Ian Lockwood

MUSINGS, TRIP ACCOUNTS AND IMAGES FROM SOUTH ASIA

Kanyakumari and the Ashambus in the South West Monsoon (Part 1)

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The Ashambu or Agasthyamalai hills form an imposing backdrop over Kanyakumari.

Kanyakumari is best known as a pilgrimage site, where every good Indian will visit to bathe in the three seas, visit the Swami Vivekananda temple and pay respects to the temple of the virgin goddess who the tip of the peninsula is named after. I appreciate these aspects but for me Kanyakumari is where the Western Ghats begin (or end, depending on how you look at it). On this visit my focus was on experiencing the monsoon from the eastern rain shadow where its drama can be appreciated without actually being caught up in the mist, deluge and whatnot. I wanted to share the experiences with my two young children but I was alone, as my wife Raina was studying in Thailand. Using a mix of public transport and taxis and managing boisterous (and then sick) kids, camera gear and regular baggage on my own became a significant challenge. Kanyakumari was abuzz with festive visitors, many who had been given an extra holiday as a part of the World Classical Tamil conference in Coimbatore. The monsoon had already been active for two weeks and there was drama in the clouds and hills. We experienced this from the Swami Vivekananda rock, Vattakotta fort and Maruthuvazh Malai (Medicinal Hill).

Pilgrims and visitors at the confluence of the three seas with the Thiruvalluvar Statue and Swami Vivekananda island under the South West monsoon.

On our return home to the Palani Hills from Dhonavur the South West was bubbling over the mountains and even raining on the dry plains. We took the long way through Tenkasi, Rajapalaiyam and Srivillaputtur to experience an intimate feeling of the eastern face of the Western Ghats.

Written by ianlockwood

2010-07-26 at 3:42 pm

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