Friday, July 26, 2013

Sri Kalahasti- Not Just Another Town in India

Recently I had an unique opportunity to be at one of the culturally and spiritually significant place called "Sri Kalahasti" in Andhra Pradesh, India. Though it was my long standing dream to visit this place, but finally much needed impetus came in the form of my cousin brother’s engagement. The bride belonged to this beautiful small town. My first and foremost impression was that the place had an undisturbed tranquility missing in most of the metropolita cities.

Since am put up at Bangalore, Karnataka (shifted from Mumbai few months back only), which is about 7 hours of road journey by Public bus transport, I had made up my mind that I have to make it to this place at any cost this time. What better time could come than my cousin and best friend’s engagement ? There were very few options in terms of direct travel to Sri Kalahasti from Bangalore, infact only one option to be precise. I blocked the bus tickets (return also on the same night of the engagement) in prior, to avoid any last time surprises. There were literally no trains to Sri Kalahasti straight from Bangalore (information for people who want to travel).

Temple complex where engagement happened
 On the journey night, I reached the bus pick up spot, 2hours in advance. I had overcompensated for the Bangalore traffic threat. Nevertheless, that gave me an opportunity to explore that new place (KR Puram), which I usually do whenever I visit a place for the first time. Consequently I could taste some local street food and had an opportunity to quench my thirst with some fresh fruit juices which were unbelievably good in comparison to the aesthetics of that place. Two hours just flew (though at times I could sense the heaviness of the time) looking at the myriad of expressions from people around, of all ages and statures. It was an attestation of how rich and unique the Nature is with its diversity.
Kalahasti Temple Gopuram

Finally the bus arrived after a delay of 30 minutes (not much by our standards). I got on to it and held on to a window seat. The night was pitch dark and could see head lights of distant vehicles as the stars on the dark sky. I somehow managed to sleep for few hours though.

After quite sometime, suddenly  I heard shouts of "Tirupati....Tirupati", I woke up and it was around 4 am and the temple city was already busy with its pilgrimage crowd. From the driver I learnt that it is hardly an hour of journey left to reach my coveted destination. So again I sank into my seat trying to get that few minutes of nap before what is expected to be a long busy day.

Oh Yes !! finally I am there !! This is Sri Kalahasti, which I knew through pages of history and experiences of other people. As expected the bus depot was a small one and not very clean and tidy. It was around 5 am and so not much crowd around except few people in the nearby tea shops. Intially puzzled about where to go and what to do ? (I did not want to disturb my cousin so early coz he is also travelling from Chennai for his engagement on that particular day only). So after making few enquiries around, I learnt that the main temple is a few kms away and I decided to walk there, enjoying the morning cool morning breeze and chirp of birds.

Streets of Kalahasti painted by evening Sun shine

In a few minutes I reached the temple which was an architecture marvel in itself. It was a huge complex and for a new comer there are more chances that one may get lost easily. Early morning rituals were already about to begin and the typical traditional (mridangam (drums) and Naadhaswaram) music was filling the air around with bliss and devotion. At once I decided that I am going nowhere and will spend time there till I get a phone call from my cousin. That was one of the most unique experience I had ever gone through. Two hours just disappeared without warning or trial.

It was then the event of the day which went exceptionally well than expected. Other than very obvious things, one memorable thing that needs a special mention here is, it seems that was a no power day. So filled with happiness inside and drenched in sweat outside (humid conditions), people had mixed emotions in their faces which was at times funny to watch. Offcourse the cuisine at Indian pre marraige (or marraige) ceremonies are always special. So after filling my belly fully, I had an invitation to go around the same temple complex which I had spent 2 hrs in the morning. But this time, I went inside, whereas in the morning I did not go inside for very obvious reasons.

Busy yet beautiful
The big temple was a cluster of many small temples put together, which were built in a scientific and aesthetic way. Description through words can never capture my experience totally and may be gravely doing injustice if I attempt to do that. It has to be experienced in person to know the depth and significance of that place. So I leave to you to experience it yourself, rather than me talking about it which may sound like just a few hollow grand words. But my sincere recommendation would be to go there atleast once in your life time and spend time quietly inside the temple and appreciate the passion and perseverance that had gone into making this giant engineering marvel.

Later in the day after the ceremony (and ofcourse sumptous lunch) when all the people departed, I was left with few hours to explore the town before bidding good bye. So in the evening I went around clicking few snaps of the town's evening life. The temple town was in its full spledour and glory during the Sandhya (sunset) time. Holy chants in the air, camphor smells all around, street foods along the streets and off course young beautiful girls made the whole town came alive when moon lit up the scene.

All in all it was an exciting and holy experience, seeing culture and spirituality shake hands at this is peculiar and beautiful place called "Sri Kalahasti"

Get there and get lost blisfully....Hari Om !!

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