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Old 11th October 2013, 14:26   #1
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Default A Night drive to Palani

Date 04-10-2013 Time 04:30PM.

'Tring' 'Tring'

Wife: We (she and my mom) went to consult the astrologer.

Me: Hm.

Wife: There are some doshams and we MUST go on a pilgrimage to Palani...tommorow itself.

Me: Tomorrow? No way. My leave balance is running low.

Wife: I don't want any excuses. What ever happens, we have to leave tomorrow.

Married bhpians will be able to correlate the situation better.

Me: OK. We will go for it.

(Then came the real twist in the tale....)

Wife: I want to visit Madurai Meenakshi Temple en-route....!

Requested leave for 1 day and as expected I had to be at office Monday morning...LEAVE REJECTED.

Anyway I decided to go ahead with my plan.

THE TEAM:
Me
My Wife Sharmy
My eldest son Adersh
My younger son Aashish
My bro Sarun

PLAN
Leave Kollam on Saturday evening, reach Palani in the early hours of Sunday, have darshan, perform the poojas, start at noon, reach Madurai, visit Meenakshi Temple, have darshan and poojas, start return trip by 7 and reach Kollam back by 3AM Monday morning, take some rest and be in office at sharp 9. Total distance 800 kms.

Went to do a lil shopping that evening itself. Bought 10ltrs of Aquafina, a box of Ferrero Rocher, some Snickers, Archie comics, 2 packets Haldiramís mixture, 2 ltrs of Tropicana, a strip of Avomine tablets, and some more medicines, changed my car freshener, et all. Ensured that copies of all the carís documents were there in the glove box.

My only regret was that I couldn't get my lil B serviced for the journey. Packed everything in the evening and loaded them onto the boot. The problem is that when you have 2 kids, there will a lot of packing to do even for a single day trip.

The next morning saw me in office.. as usual. Completed my daily chores and dashed home at sharp 5. Everyone was ready. My B-I-L joined the team as a last minute recruit. So that increases the team strength to 6 (5 adults and a child). This made me wonder whether I should make the trip in our Fiesta. But somehow I decided to take my lil Chevy Beat. My BIL joined as a last minute recruit. So that bring s the total members to 5 adults and 1 child

The journey started 5:30PM from my home. We went straight to Kottarakulam Ganapathy temple, offered our prayers and sought blessing for the entire journey.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500440.jpg

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500441.jpg

My brother was at the wheel. We filled up fuel up to the brim (cost INR 1970).


A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500445.jpg

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500446.jpg

We drove through the Kollam - Thirumangalam NH 208, passed through Kundara, Kottarakara, Kunnicode and reached Punalur by 7:30 PM. As we were veggies, stopped at Saravana Bhavan for our dinner of masala dosas and nice coffee. Saravana Bhavan is located right next to the historic hanging bridge built by the Britishers. The food was nice.


A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500442.jpg

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Suddenly my wifey realized that she had forgotten to bring the medicine bag. So I bought the essential ones like Dolo, Vertin, Alaspan etc.

We hit the road at 8PM after a nice dinner.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500454.jpg
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Our Kerala PWD deserves a special standing ovation for ensuring that there is no road between Punalur and Aryankavu. This sector of the highway is best described as a driverís nightmare. My bro (studied and settled in Europe) started venting out his anger comparing the horrible condition of Kerala roads with that of the smooth ones in Tamil Nadu. The distance of just over 35 kms took us more than I hour. The highway was poorly lit without any markers.


The attached pics can hardly explain the pathetic condition of an NH! You have to feel it to understand it. Even SUV's were struggling hard to get over the patches.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500458.jpg
The pic above shows an over loaded haystack lorry trying to cross a pothole (read ditch). It definetly was an acrobatic show by itself.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500459.jpg
It should be noted that NH 208 is the route taken by millions of devotees who visit Sabarimala every year. Such a pity. I don't wanna go into the politics of it in this thread.

We passed by Kannara Bridge at 8:45. The bridge, built by the Brits, has stood the test of time. Whereas the roads built by us can't stand even a single monsoon.

We passed the Kerala Commercial Taxes checkpost at 9.

The road condition after the checkpost is simple awesome. No more pitfalls! The famous 'S' hairpin bend is a real nerve wrecker for LWB containers trailers. We passed the turn at 9:10PM. Shencotta was passed through by 9:18, Thenkasi 9:26, Koviloor 10:22, Rajapalayam 10:45...we were literally flying at 120kph with the ICE playing Flo Rida's 'Club can't handle me'..

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500464.jpg
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500467.jpg

All the roads were clearly marked and blinking LED lights were fixed at all potentially dangerous curves. Maybe Kerala PWD can learn a lesson or two how to build roads from our neighbours!


We stopped to have a night tea and stopped over at Krishnankovil @11 in a small roadside tea stall.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100500471.jpg

After 15 mins break when we started the vehicle my stars proved that their alignment was not proper... The engine malfunction light (orange one) wouldn't switch off after the vehicle started!

Last edited by sharoncr_17 : 15th October 2013 at 11:52.
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Old 14th October 2013, 13:16   #2
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Default re: A Night drive to Palani

Toll tickets received on the way. But the roads were really worth it. In Kerala they charge tolls for potholes!
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A Night drive to Palani-hss82_0001.jpg  

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Old 14th October 2013, 16:02   #3
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Here I am, on a long drive, in a village in Tamil Nadu at midnight, with my family, far away from anything that remotely resembles a service station.OMG, I'm scr*w*d. Everyone panicked. I gave a call to Mr.Jibu (Service Manager, Deedi Motors, Kollam). I told him my predicament. Suddenly the light went off all by itself (as if the stars were proving their power again?) He opined that it can be a result of cranking the engine before lights go off and asked me to give him a call anytime for any emergency. Thank you Jibu.

However the incident made us all a bit tense for the rest of the drive. My bro kept the speedo at a constant 100kph without exceeding. We paid our first toll near Madurai INR 55/-. There was a small delay in the toll booth because of the numerous trucks.A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600474.jpg

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600476.jpg


We bypassed Madurai by 12 and took another break at Vadipatti by 12:30. It was a nice BP Fuel station maintained directly by the company. We opened up the bonnet and took a 15 mins break. Although refueling wasn't necessary, I filled diesel for 500 bucks as an excuse to use their restrooms to empty our bladders.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600481.jpg

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We reached the 2nd toll booth and paid INR 51 as toll fee.


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The silky smooth highway was great place to drive and (being from Kerala) we didn't mind shelling out a few rupees for such using such well maintained roads. It's here that we felt how underpowered the lil Chevy really was. The girl over the mobile (read GPS) was giving us assurance that we were on the right road.

We reached Dindigul around 1:30. Here we missed a small service road and had to drive an extra 2-3 kms to make a U turn. Dindigul to Palani road is also fine. The only fault is that they do not remove the metal barrier from the centre of the road even at midnight.

Finally we reached Palani at 2:30AM. When we entered Palani we were stopped by a Police patrol team, who wanted to verify my license. However the police were really co-operative and let us pass in 2 mins. This makes me want to compare them with some of the folks back in Kerala.

Palani, as it is with other tourist spots, is full of agents who try to take you for a ride once they realize that you are a tourist. I was about to face such a trick shortly.

Last edited by sharoncr_17 : 15th October 2013 at 09:55.
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Old 15th October 2013, 09:20   #4
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Default re: A Night drive to Palani

Once we entered the road around the temple, we were blocked by a couple of guys with a receipt for INR 50, as user/parking/entrance fee. The receipt didn't have the name of any Government body printed on it. I knew that I was being cheated, but decided to play along as I was in an unknown turf with my family in the middle of the night. However I made sure that the doors were locked from inside and that the window glass was not lowered more than an inch to hand over the cash and collect the receipt. After all this happens in almost all the tourist places.

We reached Hotel Aegan by 2:45AM. My brother had made reservations. We got through the checking in formalities quickly, reached our 2 rooms and crashed into the bed.

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Old 15th October 2013, 09:37   #5
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Day 2

Woke up at 7. I slowly pushed aside the window curtains and behold the view:
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600490.jpg


A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600492.jpg

The roomboy brought our bed coffee. I asked him to arrange 4 'palkavadis' for us. 'Palkavadi' is a basically a pot of milk that we have to carry us to the hilltop. We got ready and had our breakfast. The palkavadis were ready, we performed poojas and started walking bare footed to the temple.

If possible try to arrange the kavadis from your hotel itself. It cost me just INR100 per kavadi. The tantris in front of the temple will charge you INR750 per kavadi.

There is a rope way or a winch to the hilltop, but we wanted to tread the entire 658 steps on foot. The base point is filled with vendors who try to sell everything from fruits to toys. This hampers the serenity of the place. The only offering to be bought from the vendors is the 'vel' to be dropped in the hundi.

The climate is best described as HOT but humidity is low so you won't feel the sweat. Always use a sunscreen with SPF50. We reached the hilltop. My kids were dashing uphill but my wife was finding the climb a bit hard. The entire climb took 1 hour.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600513.jpg

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Attached Thumbnails
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600491.jpg  

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600511.jpg  


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Old 15th October 2013, 12:03   #6
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Once we reach the top, to the left is the enquiry and Special Darshan ticket counter. The payments for kavadi should be remitted there. There are 2 separate queues at the entrance. Me being a devotee who visits most of the temples in TN and AP know that its always best to get tickets for special darshan. The ticket costs INR100 per head, but it saves a lot of time, compared to the normal queue.

We spent around 20 mins in the queue before being allowed into the temple. Once inside the temple you will be approached by a tantri who will collect the 'pal kavadi' from you and taken before the deity. The dakshina being Rs 100 per kavadi. After darshan wait outside for the tantri to get you the prasadam along with a garland.


A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600514.jpg


After that you can get 'panchamritham' from the temple outlet for INR25 per 1/2 kg jar. I got myself 10 bottles for distributing among my relatives and colleagues.

We completed everything by 12PM. The descend is pretty easy and you will take less than half the time. We reached our hotel, had lunch from there itself, vacated the rooms and started our journey to Madurai.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600508.jpg
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A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600515.jpgA Night drive to Palani-img2013100600516.jpg

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Old 15th October 2013, 12:28   #7
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Madurai was around 120kms from Palani. My brother wanted to avoid Dindigul and go via Sreeramapuram claiming it to be 20kms less as per GPS. This proved a mistake as the roads were not is great shape. There were certain patches of bad roads on this route.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600524.jpgA Night drive to Palani-img2013100600526.jpgA Night drive to Palani-img2013100600529.jpgA Night drive to Palani-img2013100600530.jpg
We reached Madurai @ 3:15.


A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600531.jpg
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600533.jpg

Meenakshi Temple was closed and would open only by 4PM.
There was not much rush and we waited in a small queue. There are separate queues for ladies. The security personnel frisk us at the security point for carrying mobiles, camera, etc. Even handbags are not allowed.

Madurai Meenakshi temple was built during the reign of ...(OK Sorry no more history classes).

The special darshan tickets can be had for INR20.

We had our darshan, got prasadams and came out of the temple. We had tea and started our return @ 4:50. Aashish got himself a bottle mango drink. Madurai roads were not that busy, maybe bcoz it was Sunday. We were traveling at a constant 100kph.
Attached Thumbnails
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600542.jpg  

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600544.jpg  

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600541.jpg  


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Old 15th October 2013, 12:46   #8
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After we passed Rajapalayam, Aashish started vomiting and we stopped for a while. The mango juice had shown its effect.

Saw this tree near Shencotta. The tree was almost in the center of the road. Note the median line.
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600546.jpg


We had our dinner from a Hotel Amma, between Shencotta and Kerala border. I must say the food was pathetic, a torture to our taste buds.. A sheer waste. Never ever try your luck there. I'm posting a pic to help you identify the place better.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600552.jpgA Night drive to Palani-img2013100600554.jpg

We reached Aryankavu at 9. We were back in the horrible roads of Kerala. The distance between Aryankavu and Punalur is jus 35kms but it tool us 1.5 hrs to travel the distance. When will Kerala PWD start building roads like those in Tamil Nadu? Maybe after India wins the Football World cup.

A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600555.jpg


We had a tea from a tea-stall near Kunnicode and drove nonstop to our HOME SWEET HOME.
A Night drive to Palani-img2013100600557.jpgA Night drive to Palani-img2013100600556.jpg

We reached home at 11:40. The kids were sound asleep. We kept all the baggage in the car itself and crashed to our beds. The 35kms between Aryankavu and Punalur was really tiresome. We had covered 799.8kms in the last two days. I had to be in office tomorrow morning at 9. The kids were given a day's off.

My lil B performed her part though not as perfectly as we would expect. We were going at speed in excess of 100kph while returning a FE of 18kpl with 100 percent AC. The only difficulty (as predicted by my dad) was the low seating. It proved really harsh on the bad sectors. The head lights lit up the roads perfectly.


Thus ends my first t'logs on tbhp.

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Old 16th October 2013, 12:22   #9
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Default Re: A Night drive to Palani

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 16th October 2013, 19:18   #10
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Really a nice travelogue! The point about low seating is very valid. I realised this in RITZ which has a high seating and hence comfortable for me. I can understand your angst regarding the road conditions as I have also suffered commuting the Trivandrum-Nagercoil stretch "n" number of times which is a torture to the vehicle! People never learn about the importance of having good roads here and crib about having with of the highway as 45 meters , 30 meters etc without any idea of what is needed !
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Old 16th October 2013, 23:13   #11
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Default Re: A Night drive to Palani

Nicely written and a "racy" temple log ! Quite surprising that Madurai was not crowded.
Also can you point the location for Sriramapuram? I was looking at this place on Google. The location shown is quite different than what you had to take.
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Old 17th October 2013, 10:44   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srikanthns View Post
Really a nice travelogue! The point about low seating is very valid. I realised this in RITZ which has a high seating and hence comfortable for me. I can understand your angst regarding the road conditions as I have also suffered commuting the Trivandrum-Nagercoil stretch "n" number of times which is a torture to the vehicle! People never learn about the importance of having good roads here and crib about having with of the highway as 45 meters , 30 meters etc without any idea of what is needed !
"RESISTANCE TO CHANGE IS A GLOBAL PHENOMENON". How can we let others suffer just because someone cannot bear to lose his garden. There are boards kept in front of houses along NH47 near Kazhakotam which 'proclaim' that they wont allow taking any measurements within their property. These sort of things can happen only in God's Own Country.

Trivandrum Nagercoil will seem like a paradise once you try the Punalur - Aryankavu sector of NH203 . My wife is still complaining about back pain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Nicely written and a "racy" temple log ! Quite surprising that Madurai was not crowded.
Also can you point the location for Sriramapuram? I was looking at this place on Google. The location shown is quite different than what you had to take.
Yeah the by-lanes near the temple were really crowded and out GPS proved really helpful, but the main roads were comparatively less trafficky. BTW Sriramapuram is en route from Palani 2 Madurai and passed through Sempatti, it is along a detour which we took on my brother's insistence. There were some bad patches along the way with some speed breakers.
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Old 17th October 2013, 12:45   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharoncr_17 View Post
Madurai was around 120kms from Palani. My brother wanted to avoid Dindigul and go via Sreeramapuram claiming it to be 20kms less as per GPS. This proved a mistake as the roads were not is great shape. There were certain patches of bad roads on this route.
Oh man! That was a big mistake.

We frequent Madurai at least three to four times a year because my sister is settled there. So we always take the route via Dindigul which has a fabulous four-way lane with one toll but absolutely no patches of bad roads nor congestion in this small 50 km odd stretch. You wouldn’t know before this stretch gets over - you would hesitate to take your right foot off the pedal!

We avoid that diversion from Puducharam - sure the distance is a bit less but you end up wasting time (and fuel) due to the bad roads in this stretch. When we do not intend to visit the Palani temple, we take the round diversion as well. This road although not all that great avoids the town altogether (thus saving time) and takes us around the hillock plus you can get a 180 degree view of the temple as you pass along this road.

And hey, good travelogue!

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Old 17th October 2013, 12:59   #14
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Oh man! That was a big mistake.

Thanks. It was one costly mistake and we ended up spending more time to cover the distance. . The next temple on my list is Trichendur. Hoping to make the trip during Dec.
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Old 19th October 2013, 10:31   #15
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Found this toll ticket in my wallet. It was for the return trip.
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