Our Two Pilgrimages (continued)

January 10, 2007 at 10:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We also went to Srisailam with Kala. Srisailam is reputed to be one of the Swayambu Lingam temples of India.

During this trip, we had eventful journey to and fro. We have to pass Nallamala forest and mountainous terrain. On one side there were rising ground and forest trees, and on the other side the ground falls steeply. There was no traffic and the roads were desolate and eerie. No people also to be seen moving around, not even stray dogs.

At one point there was a straight road for a distance ahead of us, and a curve behind us, with another curve far far awy. Suddenly a dozen people in camouflage uniforms, holding firearms were some distance ahead of us awaiting our arrival. A few of them including a young woman, also in uniform like the others, held out their arms as if to order us to slow down. They were also wielding firearms, and the woman was making to the centre of the road. Raju had slowed down the car considerably to a crawl to enable them to have a good look at all of us. We were five this time: Kala, I and Chitra on the back seat, Raju in the driver’s seat and Rupa in the front with him. Just then the posse seemed to lose interest in us, perhaps having surmised that we were a harmless family of pilgrims and none of us looking menacing or suspicious, and making good of the opportunity Raju accelerated the car and we passed them all harmlessly, none of us daring to look them in the face nor look back at them through the rear window after we passed them.  From then on it was a smooth ride until we reached the temple.

This time we stayed in an A.P. Tourism accommodation which also offered tiffin and meals. After our ablutions we drove to the temple, and had a peaceful darshan of the reigning deity, where the devotees are permitted to prostrate ourselves and actually touch the Sivalingam, the Swayambulingam. The approach to the sanctum was regulated with a passage through tube-fencing, with one or two steps to negotiate, and it was all an ordeal for Kala. However, after darshan, we perambulated the outer Prakarams, sat down for sometime, and made our exits.

Our return trip was the more adventurous, though of a different sort. The roads were deserted with few automobiles on both sides. At a particular point where there were sparse trees on the left and steep fall on the other side, and we were driving at around 80 Kms. speed, Kala suddenly shouted to Raju to stop the car immediately, screaming tyre, tyre, like the sailors shouting Tora, Tora, Tora in a movie when they sighted an enemy warship. We all saw the tyre flying high in an arc and landing some twenty feet away among the trees.   Fortunately it was a left side tyre, and Raju briskly brought the speed down to zero smoothly and we made a rut on the tarmac with one of our whelrims. I ran among the trees, retrieved the tyre and also picked one or two bolts along the way, dislodged from the wheel.

We awaited our fate, dreading the uniformed people not to turn up again. After a time a car was coming towards from behind us. We stopped the car. There were three elderly passengers in that tourist car with a tourist driver. The two elderly men and the driver got out of their car, came and spoke to us. The passengers looked like affluent business people and they sympathetically listened to our woes. We must have made a favourable impression on them. The two gentlemen kindly requested the driver to help fix the tyre. The driver refitted the tyre as efficiently as possible, and asked Raju to roll the car slowly until we reach the nearest car mechanic. Those kind people didn’t even let us have the pleasure of showing our gratitude to the driver with some cash gift.  They sat in their car and drove away.   Raju coaxed the car into a gentle crawl until we came to a car mechanic within the next ten Kilometres. The mechanic there ensured that everything was all right for us to continue our trip but cautioned us to take the car straightaway for inspection soon after reaching the city.

We thanked our stars and ultimately reached home safely. Raju immediately called the car people and had the car serviced and refitted. For us good providence worked in our favour and some Super Entity hovered over us till we completed the trip safely back home. Fortunately for us, never for a moment thereafter there was any trauma for any of us.

I would also mention here that we had been to Tirupati Tirumala Temple of Lord Venkateswara a few times, and would have continued going back again and again had kala lived and been in perfect health.  This Temple and the temple city itself were superbly maintained with all facilities for the devotees which I doubt any other temple can equal.  I may be biassed because my experience with temples is severely limited.  Even before our marriage, I had been to Tirupati two times, one with my paternal grandmother and another with a few friends.  I don’t think I will ever be visiting Tirupati again unless God wills it.  Oh I forgot, I made the last trip to Tirupati sometime before I retired from active service, this time with a driver friend of mine.  This was a memorable trip because we reached Tirupati Bus stand at 12 in the night, and we walked from the bus stand to the Temple, quite a long distance, and it took us eight hours and since we didn’t collect the darshan ticket at Lower Tirupati, we could not go to the sanctum.  Because we had to attend the office and since we didn’t stay till evening there to get the darshan ticket again, we aborted the pilgrimage and returned home.  Our only consolation was that we footed it all the distance to the temple all night.  For a heart patient, I did well, of course because of providence, again.

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