a million and a half camera clicks in the vicinity. Have a look:
The magical sunrise part 1
The magical sunrise part 2
The magical sunrise part 3
pre-sunrise side 1 (there are 3 sides remember)
during-sunrise side 1
The ambiance is spellbinding. All eyes except a few focused on the rising sun. We stay there till 8:00 AM. I didn’t want to leave but we have to prepare for the return journey. Mom and paks left. I and Chaks hire one of the photographers. He takes a few snaps and tells us to collect from a close by studio. Later we realize he messed up 40% of the pics, worst use of Photoshop (a software for editing pics). So please be careful if you are planning to hire one of the sea-shore-sunrise photographers. I can’t post those here. He gave us a hard copy. Chaks goes back to the hotel. I, being the most irresponsible one in the family, stay there to live nature. On my way back to the hotel a key-ring seller caught me, he shows me some samples (and believe me when I say this) those are superb. These are original sea shells with anything you want engraved in it (or that’s what the key-seller said).
These sea shells are original according to this talented artist (although the leopard coloring is not)
I order 14 key-rings. 5 for me and my roommates, 4 for paks, chaks, mum and dad, 5 for my team at workplace (of course customized with everyone’s name).
The way back wasn’t tiring at all. We saw the familiar windmills and vegetation. The hard copy of the pics in which Chaks and I posed, and the key-rings weren’t the only souvenir we brought back. The tiredness eluded everyone’s face, if it didn’t then it surely hid under the big grins. I didn’t get anything for Chaks and paks on their b’day so I bought a Nike college bag for Chaks and Puma shoes for Paks (They chose it). They seemed pretty happy so were mom and dad. “Mom” I say “was the trip good?”. She smiled and said “Yes. It was, I am just happy that everyone’s here. Most importantly I am happy to see you after such a long time”. I think everyone’s mom is like that. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family. I turned to paks and chaks “How was the trip guys?”. “Awesome” they replied in unison.
A LITTLE FATHER-SON TALK:
I was on my way to drop my family back to the airport. Paks was wearing his new shoes and Chaks transferred his stuff into the new bag. Mom restricted me from buying anything for her and dad. We were waiting at the airport. I looked at my father and said “Dad. I have a confession to make”. “I am listening” he replied. “I got mad at you, for not including me in the planning. But I am not anymore, I loved the place”. “Hmm…” he said “That I knew already”. “You knew” I asked shocked, I am sure I didn’t let my feelings surface since my family’s arrival. “Of course I did. I am dad. I also know a few things that you probably wouldn’t want me to know”. Too much shocking information “l..li..lik..lik…like what?” I asked, poker faced. “May in the next trip son. Take care, I think the flight is here”
There is nothing wrong with trying something new. Exploring the unexplored is human nature. Try it, you may find answers to some curious questions about life. Living in a box is not living. I am not telling you to think out of the box (well but you should), I am telling you to live off the box. Explore. Invent. Travel. Believe. LIVE.