Sunday, January 23, 2011


We made it back to Arambol in 1 piece today, we are both really tired and deficient in vitamins from Kollur. The train ride here was epic...picture the busiest train you have ever seen, picture it really really filthy, and then times it all by 200%. Yup, that was our train ride from Karnatika back to Goa. Martin warned me that it would be a real local train (we had caught the wrong train down to Karnatika on the way down and aside from us being squished, it was no big deal) but when it rolled up and everyone started to swarm into the doors, I took a deep breathe of what would be the last hint of fresh air for the next 5 hours. Trying to follow Martin inthrough the door was enough of an issue, but to top it all off there was a stubborn woman sitting right at the foot of the door refusing to stand up so everyone was trying to push around her and carrytheir heavy luggage over their heads to avoid hitting her. Martin tried to get her to move but she was a stubborn thing so there she sat for half the journey until a bunch of women had a proper go at her and she eventually stood up, only to sit again on the last leg of the trip. This chaos inside the train was recreated at every stop until we got to Gokarna, where many people got off. Martin and I found ourselves holed up between the 2 toilets, which after the presumably long journey prior to us getting on, did not smell very nice. Martin has no sense of smell so he got off lucky, while I on the other hand did all I could to avoid breathing.
We arrived in Margoa and caught a taxi that took us back to Arambol, where we spent the rest of the day and night cleaning up the house, washing our clothes, having a dip in the sea and then having a languid dinner enjoying real proper food for the first time in a week.
We were both sad to leave Kollur today.
The experiences that we had in Kollur was truly amazing, and we really got into a nice routine of arising early (6am), having a hot (!!) bucket wash before heading off to the temple where we would get our flowers and do our perambulations around the inner sanctum before joining the queue and going into see the Goddess. We often stayed to watch and join in on the procession, and then went to have something to eat before going back to our guest house and sleeping for a few hours. We repeated this all in the evening 12 hours later.
Kollur is a tiny village in the jungle, and it is a very conservative village. We were pretty much the only westerners in the village, aside from a few that occasionally ventured outof a nearby Seat of Living temple just outside of town. We got loads of attention, even moreso when we were at the temple. I found it difficult to concentrate while doing my perambulations as I could see a massive line of people watching us, and little kids waving trying to catch my gaze. I worried that some Hindus would be insulted seeing us in their spiritual place of worship, but Martin often commented on how people are probably more often then not happy and surprised to see how serious we are about the practice. We met many people at the temple who were really excited and happy that we were at Shree Mookambika.
The only downside about Kollur was the food. I was warned before going that the place is perfunctory eating...proper pilgrim food...but I hoped that Martin would be wrong. Well I was wrong!
I quickly went off thalis after my 2nd day, and to my delight were taken to a dabba (bythe Baba and his partner) where they served masala dosas and idliis all day long. So I started to order dosas and then went off them. And then moved onto to parathas, and went off them. I completely lost my appetite to eat, and spent ages trying to swallow bits of idlii and sambar. Martin was much more stoic than I and was able to keep up his appetite, even though he was tiring of the food. There was a huge lack of fresh fruit and veg there aside from bananas and apples, so we started to feel a bit unwell from that. Martin was really excited when he found bits of cooked tomato in his thali subjii one day!!! I did have a moment of imagination about lemon sugar crepes, so I went and found some lemons. We ordered parathas and I went to work envisioning lemon sugar crepes...only in the form of a paratha. While it got many curious looks from everyone else in the restaurant, I was happy as a clam...for 1 meal.
Martin took me to the Saurparnika river, which is a gorgeous river in the jungle - proper Jungle Book style- that apparently comes from the Kodachadri mountain (which we visited the next day..moreon this later). I was worried about snakes as we made our way through the jungle to the banks of the river, but there was none to be seen and Martin and I had the most beautiful place to ourselves. There was a small waterfall nearby that I though looked exactly like all the Indian waterfalls you see on plates and on posters. The water was cool and refreshing, and even though I had to swim fully clothed, I was completely rejuvenated. We spent a good part of the day there just reveling in the beauty. A group of monkeys came by and Martin fed them bananas. It was a lovely day, and so nice to be away from the noisy and chaotic village.
The next day after going to Shree Mookambika, we took a jeep up to
Kodachadri mountain, where it is said that the Saint of Kollur sat and meditated for 15 years until he could see a ray of light (Shree Mookambika). When he went to the ray of light, he found a massive gold disk, which is now in the pakara of Shree Mookambika.
Once we got to the top of the mountain, Martin led me uphill for about 45 minutes, stopping to pay homage to a Ganesh temple along the way until we got to the top where we came across another temple. There was a priest in the temple, and we had a brief little puja with him before venturing on. Martin wanted to get to the Saint's meditating post, and I, unaware of what lay ahead, agreed. Suddenly, for the next 30 minutes we were scaling down rocky crevices, holding onto tree roots and hiking uphill. I got very scared and tried to back outof it, but Martin urged me on and so finally we made it, after climbing up a rickety ladder and slippery rock face.
I was pretty grumpy at this point, so sadly the experience at the shrine wasn't as special as I would have liked it to be, but at the end of the day I made it - even though I was in flip flops and deathly afraid!
Kollur was an amazing place to be, and I am so glad that we spent so much time there together. It was a really bonding experience, and we had alot of really special and amazing things happen to us there. As we drove off this morning, I felt a bit of a tug on my heart but remembered that this place has always been and always will be so we can come back at anytime. And now we are off on a new adventure!
We will stay in Arambol til Friday or Saturday getting massages, eating fruit salads, and doing yoga, before we head off to Varanasi. I probably won't write much this week so check back on the weekend.

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