God's own garbage

I was brought up to be religious. When I could think for myself, I changed my view. But temples located amid forests still held a fascination for me - it was the journey, rather than the destination, that appealed to me most. 

It's been a long time since I have visited any temple in the capacity of a pilgrim. But, yes, temples do form part of my itinerary whenever I travel. On a travel writing assignment in 2008, I was required to visit the famous Arulmigu Dandayudhapani Swami Devasthanam at Palani. It's an ancient and venerable temple and I suppose it must have remained harmonious with its immediate environment, as temples once used to. 

I had visited Palani as a child (a memory intertwined with one of my first toothache) and I remembered it to be a far prettier place than it is now. Of course, the devout may differ with me on that. Then, the climb of 693 steps to the sanctum was pleasanter, with shady trees to help break your journey in comfort. 

And there was no plastic.

These pictures, taken two years ago, show a different Palani - one that has unfortunately replaced that old childhood idyll in my memory. I doubt it would have changed if you happen to visit it now. If it has, for the better, do let me know.

On one side, the view from the summit

On the other, a mountain of plastic and garbage

En route, a fervent plea falls on deaf ears (or illiterate eyes)