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Old 3rd January 2013, 20:38   #1
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Default Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Black Storm had just been back from the 70k kms service, the christmas holidays beckoned, Rameshwaram was a destination high on our must visit list, many times the trip had got cancelled due to various reasons, the last time it was a cyclone which prevented us from visiting inspite of having made reservations.

22 Dec 2012 - Day 1

Another 4.30 am start, most of our drives in the recent past have been at this hour, simply to cover the maximum distance over the day and have time to rest on reaching our destination.

We reached Salem for breakfast as planned, Jai (Nevertouchme) is now based there so met up with him for breakfast, he took us to Devi Towers as the last few visits to GRT for breakfast was hugely disappointing with the declining quality, Devi Towers set a new low in buffet breakfasts, next time we'll just eat in a small roadside joint.

A good two hours spent at Salem and then we filled up at the HP pump at the main junction, then we were on our way. Mjothi, who also was driving towards Madurai had just reached Karur when we called him, he mentioned the ghastly Ikon accident near Karur (details and pics in the accident pics thread).

By 1 pm we were on the outskirts of Madurai thanks to the 4 laned highway with sparse traffic. At Madurai we wanted to taste the famous Dindigul Velu biriyani, we asked a few autorikshaw drivers for directions and then decided to hire an auto to guide us till the hotel, so we followed the auto till the hotel and discovered that the hotel served only non vegetarian fare, nothing vegetarian was available for mom who is a strict vegetarian, so we (wife and I) wolfed down the biriyani and then drove across the street to a vegetarian restaurant for mom's lunch.

Velu Biriyani Hotel
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As we were waiting for mom to finish her lunch, we discovered that the hotel we were sitting in was showing on Google maps, so plotted our way to Rameshwaram, the new Google maps for iOS is superb, the voice prompt heard via the bluetooth headset was just perfect to guide us.

We had reserved a room at Daiwik Hotel at Rameshwaram, this is currently the most luxurious hotel in Rameshwaram and is about six months old. We reached Rameshwaram by 5.30 pm.

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Daiwik Hotel Rameshwaram
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The Reception Lobby
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We were received very warmly by the smiling staff and shown to our room, the room was quite spacious and very well furnished, the parking too is ample and surprising over the next day it was full and there were cars parked outside the compound too.

we just rested ourselves and decided to drive out to check out Rameshwaram before dinner, the place was jam packed with Sabarimala pilgrims and taking the car on those narrow roads was a mistake. We returned to our hotel discussed the next day's plan with the friendly hotel staff. They suggested an early morning "Spatika Linga Darshan" and then said we could hire a jeep to visit Dhanushkodi, they strongly advised us against taking our vehicle in spite of 4x4 and going by their advice we hired a jeep to come and pick us up at 6 am from the hotel. This done we called it a day and retired for the night.

23 December 2012 - Day 2

We woke up at 3.30 am for the 4.30 am darshan, but since our daughter was sleeping so peacefully, I decided to stay back with her and only mom and my wife took an auto from the hotel to the temple.

6am they were back and by then our daughter too was awake and we got ready to take the jeep to Dhanushkodi, the jeep arrived by 6.15 and we were on our way. Dhanushkodi is about 21 kms from Rameshwaram and there is a single lane road in excellent shape till about a few kilometres before where it just ends abruptly into sand.

Our daughter's first jeep ride, she was quite thrilled
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Once the asphalt ends, the jeep has to be driven in 4wd mode on the sand, though there are jeep tracks, the sands keep shifting and it's quite tricky.

The drive through the sand is amazing, the jeep slides all over, crossing water in some places and then there is the sea on all sides, if we look at Dhanushkodi in Google earth, we can see that it is a thin finger of land extending into the sea, we were driving on that thin finger.

A raft made of logs
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Co passengers for the voyage across the seas
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The jeep takes us to the old ruins of Dhanushkodi, there used to be a railway line in the past and the remnants of civilisation is a stark reminder of what nature can do. Now for pictures of Dhanushkodi

The old Railway Station
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An old church, we were told it completed 100 yrs in 2012
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Another view of the church
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The ruins of Dhanushkodi
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Some of the local children were only too happy to pose

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Ruins of what used to be a school
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most jeep guys take you till the ruins of Dhanushkodi, but we wanted to drive till Land's end, so on our insistence the jeep guy agreed to drive on further.

....Contd.

Last edited by Lukeskywalker : 3rd January 2013 at 21:59.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 22:45   #2
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So again we set off through what looked like an impossible faint trail in the sand, the jeep slid and weaved very close and sometimes into the water and past some breathtaking views

Wild horses by the sea
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we found this Shivling and Nandi abandoned on the sand
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and we reached Land's end
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This is where the mythical Ram Sethu is supposed to start it's journey to Sri Lanka, it's an awesome place, we are surrounded by three sides by the ocean and the waters are mesmersing.

Our daughter had the time of her life
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By now hunger set in and we decided to return to our hotel for breakfast, but I had seen the trail and wanted to take Black Storm on it.


Post breakfast we just relaxed in the hotel and caught up on sleep, woke up for lunch and then I had asked Kumaran the jeep driver to be our guide for the rest of the day, he was an affable lad who had completed his Bsc in IT and was driving his uncle's jeep as a part time job, we had asked him to show us some slightly offbeat beaches and locations away from the regular crowds.
Kumaran called by 4 saying he can join us in 15 minutes, so we dragged ourselves out of comfy beds and went and met up with him. He first took us to a place called Villundi Theertham, this was the place where supposedly Lord Ram had shot an arrow into the ground and fresh water had sprouted out of the sea, all this to quench Lady Sita's thirst.

Villundi Theertham
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Note the well which is situated well into the sea.

Next on our insistence of an uncrowded beach to play, Kumaran took us to to Kundukkal, this was the place where Swami Vivekananda stepped off the steamer on his return from the United States.

Enroute to Kundukkal
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The Vivekananda memorial at Kundukkal
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The beach at Kundukkal
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The fishing village
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Now this is where I want to spend the rest of my life
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The pier
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The beach had almost no waves and the water was crystal clear, the beach too was very clean and our daughter did not want to get out inspite of her shivering with cold. We were the last to leave the place and I had asked Kumaran if I could get a snap of the train crossing the Pamban bridge, he made a few calls and told us that we might just make it.

And we just made it, as I parked the car, we heard the train on the bridge
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it soon got dark and we returned to Rameshwaram..

Sunset by the beach
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Kumaran told us he could get us another darshan at the temple without waiting in the queue, so we set off and this time he even took us to his friend's house very close to the temple where we could park the car in safety.
cameras are not allowed inside the temple as in most places, but I was lucky to find this briefly empty corridor in a very crowded temple

world's longest temple corridor
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True to his word, Kumaran took us into the temple and spoke to the priests and they allowed us a quick peek at the deity. That done we decided that we'd had enough for the day.

But wait, I had made up my mind to take the Safari onto the shifting sands of Dhanushkodi, but we were checking out the next day, I suggested that we start really early and catch the sunrise at Land's end, mom and wife called me raving mad, they were totally against taking the car to Dhanushkodi forget early morning, but I told them we could do it and finally managed to convince them that we will go with Kumaran as our navigator.

So had a discussion with Kumaran as to how early would be too early, he said he's game for a 4am trip, so it was settled, we would set out at 4 am and be back in time for breakfast and check out.

...contd.

Last edited by Lukeskywalker : 3rd January 2013 at 22:47.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 23:17   #3
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24 Dec 2013 - Day 3

Another 3.30 am wake up call and groggily woke everybody up, they were still cursing me but at the same time did not want to miss the opportunity, called up Kumaran and he too was still asleep, but he agreed to be ready in 15 minutes, so at 4.30 am in complete darkness while the village of Rameshwaram slept, we drove out to explore Dhanushkodi.

We reached the end of the tar road and this was ahead
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We drove in complete darkness in 4H, Kumaran had difficulty in asking me to keep "left" or "right" in english, he'd say "left" when he would actually mean right, so in the sand it was quite unnerving, we could hear the sea just a few feet away but could not see anything beyond our headlights. The last thing was to get stuck in sand with no help till daybreak and beyond.
the drive was one of my most challenging ones and not to mention highly thrilling. Nobody bothered about photos till we reached a point where we had no more sand to drive on, we had reached Land's End!!!

The wait for Daybreak
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Black Storm at the tip of land
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As the day dawned
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This is how we saw the sunrise
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All curses and warnings were soon forgotten as we revelled in the magical moment of the day breaking, the transformation from darkness to light at the tip of land is something we will cherish for a long time to come. it was very windy and the sand just obliterated any footprints on the shore, there was a fine mist of sand about a foot above ground. We soaked in the aura to our heart's content and then reluctantly we turned back, we still had a long drive back home, but now it was time to see where we drove in darkness.
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the return seemed much easier now that we could see where we were going and waht we had on either side of us, but driving in sand is not easy at all, you turn the steering left and the car still goes right, you cannot slow down or speed up and then again you have a navigator who has his "lefts" and "rights" all mixed up . But we did make it back to terra firma.

with a heavy heart we had to leave this magical place behind.
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We returned to the hotel and Kumaran refused to take any money as compensation for his time with us, he told us he'd enjoyed our company and wished we could stay longer so he could show us some more interesting places, we promised to be back and also told him we'd recommend his jeep to anyone who asked us details about a trip to Rameshwaram.

Post breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and drove back to Madurai, once again stopping for Biriyani at Velu's and then a non stop drive till Shoolagiri for dinner at McDonald's.
We reached home by 11 pm and hit the comfort of our own bed.
Thus another journey came to an end.

Trip Stats

Route : Blr-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Salem-Karur-Namakkal-Dindigul-Madurai-Ramanathapuram-Rameshwaram.

Distance from home (Yelahanka) : 635 kms one way

Accomodation in Rameshwaram: Daiwik Hotels http://www.daiwikhotels.com/ it's a pure vegetarian hotel and no alcohol or meat is served.

Cost of Hotel : It cost us close to Rs.10,000/- for a superior room with an extra adult and inclusive of breakfast, each meal cost us about Rs.300 per head at Daiwik.

Cost to rent a Jeep : The Hotel charged us Rs.2000/- for a trip to Dhanushkodi for about 4 hours.

Would love to answer any questions about the trip. Thanks for reading through.

Warm Regards,
Hari.

Last edited by Lukeskywalker : 3rd January 2013 at 23:18.
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Old 4th January 2013, 01:04   #4
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Note From T-BHP Support: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 4th January 2013, 02:09   #5
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Nice. Memorable trip I must say.
To drive till the land's end.
More I hear about Dhanushkodi more I get fascinated by it.
You seem to have been at right place at right time, all the time.
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Old 4th January 2013, 02:24   #6
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Superb pics and narration!! I can imagine how nerve wracking and exciting the early morning drive to lands end would have been. Adding Rameshwaram to the list of places to visit!
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:52   #7
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Enjoyed reading this Hari. The Black Storm's trip ( or was it yours? ) early morning ride to Land's End was quite a read.
I can completely understand all the grudges from your family when you had to wake them up at 4 AM, insane isnt it - all for a drive in the sands ?
I havent been to Rameshwaram in a long time and reading your log only added to my resolve to visit soon enough. !.
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Old 4th January 2013, 09:16   #8
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Amazing photos there. The safari looks at home on the sand and tricky terrain.

The last time I wanted to get to Rameshwaram, there were riots. The next time should be a good opportunity to hit the land's end.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 4th January 2013, 09:46   #9
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Wonderful trip Lukey.
My Safari does really take you places

Rated a FIVE.
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Old 4th January 2013, 09:56   #10
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Great pictures and even greater narration.
Rameshwaram has been on my travel plan radar for sometime now; not sure when it will materialize.
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Old 4th January 2013, 10:16   #11
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Quote:
Nice. Memorable trip I must say.
To drive till the land's end.
More I hear about Dhanushkodi more I get fascinated by it.
You seem to have been at right place at right time, all the time.
Thank you, yes it was one memorable drive.

Quote:
Superb pics and narration!! I can imagine how nerve wracking and exciting the early morning drive to lands end would have been. Adding Rameshwaram to the list of places to visit!
You said it Unni, the drive was exciting.

Quote:
Enjoyed reading this Hari. The Black Storm's trip ( or was it yours? ) early morning ride to Land's End was quite a read.
I can completely understand all the grudges from your family when you had to wake them up at 4 AM, insane isnt it - all for a drive in the sands ?
I havent been to Rameshwaram in a long time and reading your log only added to my resolve to visit soon enough. !.
Thank you JK, it does help if the plan has the backing of the family.

Quote:
Amazing photos there. The safari looks at home on the sand and tricky terrain.
Thanks Krishna, the Safari never ceases to surprise me.

Quote:
Wonderful trip Lukey.
My Safari does really take you places

Rated a FIVE.
Thank you Lalu ji, your Safari will be well tried and tested before it is delivered to you, that I promise

Quote:
Great pictures and even greater narration.
Thanks a bunch Pradeep.
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Old 4th January 2013, 10:19   #12
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

hari so your daughters cold was from this trip eh ? Nice man, I saw the pictures on your FB album already. The train on the Pamban bridge is a keeper. I will call you in a few weeks time for this jeep drivers number. My better half was all ears when you mentioned Dhanushkodi at maggie's place .

On our drive back from maggie's place on 31st she was already making plans for the Rameshwaram trip .
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Old 4th January 2013, 11:01   #13
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Awesome pictures and narration. The place looks tempting to make a trip, Did you manage to see the Ram Sethu? is it visible at all?

One of my friends did this trip last year and he seemed excited about the Jeep drive, described it as "Pedal to metal" drive. Did you face any problems with Safari on sand?

PS: Does the temple darshan has long queues, or its easy to quickly get in and out. How many hours should one plan?
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Old 4th January 2013, 11:12   #14
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Wonderful pictures and awesome narration! Thanks a ton for sharing. I felt as though I was there in Dhanushkodi!

Next in my list of places to visit for sure and I would contact you then for contact details of Kumaran. Seems to be a wonderful guide

Thanks again. You made my day! Rated a well deserved 5 stars.
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Old 4th January 2013, 11:29   #15
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Default Re: Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective

Mesmerizing log Luke. Thanks for sharing. The pics and places captured are awesome. But what I absolutely loved are the Stance of the Black Storm in the sand and the surroundings, its a Killer!

Also, is it possible for you to get the map of the locations on sat gmap?

Last edited by parsh : 4th January 2013 at 11:30.
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