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Peripatetic again
On 17th April I turned 27. Since this was the first time in my life that I was turning 27, I decided to do something different on the 17th. I had learned recently, from the trivia printed on polythene bag they give you at Landmark that Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix all died at 27. Now since I had (and have) no intentions of being part of this bit of fatal statistic, it ruled out all adventures which have potential of turning into misadventures. And so it was decided that I will take a two day KSTDC tour to Coorg. Besides docility (for they cater these days to families with kids on summer vacation), the merits of these tours include frugality (something I ultimately did not worry about for a kind friend sponsored the trip as a birthday gift – Thank You!) and relative hassle-freeness of overnight stay.

My journey started at 8:00 AM on 16th – some 45 minutes after the scheduled time. Some 90 minutes later we stopped at Channapatna near a small shop selling wooden toys and handicrafts (that this place is famous for). From there we resumed our drive towards Bylakuppe but stopped again at Maddur for 30 minutes, at insistence of fellow passengers demanding breakfast. The drive from Maddur was scenic. I was particularly fascinated by large areas of coconut plantations where sunlight and the shadows of the coconut canopies formed an interesting patchwork of darkness and light on the ground. A wagon loaded with gunny cement bags whizzed past my window. Three laborers, slept on this makeshift bed. Wind combing their scruffy, disheveled hair completed an idyllic picture. At that instant, I would have given anything to swap places with them. I was saddened greatly to see grand old trees being axed mercilessly for broadening the highway. Indeed, many goldmohur trees planted by the side of the road, were witnessing their last spring.

When we stopped at Namdroling monastery at Bylakuppe around 2:15, the drive had stretched for so long, that my first reaction was of disbelief at actually having arrived. The disbelief was to deepen upon seeing the beautifully painted oriental portal which let me into the monastery. The Tibetan monastery is dotted with several pagodas, the largest of them, the so called “Golden Temple”, had a beautiful, three-storey, oriental gilded roof. In front of this pagoda, smoke emanated from two squat towers, which was being fuelled by two monks periodically. Inside the temple, was a congregation of hundreds of monks, in their yellow and maroon habits, chanting prayers in a deep-throated voice. That, and the rhythmic beating of their traditional drums, bound me mesmerized to a single spot. My reverie broke when I realized that I was the only one standing. I scrammed, looked around frantically and figured that the cavalcade had moved to another pagoda.

Nothing had prepared me for what I saw at Padmasambhava Buddhist Vihara – the next pagoda that I visited. On entering the pagoda, through its bright red door that had an enormous gilded door-handle, I saw three golden statues, several feet tall. In center was the statue of Buddha and on its either side were statues of his disciples. The statues – though themselves plain in execution – were adorned with bright colorful murals on the wall behind them. Golden figurines were tacked to the edges of the backrest behind their thrones. They glittered in the afternoon sun. Despite being imposing by virtue of its dimensions, the edifice oozed infinite calm. On standing here one feels like a child who looses all his worldly worries as he rests his head in his mother’s lap. There were no overbearing priests and no restrictions on photography. A monk of the kindest countenance, seated at one end of the temple, kept a discreet watch without asserting his presence or authority. Sparrows chirped inside. They were joined by their enthusiastic chicks each time their mothers would fetch victuals. True to the principles of Buddhism, the sanctum of the pagoda was sanctuary to several families of sparrows.

What struck me most at the monastery was their usage of colors. Anywhere else, and those bright reds, blues, greens and gold would have seemed garish - even disturbing! But here, they were in perfect harmony with each other and their surroundings.

Unfortunately, such a place holds no promise for school kids on summer vacations. Thirty minutes is all that I got to spend there. While roaming around in the monastery premises, I had almost lost my way to the exit gate. Somehow – and I suspect more by providence than by my virtues – I finally emerged from the right gate, only to find the KSRTC bus absconding. After almost having lost my voice to panic, I managed to ask the haggard old guard prancing near the monastery gate the whereabouts of the bus. To my relief he simply pointed to the parking area and I boarded the bus just in time for our departure.

It’s 10:30 at night now. The electricity here plays havoc. It fluctuates in a manner which is more fickle than mind of capricious five-year old. And so I postpone writing this series to tomorrow. My dear readers, I hope that by now, you are used to my travelogues being doled out in installments :-).
posted: 19.4.05


Wish you a rockin' 27! Travel more, read more, write more, and post a lot of pictures!


By Blogger sajith, at 20.4.05  

Thanks Sajith!!

I feel terribly old and yet I am happy to have grown older :-)

By Blogger Deepak, at 20.4.05  

You can dole out these travelogues however you like, I think, Deepak. It's always a great read.

Happy birthday, too. I hope this will be a great year for you.

By Blogger Deirdre, at 20.4.05  

PS. Thank goodness that bus didn't leave you behind!

By Blogger Deirdre, at 20.4.05  

Belated Birthday Wishes...

By Blogger GhanaShyam, at 20.4.05  

Belated wishes - now waiting to see how you celebrate your Blog's birthday!

By Blogger Geetanjali, at 20.4.05  

Happy Birthday Deepak!

Hope to see some pics from your latest trip soon. :)

By Anonymous Avis, at 21.4.05  

:-) belated happy birthday to an Arien from a fellow Arien.
Yup, i celebrated my b'day on the 13th.
Travel more & more & post more n more pics. will be waiting for ur latest pics...

By Blogger KJ, at 21.4.05  

Thanks Deirdre! I had prepared myself mentally for the bus having absconded :), it was a big surprise to have found it!

Thanks Ghanashyam!

Thanks Geetanjali :).. Shhhhhh.. :)

Thanks Avis - I've posted two of them. I had clicked 3 murals too, but they've come out botched thanks to the smoke in the vicinity.

Thanks KJ! I do intend to travel a lot this year, hopefully I will be able to put each one of those trips down :)

By Blogger Deepak, at 21.4.05  

Hey Deepak! Great stuff. It's a while since I frequented here and its nice to see all the new posts. Also, its wonderful that you recount your unique view of experiences like these. Keep writing!


By Blogger jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn, at 21.4.05  

Belated Happy Birthday too! :)


By Blogger jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn, at 21.4.05  

I'd been to this place almost 4 years ago in our class trip to Coorg. Ah! Brings back so many memories.

Entering that main hall of 3 statues felt like P-E-A-C-E. I can almost feel the tranquility of the place even now!

By Blogger ash, at 21.4.05  

Keep writing your delightful travelogues. It's been a joy knowing about fascinating Indian cities, towns & tourist spots through your insightful blog.

By Blogger 'Anil' Radhakrishna, at 21.4.05  

Belated Happy Birthday Deepak :)

By Anonymous Sushila, at 24.4.05  

Thanks Rajesh!

Exactly Ash! "On standing here one feels like a child who looses all his worldly worries as he rests his head in his mother’s lap."

Thanks Anil!

Thanks Sushila!

By Blogger Deepak, at 24.4.05  

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