All Rayar Thope, Sri Rangam is is a few badly maintained roads with houses scattered along the way. But as it always is with a place, its people make it. I spent a good 10 days there, eating junk food, binging whatever it is that was running on the TV, and mentally condemning those around me for engaging in the absurd Diwali tradition of bursting crackers. I must admit, I got bored after a while and yearned for the comfort of my own home, but apart from those sudden moments of angsty homesickness, this trip was another one to remember.
My sister and I have never had a good experience when it came to Diwali. We always spent it over at grandma’s house where there was no one our age group. We’d spend all day boring ourselves out into sleep. So, this year was going to be great. The highlight of the whole affair however, was not Diwali. On the third day of our stay there, the entire group – comprising 16 people – got into a bus to a temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram. That unnecessarily elaborate name is homage to Rajendra Chola, an early 11th century king who conquered some 4 (contemporary) states across India and demanded that the defeated send him water from Ganga River. The temple is called the Brihadeeshwara temple (not to be confused with the more famous Brihadeeshwara temple in thanjavur). Flanked by large lawns, the temple is a festival of aesthetics. The idea was to get there by 11 am, eat our packed breakfasts on the lawns, pay a visit to the almighty and then head back. But like almost any other well drawn-out plan, this one also went askew.
We drove in the bus for a solid two hours before realizing that the driver had mistaken the destination to be some other temple. These two hours, my cousins spent dancing till they were out of breath, trying to force me to do the same. I just stood around awkwardly, trying in vain to get some pictures and clips. When we finally figured that we were on the wrong route, we stopped by another temple, paid our visits and then decided to turn around, call it a day. A bus ride is just as fun right? Wrong.
Even if we didn’t get to see the temple (it was already past closing time), we could still see it from the outside and roam in its lawns. So, we pulled through and got there anyway. And can I tell you, it was completely worth the pain. Standing before us were the most beautiful Gopuram (fort) and lawns. Nothing was out of place – nature and architectural wonders came together in such harmony.
On the way back, we all fell asleep – we were too tired from dancing/shooting. Of course, we hadn’t had lunch yet. Maggie came to the rescue. Even in a village far far away from the Himalayas, where there’s ample food of our own liking, Maggie was what helped in the end (Top Ramen but who cares?). Rayar Thope was the best host – the best food, the best company and the best sights. If there’s one thing I could change (and this isn’t just Rayar Thope, it’s anywhere in the world), I’d kill every mosquito ever born on the planet because man are they completely f*king useless.