ISKCON Temple in Kannur, Kerala
Tucked away in a narrow by lane of Moopanpara, Chirakkal in Kannur is ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), a cradle of calm and peace. Finding your way to the temple can be a tricky affair with absence of any signage that could lead you towards it: no devotees, no meditating bhaktas or no boards announcing, ‘Yes, this is the way to the ISKCON Temple’. It is only after a firm assurance by a locally resident lady, an ISKCON devotee herself, whom we luckily encounter on our way and who kindly agrees to guide us till the temple’s gate that we finally conclude: We are finally at the ISKCON temple in Kannur, Kerala.
Quietly snuggled in the thick vegetation of the coconut grooves, the temple complex bears a deserted look; a complete contrast to the many ISKCON’s that I have been to till date yet blending beautifully with the tranquil image of Kerala that I have come to form over the past few days of my stay here.
A pot of Tulsi stands guard soon after entering the gates. Adorned at the sidewalls are an array of pictures, all depicting Lord Krishna in His various forms and avatars: one in the battlefield with his student-warrior, Arjuna, another with His beloved, Radha and a bigger one that features Him alone. And then, there are more, all expressively transporting me to a bygone era glorious with His love for cows and mischievous past times.
In the center of the complex, the main temple stands humbly, simple in its make and devoid of any kind of ostentation. Apart from the Krishna posters and the Tulsi pot, the complex hardly boasts of any things that would make it stand out as a temple and hence, to a passer by, can easily pass off as any other house in the corner of the lane. Even the temple bell is nowhere to be seen. Such is its simplicity and I am awed.
The door to the main temple is closed. The Lord is asleep, enjoying His mid-noon siesta. There are rooms on one side of the temple for resident ISKCON bhaktas (devotees) to stay. Yet, there is no indication of life or any kind of movement except us roaming in the precincts. Even the trees stand transfixed as if exhibiting care to not perform any kind of activity that could disturb the Lord in His sleep. As the Lord, so His bhaktas. A bit disappointed at having missed an opportunity of meeting Him, I decide to take a leave when I hear someone call.
Namaste, it is a lady bhakta and we strike a conversation. She tells me that the temple witnesses a lot of crowd and festivities on festive days and other special occasions. She further informs me that the temple land is on rent right now and hence is housed in a small space. Small in space it might as well be, but soon enough I find it very large in kindheartedness when I am invited for the prasadam, the temple meal. Perhaps, it is the Lord’s call and I gleefully accept it as a blessing. The thought that Lord did not want me to leave like that, empty handed and empty stomach makes me feel special. I am delighted.
The food is served on a banana leaf, the only one I have on a leaf in our entire Kannur trip, with a lot of love. Rice, dal, ladyfinger, cabbage and finally, a banana; everything comes in order, one after the other, everything is rhythmic. Needless to say, the meal is wholesome, fulfilling, nourishing and tastes absolutely divine, leaving me yearning for more. With utmost humility, mataji apologizes for us having missed out on the darshan and I appreciate her gesture of serving us the prasadam, the food of the Lord.
Finally, it is time to leave. She bids us goodbye with a wishful request – Agli baar jaldi Kerala aana, bhagwan ki ichcha hogi toh phir mulaqat hogi (Do plan a visit to Kerala soon, God willing we will meet again). She says this while standing at the temple steps, right in front of the sanctum sanctorum, right in front of the Lord. Nodding, I make a move from the oasis of peace but carry something along… her voice in the form of an echo in the quiet of the environs. Her aura glowing in devotional fervor, her lovely smile, her humble voice; that I had carefully treasured with me that day continue to linger in my memories, even today… instilling faith that, her wish will come true soon, some day.
Address and contact number of the ISKCON Temple in Kannur:
MoopanPara, Highway Junction, Chirakkal, P.O. Kannur, Kerala, India.
Phone number: +91 (497) 2775299.
Travellers Tip: Guest house facility is not available in the temple.