Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Legend Lives On in The House of Kalam, Rameshwaram.

DAY 1: How to reach, where to stay in Rameshwaram | DAY 2: Ramnathaswamy Temple DarshanAgni TeerthamSunset boat ride | DAY 3: Places to see / Teerthas of Rameshwaram: Gandhamadana Parvatham (Rama Padam)Ghost Town: DhanushkodiRama TeerthamPanchmukhi Hanuman Temple, Lakhshman Teertham. EXTRAS: Rameshwaram Food GuideSweeping Healers of Rameshwaram Sea.

Kalam's caricature outside the House of Kalam Mission of Life Gallery, Rameshwaram

For great men, religion is a way of making friends;
small people make religion a fighting tool.
~ APJ Abdul Kalam.

I navigated the narrow bend of the swamp street, walking past peeling walls and jumping through a few puddles, to arrive at my next destination in a cloudy gloomy Rameshwaram. What stood before me was a two storey structure, modest and unassuming in built - red, white and blue in color. There was nothing in the building that could be described as eye catching but in the grace for which it stood for – it was far from ordinary and deeply meaningful. The stairs were steep, just about enough for one person to pass comfortably to get to the first floor of the iconic House No. 2 at Mosque street.

House of Kalam Mission of Life Gallery, Rameshwaram
House of Kalam - Mission of Life Gallery.

I was on my way to the Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam’s house, more popularly known as APJ Abdul Kalam, Mission of Life gallery – a contemporary treasure chest on the first floor in an illustrious yet simple bungalow of a simpler man.

Born on 15th October 1931 in Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, APJ Abdul Kalam had humble beginnings as a young boy as a newspaper delivery boy. With dreams in his eyes and sheer will, hard work and unflinching determination in his spirit, He rose to great heights as he manoeuvred his way through the mezzanine of life. An aeronautical engineer, a notable scientist, an inspirational professor, the chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the 11th President of India - He left an indelible impressionable mark wherever he put his heart in, in ways that were unique not only to him but to the entire world.

Gate entrance to the House of Kalam
There's a treasure trove behind these gates!

Today, the beloved People’s President is no more amongst us. APJ Abdul Kalam left for his eternal abode from an apparent cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015, aged 83 while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, leaving a void in the hearts of millions who loved him. But it’s here, in the House of Kalam, that we literally see his unconquerable spirit lingering on ... reflecting within the frames of the house, sketched through the brushstrokes of time, revealing his entire life portrait from his Rameshwaram to his Rashtrapati Bhavan days and beyond, on the canvas of the walls.

Outside the House of Kalam Mission of Life Gallery entrance, Rameshwaram


The house had several framed sections displaying huge placards consisting of several pictures of one of the finest human beings to have walked on earth, coupled with his thoughtful anecdotes and quotes that shows how multi faceted he truly was.

You see glimpses of his college and childhood days – the locality where he grew and studied; a group photo with friends in the Madras Institute of Technology along with His teen photo on one placard. You see the ‘Missile Man’ shaking hands with Vikram Sarabhai and other stalwart scientists, in moments of pride during the nuclear missile tests and his gigantic contribution to the defence research and developments including ISRO feats, nuclear tests and the launch of the Agni missile, named after the five elements of nature. You see him addressing the youth as passionately as he walks with eminent international personalities; such rare pictorial gems recreating priceless moments from his lifetime – all find a place in the gallery.

A section of letters written to him by young children is interesting where children express their love, adoration and admiration in heartfelt touching ways. It was a special bond he shared with the young minds of the country, we know he loved children and they loved him too. The museum is full of memorabilia: ISRO Uniform, world’s first war rocket, number of trophies and awards and achievements including the three most significant ones - the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian honor), The Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan, and several other prestigious international recognitions, etc.

Amidst the nuggets of history are poems like Oceans Meet  and Green Tree in my Home - beautiful thoughts that mirror the love that he had for his motherland, native place, nature, culture and religious harmony.


There was a lot to see and savour in the house, much of which I don't honestly remember today, but what I do remember is the face of this man - APJ Abdul Kalam beaming everywhere my eyes could see. Fire in his eyes, sincerity oozed out off his demeanour. Like if he could, he would talk to every youth walking in the hall right now, his fist fiercely moving through the jets of air.

Actually, he does.

Through the various pictures, poems, and quotes adorning the walls everywhere the eyes can see, he does. He speaks, his life as an example has something for everyone for all those who choose to listen.

In the House of Kalam is the soul of APJ Abdul Kalam... his vision immortal in the endless echoes that reverberate through the walls of time, pulling subtle strings of will in the heart of every youth, leading him to the land of his dreams and motivating him to believe in them, to live a meaningful life, one that is graced by the Almighty on us, and to look only upwards towards the infinitely stretching horizon of the sky. Photography is prohibited inside and somewhere it fits because perhaps what you capture in your heart, you cherish for eternity. I think APJ Abdul Kalam would have loved to have it no other way.

My Mother ~ By APJ Abdul Kalam.

Embodiment of Love

Dedicated to my mother who lived ninety three years, a woman of love, a woman of kindness and above all a woman of divine nature. My mother performed Namaz five times everyday. During Namaz, my mother always looked angelic. Every time I saw her during Namaz I was inspired and moved.

I still remember the day when I was ten,
Sleeping on your lap to the envy of my elder brothers and sisters.
It was full moon night, my world only you knew Mother!, My Mother!
When at midnight, I woke with tears falling on my knee
You knew the pain of your child, My Mother.
Your caring hands, tenderly removing the pain
Your love, your care, your faith gave me strength,
To face the world without fear and with His strength.
We will meet again on the great Judgment Day. My Mother!

Traveller Tips and Information:

1. Address: House No. 2 at Mosque Street. It's epic, so if you have any trouble locating, you can ask the locals and they will guide you happily.
2. Souvenir shop: on the second floor sells a variety of locally made souvenirs of sea shells and is managed by his brother.
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