Thiruvarur is a small township located towards the south of Tamizh Nadu, and I recently had the good fortune of visiting it when it was lush green owing to a bout of heavy rains over there. I and five of my friends armed ourselves, prepared (or at least almost prepared) to present our papers on 'The Name and Nature of Ecocriticism' at the Central University of Tamizh Nadu (CUTN). We were bent on having our share of the fun come rain or shine (shine, as it turned out to be).
What was initially supposed to be a group journey from Chennai to Thiruvarur ended up in just two out of the five of us travelling, since the people who were supposed to arrive from Hyderabad missed the train. [Their story is an amazing one, and I would love to recount it, but I suppose we must ask them to do the narration. It is hilarious I assure you. But, back to the story...] So two of us set off from Chennai Egmore, not knowing how to pass about seven hours in a train. We started out by taking pictures, but batteries failed us, and eventually, we had to satisfy ourselves by just chatting, and chatting, and chatting! The journey was interspersed with ardent followers of ISKON, and interesting conversations with the old man sitting next to us. He was a really kind man, asking us to see the various water bodies that flowed by, and we too enjoyed watching the risen levels of water after the heavy rains. However, most of the journey went off in blissful slumber, and even the coffee and samosas that we bought didn't wake us up- especially me! I was literally sleeping like a log!
We soon got down at Thanjaoor- far earlier than we expected (we thought we would reach at five, but we reached by three or so). Giving a little time to charge our phones so as to be able to take pictures, and contact our friends when they reached, we left the station and decided to go to the temple. It was drizzling by then, and a single 'thaathaa kodai' was supposed to protect both of us. We got a two rupee ticket to the temple, and we walked in the slush to the entrance. After a lot of contemplation as to whether we ought to enter the main temple or not, we dumped our bags at the entrance (there was a man who kept them safe at the counter), and we headed inside. It was about 4:45 pm when we went in. We walked around the entire temple. It was empty, probably owing to the rains.
This was my second visit to the temple. I had once gone to Thanjaoor about four years ago, and I had seen the same sights with a different friend. This experience was different. I was doing the guiding this time (though I did not know much). We saw the main temple, with lord Siva, and the huge Nandhi seated in front of him. We saw the many Siva lingams and the paintings on the wall. We learnt that the temple was constructed by Raja raja Chozha during 1003 AD or so and the paintings were elaborate. We realised that the stones had two styles of writing- one similar to tamizh and one to sanskrit, but neither was the actual language. We figured that it was probably some ancient form of the languages. After about an hour of looking at the statues, and taking a few pictures, we left. We had to catch the bus from Thanjaoor to Thiruvarur. We did not know how long that would take, but we figured that it would not be much. We paid twenty rupees each in the bus, so we assumed we would reach within twenty minutes to half an hour. The bus journey lasted an hour and a half, toward the end of which both of us were feeling physically and psychologically ill.
There was a really nice lady sitting next to me on the journey to Thiruvarur. Her name was Anbarasi. She was heading to Velankani to pray for her family. In Tamizh, it is called a venduthal. She had two children- a daughter and a son- both in their kinder garden, and her husband was in Saudi Arabia. She was excited, and we spoke about a multitude of things, including which actor we liked (common: Surya), and actress (Jyotika, though she still doesn't act), and other mundane things.
We reached Thiruvarur at eight. We walked the short distance from the bus stop to the hotel we were staying in- Hotel Selvie's- and met up with our friends. We got dinner at a restaurant in the hotel itself, and we all headed of to catch a good night's sleep before facing a tough day the next morning.