The stark difference between perception and reality comes from our understanding of “The Sunrise” and “The Sunset”. We normally believe it as the Sun rising and the Sun setting from common parlance. That’s perception, but we also know the reality that is, neither the Sun rises nor it sets. It’s us, The Earth that rotates on its axis which creates the optical illusion of the rising and the setting sun. But today, we wanted to witness the illusion and live by the perception. Given our sizes in comparison to the Earth and the Sun, we could have only lived with the illusion. But, there was a grave challenge.
To be able to witness the Sunrise, we should get up early – real problem, at least for me. And that also required that we go to bed early the previous night. The previous day’s exhaustion coupled with the fact that we had traveled in train the night before, helped us crash early. Somehow, we managed to leave home by 5:30 AM. Our cab was there, on time. The driver was a real gem. He would never make any fuss about any of our demands. We had asked him to come early morning, show us the sunrise and then leave us back to our apartment and then come again at 11 am for the day tour and he agreed without a grin.
Nonetheless, we were on our way to the Kanyakumari beach to witness the Sunrise from the southernmost shores of the Indian landmass, standing on the edge of the Indian Ocean, a sight that’s rare. We reached the beach in no time and after disembarking the car near the parking, we hurried towards the spot after inquiring from the locals who guided us with their hands. Language was never a barrier, provided there is will power to understand each other. However, our politicians, the media, the intellectuals and the educated class neither believe in it nor they want such thoughts to propagate. The thoughts exist, nevertheless.
Sunrise was a craze. And it was evident from the huge number of people thronging towards the beach. We also joined them. While we were walking towards the point from where the Sunrise is visible clearly, we could see ourselves meandering through small alleys littered by makeshift shops on all sides and a dastardly thought struck me at that instant – how would have been the situation of these people when the Tsunami had struck them? Imagining the horrendous moment itself threw chill down my spine, these people have lived the horrors when the ocean would have risen like a hungry demon relentlessly devouring anything and everything that’s in its way and the attack was without any kind of warning, preparation or even historical knowledge of the same.
A tumble on the stone and the ensuing sensation of impact jolted me from the reverie only to realize that I was facing two seas – one was a sea of enthusiastic onlookers in front of me and the other was obviously the vast and unending expanse of water that lay in front of me till I could see the water doing handshake with the horizon. Gathering myself back to the present, I hurriedly scoured the area for a comfortable spot and before spotting that spot, we spotted tea sellers. I checked the time and found out that we still had the luxury to slurp a couple of sips of early morning tea to freshen our mood and gave in to the temptation.
We multi-tasked – scouted the area around for a comfortable spot, while sipping tea and also scanned for any possibility of nice photographs. It was a still about 15-20 minutes before the scheduled sunrise time. We could see the skies changing colors at the drop of a hat and I thought, no humane painter in this world could lay out the colors with such naturalness, finesse and flawlessness on a canvas, the way the colors were spread on the spectrum above the visible horizon from where the giant burning mass of hydrogen and helium would make an appearance in a while.
As we were occupied clicking snaps and recording videos, we saw the giant monster of gases appearing amongst the scattered and silver lined clouds as tiny red dot. We knew, it was the moment. The much awaited Sunrise had started. The red star was slowly making itself visible and its intensity was also rising up gradually. It was becoming difficult to focus on it for long, after the circle was half way up. The sunrise occurred at 6:12 AM the predicted time of it and it took three and a half minutes for it to rise completely and then get obscured in clouds.
We waited there for a few more moments and then started back, having witnessed the sunrise at the southernmost tip of India, almost touching the waters of the Indian Ocean, feeling ecstatic, we returned back to our apartment and asked the driver to be back by 11 so that we could start our day tour.
After reaching back home, we crashed for another 3 odd hours and then somehow got ready by 11. One of our friends developed indigestion – probably due to exertion – so we brought Eno for him and he felt better after having it. Somehow he managed to muster courage to get ready. It was already 11 and we had not finished our breakfast also. So, we decided to have a brunch before starting and then get some more food packed for the day as we weren’t sure what food would be available at the spots we were planning to visit.
So, we started our day tour. After finishing a South Indian breakfast of Poori-Saagu and Masala Dosa with Filter Coffee at an eatery in Suchindram, we started in a direction opposite to the waters. So, we knew we were going into the landmass inwards. We traveled for around 2 hours, after packing up food on the way, and passed some scenic surroundings of rural Tamil Nadu, down South marked by beautiful hillocks, picturesque valleys and memorable alleys. It started raining and we repented our last minute glitch of forgetting umbrellas before we started the journey.
Nonetheless, we decided to enjoy the rains. But, it was raining heavily. Luckily, we were inside a car. And by the time we reached the Tirparappu Waterfalls, rain was mediocre and manageable. However, the falls were a disappointment. With a lot of people bathing in the trickling waters of the falls, it wasn’t something we could have enjoyed and left the place sooner than we expected.
We started towards Mattoor Aqueduct – an elevated walkway in Attoor. It was another 45 mins drive from Tirparappu Waterfalls. As we parked the vehicle and entered the area, the sight was mesmerizing. The elevated walkway is at an altitude of 115 Ft. above the ground, a narrow strip on which we can walk and it is 380 meters long. A sense of thrill ran down our nerves as we saw the height at which we were trolling along and with all the plush greenery around, it was a never-seen-before visual treat for all of us.
We walked along the walkway, cherishing the experience, trapping memories in mobile cameras and reached the other end of it. There were stairs here, going down. We decided to go down the stairs, have a look at the walkway from below and climb up the stairs again. The sight downstairs was also memorable.
When we looked at the elevated walkway from below, it was hard to fathom if we walked at that height a while back, but it was true actually. We reached back the top after climbing the stairs at the other end of the walkway, our starting point. This additional walk helped us digest the heavy breakfast of morning, yet we weren’t so hungry as to have the meal. The entrance of the walkway is marked by small informal and makeshift eateries selling pine-apples, toffees and other fruits. The feeling of having walked at an altitude of 115 Ft. stayed with us for some more time as we moved from there to see the Padmanabhapuram Palace which built by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal around 1601 AD.
Even though the palace is in Tamil Nadu jurisdiction, it is owned and maintained by the Kerala Govt. There is a guided tour available for the palace after one purchases the tickets which cost INR 35. The tickets are for the palace visit and for the adjacent museum of antiquities from the era. So, after purchasing the tickets and removing our footwear. At the entrance, the visitors are welcomed by a very beautiful art drawn on ground with colors popularly known as “Rangoli”. It is mostly done by women and is a very popular form of art, especially in South India. Almost every household would have a rangoli at its entrance which is redone every morning after cleaning and washing of the entrance.
As we went around the palace, we could see the beauty of architecture in that era. The rooms were spacious, the beds were placed at the center of the room. Separate toilets for men and women were constructed. There was a painting room consisting of paintings from that era depicting the lifestyle. Also some of the paintings showed conspiracies being planned against the king, a messenger informing the same to the King and an assassination attempt on the king.
There were four different kitchens for different categories of guests. The palace has a lot of Chinese artifacts and Chinese influence in architecture indicating strong trading ties with China at that time. The Chinese used to come to India for her spices. The palace is a huge one with a lot of rooms, sprawling campus, watch towers, weaponry and public discourse room.
Adjacent is a museum of antiquities from the era of various weapons used, ornaments, inscriptions which give us a glimpse of the life of the times. We also had barbaric punishments for killing of Brahmins and any anti-national activities wherein a person was subjected to slow death in rain and sun and being attacked by crows and vultures without food or water, tied in iron chains and clads through which even movement was not possible.
After seeing the palace, we came out and were done for the day. Tired, hungry and exhausted, we stopped at a place to eat, went back to our apartment and retired for the day. Our trip of Kanyakumari was coming to an end. It was a really memorable and enjoying break which rejuvenated us. Looking forward to visit the place again.
The Sunrise at Kanyakumari