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Old 17th May 2009, 11:27   #1
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Default Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai

There is an old saying that goes "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride (or would be choosers)" - from a roadie's perspective, what started as a chennai-bhutan plan got whipped by recession blues and finally dived south for a southern sojourn. Let me take you through the drive.

Drive 1: Chennai - Pondicherry - Velankanni - Thanjavur - Madurai
If you want to enjoy your ECR drive along the beach leave early - else you will face the wrath of the share autos plying between villages both sides of the road. This is really taking the charm out of having a laid back sunday drive which we used to do before. BTW, Hotel Surguru which is just right at the end of the ECR after you enter Pondicherry where you hit a signal - opens at 6:30am! Once you reach Sirkali your nightmare begins as the roads are in pathetic state all the way to Velankanni. From Velankanni to Thanjavur the road is just ok but you are on a great 'pedal to metal' road to Pudukottai all the way thru Tirupattur until Melur and some road construction hinders your quick entry into Madurai.

Drive 2: Madurai - Theni - Kumily - Kottayam - Kumarakom You begin to enjoy the country side as you leave the outskirts of Madurai onto Theni but from there it is a great road all the way to Kottayam and the only scare for you is the speeding KSRTC bus heading straight at your bonnet with an uncanny knack of turning off at the last minute. I am sure the drivers pitied me that I was a driving a SUV and gave some space bakshis on the road! I did want to go via Munnar down to Kumarakom but left the idea due to a longer drive duration.

Drive 3: Kumarakom - Alleppey - Quilon - Kovalam
Driving on NH 47 is akin to going on LB Road in Chennai, Airport Road in Bangalore or Swami Vivekananda road in Mumbai (at some discounted peak traffic conditions). It took us over 6 hours to do this stretch but you cant expect it to be better. The saving grace was the road quality which was consistently good in Kerala.

Drive 4: Kovalam - Pattanamthitta - Thekkady
Both Eicher and TTK State maps went disastrously wrong in reflecting the correct route that we missed some turns after Pattanamthitta and landed on an isolated road to Pamba - returned and came via a small but good road to Mundakayam and on to Thekkady. The MC road is actually a better road than NH47, wider with less traffic, runs parallel to NH 47 and takes you all the way to Kottayam and further north. Some construction work is on, but altogther a nice road to drive.

Drive 5: Thekkady - Theni - Dindigul - Trichy - ChennaiThe good news is that the Trichy-Villipuram highway is almost done. Except for Ulundurpet, you come through bye-passes at Villipuram and Tindivanam and has completely put the horror stories of driving this stretch to rest. They havent started collecting the toll and they were testing some of the booths.

Whilst there is nothing great on my trip, all the way we celebrated the joy of seeing Kerala, its simplicity, tidiness, public sense ( I didn’t see any Keralite pissing or shitting on the road), the flamboyuancy of Vembanad, the spirit of fresh toddy, the flavor of tapioca + meen kurry and karimeen fries and polichathu, the joy of ulli theeyal (spicy shallots curry), the white sarees, fresh-looking-girls-from-a-bath (morning and evening) with their hairs tied up in the same way, the wallet in the sleeves of the Keralites (guys typically take money from inside of their rolled up sleeves), fashionable umbrellas, fluffy appams and coconut stew, the shrieks of the crickets in the middle of the night?, water water everywhere not a drop to drink! (as told to us by a local), the dimly lit temple sanctum santoriums, aesthetically built Churches and chapels,the breath of freshness and sight of greens everywhere – no wonder they say its ‘GOD OWNS COUNTRY”.


And finally, for my good old Tata Safari (Exi - petrol - 4x4) which took us for yet another trip, without a scratch and hickup. At the end on parking the car in the garage, we did our usual practice after each trip - we clapped for the car and I kissed the steering – after all on a good driving holiday your friend, saviour and guide is your car. That is my emotional connect.

I have attached the drive log here in an xls file. and the links to pictures are given below.

Picasa Web Albums - Ram - Sunset at Kov...

Picasa Web Albums - Ram - Kumarakom

Picasa Web Albums - Ram - Kerala

Hope you enjoy the pics and the log.

cheers
Ram
Attached Files
File Type: xls Chennai-V'lnkanni-Madurai-Kmkm-Kvlm-Thkdy-Chennai.xls (92.0 KB, 736 views)
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Old 17th May 2009, 17:29   #2
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Default here are some sunset snaps at Kovalam

Shooting at the sun has never been easy...........

cheers
Ram
Attached Images
           
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Old 17th May 2009, 17:42   #3
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Default .....and some at Kumarakom

birds at the vembanad lake, the taj retreat, scenes at a typical interior canal, a typical car park (sorry boat park) in a Kumarakom home etc....


cheers
Ram
Attached Thumbnails
Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_0865.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_0963.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_1067.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_0864.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_0829.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_0902.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_1116.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_1140.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_1201.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_1236.jpg  

Chennai-Velankanni-Madurai-Kumarakom-Kovalam-Thekkady-Chennai-dsc_1240.jpg  

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Old 17th May 2009, 17:48   #4
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Ram nice places visited and a very short and sweet travelogue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ram2004 View Post
And finally, for my good old Tata Safari (Exi - petrol - 4x4) which took us for yet another trip, without a scratch and hickup. At the end on parking the car in the garage, we did our usual practice after each trip - we clapped for the car and I kissed the steering – after all on a good driving holiday your friend, saviour and guide is your car. That is my emotional connect.
That's one good practice Ram
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Old 17th May 2009, 18:35   #5
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very nice travelogue dude!
The photos are really great too!

cheers
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Old 18th May 2009, 09:33   #6
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Hi, ram2004, excellent short-and-sweet travelogue !
And excellent pictures too! which camera do you use?

But i missed not seeing even one photo of the black Exi 4x4. Please post some pics of her if possible.
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Old 18th May 2009, 11:04   #7
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Ram thats a nice Report and the greenery make me wanna drive back to kerala all too soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ram2004 View Post

Drive 3: Kumarakom - Alleppey - Quilon - Kovalam
Driving on NH 47 is akin to going on LB Road in Chennai, Airport Road in Bangalore or Swami Vivekananda road in Mumbai (at some discounted peak traffic conditions). It took us over 6 hours to do this stretch but you cant expect it to be better. The saving grace was the road quality which was consistently good in Kerala.
Ram you should have timed your travel on this sector in the early morning or late night , the high traffic density on this route is a known evil. All night around the route is very safe and there is still enough traffic, but not enough to slow you down like in the day time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ram2004 View Post
Drive 4: Kovalam - Pattanamthitta - Thekkady
Both Eicher and TTK State maps went disastrously wrong in reflecting the correct route that we missed some turns after Pattanamthitta and landed on an isolated road to Pamba - returned and came via a small but good road to Mundakayam and on to Thekkady. The MC road is actually a better road than NH47, wider with less traffic, runs parallel to NH 47 and takes you all the way to Kottayam and further north. Some construction work is on, but altogther a nice road to drive.
I think its yous safari thats speaking , a drive on this road for sedans would have been a bad trip especially in the night there were many unmarked deviations on this road a while back .

Quote:
Originally Posted by ram2004 View Post
Whilst there is nothing great on my trip, all the way we celebrated the joy of seeing Kerala, its simplicity, tidiness, public sense ( I didn’t see any Keralite pissing or shitting on the road).
The last part is something which absolutely love about my home state for , yes if you search for it you will still find some place with bad civic facilities , but thats still a minority.
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Old 18th May 2009, 11:24   #8
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Ram - That is a wonderful report. I saw your excel sheet - Amazing. How could you note down all the minute details like that ?

I note down the Odometer and time details too. But you went all the way. Impressive pictures . Did you carry your Laptop all the way ?
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Old 18th May 2009, 12:05   #9
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I just saw the excel sheet - Excellent information. You really noted everything!
This will be very helpful as we have madurai trip planned soon.
Thanks for sharing!

cheers
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Old 18th May 2009, 14:55   #10
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Default hey this is not difficult

I carry a log sheet with time, km reading and place for notes. Whilst it is indeed difficult to convince your wife (in the co-driver's seat) to do this (my daughter says 'get lost'), it happens after some pleading and thereafter guarantee that it gets to a routine. I update the time and km reading as we move along. At places where we have brief stops, I make it a point to first pen down notes, get it completed when I finish for the day (important that you dont step down from the drivers seat before finishing this task everytime).

Two things happen though, you lose the pen and the note pad - for this I keep about 3-4 pens in different places in the car and also keep the log on to a small hardboard which I have cut for this purpose - makes writing easy even if you have to do it while driving.

on completion I update the spreadsheet(that is the reason for the delay) for publishing.

cheers
Ram
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Old 18th May 2009, 16:42   #11
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That excel is a killer, would try to get somthing similar in my next trip (may be not so detailed). Keep going
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Old 18th May 2009, 19:34   #12
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ram2004 View Post
makes writing easy even if you have to do it while driving.
While my wife and daughter think that I am crazy to note such things, my daughter occasionally helps me out. Usually if I want to make a chart like this, I do the writing myself, but always stop and write.
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Old 19th May 2009, 12:17   #13
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Ok Ram. Just wanted to compare the notes ...

I thought you are using some technology. It is plain notes and pens then.
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Old 19th May 2009, 12:36   #14
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Nice, crisp report, Ram. The trip log is just incredible. And the pics are so very inviting.
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Old 19th May 2009, 17:27   #15
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Ram,

That a great write up & the trip log is really amazing. Thanks for sharing these info.

~Gops
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