We drive on. Only mildly conscious of the fast accumulating empty packets of chips in the car. I felt full and oil rich, that I could have given an Arab shiek and all his oil wells a run for his money !
In sometime we spot a couple who have stopped their car and clicking pictures. I roll down the window, put on a sprightly smile and ask, ‘Harihareshwar?’. Upon which the lady turns away and the man, points in the direction of the road and says ‘One temple three Gods’ and turns away too. If the lady lacked social skills and the man was a veritable Dale Carnegie.
As the car noses its way in the direction the man pointed, I wonder how well programmed the man is. Sounding like a 3-in-1 offer announcer ! Viewing everything through the lens of the neighbourhood discount store. I imagined him in his fat car. Queing up. Responding to an offer that goes like : ‘Come on Wednesday afternoon, buy Rs.1000 of stuff, swipe you xyz debit card, and get one kilogram of sugar free!’
As has been our case on this trip, we miss the turn to the temple yet again. After a few kilometers more kilometers and no temple we check with a vilager. He has far better social skills. He looks at us with great sympathy and could have almost welcomed us into his home and conducted a prayer meeting at our loss : of missing the temple ‘a full four kilometers behind’ us. I felt like Columbus. Atleast I thought this is how he felt.
We drive back. To discover the temple signboard sunk in maze of other signboards of resorts and such else. We drive on, and finally reach the pristine temple.
I was mentally prepared for a crowd. Temples of Shiva and temples of Vishnu, by themselves are very crowded. Generally. I was visualising serpentine queues, dour faced priests, sullen policemen who stand and redraw patterns on the floor with lathis, only to life their head up now and then, to let go of a ‘keep moving’ in respective local language, and get back to that life giving activity of floor sketching.
But much to my surprise, none of it was to be seen here. No people. No priests. No policemen. Just us and the trimurative company of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma! Down a flight of stairs and a huge mirror later they are there. We were alone with them. The silence and the peace was so loud that I can still hear it !
Thats when a man carrying a broom walks in. Swish Swash. Swish Swash he goes. He suddenly looks up at us, and says ‘5000 years’.
‘5000 ?’ I cant believe this ! He rattles off a discourse with such élan and such a straight face, that he could have been doing the weather forecast on national television. He goes ‘swish swash’ with his broom. The only words that I catch are ‘Agastya’ and ‘Pandavas’. We say our prayers in silence. When I open my eyes, the brooms swish swash is close to me. Another moment, and I would have had a scrub down, in front of the almighty.
The peace and quiet catch me by so much surprise. What is the world doing ? I wonder if it would have been any different if it was just a Shiv temple or a just a Vishnu temple or just a Brahma temple ! Perhaps this sort of coalition rule didn’t appeal to folks of the yesteryear!
With no amusement park, mall or multiplex, it made sense to occupy your children with going to three different temples in four different directions. Imagine if the pest of the kid in the house comes here, and finishes praying to all three Gods at one go and has four days to spare !
There is a pradakshina way, which you can walk around. Except that its not necessarily a stroll in a park. It’s a flight rock cut steps up, a flight of rock cut steps down which leads you to the sea, and around a hill. You have to walk around the hillock, in the sea ! Today the rains have uprooted a few trees and they have brought along with with some electric poles and wires !
The missus has been watching ‘ mindless stunts in ‘Who Dares Wins’ and ‘Khatron Ki Khiladi’ purses her lips ! She isn’t going to come along she says. I mutter a swear at those silly programs replete with demented stunts like burying your armpit with bees and such else. I don’t know if that particular stunt was there, but I have heard of far worse. So.
Today, there is high tide, and we aren’t allowed any further we aren’t allowed to venture in to walk in the sea ! At precisely the spot which the mighty Bheem ( of the Pandava fame ) is supposed to have split the giant rock into two, temple folks have erected a gate that says ‘stay here’. Or something to that effect.
We trudge down the way we climbed up. Admiring the simplicity of the place !
Fly by night swamijis would have ashrams with security cabins as big as this temple ! Other temples a fraction of its lineage have a dubious dimwit running the devasthanom and money making schemes that would put a corporate marketer to shame.
We linger here. Its nice. The world hasn’t completely to the dogs. We just sit there. And the dog there, gives us a very sympathetic happy look.