It is on the banks of the sacred river Vaigai, which originates in Varusanadu hills, the Periyar Plateau of the Western Ghats range, and flows northeast through the Kambam Valley, before emptying into the Palk Strait. The river has been much extolled in Sangam literature as ‘the river that brings water when one touches it’, because of its etymology Vai (place) + gai (hands). The mythology told about the river’s origin is connected to the story of the city’s reigning Goddess Meenakshi.

However, as with other rivers, the Vaigai too presents a sorry picture in recent decades. It dries up in the hot months and only trickles past Madurai.

11:52 am September 04
Madurai to Kanyakumari

Having had an interesting, highly vocal morning at Madurai, the Rally for Rivers is heading now across some 270km to Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of the Indian sub-continent. Kanyakumari is famous for being the meeting point of three bodies of water, but, in fact, it is surrounded by only one: the Laccadive Sea or Lakshadweep Sea. Its name comes from the Devi Kanya Kumari Temple there.

The participants of the Rally will be visiting the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, which is located on a rock 500 m east of mainland of Vavathurai. Swami Vivekananda is reported to have visited Kanyakumari on December 24, 1892, prior to his Chicago trip to take part in the 1893 ‘World Religious Conference’. It is said that he meditated on the rock for two days and attained enlightenment.

1:50 pm September 04
Madurai to Kanyakumari

The charming Gandhi Memorial Museum in Madurai was the location for the Rally for Rivers event in Madurai. The crowd was relatively small – only a few thousands – but extremely fired up for the cause they had come to hear about.

Given the town it was held in, it was no surprise that litterateurs made their presence felt on the dais with Shri B Jeyamohan, Tamil and Malayalam writer and literary critic; and Tamil scholar Dr G Gnanasambandan. Also present were Thiru S Rethinavelu, Senior President, Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Thiru K Veera Raghava Rao, IAS, District Collector, Madurai; and Shri Manishwar Raja, IFS, Regional Passport Officer, Madurai. Every one of the speakers expressed their relief that this cause of revitalizing our rivers has finally been taken up in a big way.

It was a hot morning and the listeners used their RfR placards as a multi-purpose tool to keep the sun from their faces. Sadhguru teased them about it and urged them to keep those RfR signs visible throughout the coming month, during which building awareness was so crucial.

The audience thronged Sadhguru as he slowly drove out of the venue to begin the next leg to Kanyakumari.