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A CLOSE LOOK

At our journey's end: Adieu Kanyakumari

Nilratan Halder | Published: October 04, 2019 19:55:17


The day is bright and a sense of nomadic urge lingers on. However, we realise that this is our last day at Kanyakumari and from here we will only be heading for home. But so long we have postponed our visit to a few important must-visit spots on the Vivekananda Kendra campus. There are two temples which we saw from outside every time we left the compound because those were on the left side of the exit. Also there is an archive which houses serially in pictorial form Vivekananda's life's journey with the theme "Arise, Awake".

How foolish it was to leave those to cover in a day! One of the temples is open where puja is routinely offered every day. On its lawn, there is life-size elephant statue. But on the front lawn of its neighbouring temple, a glittering one at that, there stands a huge statue of the monkey god Hanuman. Besides statues of tigers, several other animals and birds also grace the small precinct with sparse flower plants.  But this temple is a treasure trove of paintings chronologically depicting important events of the two famous epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The events are described in a nutshell in Tamil, Hindi and English. So well maintained the temple is that visitors are forbidden to touch the exhibits and make noise. It is perhaps a brainchild of Eknath Ranade who was a great organiser and is considered the architect of developing the Kendra to its present form.

As for the archive, it guides one to accompany the great Bangalee sanyasi in his quest for human salvation. The great disciple of Ramkrishna Paramhangsa could preach from his inner conviction that 'one who loves living beings renders service to God". The archive fittingly invites one to attain a spiritual elevation and calls for discovering a persona bold and strong.

I was wondering if the archive with the gallery was there when I first visited the Kendra in 1996. But so engrossed was I with what I experienced there, I just forgot to ask the man at the front desk selling entry tickets. I had a hunch that here was a library at that time. Most probably, here I met the librarian of that time -an elderly man who happened to be a Bangalee. Knowing that I also spoke Bangla, he showed interest in a long conversation with me. I really missed one such person speaking my mother tongue there on this visit.

Our bus is at 5:30 pm. So we have to hurry now, take lunch, rest and pack up before we check out at 4:30. Time flies before we know how. The appointed time arrived and we left the Kendra, our shelter for five days, for the bus stand by the bus the Kendra operates. Our destination is Bangalore once again. But lo, there are no other passengers expect us. However, the bus arrived there on time. There was no one else there apart from the driver. It is a double-decker sleeper class Volvo bus. The driver alighted from his driving seat and opened baggage chamber for us. We get on board the bus and on to the upper berths from where we looked at the horizon that was getting crimson against the blue sky. The bus sped on the road along the seacoast where the sunset view point is. When you leave a place so lovely, you leave a part of yourself as well.

In the distant the sea roars and there rises a huge cross on a church. Soon Kanyakumari will be a long way off in terms of physical proximity but in terms of mental nearness it will always be haunting me because I really felt peace in the place. Many things I did not see last time and this time also many things were left unseen. Not all the later additions are to my liking and the people-to-people communication has certainly suffered if I compare my first visit with this one and I must admit that the world is not always changing for the better. However, the place treasures memories of Vivekanda and that is enough to like it and love it.

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