“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Three temples of Alleppey

In the wee hours of the day that I roam the town on my bicycle, the only establishments open are the small tea shops and  the temples. Improperly attired for an entry into the sanctum ( sweat soaked Tee Shirt, track suit with a week's dirt on it and floaters) and inadequately attuned for a 'darshan', I keep a low profile as I walk around the holy shrines.

The typical Kerala temples are enchanting in their seemingly simple architecture. They are not built to dominate the surroundings like the Christian churches or the Tamil temples; instead they blend with it. Most of them have a open grounds with old Ficus trees. The extent of the ground vary. I will not go into the details of Kerala temples here, but would suggest a book to those who would like to know more about Kerala temple architecture written by Ramu Katakam. 

This is the Mullackal Rajarajeswari temple, almost directly opposite to my workplace. Quite popular, it is here that the famous 'Chirappu' festival during mid - Dec is held.

Kalarkode Mahadevar temple. Most temples in Kerala has large tanks. Many of them have fallen into disuse or filled out. 

The Kalarkode Mahadevar has a substantially large tank. Serene surroundings.

Kottankulangara Devi temple. Actually the one shown here is the Krishna temple adjoining the main Devi temple. The huge facade in front of the Devi shrine is rather jarring. I didn't like to take a picture.

One has to really experience the atmosphere of these places. Unlike the commercially successful temples like Guruvayoor, or Padmanabha swami or Sabarimala, the large majority of Kerala temples have an air of meditation, of an inviting spiritual sanctity about them. Priests don't pester you here; nor do garishly painted and crudely crafted statuettes shock your senses. But the temples have a air of aloofness too. They tell you - ' Come till here. Don't go further.' There is a distance that is to be kept,  that is silently demanded and maintained. 

Everyday that pass remind me of the approach of the day I will bid goodbye to Alleppey. The town and I - we talk to each other silently, one offering and the other accepting, both respecting and giving space to each other.

The other day, a close friend of mine casually announced that his daughter is having her engagement a couple of days later. I was totally surprised when he answered to my questions that the proposal had come two or three months earlier, that he and his wife had gone to visit the boy's place, that the boy's people had come here - our friendship goes back to more than 25 years, before his daughter was born. I was hurt that he hadn't told me about it earlier. Considering how fastidiously we had nurtured our relationship all through these years, considering the fact that how I used to run to him with every problem or every mite of joy or sorrow, I couldn't help this dull pain inside me that he pointedly ignored to invite me for the function or tell me about the wedding plans. Of course, I did not show my hurt, I congratulated both the father and daughter. Later, I reflected on the incident and realized that I shouldn't be feeling bad about it. If my friend didn't want to tell me, if he didn't want me at the engagement, he must have a reason, I thought. P sensed my mood and comforted me by saying that my friend probably didn't want to tell me about the proposal until it was confirmed. Later, the day of the engagement passed; in the evening my friend telephoned me. He was rather apologetic when he said that those present at the function were only the close relatives, which I really appreciated. Why have a sprawling, larger than wedding function for a engagement? I am at rest, but have to admit that slight pain still lingers somewhere. What is meaning of a long friendship if you are not trusted? I don't know. Maybe it is not a matter of trust, it is a matter of keeping the right distance.

************* Balachandran, Trivandrum. 13.01.2013


  1. What I love about the temples of Kerala are its inviting ambiance; no garish colors, people or performances. I love the peace and serenity, the air of calmness. The temples you have clicked all falls under this category.

    Sometimes, people have reasons as to why they behave that way. We are humans and we tend to find reasons or misunderstand. Anyway, its fine.

  2. Be true to yourself,
    let others wrestle
    with their own issues.

    You have good karma. Skillful distance, yes.

    Aloha from Honolulu-

    Please enjoy a Free Download/Peek at my Hawaii Novel @ Kindle eBooks!
    Aloha Where You Like Go?

  3. I think most of the relationships are not balanced..You may not love someone as much as they love...or they may not feel that you are as important in their life as you think of their importance...
    There are only few instances where the need, love, trust etc are of the same intensity...

    For example..Can you think of someone(not family) who will tell you even the minutest details of his/her life? that could be a person to whom you confide very little...You may have a similar relationship with someone with you on the other side...

  4. Enjoyed reading the post, especially liked "The town and I, we talk to each other silently..."

  5. I can understand the feeling, as I have felt thatway. and it hurts. Sometimes i think we get too close to others and they are not that close to us .. as you say they keep the distance which we realise much later..

    I have always kept my friends in front , not very keen on relatives for some reason.

    but then we cant expect the same from others ..


  6. Your words have drawn me into your beautiful world. I feel numb; helplessly educed. As I close my eyes, I feel mind is gliding along your side as you walk by these temples; as you confide your feelings to this imaginary ghost. I feel the humid air, the gentle breeze, the inertia of trees right as they begin to sway back, the gray clouds... ufff, what a lovely ambiance.

    I am not that much into reading and have never completed a single book without skipping chunks of paragraphs or sometimes pages. I find it very hard to read at a pace slow enough to feel the words, let alone feel words with such fervor. Your words have infused that patience and boy is it satisfying or what! Thanks!

    I have been expected to do some things, behave in a certain way and I know I have disappointed many. And in some occasions, I have been disappointed. I feel so bad when I go to this state on mind. I want see some form of forgiveness. From whom? From where? I don't know.

    If I were to tell you what I am feeling in Tamil, I'd say, "Sema gethu sir neenga. Kalakureenga ponga! Yengayo kondu poiteenga"

  7. @Insignia: I wish the pics were better!
    Everything has a reason; though it might seem unreasonable to another. And also, people tend to hide the actual reason. For eg., envy is a good enough reason to spite someone , but this envy is expressed in another form. But what is so devastating is such behaviour from unexpected quarters...

  8. @Claudia: My Namaste to you, Claudia! Nothing more to be added - be true to one's Karma; let the dogs bark!

  9. @Lizbeth: You are absolutely right. Our folly is expecting the reciprocation of feelings with the same intensity we have...

  10. @Bikram: Like you said, relatives lag far behind friends for me too. But sometimes I am shattered...

  11. @gautam; Thanks for reading me out in full!! :-)

    I can only repeat what Claudia said:

    Be true to yourself,
    let others wrestle
    with their own issues.

  12. Balan, I have many many memories of these temples. At Mullackal I had sat before Haripad Achutha Das listening to his patakam recital. At Kalarkode Mahadever Temple I had stood away from an open stage among the shadows one night listening to a concert by a classmate with whom I was in silent love and our mutual friend Vijayan had spotted me to my embarrassment. Mother used to send me to Kottankulangara temple with instructions to make offerings when I was in my early teens. I used to consider myself an atheist those days and used to pinch the money given for the offerings. But I was afraid at the back of my mind so used to give the entire money to some beggar I met on the road. Life has moved very fast.


Leave a word, please!