By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
Last week, I had the privilege of visiting Kanchipuram with my better half. The magnet, of course, was to see the famous “Atthi Varadar,” who was brought out of a pond for just 40 days and immersed back into the pond to be taken out after another 40 years! It is said that this was done to save the deity being destroyed by Muslim invaders. Myth or a reality, I have no idea. The deity is made of wood and it is a real miracle that it has survived the water immersion for so many years and is still intact.
Kanchi, famous for its temples and for its silk and cottons, gets a regular crowd throughout the year. A small but bustling town.
There is an old saying “make hay while the sun shines.” Well, the locals were just raking in the moolah. A room which would not fetch a rate of Rs.1,500 a day was being sold for Rs. 5,000. As I was writing this article, the rate of the room for which I paid Rs. 5,000 has been hiked to Rs. 6,500! Good food was sold at a premium price and was in short supply. Add to this the security problem with hundreds of vvips descending to the city everyday including the President. It was a tough task for the administration. Imagine managing Dasara crowd for 45 days!
The locals were laughing all the way to their banks but the power of internet and media was visible. 40 years back when the same statue was brought out, there was hardly any ripple in the town except staunch believers. There was hardly any visible increase in the visit of the devotees but this time due to the media attention and WhatsApp, devotees from all over the world are pouring in for darshan. Not a single rupee was spent on advertisement or publicity! With a vvip pass, we had to stand for approximately 3 hours to have darshan but regular visitors had to brave it out to for nearly 7 hours. With rains also deciding to visit the town, it was quite messy.
Arrangements had been made to have ambulances, wheelchairs and a separate queue for senior citizens and pregnant women. The deity was displayed in the sleeping posture and it is said that after Aug. 1, the devotees will have darshan of the deity in standing posture. One darshan of the deity, all our pains vanished! My only regret, could not taste the world famous Kanchipuram idli and puliogare !
Next we visited the reigning deity of Kanchipuram the Kamakshi temple. A beautiful temple with an enchanting pond. How they managed to keep it so clean in spite of the milling crowd was itself a miracle. Just like Tirupathi, they had made arrangements to have fans all along the crowd route. A visit to the silk shop was non-starter. Imagine a queue to enter the shop ! We decided to forget about shopping much to my delight and my better half’s disappointment.
On our way back we decided to stay at Vishranthi in Hoskote, a unique multi-faceted centre, home for the aged and orphans. If it was another old age home, I would not have written about it but this centre has created a niche for itself by the following activities:
1. Geriatric care, where each elder is taken care. They have a tie up with Manipal Hospital and each patient can interact with doctors directly through e-consultation.
2. A palliation centre for those with life-limiting illnesses.
3. A children’s home for the orphans and destitutes. All the children are sent to local schools and the best amongst them to convent schools for education. They also have a full-time tutor in the premises.
4. Adoption centre approved by Government. This adoption centre takes care of abandoned infants. Ironical, the demand for a female infant is very high but it takes at least 2 to 3 years for a couple to get a child for adoption. Till date 15 infants have been adopted from this centre.
5. Vocational training: The girls and boys from surrounding villages are trained in candle- making, tailoring, sanitation, etc.
The best I have kept for the last. This centre is run by one Sarasa Vasudevan, who lives on the premises with her mother and mother-in-law! What a combination. The centre does not take any grants from the Government but survives on donations only. Currently, they have 22 children, 19 adults and 4 infants. Amazing, so many activities under one roof! Next time you do visit Bengaluru, do visit this centre or log on to http://www.vishranthitrust.org. You can also call Sarasa Vasudevan on Mob: 99005-84471.