The miracle quotient of the Murugan temple at Tiruchendur must have gone up sky-high after the tsunami declined to ravage it as it ravaged other places up and down the coast. However, when we (me, my mother, brother and sister) went there about 10 days back, there didnt seem to be anything out of the ordinary. Except that the postcard and souvenir touts had some special photos, apparently taken when the sea had receded. (Somebody must have been mighty enterprising - not to mention ready and present with a camera!)
Unfortunately my mother has the photo, so I can only describe it - the sea-bed was clearly revealed, with pebbles and dunes and seaweed and pools of water here and there... but then again, I've not seen the sea there at low tide, so I dunno how authentic the photo was. Still, I guess the evidence of the tsunami NOT hitting the area is right there... after all, the temple is standing in all its glory!
The temple wasnt especially crowded (so my mother says) because I guess it wasnt a specially holy day. But there were enough people to make it stuffy and crowded inside, all the same. Inviting and dark though it looked, the temple wasnt cool in the least... especially considering a lot of it is below sea level. The reason why I dislike going to pilgrimage spots is all the devotees. They're supposedly religious but they behave like animals - actually, worse than animals, in their frenzy to get to the prasadam or the teertham.
The well that's near the temple was a case in point. Our priest had asked us to go there and wash our hands and feet. Seemed a simple enough task. There were two queues leading down to the well - one for men, one for women. So far so good. But both queues ended up at the same spot where people could get at the holy water with the mugs provided there.
All that was required was a splash of water... but no! There were men and women who were actually having a BATH there despite the pressing crowds of people waiting their turn. And these religious bathers would not let anybody get at the mugs, instead calling more family members and friends to join in the frenzy. The scuffling and yelling, not to mention flying elbows and stomping feet was not in the least conducive to a calm, peaceful state of mind, I can tell you. I was in a filthy temper by the time we got out of there - not exactly the best mood prior to a multiple-archanai pooja in the innards of a dark, crowded, HOT temple!
What is it about temples and festivals that turns devotees into mindless maniacs, all intent on grabbing for themselves whatever is on offer - whether it's kumkum/vibhuti, tulasi, or whatever - and never mind the others? Why do they all have to scrabble and fight for everything? I would say "I hate temples" but that isnt true... the smaller ones, which arent famous for any particular thing (other than sculpture or age) have a certain serenity that is very appealing. Put devotees in there, however, and everything is ruined.
Well, enough ranting... at least the scenery on the way from Tirunelveli to Tiruchendur was surprisingly - and very pleasingly - green. It was very refreshing to see plants that werent dusty or drought-stricken and that didnt look straggly and pathetic (what comes to mind at this point are the plants beneath the Cathedral Road flyover, and at the Alwarpet junction... pathetic doesnt begin to describe them, the poor things).
Anyway, we didnt stop anywhere on the way back from Tiruchendur, so all the photos I took were from the moving car. Pretty good, if I say so myself :) They're also in chronological order, so you can scroll through naturally from top to bottom!