Features: Magazine Literary Review Life Metro Plus Open Page Education Plus Book Review Business SciTech Entertainment Young World Property Plus Quest Folio
Metro Plus Bangalore Chennai Delhi Hyderabad Kochi Madurai Mangalore Pondicherry Tiruchirapalli Thiruvananthapuram Vijayawada Visakhapatnam
Stop `n' go
Kodumudi: because it's there, says SUBHA J RAO
FOR THOSE who travel on the Erode-Karur Road regularly, Kodumudi is just another stop. But stop and take in the surroundings. The air is heady with the scent of turmeric. Crops of golden yellow paddy wave in the wind ready for harvest and waif-like betel vines snake up stiff agathi keerai trees.
The Cauvery gurgles past the 7th Century AD periya kovil on its idol-rich bank. Looking skyward to propitiate the gods, devotees and locals take a quick dip in knee-deep water before heading for the temple. The water has now receded but during the days when the gates of the Mettur dam are open, it swells to cover some of the newly built concrete steps on the bank.
Devotees grateful that their wishes are granted by the Trinity (Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu) return to leave a stone idol on the muddy bank. Over the years, the Gods seem to have smiled on quite a few people. You can't walk more than 10 feet without stumbling upon an idol.
Perfectly sculpted Ganeshas, Nandis, Nagarajas and a host of other nameless gods in the Hindu pantheon sit benignly waiting for new companions.
For local anglers
The new idols smothered with soggy marigold garlands stand out in contrast with others, which have had their sharp edges softened by years of lapping waves. Other deities lie half-buried in the wet sand, missing a hand or leg or a nose. The sculptures get a scrubbing only when water is released from the dam. Then, they go underwater and resurface only when the level decreases in summer. This is also the time for local anglers. Using nothing more than a length of string and a ripe banana, they hook a variety of eels and other kinds of fish.
The coracle owners here are a friendly lot and help you find the best places to fish. Park your vehicle near the temple and wade down till you are waist deep in water. A local boy flings a fruit-laden string into the water and waits for some fish to fall for his bait. When his neighbour hooks an eel, he looks with yearning and moves away to deeper waters. While he is trying his luck, a foot-long nandi, its nose above water, keeps me company.
Soon, it's time to take the ride on the bamboo-lined coracle. The boatman plunges a bamboo pole into the water to make it glide across the Cauvery. A few minutes later, at the cost of a few rupees, you are on the other bank and in a different district, Namakkal. On this side lies the Agasthiar Paarai, the stone on which the saint believed to have brought forth the Cauvery, is said to have done penance. When the river is in full spate, the coracle can go right up to it.
How to go there: Kodumudi is 105 km from Coimbatore. If you're driving down, take a diversion near Kangeyam. There are not many eateries out there. But the famous Kodumudi cucumber is available in plenty in the temple complex.
When the sun turns up its heat, this is the only salvation around.