A small Mosque in Acharapakkam.
I went to bed only at 12’o clock but got up at 0500hrs. My plan was to visit Acharapakkam, a small Panchayat town, 99km south of Chennai. The plan has got postponed many times, but this time I wasn’t going to postpone. Regular readers could recollect that I visited Acharapakkam exactly a year back. I boarded the same 103SR Pondicherry passenger to Melmaruvattur. It was a good run. Nice speed. It was hauled by a WAP-4 and I didn’t note the power. I got down at Melmaruvattur as 103 hasn't got a halt at Acharapakkam. I proceeded towards a small hotel. The name of the hotel was Sakthi Cafe. I walked in and found out that it was self service. I ordered Poori Masala. I wasn’t content with it. Then I had Idli, one vadai along with coconut chutney. I felt quite content in life. I purchased a water bottle. My next task was to board a bus to Acharapakkam which is now only two kilometers away. It was a hot sunny day. I could feel the heat even at 0900hrs in the morning.
Acharapakkam Lord Shiva temple.
The plan was to visit the Shiva temple and to spend sometime in the temple complex. I boarded a bus bound towards Villupuram and got down at Acharapakkam within five minutes. I didn’t prefer the autos and I planned to walk through the village to observe its simplicity. Acharapakkam is famous for its ancient Shiva temple and it has also got a Nadi Astrology center. I walked through the roads. The first thing which I came across was a Durga temple. The next building was a Christian convent. I could observe a school in the name of St.Joseph opposite it to the Durga Temple. I also saw some cows, hens and dogs. Men and women were busy with their own work.
Few kids saw me and looked at me in a suspicious manner. I was dressed in black pants and a black t-shirt with sun-glasses. I could observe some cycle shops, jewel brokers, bakeries. I spotted a mutton stall in front of a mosque. On the side of the domes, I could observe two mini-minarets. But I don’t think there was enough space for the muezzin to climb and call adhan. The domes and the entire structure impressed me a lot. The minarets were small but resembled structures similar to Uzbekistan. After 5 minutes of walking, I reached the town center. Everyone was busy selling and buying.
A Christian convent just adjacent to the Durga Temple.
There was a young lad in red t-shirt trying to sell some shells and stickers. There was a lady selling fish. Street markets may not be common in the so-called First World countries. But over here, we live every dream. Fruits were fresh and my taste buds woke up. Apple, grapes, water-melons, lemon, pine-apples, green mangoes, coconuts. The guy was also selling vegetables. I could see spinaches, brinjals, lady’s finger, and potatoes. I came across a “Cool-Bar”. But I retraced my way back and decided to have fruit drink. I opted for a grape juice and it was ready in a jiffy. It was excellent.
I walked out of the market and walked through the muddy roads; I could see the temple gopuram in the distance. As I walked I could observe kids playing with tyres and sticks, tennis balls and ladies pumping water at the pump and there was a big queue in front of the pump. The railway station was only a stone’s throw away from the temple entrance. I walked into the temple and there were only two priests and one devotee. The temple was similar to the one at Madurantakam.
Durga Temple in Acharapakkam.
I went around the temple thrice and then spent sometime watching the sculptures. The temple priest was only 22 years old and was a friendly chap. He had completed BCA at Pondicherry and during our conversation he said that he travels in Pondicherry passenger often. He recollected his experience in meter gauge trains and he said that he enjoyed meter gauge train journeys more than broad gauge journeys. I dare not tell him that I am also a rail fan as I don’t reveal personal stuffs that easily. I observed that for people in Madurantakam and Acharapakkam Indian Railways was something special and divine unlike for people in Chennai where many view it as a transport system. As far as I know people living beyond Chengalpet are pretty sentimental about meter-gauge journeys.
I inquired about life in Acharapakkam and neighboring towns like Madurantakam, Melmaruvattur, Tozhuppedu, Pakkam and Olakur. He said Madurantakam was a bigger town amongst the list and quite a popular place. However, railway stations are much used only at Madurantakam and Melmarvattur. Majority of the people living in Acharapakkam work in places like Chengalpet, Tambaram, Paranur and they travel for nearly one and half hours in the evening in each direction for work. So totally three hours of travel per day! Majority of them work in Banks, factories and a few work in companies like Nokia, Airtel. Acharapakkam is a center hub and it supplies electricity to the surrounding “Pathinettu- Patti”(in Tamil it means 18 villages). I had a doubt! I asked him this question! What is so divine about that number 18 and why it is often used to describe the number of villages surrounding a town? I find it in all cinema dialogues. The young priest simply said that there is no specific reason attached to it.
I walked to the railway track as it was quite near to the temple. I couldn't resist taking photos in my camera mobiles.
I was a bit disappointed with that reply. I thought that I would unravel the mystery behind it. He said that Acharapakkam was becoming more popular day by day. Acharapakkam is a separate constituency and the town has got only a few hotels and lodges which generally gets crowded during election period. People in Acharapakkam want Expresses to stop at their hometown, but since Melmarvattur was already given a halt, Acharapakkam is denied that halt! The town’s market is quite popular and people from neighboring villages like Pakkam, Tozhuppedu and Karasangal purchase groceries at Acharapakkam.
The single-line electrified track towards Egmore.
Acharapakkam was similar to mini-India. Acharapakkam was something different in my opinion. I was amazed to hear the fact Venkatesa Suprabatham is played in loudspeakers in the churches. The reason is that the temple hasn’t got many facilities and hence the Head priest has offered to give assistance to the Hindus living there by allowing devotional songs to be played over the Church’s loudspeakers. It brought back memories of my life in Christian school.
A snail's eye view!!
The priest gave a lot of details. All of a sudden few visitors came for pooja and so he had to leave me alone. I walked to the temple entrance and there I saw a Muslim gentleman interacting with the temple priest. They were talking about the similarities in various religions and were praising the Almighty for giving various joys to humans. I heard a loud honk and for sometime the entire environment turned dynamic. I had a good darshan of WAG-5 hauling a goods train towards Villupuram. After 15 minutes, I saw WDM-2 LHF hauling 195SC Tirupati-Pondicherry passenger past Acharapakkam. What a fantastic sight! I really envy the deities over here.
The roads in Acharapakkam have their own beauty and charm.
For sometime, I wondered what I studied in my graduation. I have graduated only foolishness, though living in a metropolitan city like Chennai. These people over here know a lot of things and most of all they seem to know how to treat a human being with respect. The temple was exactly next to the 99km post. I tried taking photographs. I attempted to take a snail’s eye view of the sky from the tracks. It came out well in my opinion. These tracks haven’t got much action during the day.
A Muslim Gentlemen in the act of praising God and embracing humanity.
I walked back to the temple. There was a Lord Ganesh statue along with Mother Parvati and Lord Shiva on temple top. Looks like Mother Parvati and Lord Shiva have been feeding infant Ganesh with food and fruits by showing the trains running between Chennai and Tiruchi. The temple was very near to the tracks and the deities had a clear view too. It’s always nice to watch a train in action. The deities themselves are blessed and lucky to watch Indian Railway trains.
The houses in Acharapakkam have their own beauty.
I got a call from my Chennai friend Siva Ramakrishnan a.k.a Nishant. He has been receiving my SMS updates. He suggested that I should travel 3km south and visit another temple in the name “Kadamber Kandigai”. I did have that plan, but later I erased my thoughts as I was a bit lazy and I boarded a bus to return home. I connected my headset to my mobile and I was listening to Bombay Vikings-Chod Do Aanchal remix. I should admit that I like the remix more than the actual 1956 duet between Nutan and Dev Anand. The bus journey was good. Near Paranur, I saw an EMU running parallel to my bus. My bus was a bit shaky compared to the train, but I can observe the smoothness in the EMU. I can realize why train journeys are more comfortable than buses. I reached home a bit early. My parents were a bit surprised. They thought that I would be returning only in evening passenger from Pondicherry and not by bus.