Two hours, ten kms and the time of my life – it happens only in Theosophical Society.
Having lived in Chennai for 22 years now, it was only a couple of days ago that I went to Theosophical Society and I hated myself for missing out on it all these years! It is by far the most beautiful place in Chennai for me. The 2nd being Valmiki Nagar beach – at 7 pm with aerial crackers bursting at a distance and the street lamps switched off :), anyone is bound to fall in love with the place. Coming back to the Theosophical Society, you know the feeling when you expect something and what you get exceeds that expectation, and the surprise filled happiness of it all makes you feel kinda lucky, well that sort of sums up how TS made me feel!
Walking in through the Besant Avenue entrance after a scrumptious lunch and dessert (apple cinnamon crumble, courtesy my cousin :D) I was really worried if I would enjoy this walk, considering the fact that I could hardly carry myself around!! But the beauty of the place just took me to a totally different world that was nothing like Chennai! Tucked amidst the busy streets of Adyar, TS paints a scene so typical of Enid Blyton books – trees, birds, colourful insects, bungalows with sloping roofs, the marsh crowded with crabs, bushes and birds, beyond which you see the distant sea and an arch way that leads to the sea. And it makes me grin widely to think I live just a few kms from this wonderland that’s very much real and not something I romanticize about 😀
The best part about getting lost in this wonderland is that it’s like a treasure hunt. At every corner you find something that draws attention – a lily pond, cactii that are 9 feet high, a Buddhist temple, bee hive, a cluster of insects in brilliant red which I later googled to find out were cotton stainer bugs. I even came across a tree that reminded me of the tree of life from the Avatar movie! Not to mention the birds – magpie robin, male and female koels, kingfishers, mynah, egrets – what more can i say? it’s was too perfect to be true! And then there is the magnificent Big Banyan Tree – one of the oldest banyan trees of the world. Though the tree as such has fallen, it’s branches form a maze you wouldn’t want to get stuck in!
As I kept walking, amidst the trees and the empty roads, suddenly out of no where, loomed a building adjoined by a spacious dining hall with neatly arranged stairs. Only after reading the notice board affixed there, I got to know that Theosophical Society to this date has been conducting several discussions and seminars on various topics such as spirituality, religion and the like. The members of the society and guests drop in from across the world for these events. So it’s not a surprise that you get see such well maintained areas within the TS grounds.
Also, here and there are these big old bungalows where once upon a time the founders stayed in, like the Madam Blavatsky House and the Leadbeater’s Chamber. In fact the Blavatsky house has welcomed Rabindranath Tagore warmly into it’s winding corridors and housed him for a month, so says an inscription on the Blavatsky House’s wall! Interestingly, the founders and the important members like Annie Besant, Charles Leadbeater and Henry Olcoltt have been cremated within the Theosophical Society grounds.
The more deeper I walked into this wonderland, the sea beckoned. The salty air and the sounds of the waves made me hell bent on finding the way that led to the beach and the famed Broken Bridge. Broken Bridge is a structure that connects the Raja Mutthaiah palace in MRC Nagar to Besant Nagar. Built on the Adyar river years ago, the structure is now broken with a huge chunk in between missing, and is predominantly visited by the slum children in the area and the curious wandering souls of Chennai. It also attracts drunkards who want to philosophize to the sea, and hence is somewhat restricted and closely patrolled by the traffic police.
TS is probably one of the rare spots from where you can get to see both the broken halves of the bridge. So when I came to the marsh that overlooks the the MRC skyline, I knew I was close by. I always knew there was a way to the Broken Bridge through TS, and I seized this opportunity to explore. But my pace was largely slowed thanks to the occasional kingfisher and the giant ghost crabs, but nevertheless I did reach that magical arched gate that led to the beach. Sadly it was locked! I shoved away my temptation to take a stone and break it open, took a last peek at the sea and the bridge that were so near yet so far away, and retraced my way back to reality.