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Old 3rd September 2014, 00:43   #1
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Arrow Enchanting Tamil Nadu in 72 hours

The Idea

It all started with a search for flights to go to Agra, the elder son studying at 5th grade has a syllabus that talks about Taj Mahal. The explorer natured younger son pulled me to this discussion of going to Taj Mahal since he was fascinated hearing my elder son’s reading of the text from the school book.
As always my calculator swing in to do a budget, the constraint is that long weekend with 3 days to plan. Obviously train is not going to work if I have to go and return within 3 days. If I take a flight may be 3 or 4 of my family members can travel with me but I have long pending request from parents and sister to take them for a tour as well so pocket friendly tour is not going to happen.

I started to divert the discussion with my younger one on his other interests, found Tanjavur (Pronounced in English as Tanjore) got some attention from him. Yeah, a recent whatsapp forward proved his weightage of Tanjavur over took the Agra (picture below).
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God’s own Country, Enchanting Tamilnadu, Incredible India tag lines are the best describing what could be expected. So we chose Enchanting Tamilnadu for our tour programme, but selecting Tanjavur is not a whole package hence my plan of long Tamilnadu Arc started and my Fortuner came in help to accommodate 9 pax (6 Adults and 3 Children), that worked well for a wider coverage of places.

The first chosen spot was Tanjavur for the kiddo, Then wify suggested it has been long since she visited Kanyakumari. Obviously I want her to enjoy this trip as well, hence to the marking of our 11th Wedding anniversary I have added Kanyakumari into the list. It instantaneously looked like a starting and end point for the tour plan of 3 days. I just grabbed the idea in lesser than 15 minutes for a tour that is just 14 hours ahead. (except me no one had any clue on what is going on, apparently I posted the location of interest and a google map on facebook sharing my idea with friends only to get attention from my boss about the free time I have, I hope he doesn't have that much free time to read this blog )

Dialed my parents who were at my hometown to be ready for the trip and advised them to join me en-route to Kanyakumari about 160kms south(Vizhupuram) to our my starting point. Same with my sister, she was joining me 20kms from my house(Guduvanchery) on the way, my niece who was in the college didn’t even know this plan as she was already in middle of the class. Hence my sister texted my niece to join us in the same location as my sister joined me. Isn't the most adhoc way of creating a tour plan? I shall receive a Guinness award for this trip.

Constraints

1. No accommodation booked
2. Family of 9 people
3. Vast majority of interests
4. Time Time Time and Time

Wify quickly got all the travel essentials and I was packing my camera kit (I believe this subject will be discussed in details later).

I set the clock to count down mode, we were waiting for the kids to come back from school. Luckily my apartment complex houses the school too hence it is just two blocks inside the gated community.

I ran down to the car wash area inside the campus and cleaned the car tidy. Voila I could see including my kids everyone of us are ready when I return from the car wash area. Now it is the first time I got to tell my kids and wify about the entire tour plan.
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to be continued...
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Old 3rd September 2014, 11:17   #2
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The plan

Since Kanyakumari is chosen for the trip, I have made up my mind to keep that as first destination and starting at 5pm from Chennai will make us reach the destination before sunrise that is one of the main attractions at the tip of India.
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The following google map that I have posted in facebook exactly tells the route that I was planning to cover the Enchanting Tamilnadu.
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Ever since I started to build a house at Hosur, I have been looking at ideas to make some features of my house to look like the original Tamilnadu style architecture. So one of our Team-BHPian’s thread on Chettinadu mansions were always in my mind for a trip. So added that as middle point in this itinerary after reading this link here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ing-menus.html (Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering Menus)

Then Dhanushkodi was also in the list after reading all the fascinated travelogues and the floating stone, adams bridge etc. etc.

Ref:
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...rspective.html (Exploring Rameshwaram - From a Non Religious Perspective)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...s-1312-km.html (Roadtrip : Bangalore > Rameshwaram > Madurai > Bangalore - 4 Days, 1312 KM)

So as per the plan I will be traveling in NH45 and NH7 to reach Kanyakumari passing through Madurai. When we were hoped on the car, there was a slight weather change and drizzles covered my car but within minutes it cleared. The sky also became clear while I was stopping to pick up two of my family members at Guduvanchery.
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The road condition throughout this stretch between Chennai and Kanyakumari is like breeze and I could cruise around 120kms without any trouble. Obviously till Chengalpattu the traffic condition was pathetic but soon after crossing it, everything becomes your road and barely seen people on the road. The traffic pattern could have been due to the time of the day as the omni bus services from Chennai to southern cities are always start after 8pm from Chennai that caters the maximum traffic on this highway called GST (Great Southern Trunk) road.

Our next stop was at Villupuram where we had light dinner just opposite to the bus terminus as my parents would be arriving from Tiruvannamalai. The food at the restaurant was ok but waiting time to get A/C or non-A/C dining area was too much as the accessibility from bus terminus was just steps away. After my parents joined us the trip started with the fully packed Fortuner.

The Toll

The toll charges between these locations varied from ₹25 to ₹85 (the last one before Kanyakumari). The worst toll experience on this travel was at Madurai, we were asked to pay ₹70 at the NHAI toll booth just few kms before Madurai and immediately the road narrowed and landed in another toll booth again demanding ₹60 but this time it was for Madurai corporation bypass road. I was confused as the previous NHAI toll booth was for the next 35kms distance but within merely 5-6 kms I had to go through corporation road that too without divider or double lanes. The road in this small stretch was so horrible and I didn’t see any point in paying the toll to the Madurai Corporation. Later someone told me that the NH road flows through the city of Madurai and if you choose to go through the city no need to pay the corporation toll. In fact it was at 1am while passing through Madurai and going through city would have been a better choice.

Apart from the road toll charges, there were few city/town access charges at the tourist locations that I believe justified considering the amount of garbage cleaning the local bodies needs to invest in.

At around 4:50am, while the entire family was taking deep sleep in the comfort of evenly paved NH road and the fortuners seat I was finally reaching Kanyakumari. I was passing numerous wind mills between Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari and since it was in the dark and I have no time to stop, couldn't click pictures of the gigantic fans installed at the road sides. There was this point where heavy rainfall slowed my speed for few minutes then once again the sky was clear showing few stars here and there.

It was a surprise to me when the NH-7 finally ended in front of a pond without any indication at Kanyakumari, since there is no road sign or person to ask for help I realized how important at this place to have a GPS. Ah, then came the idea of location services in the iphone with NLife app. Somehow managed to browse through the really narrow lake bunds that again ended in a cross roads (lanes) at a temple and temple pond before the car.
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Since the time was around 5:10am, the temple workers were at that location who was lending their help guiding me to the seashore. I quickly checked on the iphone about the sunrise time at Kanyakumari and it was pointing to 6:12am about an hour ahead of us.

We checked in at a hotel room only for attending nature call and taking bath before the sunrise at the seashore. It was just an ordinary hotel but good enough for bath and morning needs.

Finally we arrived at the seashore just in time only to get shocked

To be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 3rd September 2014 at 11:26.
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Old 4th September 2014, 07:57   #3
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Sunrise busted

The whole idea of coming to Kanyakumari to witness the beautiful sunrise but our unfortunate fate exactly at the horizon the dark cloud covered the sky though the up above us were clear sky.
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Beauty of Kanyakumari is not only the sunrise but amalgamation of three largest water bodies, the greatest Tamil Poet Thiruvalluvar’s statue on a small island at Indian ocean, Vivekanandar memorial besides the Thriuvalluvar statue, Kamaraj and Gandhi memorials and the Kanyakumari devi temple itself.
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Though we missed the sunrise but the reflections of water, triveni sangamam where Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian sea meet together, The morning rituals conducted by those who traveled from up north of India were pure bliss for one’s eyes. At some point I was telling my wife pointing to fellow citizens from landlocked states that were having so much fun as this might be their few encounters with marine body. (No pictures of people as I thought it is not good to disturb someone’s privacy)

After few water side family pictures to mark our visit on our albums, Our inquiry for a ferry service to the Thiruvalluvar statue revealed that the ferry service only starts at 8:30am and the queue due to long holiday will make it to afternoon only. I decided to go ahead without venturing into the islands but to enjoy the scenic Kanyakumari from seashore.

While my family went inside the Kanyakumari devi temple, my attention was grabbed by the triveni sangamam area. There was a beautiful granite mandapam (stone structure), in which people normally conduct spiritual activities for their ancestors.
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The Camera

Since I was carrying my Canon SLR and the beautiful morning with granite mandapam at the seashore provided fantastic opportunity for the perfect shooting. To avoid getting clash my son who is also an avid photography lover, I gave him a point and shoot camera so he could continue to do his action.

While I was shooting the scenes with 17-40mm F/4 L lens for the wider coverage, noticed my palm and face slowly getting oily feeling and the pictures were slowly loosing sharpness. I turned the lens towards me to inspect the issue.

To be continued…
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Old 5th September 2014, 13:57   #4
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When I turned the camera lens towards me to inspect it found that the salt water humid condition created a micro dew points on the len’s UV filter. Hence there was no way I could clear it as wiping the tiny little moisture particles left the salt marks and this may be dangerous for the UV coating overall. Ah, this is the bad thing could happen to the maximum at a family trip.

Since the trip was tightly scheduled and I decided to leave the SLR in the kit bag and start to use my son’s point and shoot hence forth in the trip. Again, later in the trip at a palace and Tanjavur temple I could successfully use it on a limited times.

I believe the moisture formation would have been occurred when I was standing so close to the ocean to take few pictures of the family on the rocks.
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After tourist shopping at the Kanyakumari we were set ourselves on the schedule going towards Padmanabapuram Palace. The roads leads from Kanyakumari to Nagarkoil and to Padmanabapuram palace. This palace is located within the borders of Tamilnadu at a place called Thuckalay at around 30kms from Kanyakumari but comes under Govt. of Kerala for administration. The roads leading to Thuckalay is a tranquil in nature as it is easy to get mesmerized by winding roads co-existed with the water canal and lush green everywhere. This palace is at the foot hills of Velli hills a starting point of Western Ghats hence no symptom of water scarcity throughout the 30kms stretch. I mentioned about the water scarcity issue as rest of my trip underwent a shocking drought like situation at the entire plains of Tamilnadu. If only rivers are nationalized and connected, this country would be the greenest in the world.
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The condition of the road is not that good but who cares when you were soothed by the beautiful scenery around you. Since the distance was very little I wasn’t paying attention to the road condition any way. But the discomfort of the rear seat passenger in the fortuner were very much evident when I looked at the rear view mirror every time.
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We had a stop at Nagarkoil for the breakfast at around 9:30am and started towards the place and reached in matter of minutes.

The Palace:

There was a local body city access tax, If I recollect correctly for Rs. 50 and parked the car at the streets where so many other tourist buses were parked in parallel. The streets closed the palace was fully wearing the terracotta tiles for the roofs creating a very Kerala atmosphere. The palace welcomed us with a huge sign board and a beautiful flower kolam (traditionally decorated for Onam festival across the God’s own country.
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Since my SLR's UV filter was impacted in the moisture of Kanyakumari, I took it out and clicked the first picture outside the palace and again blurry image came. Another quick wipe of the filter give it a nice clean look and rest of the shoot was relatively okay but not sharp yet. Some of the pictures outside of the palaces posted here were from SLR, Point and Shoot and the Mobile ones.

For family of 9 including 3 children under the age of 10, we have paid 290 that again included Rs.50 for a still camera. (Mobile, point and shoot, SLR all are considered still cameras and Rs.50 charge applies). The Video cameras attract steep increase in the ticket, but we weren’t carrying one though SLR could be used to shoot video footages but I wasn’t prepared for a video shoot on this occasion.

An attractive structure to any lover of indigenous construction, this old palace of the kings of the Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) is a fine specimen of one of the Indian architecture. The antique interiors are full of intricate rosewood logs and carvings.
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Throughout this palace the administration has appointed well informed guides to explain each and every part of the palace for the visitors. I was amazed by the job done by administration of this palace it was very commendable work.
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Though this palace is not colored to look attractive compare to the Mysore Palace but very calm and peaceful experience. This palace was built by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal during 16th century and the whole palace design included very scientific way of ventilation and light the era in which this palace was built without electricity; one can easily associate the living condition (king’s style) with this palace. My son raised this question while we were talking about Varma kings of Kerala,

My Son: Verama kings a Tamil king?
Me: Why do you think so ?
My Son: Two weeks back I was in a field trip to Mahabalipuram, theTeacher told me the town was built by Mahindra Varma and Narasima Varma. Are they not from the same family?
Me: @#$%^, May be and the time Mahabalipuram kings lived and Padmanabapuram kings were lived is very huge gap. Back in those days we weren’t split and being a Dravidian decedent we are all same.
My Son: Accepting to my answer he pointed the fingers to all the stone scripts at the Padmanabapuram palace that were written in Tamil language.

Since photography was allowed inside, It was delightful experience feeling the bygone era by eyes and shadows in the picture.
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I would like to caution anyone going to this place as the walking inside with children will be very tiring as the palace walk through is very long.

Stay tuned as I have more pictures and stories in the palace coming up next.

To be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 5th September 2014 at 14:08.
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Old 6th September 2014, 10:34   #5
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In the previous post the picture that shows a group of chairs put together in a hall is the actual Dharbar that used for formal imperial assemblies called together to mark state occasions or governance decision.

While the splendor of gorgeous carvings and art work, even 16th century the desire for foreign goods were very evident but in a very small scale. Like the Chinese carvings on the throne at Dharbar and bedrooms, and at few locations like bedrooms of the king or the immediate relatives accommodates the Belgium mirror etc. I recall my recent visit to Belgium where I was having a chat with a Belgian friend who was saying Belgium is famous for Beer, Mining, Roads (he claimed one of the highway is visible even from the space as it is the only highway lit in the nights). My query to him about Belgian mirror raised his eyebrow and asked me if that is true in a surprise. Not only in this palace across Tamilnadu and other southern states prominent architecture of yester years continuously worn the Belgian mirror as part of the interior. We will see similar ones in my following posts as well. So, people at Belgium should know now that their ancestral roots of making fine mirrors for the world and be proud of what they have done.
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Returning to the palace here again, the palace show cased a two floored dining hall that is called “Koottupora” to accommodate 2000 people at one time to serve food. I believe the Raja was doing charity by feeding all the guests and the staff members of the dynasty every day. As mentioned each and every location in the palace god well informed staff members of the administration to guide us and they do have antique chairs for rest. My father was tired quickly as a matter of ageing fact, who really enjoyed those seats at each junction when he wanted to rest for few minutes.
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The ceiling of different part of the palace worn different style of interior architecture, some places were designed in extraordinary floral designs made of teak and rose wood and some places were simple wood logs and shaped beams across.
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The beauty of this palace again with the numerous ventilation windows called “Kili Vadhil” (in literal meaning is Birth’s entrance) with the Kerala’s own Charupadi design. The following pictures of the wooden design is called Charupadi, it accommodates a sitting position inside and provide opions for Kili Vadhil and looks exceptionally simple and beautiful outside while the roof keeps rain water away entering into the inside of the palace.
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Another important piece of art in this palace is the Raja’s cot, such a carving of wood never existed anywhere. If you notice one thing the cot itself a single person cot, is it alarming something? yes, it did for me and posted the same question why would the Raja sleep alone to the guide. The answer was that the Varma kings were always unmarried and everytime when the King retires the position is given to the sister’s son. The person chosen to rule the dynasty never marries hence it is more than sufficient for a bachelor to sleep in a single bed. Wow!
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The courtyard from dining hall, passages that connects one part of the palace to another, and what is called Nadumuttam (typical in many Tamil and Kerala old houses as well to provide rain water harvesting and ventilation to the inmates of the house) were all bliss for eyes at every turn at the palace.
While a life of Raja not excluded without a usable rest room that amazed me for the time period it was built. I personally always thought about Raja’s of yester years and where did they attend the nature’s call. As most of the normal people use bare land until the introduction of Indian and Western toilets setup that had flush and no flush attached. The palace had almost all the bedrooms equipped with well-ventilated attached toilets for the Raja, His immediate relatives and the western guests. There was also very beautiful bath areas attached in the court yard that goes down steps directly to one of the well or pond inside the palace.
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The important point to notice that the western guest house (rooms) were worn high roofs and entrances while the rest of the palace entrance or doors were lesser than a common man’s height. The reason is that in Indian culture whoever you are, while entering a house you need to bend down and show respect, but for the foreigners it is not their habit hence taller stuffs as they used in their home country.
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The indigenous terracotta titled roofs of Kerala and specially made floorings with the combination of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk as an luxury of almost all the states of this side in this time period.

Finally the only stone structure in the entire palace is the cultural hall where the dancers perform their talent before the guests. Here also very ingenious way of accommodating the ladies of royal family like mother, sister and other relatives introduced with a tiny windows at the ceiling where the mother of Raja can enjoy the dancers performance and rest of the ladies could look through the tiny holes in the side of the hall.
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The day of walking inside the palace put all of us very tired and we reached the museum part of the palace before concluding what is to be expressed as fulfilling experience of Raja’s life of South India.
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After wrapping up the palace visit, I was continuing the trip towards Thiruchendur where my night halt has been planned. I was hopping to get a cottage at the Thiruchendur Murugan temple or at Taminadu Tourism Development Corporations accommodation. While I will be reaching Thiruchendur, I would have completed over 900 kilometers of continues solo driving without blinking my eye for a second as all my family members safety was in my hands. To reach Thiruchendur we have to come back to Kanyakumari and continue in toward the destination. I got to accept after continues 12 hours of drive in the whole night and spending time at Kanyakumari then a hour drive to Palace and long walk inside the palace back to Kanyakumari has taxed my body to the maximum extent and the eyes were turning blood red.

The road between Kanyakumari and Thiruchendur is the worst in the whole trip and passing each feet of the distance was like passing 10kms like feeling experienced. While I was trying to speed up the car from 50kmph speed to 70kmph as I wanted to badly take rest, there was a huge DHUD sound that made out of great force making a loud noise brought everyone out from their deep sleep.

To be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 6th September 2014 at 10:55.
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Old 6th September 2014, 10:46   #6
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Hey, nice write up! Looking forward to read more about your journey.

I can imagine how funny it would have been, while you must be cursing your son's syllabus which would lead to a lot of curious questions in his head answers of which you may not have, but pretend to have
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Old 6th September 2014, 11:34   #7
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Folks, sorry for making this stupid mistake. I wanted to record a correction of the following statement

“Kili Vadhil” (in literal meaning is Birth’s entrance)

to

“Kili Vadhil” (literal meaning is Bird's entrance)

Last edited by trammway : 6th September 2014 at 11:47.
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Old 6th September 2014, 12:43   #8
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Lovely travelogue there..

A few months back, as part of my Kerala trip, I tried visiting the Palace on a Monday, but at the entrance I was told that visitors are not allowed inside on Mondays. Disappointed, I returned back. Feels good to see the pics of it posted by you.

And the information about the King to remain a bachelor all his life is pretty neat too.

Thanks for the log!
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Old 6th September 2014, 16:28   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trammway View Post
When I turned the camera lens towards me to inspect it found that the salt water humid condition created a micro dew points on the len’s UV filter. Hence there was no way I could clear it as wiping the tiny little moisture particles left the salt marks and this may be dangerous for the UV coating overall. Ah, this is the bad thing could happen to the maximum at a family trip.
A lesson learnt for me too. I was in Goa then. The reason is that, the camera lies in an Air Conditioned environment (hotel or car) and then suddenly is subjected to a moist condition. For me since I was close to Madgaon, I quickly went to the town, spotted a DSLR shop and bought a carbon tip, which solved the problem. Within 4-5 minutes you can wipe off every thing and its ready to use. Now I always carry it as a must accessory.


Now back to the story:

Amazing log. Stories of the road and the moments are always there to be cherished later. And the roads in TN are so good, its always to drive around.

Last edited by ampere : 6th September 2014 at 16:34.
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Old 6th September 2014, 20:53   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffHanger View Post
Lovely travelogue there..

A few months back, as part of my Kerala trip, I tried visiting the Palace on a Monday, but at the entrance I was told that visitors are not allowed inside on Mondays. Disappointed, I returned back.
Thank you.

That is very sad to know you went all the way upto the gate but couldn't access the palace. Yes, The palace is closed for visitors on Monday.

Even I wasn't aware of the holiday calendar nor I checked it online, as mentioned earlier in this log every was planned so quickly in matter of minutes and we jumped into the car to explore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
A lesson learnt for me too. I was in Goa then. The reason is that, the camera lies in an Air Conditioned environment (hotel or car) and then suddenly is subjected to a moist condition. For me since I was close to Madgaon, I quickly went to the town, spotted a DSLR shop and bought a carbon tip, which solved the problem. Within 4-5 minutes you can wipe off every thing and its ready to use. Now I always carry it as a must accessory.
Thanks for the tip, can you post the picture of the carbon tip and price details. I would love to have it in my kit bag.

As of now the equipment are safely stored in the Benro Dry Cabinet but this will not be feasible on the go hence the carbon tip should be the only solution I believe.
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Old 6th September 2014, 21:12   #11
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Default Re: Enchanting Tamil Nadu in 72 hours

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Originally Posted by trammway View Post
Thanks for the tip, can you post the picture of the carbon tip and price details. I would love to have it in my kit bag.
Its just a 500/- lens pen with brush on one side and a carbon tip on the other (the one I have). Just search for lens pen on the web.
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Old 7th September 2014, 12:43   #12
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Before I start the next episode, Let me wish you all a very Happy Onam



For an instance, I was thinking that I have crashed into something unknowingly or Am I sober enough to drive the vehicle ? With all sort of questions, I slowed down and brought the vehicle to a complete halt. Walked out of the Fortuner and inspected if any big stone or object hit hit the vehicle but nothing found other than newly laid uneven gravel. The reason finally unveiled towards the driver side rear suspension. The loud noise was a bottoming symptom of suspension going for a task at the time of a family trip with 9 people in the car and particularly when I wanted to take rest while crossing a bad road patch of the entire tour. Man, this is height of murphy’s law.

With no other option, I have further slowed down the fortuner and made little adjustment in the rear seat with light weight children posted to the weakest side. My son at the middle seat accepted my request move back but he was teasing me with his little mimics of body language. The completely tired rear seat passenger’s face showed some relief hearing this arrangement. i.e. the rear wheel of driver side seems to be the culprit and looks like the shocks are completely gone. Since the springs in the strut could still hold minimum load, the vehicle only bottoms when going through 2inch of uneven road, path hole or gut etc.
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I blamed the situation to the trusty Toyota brand and continue to drive towards Thiruchendur. I know that the fortuner is not the best suspension enabled vehicle and for the cost of the SUV the suspension seems to be poorly designed. Does anyone know what is the minimal kilometer before the suspension needs to be replaced. My odo clocks at 83728 during this incident.

The road wasn’t improved for a quite some distance expect few places that wears new coat of tar again for the standards of tamilnadu roads, it is pathetic in terms of evenness. Though I couldn’t click pictures due to the driving conditions and my desire to reach Thiruchendur, there is a beautiful little village (town?) called Kulasekarapattinam. Approaching the road towards this town enroute to Thiruchendur reveals beautiful churches that resemble European architecture and not one church but cluster of churches. Simple google image will show you the beauty of architectures around this tiny little place: https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Ku...w=1366&bih=643

If I was little energetic, I would have been surely stopped at this little town to explore a bit. Hence added this town’s name on my mine for next travel plan and moved forward. Finally we reached our destination TTDC hotels and found accommodation available for all of us, without investigating any further I checked in to the rooms. The hotel complex is just next to the temple hence there were peacocks were found in all over the hotel compound. Since it is a Tamilnadu government owned entity there is no shortage of space for parking. The vast land of hotel compound also looked like a mini zoological park sharing space with Peacock, Caged Rabbits, Caged Lovebirds, Caged Pigeons, Ducks, Stray dogs and also Pigs. Though I wasn’t prepared to click any picture expect one peacock shot my son went ahead clicking random pictures of the animals.
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With an instruction to my family to go ahead with the temple visit which I was not ready to participate, I crashed flat into the bed. Since the sun was setting my son couldn't click pictures of the scenes at Thiruchendur expect this one neon light’s picture of the temple gopuram.
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Our trip started back towards Dhanushkodi at around 7:30am next morning with a quick checkout and I was back with my full energy after a sound sleep last night, earlier at Thiruchendur TTDC hotel's parking lot when I reached the car to load our baggage realized that peacocks had a lust in my fortuner and showed their mercy all over it. I got to spend quit some time to clean the shit, unsure of why the peacock vandalized my vehicle while rest of the cars and vans parked in the area were clean and tidy.
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The road condition was very good and passed through Thutukodi (Tutikorin) and reached Ramanadhapuram at around 10:15am for breakfast. The restaurant was at the bybass junction at ECR crossroads called Vasantha Bavan, it was looking reasonably ok from outside but food or service wasn’t that great. Outside the restaurant adjacent to the dining area the hotel administration kept bunch of emu birds in an open cage. When I spotted the restaurant at first glimpse I thought that this hotel serves emu meat but the hotel was vegetarian.
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From this point onwards our collective focus were set to reach Dhanushkodi as soon as possible so Rameswaram temple visit also would be clubbed for the day visit. We have already decided that the night stay would be around Karaikudi area. The road toward’s Rameswaram soon reached a scene seaside travel, at one point I saw couple of Brahminy Kite drinking water from stagnant rainwater from a pond. I couldn’t successfully click a closeup even with a 300mm hence decided to move forward, suddenly the bird flew towards me but still couldn’t get a good picture and missed a great shot.
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I stopped the car at Pamban Bridge to explain the kids about the facts of the bridge and adjacent railway bride. We talked about the 1964 disaster that collapsed the old railway bridge and the subsequent damages of the largest natural disaster at Dhanushkodi. With few clicks to save time, the car again started the long waited journey towards Dhanushkodi.
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While we continued our journey towards the ghost town called Dhanushkodi, my 2nd son pulled me to a discussion



My 2nd Son: Dad do you know the meaning of Dhanushkodi ?

Me: No, but do you know the meaning?

My 2nd Son: Yes.

Me: What is it?

My 2nd Son: Dhanush means a name of person

Me: and ?

My 2nd Son: Kodi means Crores in Tamil so one Crore Dhanush living in this town

Me:

My 1st Son: Adhava, Dhanush means the Bow hence it is the town of one Crore Bows.

Me: Kids, Dhanush means Bow as Adithya said, but Kodi means a rope or thread that is tied to the bow. So it is actually a complete bow end where the rope is tied. As this town is at the end of the land and winding like a bow end this name has been given to Dhanushkodi (explained the kids the meaning of Dhanushkodi)




Our trip continued with some facts and figures of Dhanushkodi while passing the Rameswaram temple on a straight road. My father was also explaining the news he read on the next morning of cyclone hit in the past. The feeling inside me was raising very hard like depression by every meter close to the town Dhanushkodi.

To be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 7th September 2014 at 12:58.
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Old 8th September 2014, 07:34   #13
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Though the fame of this city is known to the rest of the country from the mythical story that relates to all the tourist attractions such as the floating stones and well inside the sea surface and so on, this city was once upon a time a major Asian port/jetty carrying ferries and smaller ship to Ceylon loaded with people. All over Tamilnadu only 3 cities had passport offices namely Chennai, Madurai and Dhanushkodi. Trains to tip of this only border to Srilanka from India never stopped at Rameswaram, The rich Chettiars and Nagarathar’s of Tamilnadu used this port for major spice trade to eastern countries, Obviously a larger fishing harbor, people of this town were very rich even to be remembered as phoenix as a fact post 1941 disaster the city thrived up to last for next 23 years. Yes, these are all few facts(?) about the south eastern end of the Great nation.

When Vivekananda concluded his trip to Chicago conference in USA, he was off boarded at Ceylone (now Srilanka) to take a ferry to Dhanushkodi and set his foot in India in the very old port city. The city further carries the faded and wonderful relationship days of Ceylone and Tamilnadu. The countless tamil killings by Srilankan during the war included people from this town who settled in Srilanka along with the other Tamilians tribes in Srilanka for their trade relationship. Is it a curse of Dhanushkodi to face such a cruel disaster one after one 1941 and 1964 or is it a curse to the people who were remotely related to this town ? Whatever is the reason my desire to visit Dhanushkodi was primarily to pay homage to the people struck in the cyclones and also to pay homage to the Srilankan Tamils as this is the closest place I could visit to express my condolences to the lost souls. Another reason is to really investigate what are the scientifically acceptable reasons behind the floating stones and well inside the sea. We reached around 1pm at the end of the road that runs between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. The sea surface looks so beautiful even to question if is it the same sea that caused one of the worst disaster the country ever witnessed? We reached the road end where all the tourist parked their vehicle and boarded to the 4x4 Mahindra vans and Jeeps for a trip inside this mysterious land. I took U turn on my Fortuner and followed a Jeep that actually cut the road and entered to the soft sand. With no bit of hesitation the all-time four wheel enabled Fortuner pushed to sand loaded with 9 people on its seats. It was a cake walk and I hadn’t changed any four-wheel drive gears and drove into the land of mystery.

The blue sky and white sand kissing in the end of horizon was pure bliss to the eyes in all the directions. I have never been to Andaman and Nicobar islands but am sure it will be like same. Quickly I clicked few picture of the Fortuner and family at the wonderland. We spotted few vans and Jeeps rushing towards the far end seashore.
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From the place in the above picture to rest of the drive was filled with wet sand and some places filled with algae and some red flags on straight lines. Throughout this drive we witnessed ruins of buildings on our right hand side while the left hand side was full flat white land what was once upon a time a Casuarina cultivated farm lands.

This drive also revealed numerous abandoned fishermen’s boats standing like skeleton of a decomposed body. To my surprise even after 50 years of the disaster, none of these were even touched by the local fishermen too. Few of these boats were even equipped with the diesel engines that we normally see in the farm use. These engines were rusted and the body opens to expose the internal gearbox that also heavily rusted.
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We reached the shore and the shallow torques water brought in some relaxation to the depression that surrounded us. The kids walked inside the clam but once Murderer Sea enjoying the coat of beauty it was posing. The beach is full of sea shells and some organic materials from the ocean and sea, while we walked north to east we found some mysterious looking object first we believed it as some marine animal's egg cluster but later we found that it is a dry Jelly fish. Wow what a find!
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This is the same place in the night of 23nd December 1964 started the historic cyclone that swallowed huge number of people, their investments and dreams. While we were at the waterfront I spoke with few locals who mentioned that Dhanushkodi had a huge temple, Thanjavur’s dharmastala, good amount of houses in a row that are completely submerged in the sea during the disaster and the water level increased during the cyclone never reduced other than few hundred meters.
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I heard from the fishermen who were talking to me that during the 2004 Tsunami the water level dipped in the sea exposing all the old Dhanushkodi for sometime and it was a rarest incident witnessed by them. The submerged town and increased water level actually resolves the puzzle of sweet-water well found inside the ocean in Dhanushkodi. As people from seashore are well aware the drinkable water could be drawn from small wells or pit in the beach sand even though the salty water is feet away. Similar concept of having top portion sealed with cement(or Chunnambu - a calcium based material used before the cement) or stone structure water wells from the glorious days of Dhanushkodi is still drawing filtered sweet-water through the white sand from the sea, this is merely possible as the pH levels or TDS levels are controlled when it passes through the fine sand particles.

After spending quality time and passing my homage to the Dhanushkodi souls and Tamils of Srilanka from this nearest coast, we turned our car towards the lost human habitat areas of Dhanushkodi to find answer or science behind the floating stones.


To be continued…

Last edited by trammway : 8th September 2014 at 07:47.
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Old 8th September 2014, 15:11   #14
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I have one question here: Weren't you feeling tired and sleepy after a night's drive from chennai to kanyakumari? Looks like you didn't sleep a wee bit. Or did you have some power naps?

Last edited by gabrielthomas : 8th September 2014 at 15:12.
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Old 8th September 2014, 17:02   #15
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Originally Posted by gabrielthomas View Post
I have one question here: Weren't you feeling tired and sleepy after a night's drive from chennai to kanyakumari? Looks like you didn't sleep a wee bit. Or did you have some power naps?


Initially the excitement of experiencing the tour kept me awake then the concern about the safety of the family in spite of me having almost tired eyes(did mentioned it in the trip back from palace).

I believe more the 2 points mentioned as I lived the life of system support professional half of my life missing few nights sleep wasn't an unusual thing to me. To answer your question on power nap, no until 6:30pm next day at Thiruchendur and I slept almost 12 hours straight line.
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