Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wandering Through The Streets of Rameshwaram: A Photo Essay.

Magic of my Rameshwaram yatra, this most fascinating and significant of pilgrimages, only began with paying obeisance in the age old Ramanathaswamy temple and the multitude of teerthams, following an alternate route through the streets of this charming island revealed an experience completely different. Getting acquainted with the wonders of the village by simply being on the streets divulged artistry, humanity and a characteristic laid-backness interwoven in a thread of traditions and customs unique in character and culture; here it was, where I wandered, stopping and marvelling at the never ending slice of life on display waiting to be celebrated and appreciated for they were as captivating, as rewarding and as gratifying as any visit to a renowned temple of a sacred place.

Photographed below are some of the sights, smells, and sounds that caught my eye, my experiences while wandering through the narrow lanes and bylanes of this quaint quiet sleepy village, in a humble attempt to get a feel - a taste of the real village of Rameshwaram.

Besides The Rameshwaram Temple: Getting acquainted with the real village of Rameshwaram.

Houses - of bricks and mortar, mud, paint, bamboo or chuna,

... Are not just structures
But, real extensions of the people living inside.

Houses in the village of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Old and rustic,

 Some of them are cemented,
more rich and well to do
while others are less ostentatious with just a thatched roof.

An ancient house in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Some of them have a bike parked in front of their gates
while others are content with a bicycle.

A bike parked in front of a house in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

What's really striking about these homes, I wonder?

Should I highlight their usage of colors or should I speak of their old age charm,
should I focus on their architecture or
should I write of the the social affluence that they boast off?

Houses in the village of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

What would be their best celebration after all?

Meanwhile, away from the houses, down in the markets, the town is abuzz with activity, long woken up from slumber. Day starts early in the town especially owing to its pilgrimage status. The life of the people here revolves around the sea, the temple and the Gods.

Boats, unanchored and liberated, are out into the sea for a fishing spree. 

Fisherman boats in Rameshwaram

Business is not always brisk and money is scarce but what needs to be done is always done. Day after day, men get up and go out to earn the daily bread and feed their families - parents, wives and children.

A lifetime of hard work and toil... it's reflected as lined features,
wrinkled hands and in the veins that protrude from their feeble arms.

A man resting on the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
A man sells his wares in the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Near the bus stop, an old man sits on the ground quietly, seemingly unaffected by the action around, wrapped in a saffron robe on a jacket, moving nothing but the fingers of his left hand through the japa - mala or precious prayer beads chanting his prayers.

He's got a call to move on...

A sadhu on the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Competition is real even in the rural, and a fight for survival exists but out in the center, the sense of community is palpable. There is an expression of camaraderie and kinship even in the animals even when there are no words spoken. I offer a couple of bananas to the cow lounging on the roadside. The Mother cow compassionately gazes at the pup strolling alongside as if passing her plate to him but alas! He finds himself too young for the treat.

A cow mooing lazing in the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu


It's eloquent, powerful, beautiful, even dangerous.

To slow down, reflect and ponder
on how connected you are with life,
your own self, is priority here.

A dogs on the beach of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

An old letterbox dangles modestly in a corner, reminding me of the power of written words, the joys of authentic connections and meaningful heartfelt conversations. Of great desires and classical stories of enduring love - they all find a place in the safe womb of the post box.

A letter box for communication along the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

The town is in the mood of Diwali, the festival of lights and there is an unmissable happiness in the air. The entire streets are hemmed in on all sides by Thoranams against the cloudless blue backdrop of the sky - oh how gracefully they swing and sway, to and fro! Dancing to the ecstatic beats of the winds, they permeate joy into my entire being.

How can I forget those moments...
those are moments of freedom and peace.

Auspicious Thoranams haniging on the streets of Rameshwaram during Diwali

Peace and freedom

Those esteemed gifts received when I look upto and in the benevolent eyes of my Father ... I ... His beloved daughter, flawlessly beautiful and faultless, in His eyes, a part of His Family.

Colorful temple facade in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Gods are not exclusive to the temples in Rameshwaram. He resides in their houses, on the doors, in signs and symbols, in faith and in their day to day activities. He is Family, a living member of their everyday life.

Burst of colors aong the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

As I keep walking through the village of Rameshwaram, the myriad of scenes, they make way for the houses again. This time, the humble rangoli drawn in the courtyard catches my attention and I suddenly realise what is their real celebration after all - it is in the warmth of those intricate patterns... white or coloured... made lovingly by the womenfolk of the house, early in the morning after sweeping the courtyard that so warmly invites us all.

Rangoli designs in front of houses in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Yes, the doors of the houses in Rameshwaram are open for everyone.
Everyone, except the evil eyed one - 

Warding off evil in the house of  Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Nazarbattus hanging out in the door
They do a good job of scaring all the wicked off!

How to Create the Perfect Travel Photo Album.

Photo Album - Memories of a lifetime.

Looking for a perfect way to immortalize your most memorable travel experiences? Compiling your photos into an interesting travel photo album is a creative way to preserve the precious memories of your trip. Easy to create, store, and organize, photo albums also allow you to share the amazing stories of your travels to your family and friends.

Here are some tips on creating the perfect travel photo album:

Filter Your Photos.

Choose the photos you’re going to include in your photo album. Make sure to filter and sort them in an organized manner. I’m sure there are photos that are out of focus or have a distracting photobomber. Choose photos that tell meaningful stories. Pictures paint a thousand words, so let them tell the story for you!

Plan Your Theme.

Conceptualize a theme to help you tell the story of your travel. Reminisce how it went. It’ll help you come up with a theme for keeping your story rock solid and seamless. You can start with a concept map to plot how your travel photo album story will flow.

Choose a Design.

Of course, the photo album won’t be complete without a design. As soon as you decide on the perfect theme, it’ll be easier for you to think of the suitable design. For inspiration, search Google and Pinterest boards for creative travel photo album designs.

Decide on the Particulars.

Photo Album - Memories of a lifetime.

After choosing a design, decide on what your travel photo album will physically look like. First, focus on the outer cover. You can have it customized in a hardcover print of your own photo and design. If you want a simple design, you can choose a cover made of leather, woven fabric, or suede, which can come in different colors.

Next, choose the shape of your photo album. Lay-flat, landscape orientation is perfect for panoramic shots, but you can also use portrait or other shape that you think will go best with your chosen design.

You also have to determine the album size. There is a wide range of sizes to choose from. Albums can be as small as 2x3” or as large as 12x15”.

Spice It Up.

A short caption for each photo will be perfect for personalizing your photo album! Although this is just optional, it can help in adding depth and interest to your photos. Come up with a behind-the-scenes section to showcase your quirky and fun photos with your travel photography buddy or some pictures with the locals!

Travel photos aren’t supposed to be kept in our hard drives, memory cards, and personal computers. They should be displayed for other people to see. With your travel photo album, not only can you show off those amazing travel photos, but you can also preserve them for future generations of the family to come.

About the Author: Shane Haumpton is a contributing writer for several websites and blogs. She has written on a variety of topics, ranging from lifestyle, photography, travel, and arts and crafts to gadgets, social media, and internet safety. This self-confessed coffee addict and shutterbug manages to do all these while enjoying life as a nomad.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Views from the iconic Pamban Bridge in Rameshwaram

I must have been half sleepy when I was suddenly jolted to a wake by the commotion in my train compartment. As I opened my eyes and looked around trying to gauge what the noise was all about, I saw more than half of the people sticking their heads out of the window. My dad meanwhile, in all his boyish excitement, was trying his best to draw my attention – Look, Pamban Bridge!

I immediately craned my neck towards the window and gazed in awe outside. Like a beaming lady immaculately groomed in blue, she looked tremendously powerful waving gracefully and welcoming us all in, in her comforting appearance.

Soaking in...
the experience of travelling over the Rameshwaram sea.

View from the Panbam Railway Bridge from the train to Rameshwaram
Yes, it is that close!

I rushed towards the door, camera in hand, my brother tugging along, in the hope of catching a better glimpse. To our happy surprise, we found the entire door to ourselves for all the time spanning the length of India's first sea bridge and only second in length after Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai.

Rameshwaram sea from the Panbam Railway Bridge - train to Rameshwaram
This is how she looked from the Pamban Railway bridge.

We stood there, thrilled to have experiencing a travel on the Pamban railway bridge - an architectural marvel, a historic wonder - up close and personal, in sheer silence as if complimenting the serene beauty of the waters expanding beyond our view towards the horizons, enthusiastically admiring the shimmering riches from the concrete mass held closely in its lap by the deep blue sea.

The 2.06 km long cantilever bridge on the Palk Strait was thrown open to traffic in 1914 and despite suffering a setback for the first time in December 1964, when a severe cyclonic storm hit this part of the area is still going strong, providing the much needed rail connectivity to the pilgrim centre of Rameshwaram.

On the trail of exploring the town of Rameshwaram, we revisited our feelings of awe and wonder once again, this time by stepping foot on its relatively modern counterpart – the road bridge which was opened way later in 1988. It was terribly cloudy that day but the rain Gods showed mercy so that we could enjoy a rain free viewing experience! Here are a few snaps captured that day from the road bridge captioned with fun facts related to this iconic bridge.

View of the Panbam Railway Bridge from the road bridge in Rameshwaram

The 'Pamban bridge' today refers to both - 
the road bridge and the cantilever railway bridge -
though primarily it means the latter.

The Panbam Road Bridge, Rameshwaram

The Pamban Railway Bridge was the only link between Rameshwaram and the mainland
until 1988 when this road bridge, running parallel to it on a higher level, was built.
Earlier, it used to transport hundreds of pilgrims everyday to the temple in the island.

The first sea bridge and second longest in India - Panbam Bridge,  Rameshwaram

German engineer Scherzer designed the central part
of the bridge that opens up to allow ferry movement.
On an average, 10 to 15 boats and small ships pass beneath the bridge every month.

Panbam Railway cantilever bridge,  an architectural marvel in Rameshwaram

The rail bridge is for the most part, a conventional bridge resting on concrete piers, but has a double leaf bascule section midway,
which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through.

View from the Panbam Bridge in Rameshwaram

This bridge is located at the "world's second highly corrosive environment",
next to Miami, US, making the construction a challenging job.
The location is also a cyclone-prone high wind velocity zone.

A guava seller on the Panbam Road Bridge, Rameshwaram

And here's the traveller tip: While you are at the Pamban bridge - all excited catching a glimpse of the Pamban Railway bridge and the views beyond, don't forget to buy some guavas from this man - the experience couldn't have been complete without this delightful bite!