We arrived at the Nallamudi viewpoint which presented us several waterfalls, small and big, close by and too far. “That side is Kerala” someone was explaining… “those are the huts of tribal people” they added. Not sure how true that was, we were enjoying the scenery at the viewpoint and were taking photographs.
Suddenly a jolt of loud prayer shook us. An old man was shouting at the top of his voice. Shouting is wrong usage- he was actually praying to his god, Muruga. As expected couple of tourists around initiated a conversation with him and as if waiting to talk, he began speaking out. He claimed he knew very little English, but his English was good enough for all practical purposes.
He claimed he saw god in this place some 36 years and 82 days ago. “God appeared with lightning and thunder, he was strong and powerful- it is my lifetime privilege to have seen him” he went on speaking. When tourists had nothing else to ask, he continued “ask more, what else you want to know?” He said he has built a temple for the god nearby, said he has two children whom he’s named after god and so on. He criticized other sanyasis and priests for faking things. “My name is Velu… Nothing before and nothing after” he reiterated. He spoke much more in tamil and English before tourists forefully separated themselves from him, but above is the extract I’m able to recall.
Forest guards on duty at the viewpoint were at ease with him and said because of Velu only the place become famous.
Lakshmi Sharath has more on this in her Metro Plus column
Related: Gaurs at Valparai tea estate *