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Sunday, March 18, 2007

vellore



Vasur at 6 Am was desolate but for the cool November morning breeze there was not a soul and all that the golden quadrilateral between Bangalore and Chennai had were speeding vehicles and one risked getting maimed or killed if one dared to ask for directions.
Sneha Deepam was where my accommodation was arranged in Vellore and it was at Vasur just 7Km from the town.
There was a small temple and out of it came an old lady hobbling her way slowly, vocal ministrations on my part were successful in getting an answer from her.
I trudged the few yards along the service road dragging my suitcase like a morning walker with his dog on tow.
Sneha Deepam was a quaint wooded place with a just constructed building and an older one ahead.
I spotted a bearded Tagore look alike in priests garb that greeted me with a warm handshake and arranged for my room in a jiffy.
Vellore CMC hospital was to be my focus for one week as I had come here for a course and Sneha deepam was to be my home for this time.
My room was spartan ad neat and faced a courtyard full of raucous turkeys and cocks .At night they made a ruckus with one particular cock waking me up every day at midnight, in deep sleep I would curse the bird of a future where it becomes my deep fried dinner.
Next day morning Iam off to The Christian Medical College hospital.
This should be one of the most crowded places on this side of the earth.
I jostled my way through the milling crowds.
The atmosphere was filled with Hindi and Bengali talk and I felt I landed somewhere between Bihar and West Bengal. (Most of the patients in the hospital hail from these two states)
. A search for the department where I was meant to be made me circumbulate the complex like a satellite in its orbit before I zeroed in on it.
I was immersed into my work happy to meet new people and learn new things.
The day ended quickly and I disgorged myself into the streets around the hospital.
Coming out in the evening Bangla food, pure halwas, meeti paans, and such other signs greeted me so did hundreds in pajama kurtas and tucked dhotis, I felt I was inside a hindi film and looked around for the compulsory villain, I shook myself from the revelry by taking a hot chai and the tamil magazines on the stand of a small shop oriented me back to dear old Vellore.
A dry hinterland just 140 km from its famous neighbouring Chennai this overgrown village of a town has most of its fame thanks to the CMCH.
It is said its two main buses make a pradhaksina of it .
Of course history rumbled beneath the city and all one had to do was to look for it which was what I did when I stepped into the Vellore Fort .
Crossing the wide moat twenty feet deep, which was said to have had ten thousand gluttonous vile crocodiles sloshing in the sludge waiting for their dinner.
I imagined hooves of helmeted soldiers and clangs of their black murderous swords as they galloped into the fort for orgies of bloodshed.
Names of Tipu Sultan ,Hyder Ali ,the Vijayanagar kings ,booted British and flamboyant French crowded my vision
It was the seat of Pallava, chola, Nayak, Maratha, Arcot nawabs, Bijapur sultans.
Built probably during the reign of Chinna bommi Nayak in 1526 Ad to 1596 AD the Fort is a fine example of military architecture.
I imagined the poor sodden tourists who crowded the fort like sheep as these worthies.
I stepped into a deserted Tourist information centre for my quota of information and met a sorry looking clerk who was about to lock the place and saunter home for a much needed bath when bad luck in the form of an eager tourist yours truly landed on his poor self .He quickly did the vanishing trick filling my hands with copies of two brochures.
The neighboring archeology office was faithful to its specialty in almost being a heritage site with rusted bicycles parked inside and yellowed files fluttering from an overhead fan ,a surprised attender discouraged me from enquiries by pointing me to the direction of the temple .
I had to find solace in God after this indeed and so I walked barefoot by the cool flagstones into a magnificent courtyard.
The sculptures of the jalakandeshwarar temple built by the Vijayanagar rajas were scintillating and an example of the artist’s brilliance. Huge motifs described scriptures vividly.the temple was spacious and breezy; I sat on the he stone slabs, which were warm after the day’s sun.
The temple had an inner and outer prakara and a kalyanamandapam
I got up slovenly and trudged back home munching on some hot peanuts ruminating on those days
As dusk gathered I returned back to vasur and its turkeys.

4 comments:

kmpnair said...

Dear Hari: Very interesting read.

Bala said...

Hariettan, enjoyed reading your blog! You will soon make a blogger out of me! Bala

Abraham said...

Hari, your first hand information of the village was worth reading. Sometimes I feel you have chosen the wrong profession.
AV

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