The Feet that rules the world

I was in Pandhripur, Maharashtra last weekend. It has been my dearest wish to see Lord Vithala, and that wish came true on August 23, 2013. Mere words cannot describe the emotions and the happiness I felt when I saw the Lord’s form, but I sure am about to try!

The Feet that rules the world. And our hearts.

Can you think of a lord who waits to see His devotee

With patience, charm and with arms akimbo?

Can you describe a lord who runs to His devotee

With a smile on His lips and so willingly?

Can you imagine a lord who listens to His devotee’s whim

And comes speedily to where they sing of Him?

Can you conjure a lord who serves His devotee

Cooks, cleans, washes and even sweeps?

Can you believe a lord who has given His Feet

So that every devotee can touch and feel?

Can you divine a lord who has given His blessings

To all irrespective of caste, creed and belief?

If you can do so, then it is only my Vittala Lord

Only Vittala, only Vittala, Vittala, Vittala

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God’s Own Country indeed

During the last 3 weeks I visited three unique tourist spots in Kerala, my home state. Family and friends accompanied me as our road trip took us across the length and breadth of Kerala. For those of you who think I have way too much time on my hand (my boss for example!), these trips happened over 3 different week-ends.

And for those of you who have never visited this state shelved between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats in the southern tip of India, this blog will not make any sense whatsoever! Kerala’s Tourism Department touts it as God’s Own Country and has successfully marketed it to the world. And to give the devil it’s due, they have been endorsed even by National Geographic. The National Geographic Traveler Magazine has named it “one of the top ten paradises of world” and “one of the fifty must see destinations of lifetime”.

Now for the places I visited – Kumarakom (backwaters), Kuttikanam (hill range), and Guruvayur (temple town). Kumarakom is verdant land surrounded by the backwaters near Kottayam. Famous for its bird sanctuary, Kumarakom is touted as the Venice of the East. Row boats, motor boats and house boats – I let life slide by as I watched the coconut trees and the paddy fields disappear from view. 

An hour to the south of Kottayam is Kuttikanam. We stayed in a resort at the top of one of the hillocks and the view was absolutely divine. The mist that surrounded us muted the tribal drums that came from the temple at the base of the hill and gave it an eerie and other-worldly feel. As the power outages were frequent, we were as close to nature we could wish for.

I literally came back to terra firma with a bump as we jolted across the real bad roads of Kerala (Detroit was heaven compared to this) to see my Guruvayurappan. For Krishna devotees, Guruvayur is one of the divine shrines that vies only with Tirupathi for its sanctity. In fact I think this is the only temple for Krishna devotees, but i have to admit I am biased and you may beg to differ. This temple town, with its roadside vendors and vegetarian eateries will delight any tourist, devotee or not. The four entrances to the temple is lined with shops that you have to pass through to see the Lord and many a time you end up spending more time (and money!) at these shops than inside the temple itself. I know my kids did!

How in God’s name did Kerala get such a wide and diverse greenery? What did we do to deserve this nature? Now the monsoon is upon us, and if you want to see nature in her overpowering glory, you have to visit the clean and scrubbed Kerala that the monsoon unveils during the next 3 months. 

What sheer joy to see the heavens open up, the earth soak up the water, and give off a unique smell (“manvasanai” in Tamil) that evokes memories of childhood when you willingly jumped in puddles of dirty water in your new shoes and uniforms on your way to school. I always loved the first day of school (usually during the first week of June) which coincided almost always with the first rains of the monsoon.

Mountains, hilly terrains, rivers, waterfalls, backwaters, temple towns, beaches – all in one State, all reachable within 6 hours of car travel. Yes, God’s Own Country indeed.

PS: If you have not heard of these places, go ahead and google them. And then visit them. You will thank me, right after you have danced in the monsoon showers, cruised slowly  in a houseboat, polished off  crispy vadas and cardamom tea, and counted 15 hues and shades of green.

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