Monday, March 10, 2008

Kulasekarapattinam : Picnic on the beach

At last, an RLT destination teeming with people, says SOMA BASU


KULASEKARAPATTINAM A beach that comes alive for Dasara

It was a unique place for an RLT. Kulasekarapattinam in Thoothukudi District boasts a fine beach. Formerly, it was a minor port having trade links with Sri Lanka. But after Tuticorin became a major port, Kulasekarapattinam lost its status.

The coastal village is famous for its 300-year old Muthuraman Koil located on the seashore. When I landed there, I discovered a setting that was quite different from anything I had imagined. I had hoped to unwind on a secluded beach with only the sound of waves for company. But, Kulasekarapattinam was bustling with activity. I was surrounded by a sea of people, and the sound of water was barely audible. The area resonated with the rhythmic beat of drums. The occasion was Dasara, which is celebrated with pomp at the temple. Folk artistes from all over the State converge here to participate in the 10-day festival. The beach looked like a fair ground and the performances reminded me of the natyotsavs at Puri.

Hawkers selling conch shell items, rudraksha malas, plastic toys and T-shirts, added to the mela atmosphere. Everything had a rural overtone and children and adults appeared to enjoy themselves to the hilt.

"I stay in the village and visit the beach often. But during Dasara, the place is completely transformed," said Muthuvelachamy, a fisherman.

But what about the litter strewn around... the plastic carry bags, paper cups and plates? Apparently, the locals form a team of volunteers to maintain a degree of cleanliness during and after the festival by cleaning up the place and asking people to throw the waste in the bins provided.

Time slipped by on the Kulasekarapattinam beach. I enjoyed the folk programme, wove my way through the crowd and walked along the shore occasionally dipping my feet in the water.

Once the festival is over, the sound of the waves takes over again. Kulasekarapattinam was named after King Kulasekarapandiyan during whose reign, it is said, the city prospered.

As there are no boarding and lodging facilities or restaurants around, go prepared for a picnic.

How to get there: Kulasekarapattinam is on Thoothukudi-Tiruchendur/ Kanyakumari road. It is about 60 km from Thoothukudi town and 20 km from Tiruchendur. From Tirunelveli, it is 68 km and 65 km from Kanyakumari.


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