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Old 30th January 2014, 16:38   #1
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Default Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Madurai and Rameshwaram were 2 places intentionally left out when we did a temple tour (not a pligrimage) in August 2013. Details of the trip here.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...idambaram.html (Driven: Bangalore - Trichy - Tanjore - Kumbakonam - Velankanni - Chidambaram)

With the Madurai and Rameshwaram trip, my long pending desire was fulfilled. Rameshwaram and Madurai were not included in the previous trip because we thought of covering them while driving to Trivandrum which is my wife's hometown. Both of us got 2 weeks leave for Christmas and New year and hence we thought of visting Madurai and Rameshwaram and proceed to Trivandrum from Rameshwaram.

Many thanks to ampere & NPV for their inputs. Also travelogues from NPV & Lukeskywalker were very informative and interesting.

Day 1 - December 21st - Bangalore - Madurai - Total distance around 460 KMs

We started the car at the planned starting time of 5:30 AM. We usually start on or before 5:00 AM but since we our final destination was Madurai (a 6 hours drive), we thought of taking it easy. Also, since we were going on a 2 weeks (16 days) vacation, lot of packing had to be done. As usual, the car's boot was loaded in the previous night. We also packed 2 separate bags for the 2 nights that we had to spend at Madurai and Rameshwaram. I expected heavy traffic due to the Christmas vacation but it was not that bad. We took the Whitefield - Varthur -Sarjapur - Bagalur - Hosur route. This has been our regular route during the past 2 - 3 trips and the drive is very soothing after Sarjpur. Crossing Sarjapur town at this time also was not a problem. We reached Hosur in 50 mins (45 KMS). There was some queue at Krishnagiri and Thoppur due to Christmas but wasn't too bad. We stopped for breakfast after Salem (can't recollect the exact distance, must be around 40 KMS). I cannot recollect the name of the place but I had noted this during the Trivandrum drive in October. All I can remember is that this the first decent looking place after Salem and there is a BP petrol pump close to it. The place is a red colored building. The food was just OK but too over priced considering the ambience of the place and the fact that it is a Self Service outlet. Rs 50 for a Masala Dose is a rip off. The place wasn't neat either. I wouldn't go here again.

While we were approaching the place, I was talking to my wife about my first drive to Kerala during 2006 Christmas in my Alto and about my colleague who accompanied me. My wife hadn't met him. The coincidence is that when we stopped at the hotel, he had finished breakfast and was about to start the car! What a coincidence. If we were late my 5 mins we wouldn't have met him. Incidentally, he was also talking about our trip.

Filled petrol at the BP outlet next to the hotel and proceeded to Madurai. We reached the NH 7 exit just before 12:00 Noon and stopped to take out the 2 bags we had packed from the boot. We did not want to show the car's packed boot to the Hotel staff.

We had booked at Hotel North Gate, Madurai. It took us 1 hour to reach this place because we lost the way and had to ask for directions. The last 500 mts was so tough. The locals directed us through some very narrow streets just to avoid 1 U turn. I had to get out of the car to make way by moving bikes parked on the road side. The primary criteria for choosing Hotel North Gate was that it had good parking space but the Hotel turned out to be very good. I would recommend this place. This place seems to be popular because people knew this. The Meenakshi temple is around 2 KMS away from this place. My review of Hotel North Gate can be found here.


Here is the front view of Hotel North gate. They have sufficient space to park around 20 cars.

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-01northgate.jpg

Rs 2400/- for an AC double room inclusive of complimentary breakfast and taxes was very reasonable. The service was also good.

We freshed up, had lunch and relaxed for a while. As adviced by NPV, took an auto to the Meenakshi temple. The auto promptly stopped in front of a Tamil nadu handloom emporium where people welcomed us and told us that we could deposit our slippers there. They also offered to keep our camera as camera is not allowed inside temple. We were surprised as I had specifically asked the hotel reception whether camera is allowed inside temple and they said it is. We decided to find out and it was indeed true. We also found people arguing with the police at the temple entrance. The rule is - Camera is not allowed but mobile phone with camera is allowed. Did not understand the logic behind it. Left with no choice, we decided to leave the camera at the shop. The manager was an elderly gentleman and it was a Tamil Nadu government owned shop. At this point I understood the tie up between the auto guy and the shop. I told my wife that they will force us to buy something when we return to take the camera which indeed turned out to be true. Had to buy a saree. Damage to the pocket Rs 690/- but we got the camera back safely.

It was indeed really crowded and suffocating inside the temple because of the Sabarimala season. We could get Darshan only in one temple that too after paying Rs 50/- per head for special Darshan and standing in a suffocating queue.

We reached the Hotel by 7:30 PM. Since our stomachs were still full after the heavy lunch, ordered curd rice in to the room. The room service was prompt and loved the curd rice. We retired for the night after watching "Chennai Express" for some time in some channel.


Day 2 - December 22nd - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Dhanushkodi Total distance around 200 KMs

We started at around 9:00 AM after a nice complimentary buffet breakfast. We had plans to drive through Chettinad region to Rameshwaram but decided to cover Chettinad region in another trip. Hence took the Madurai -Ramnad - Rameshwaram route. The roads were good all the way. Some pictures on the way

Nearing Pamban

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-02-madurai-rameshwaram-road.jpg

View of Sea from the Road
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-03-madurai-rameshwaram-road.jpg.jpg


Reached Pamban bridge at 12:30 PM. They were repairing the expansion joints on the bridge and hence could park the car on the bridge for some photos

Car on Pamban bridge

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-04car-pamban-bridge.jpg
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-04-00-car-pamban-2.jpg

View of Rameshwaram island from Pamban bridge

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-05-pamban-bridge.jpg

Train on Pamban bridge.
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-06-train-pamban-bridge.jpg

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-06-1-train-pamban-2.jpg

After spending almost 30 mins on the Pamban bridge, we proceeded to the hotel. We had booked at Hotel Queen Palace. Finding the place was easy as it was on the road side. You can find my review here.

Hotel Queen Palace
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-07-queen-palace.jpg

We asked the receptionist to book a jeep for us to go to Dhanushkodi. He said the jeep would be available at 3:00PM. The rate was Rs 1300/-.

We had lunch at the restaurant. The hotel reception and restaurant was full of flies that we decided not to have any more meals there. After lunch we relaxed in the room till 3:00 PM. We came out at 3:00 PM and asked the receptionist about the jeep and he asked us to wait in the room. We decided to wait at the reception. 15 mins later, we again asked for the jeep and the receptionist called up someone and asked us to wait. Another 15 minutes passed and there was no sight of the jeep. Upon enquiry, the receptionist suddenly turned indifferent saying he does not know where it is. This was the limit and we decided to take our car and go and take a van to cover the last 4 kms through sand. I was apprehensive of getting a parking lot but was not comfortable with the idea of hiring a jeep myself. The road was excellent and we covered the 20 odd KMS rapidly.

Nearing Dhanushkodi
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-07-near-dhanushkodi.jpg

Parked the car safely in paid parking but nobody collected any parking charges.

Vans taking people to Dhanushkodi. They are 4 X 4 vehicles but it did not look like a factory fitted 4 x 4.

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-12-dhanushkodi.jpg

They charge Rs 100/- per head but you have to wait till the van get filled (over filled). They try to squeeze in as many people as possible. Luckily we got to sit in the front. Also our co - travellers were a group of families. Hence the drive was OK for us.

Some pictures taken on the way.

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-08-way-dhanuskodi.jpg

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-09-way-dhanuskodi.jpg

We were given 30 mins to explore Dhanushkodi. Here are the pics.
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-10-dhanushkodi.jpg

Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-11-dhanushkodi.jpg

We reached the Hotel and quickly freshened up to visit the temple. Reached the temple at 8:00 PM to find that the car parking is almost 1 KM away. They also do not allow mobile phones inside. We were not aware of this and by the time we reached, the temple was closing. We were told by the Hotel receptionist that the temple will be open till 9:00 PM but it closed at 8:00 PM. He also did not tell us that mobile is not allowed inside. Also, the police men standing at the entrance and the temple staff were very rude. Decided to visit the temple next day.

Since lunch at Queen Palace was bad, decided to try out Hotel Daiwik for dinner. They charged Rs 420 (inclusive of taxes) for a Veg buffet dinner but I was not impressed. Not a single item was tasty, the pudding was burnt, rotis were hard and flies and mosquitoes were sitting on the food. The hotel was new but did not seem to be managed well. Cars were parked haphazardly, one auto was parked in the reception blocking the entrance and the security did not seem to care. They seemed to be capitalizing the fact that there are no decent hotels in Rameshwaram. For a night's stay, I would still recommend Queen Palace as Daiwik charges more than double and is not managed that well either.

Day 3 - December 23rd- Rameshwaram - Trivandrum Total distance around 400 KMs

Took an auto to visit the temple. Took a special entrance coupon for Rs 50/- each but the queue for special entrance was longer that the normal. Also, people were squeezing in the middle. The staff were shouting but nobody cared. There was heavy rush of Sabarimala devotees. Decided to skip the darshan and donated the coupons to the auto guy who took us back. Had a nice breakfast at a small restaurant near the temple. The waiter was a nice elderly gentleman.

Reached the hotel and quickly checked out. Paid Rs 1800/- and they don't give any receipt. It was a different receptionist this time. The waiters are all eager to collect tip but not eager to serve you. Overall this hotel is not professionally run.

Took the Rameshwaram-Ramnad-Vembar-Tuticorin bypass- Tirunelveli bypass - Nagercoil -Poovar - Keshavadasapuram route to Trivandrum. Roads were excellent till Kavalkinar and a pain after that. Took 4 hours to cover Kavalkinar - Trivandrum ( 105 KMS ). The first 300 also took almost the same time. Really enjoyed the drive on ECR. Reached Trivandrum at 5:15 PM.

Saw this near Tuticorin. Salt being produced.
Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum-13thoothukudi-making-salt.jpg

Last edited by pramodpk : 3rd February 2014 at 16:06.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 17:16   #2
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Default Re: Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Note from Mod : Thread is moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 17th May 2014, 15:31   #3
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Default Re: Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Good travelogue sir.

The hotel you took in Madurai, may be suitable for people coming in from Chennai side, whereas for guys coming from Bangalore side, it is rathar too far, and involves a drive through the congested city traffic in Madurai.

The details and pictures given by you about your Dhanushkodi drive is nice and could be of help to many.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pramodpk View Post
I told my wife that they will force us to buy something when we return to take the camera which indeed turned out to be true. Had to buy a saree. Damage to the pocket Rs 690/- but we got the camera back safely.
This incident appears disgusting to me. You should have got back the camera first, before considering or talking about any purchase
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Old 18th May 2014, 10:27   #4
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Default Re: Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Nice pictures Pramod, thanks for sharing!
Good timing to Rameshwaram, you got a chance to see the train from Pamban bridge.
What time in the morning did you go to the temple at Rameshwaram ?
Most temples have these problems with crowd management, you need to have luck on your side during these visits.
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Old 19th May 2014, 09:50   #5
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Default Re: Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
Good travelogue sir.

The hotel you took in Madurai, may be suitable for people coming in from Chennai side, whereas for guys coming from Bangalore side, it is rathar too far, and involves a drive through the congested city traffic in Madurai.

The details and pictures given by you about your Dhanushkodi drive is nice and could be of help to many.



This incident appears disgusting to me. You should have got back the camera first, before considering or talking about any purchase
Thanks.

I was looking for a Hotel with safe car parking as I was travelling with holiday luggage for 2 weeks. More over it was near temple too.

Regarding the saree incident. Yes, it was not fair on their part. It was like black mailing. But we also did not protest too hard
They seem to have a tie up with Auto guys.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Nice pictures Pramod, thanks for sharing!
Good timing to Rameshwaram, you got a chance to see the train from Pamban bridge.
What time in the morning did you go to the temple at Rameshwaram ?
Most temples have these problems with crowd management, you need to have luck on your side during these visits.
Thanks. We could spot the train while going and coming back.

We went to the temple at around 6:30 AM. It was crowded due to Sabarimala season. Since pilgrimage was not the primary purpose of our trip, we didn't bother. Donated the Special entry tickets that we took to the auto driver
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Old 19th May 2014, 17:48   #6
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Default Re: Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Quote:
Originally Posted by pramodpk View Post
Thanks. We could spot the train while going and coming back.

We went to the temple at around 6:30 AM. It was crowded due to Sabarimala season. Since pilgrimage was not the primary purpose of our trip, we didn't bother. Donated the Special entry tickets that we took to the auto driver
Doubly lucky with the train spotting and unlucky with temple visit - it happens.

It gives you another reason to go back to the place though and it should'nt be an issue as I guess it's (almost) on your way from Bangalore to home and back.

Regarding your experience with the food at Queen Palace & Daiwik - generally in most smaller towns in Tamil Nadu you can get excellent Dosa, Idli, Vada, Poori, Pongal, Parotas, etc (this started to sound like that Centre Fruit ad already , sorry!) in wayside hotels and shacks that will put the bigger restaurants to shame not to mention the VFM pricing as well. We had dinner at a place near the temple some Saravana hotel if I remember correctly and it was excellent.
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Old 20th May 2014, 09:46   #7
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Default Re: Driven: Bangalore - Madurai - Rameshwaram - Trivandrum

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Regarding your experience with the food at Queen Palace & Daiwik - generally in most smaller towns in Tamil Nadu you can get excellent Dosa, Idli, Vada, Poori, Pongal, Parotas, etc (this started to sound like that Centre Fruit ad already , sorry!) in wayside hotels and shacks that will put the bigger restaurants to shame not to mention the VFM pricing as well. We had dinner at a place near the temple some Saravana hotel if I remember correctly and it was excellent.
I am aware of it but we were very hungry to go out and find a place for lunch and for dinner wanted a place away from the rush. But next day we had good breakfast at a small place like the one you mentioned. Nice service too
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