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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Kodaikanal-Two trips-Two experiences

Kodaikanal is a well known hill station in Tamilnadu, and much has been written about it. I don’t intend to write this as a travelogue. For more information, see An Indian Bureaucrats diary. I came across the blog when I was looking for something, and it brought back lots of memories about Kodaikanal. It is exhaustive, and well written, and contains almost all the information anyone would want. What I am going to write about is my own experience in the princess of the hills.
Yes, Kodaikanal is considered as the princess of the hills- Ooty is the queen of hills- now, why anyone would classify a hill station as female, is beyond me (unless maybe, because it is so very beautiful, and pleasing to the eyes). Usually, mountains and hills are referred to, as male… the Himalayas –for example, and the Govardhan hill are referred to as masculine.
I have had the pleasure of visiting both Ooty and Kodaikanal, and I definitely enjoyed Kodaikanal a lot more. The climate was superb in Ooty, but the place has become too commercialized for my taste. There is so much of a crowd wherever you go; one hardly gets to relish the atmosphere of the place. The biggest disadvantage in Kodai was that it pours almost throughout the year, and the rain does sometimes dampen ones spirit, but in spite of that, we enjoyed the place for its simplicity. It is nowhere as large as Ooty – the whole city is situated around the lake- but the crowds are catching up with Kodaikanal.
We visited Kodai twice- the first was for our honeymoon, and very frankly, all I remember about it, is that it was very very cold. We went thought the entire tourist circuit, as was expected of us, but nothing much remains in my memory, except a memorable shikara ride on the lake. Incidentally, the next time we went there, the shikaras were not available any more- God alone knows what had happened-probably they simply became old and unusable.
Another thing I remember are the Pillar rocks- Seeing those HUGE rocks standing clearly in front of you one minute, and the next moment, invisible, covered by the mist- is an awesome sight.
The next time we visited Kodai, was for an extremely different reason – Sri Satya Sai Baba, who is revered by many all over the globe, was in Kodai, and my husband, who is an ardent devotee, and His student, wanted to visit him. The idea came out of the blue- “Swami is at Kodai, and He may stay there till Easwaramma Day ( which also happens to be our son’s birthday) so, lets go there” my husband said, and before any one could say a word, returned home with flight tickets to Coimbatore, the nearest airport. But then, there was a catch. It was the peak season for Kodaikanal, and apart from the colossal crowd who would come there to have Swami’s darshan, the hill station would be absolutely packed with tourists. Finding accommodation would not be easy. And, in fact, when we started searching we received only negative responses from most of the hotels. “Sorry! We’re full” was the refrain everywhere. Finally relief came in the form of the Club Mahindra Holiday Inn, where they offered us one room for just one night. Desperate that we were, we jumped at the chance, and left Mumbai with an assurance that we would have a roof over our heads at least for one night, and also with a decision that if we couldn’t get a room after that, we would leave and go to Madurai, where we had relatives.
So there we were, with a room for one day, and Swami staying till He alone knew when, but trusting Him to find us a room somehow…. And believe me, He did! We stayed on at the same place for a whole week, changing rooms every other day, making place for people who had already booked months in advance, but without having to move our entire luggage from one hotel to another. People too, were quite considerate- for example, one day when we returned late from darshan, we found that the people who had booked the room had arrived early, and were waiting for us.. We were quite apologetic, and felt bad that they had to wait for a room that was rightly theirs.. But to our surprise, they refused to let us apologize, and in fact they were quite happy to hear that we had gone for darshan, and were extremely courteous and respectful.
As we had expected, the crowd was really huge, and as a result, most of our time was spent in traveling from our hotel to the lake and standing in the long long queue to get into the ashram. We didn’t get to go sightseeing on this trip, and only managed a boat ride on the lake, and a visit to the local Murugan temple.
The best thing about this trip was of course, Swami’s darshan. We had been to Puttaparthi, to Swami’s residence, Prasanthi Nilayam, many times, and were accustomed to the crowd there and having swami’s darshan from far far away, but at Kodaikanal, after the initial rush, when the crowd settled down, we were treated to darshan at very close quarters. Swami came in a wheelchair, unlike at Parthi, and darshan here was really a treat for eyes longing to see Him. All in all an experience I shall never forget. If only we lived nearer to Kodai, we would all certainly try to got there every year, but that only seems a distant dream ……….
After feasting our eyes on Swami for a full week, we had to return back to Bombay.
On our way, we stopped at the hill temple of Palani, which happens to be the family deity of my father’s family. This was the first time I was bringing my son to the temple, and he thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the winch ride up the hill.
And then, there we were, back at Mumbai, back to our daily chores, the usual routines, but full of memories that we will never forget. Truly, it was a wonderful trip to Kodaikanal. A trip my son remembers as well….he keeps asking- “Mamma, when shall we go to Kodaikanal again?” A question I have no answer to, at the moment. He is only putting into words a feeling that we all have.



Comments

  1. We at www.outsourcenewsletters.com are launching a monthly newsletter on Kodaikanal from January 2010, containing comments of tourists visiting kodaikanal. Tourists can comment on their nice experiences about the best places of stay, best restaurants, nice places to visit and any other nice experience they had on their visit. This newsletter has a printed version which will be circulated free of cost to all tourists visiting Kodaikanal and an online version for anyone to visit on the world wide web . If you are interested to share your experience you can mail us the details with relevant pictures. In case of any clarifications email to info@outsourcenewsletters.com

    Regards
    R.Srinivasan
    Project Lead
    www.outsourcenewsletters.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of the best places i have visited in south india.......mystical beauty

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great travelogue. Wish, I checked out this one before heading to Kodaikanal. Pics are amazing.

    Here's my Travelogue, http://reveringthoughts.com/2015/10/25/travelogue-kodaikanal/, do take time out to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your travelogue is great and is written in a understandable way. Kodaikanal is one of my favorite tourist spots in Tamil Nadu.

    ReplyDelete

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