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   I have, purely as a tourist, visited various temples. (October 31, 1990)

I have, purely as a tourist, visited various temples.

I have been to Hardwar, the temples along the banks of the Ganga at Rishkesh, then, across the Laxman Jhoola and up the Bhagyarathi and the Mandakini to Badri-Kedar. I travelled with poor pilgrims in rickety old buses. Faith in the gods took us all up the precarious mountain passes. Everytime the bus would start, the pilgrims would shout in chorus - "Jai Badri-Kedar ji ki."

Kedarnath is a much better located temple than Badrinath (as I said, I went there as a tourist, nothing more). It is situated in mountain meadow, in an amphitheatre of snow peaks, with nature's green lwns gently rolling down towards the centre of the valley, where the temple is situated, the snow pyramid of Mr. Kedar standing behind it.

Badrinath is more crowded, filled with poor exploited pilgrims and priests on the make. But the temple itself provides rare peace and nearby is a large pool of warm-to-boiling sulphur water. I bathed in it, alongside men from the Indo-Tibet Border Force.

I also visited Tungnath, higher than where any mountain eagle flies, with a grandstand view of the snowline. If gods do exist, and I still have my doubts on that, they must exist here.

Then, one year, I got a circular railway ticket and visited all the temples in the South: the Roack Temple of Tiruchirapalli, Minakshi in Madurai, Chidambaram. Thanjavur, Rameshwaram, Tiruchendur, magnificent pieces of Tamil architecture with cartoon-strip gopurams.

I have visited the temple at Palni (the rope trolly wasn't working and I had gone specially for that), the temple in Trivandrum, with fine Malabar elephants parked in its backyard. Some years later (several years later), they were to be brought to New Delhi and paraded for the Asain Games. Which was both a sacrilege and cruelty to anomals.

I have been to Mr. Abu and seen the temple complex there. Though I was hot and tired and pressed for time that afternoon and did not enjoy it much which is my loss. And I have been to Pandharpur twice. On one occasion, when I was accompanying a minister

 
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