Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coming To Rest

It is my last night at the foot of the Sacred Mountain Arunachala.

The road is entirely closed to traffic and the pilgrims continue to make their barefoot circuit while the moon is full.

A man paints the face of Lord Shiva on the road.

The pilgrims stop at the small shrines

 They make offerings.

Others offer fortune telling

The quiet tide of humanity will keep flowing until the phase of the moon changes over...24 hours.  About 3:30 in the morning it will all be over until the next full moon.

In the morning there is little sign that all this took place.  I go out before dawn and the roads are still, except for a few stragglers.  I sit on a curb and I gaze up to the mountain.

The sun comes up and I know it is time to leave when a Sadhu passes by me and smiles.  I return his smile and go back to our little hotel.

We say good bye to the mountain and head for Mahabalipuram

It is a jarring transition.  We leave the quiet countryside and then on to the busy highway north towards our final destination.

It is over 3 hours to get there and our driver stops for coffee.

It is definitely a clean place.  It says so at least.

We arrive we do not have much time and make our visit to Arjuna's penance.  Sometime in the 7th century it was carved straight out of the rock face.  It tells the story of how Arjuna practiced austerities in order to receive a boon from Lord Shiva.

There are mostly tourists here who are practicing no austerity whatsoever.

You have to look closely to really appreciate what is here.

Most things deserve a closer look

These are the faces of the Mahabharta itself.

Lord Shiva holds up the world.

Some worlds do not need holding up.

For centuries Sri Krishna's butter ball has remained balanced upon the hill.

Kids have slid along the face for so many years there is a smooth path now.

Tour guides explaining the story of Arjuna

 Sometimes you can be your own guide.

There are sculptors on the way to the next set of temples.

A fortune teller

Flower seller

 Selling tin pots.

A pedlar.

Selling vegetables.

The shopkeeper who asked for his picture taken but warned he had a chipped tooth.

Garbage is picked up.

A golden Ganesh

Another carved temple complex nearby..... The 5 Rathas

All dating from the 7th century.

It is Sunday and it an ideal time to come to this place.  There may no better time of year as now, when the weather is cooler.

The streets of the little town are crowded.

The Shore temple is the last stop.

Also dating from this same time.

Something dated more currently

All the hard edges long worn smooth.

The sun going down.

The souvenir sellers are relentless.

Walking away.

The moon now waning, my visit to India nearly over.

In just a few hours this 7 day adventure or pilgrimage or whatever it is will just be memories and data bits.

Something strong deep and powerful drew me here.  An experience not so easily described and yet impossible not to be felt and be grateful for.

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