Monday, May 21, 2007

Life from its past

At Varkala, there are two distinct lives that the town leads. It has a life from its past, a life that belongs to the people of Kerala who have lived here for generations. To this life belongs also the 12th century Janardhana Swamy temple. And then, it has a life of the present, a life that belongs to the tourists. This is the life Varkala inhabits on the cliff. The beach and the bazaar belong to this life. The Sea, however, belongs to Varkala’s past and to its present. The Sea belongs to the fishermen. The Sea also belongs to the tourists. When the tide ebbs, there is a momentary silence. It is a moment in the sea of time, when people see Varkala as they want to see it.

The people of Varkala come to the temple for their daily prayer. Some come from towns nearby to offer their gratitude for prayers already answered. A few tourists visit the temple to know Varkala in its entirety. One climbs a few steps to go up to the temple. There is the sanctum sanctorum where the local priests perform the daily puja. There are the open spaces around it where others wander. There is a tranquillity in the temple grounds. As one walks back to climb down again to the town, you see the town in a different light. The town seems quieter from here. You also see the temple tank and the ‘Sree Padmam Garden restaurant’ that overlooks the water and the coconut palms beyond – a place where tourists become for a while a part of Varkala’s past.

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