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The Sacred Tippy Toe

One Sea, Two Sea, Three Sea!

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Kanniyakumari sits at the southernmost point of mainland India and is a pilgrimage site for millions of Hindus. It is where the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea all meet. We arrived early in the afternoon and headed down to the coast to see this meeting for ourselves, unsurprisingly it wasn't exactly obvious but the water was the clearest and brightest in colour that we've seen it so far. Whether this was in any way related I am not sure.

What we were not expecting to see was a memorial temple in honour of the Bengali religious leader and philosopher, Swami Vivekananda on one of two rocks about 400m off shore. Vivekananda came to Kanniyakumari as a simple monk and devotee and swam out and sat in long and deep meditation on one of the rocks in 1892. He left inspired to speak on Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. On his return, he founded the Ramakrishna Mission in Chennai, which is now spread across the world. The rock was renamed Vivekananda Rock and a memorial was built in 1970. What was more surprising and impressive though was the 40m statue of the poet Thiruvalluvar which has been constructed on the second of the two rocks.

After our usual search we found ourselves a nice hotel room, it was lacking a little in the soul department but it was large, clean and seemed relatively new.
A lot of hotels seem to go in for this kind of fake grandeur, an impressive facade which crumbles under closer inspection. Nonetheless it was perfect for our requirements.

The heart of Kanniyakumari throbs in it's pilgrims market which is filled with a plethora of tacky items, a lot of which seem to incorporate or be entirely made of shells. It is also has an abundance of watch shops, something which pleased Adam a great deal. His Casio Digital watch, which he is very fond of, decided to stop working a month or so back and while looking for a replacement we have discovered the world of Casio copies and all they have to offer. The leader of the copies seems to be Gasio, and Adam now owns a metal strapped solar Gasio, a plastic strapped, multi light Gasio, and a black faced dual time Gasio. We are still on the look out for watches which offer something new and exciting or the ultimate hybrid as Adam likes to say!

The downside to Kanniyakumari which we soon discovered was the lack of decent places to eat. The first place we tried was really disappointing, and our slight disillusion with Indian food began. Still there are always fruit stalls to fall back on and as long as we can get our hands on a couple of mangos and a watermelon we're ok. Which after relaxing in the hotel for a while is exactly what we did for dinner, we just bought bits and bobs from stalls and took them back for an unusual pic nic. Which consisted of popcorn, peanut brittle, mangos, a watermelon, and a couple of very spicey onion bargies.

The next day we were quite lazy in the morning and seemed to find it particularly difficult to convince ourselves to get up and get motivated. Once we did we found ourselves a better place to eat, and then went to the train station to try and book our ticket to Madurai, a temple town north-east of Kanniyakumari.
We completed the form with all our information as always and then handed it in, we were told however that for the cheaper seats that we wanted we would be on a waiting list. If we wanted to get confirmed seats we would have to pay about double the price. We were leaning towards just paying the money for peace of mind, but the ticket seller told us we would definitely get the cheaper seats we just needed to make sure we got to the station in plenty of time to confirm this. So we decided to go with what he said and save the money.

On the walk back to the hotel we caught a little bit of a local cricket match that was being played on a vacant patch of land by the roadside. Although we couldn't understand there were some speakers set up and someone appeared to be commentating on proceedings.
We saw a couple of really good hits, maybe we witnessed a future Indian cricketer. It really is such a massive part of life over here, cricketers are as big and famous as movie stars.
Dinner again consisted of street food, we managed to get one guy to make us a couple of omelettes, well we asked for two and got three. Something about the way we say two sounds like three it would seem, it has been one of the biggest points of language confusion.

The next day we benefited from 24 hour checkout, something which seems to be quite common, at least in South India. Our train was due to depart at 17:15 and we had to check out at 15:00, so we left our bags at the hotel and went to find out whether we'd made it on to the train. When we were put on the waiting list for our train from Agra to Varanasi we had check a list, so we did this again when we got to the station. From what we could decipher it seemed we hadn't made it on to the train. We went up to check this with the ticket seller, a different one from yesterday and he confirmed that we hadn't been given seats. Feeling a bit annoyed we asked if there was anything we could do and he told us that if we came back at about 16:30 when the train arrived we could talk to the conductor and he would definitely give us seats.

After our last 'definitely' from a ticket seller didn't come to fruition we decided to hedge our bets and went to the bus station to check times and see whether there were tickets available. Thankfully there were a few buses that we could get and it was just a buy on the bus system, so if the train fell through we would still be on our way. We went back to get our bags via the Church of Our Lady of Ransom, a very attractive building set close to the sea.

When we got back to the train station, we saw the end of the line and once again marvelled at the length of these trains.
It is quite unbelievable how they can actually be full when they hold so many people. I guess it is highlights how many people live in India, it is certainly the busiest country I have ever visited. We found a couple of conductors and they told us to sit in carriage S4, seat 49 which left a bit of speculation about how long we would last on the train as we are two people and occupying one seat might be a bit tricky. This was rectifyed soon enough though and we were given two seats and were on our way to Madurai.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 07:00 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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