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Old 17th August 2009, 17:55   #1
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Smile Off to Karaiyar & Manjolai in the Beast to see the Beasts!!

Well , this is my first travelogue. Sorry if I'm boring you with all happenings, just wanted to pen down the whole thing that happened.

Deciding and Preparing.

We are a small gang of 7 mile munchers or road lovers if I'm not exaggerating. It seemed so long since we had been on a trip, almost a year and a half. All our self driven trips were max in an around Chennai and we had been longing to go out on a proper road trip. We were there as usual at our usual hangout the 'Marina Beach' talking and talking as we had done for all these days, where to go? somewhere out of the usual. Not the regular places were people throng out for a change. All of us needed our breaks from our so called Corporate Life Style. Lots of place were decided but all dropped due to various factors. And oh yeah it was a budget tour which turned out not to be a budget tour, more on that later. We just had a weekend with us, max we could all get was a holiday on Friday. Both the major factors of a trip, time and money were on limits now. Still not able to finalize on any place. Alas one day(July 15th if I'm correct) when we were talking to one of our friend's(Prasanna) mother from Tirunelveli, she had mentioned about this Tiger Reserve Forest near Tirunelveli. The Kalakad - Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Forest & Manjolai Hills. And all the introductions given by Prasanna and the very few pics of the place available over the Internet made us roaring to go down and check out the place. So atlas the place was decided and dates were finalized to 31st July so that we would start on Friday morning from Chennai and start back from there on Sunday night and reach Chennai on Monday morning (3rd August) for Office. Now then 2 days would not be enough for such a wonderful place. So the plan was talked over and over again and decided that we would leave on the 30th evening itself. So that we would have the whole of Friday to relax and roam around. All decided, the plan was as this,

Day 1 : We would go to Karaiyar Dam and visit my friend's family deity( Sori Muthu Iyanar Temple ) and return down and stay at Papanasam,

Day 2 : Scoot of to Manjolai if possible stay there and return on Sunday morning

Day 3 : Go to Kalakad before hurrying back to Chennai.

But then visiting all these places was no easy task, we had to get permissions from the forest dept and we still were waiting for them and trying through every possible way.

It was planned that all of us would leave from Chennai but then one friend got dropped off and Prasanna had to go back to town and after discussion we decided to move ahead with the trip without postponing . So all set the day before the start of the Journey went to check out the wheel alignment as I felt something was wrong with the Beast. There awaited the shock, my Beast's front left tyre Camber was way out of the permissible levels and the tyres had not been rotated, In spite me giving it for Wheel Alignment and Balancing during my 30k service at TASS a couple of weeks back for which they had happily charged me 400Rs. I had gone to Wheel Alignment Center at MGM Tire Shop Luz Corner, at around 8PM and the shop had to close by 8:30PM, but then after hearing that we had to go on trip tomorrow the service guys took up the job and had got it rectified to my satisfaction, though it was almost close to 10PM when it was done. Am really thankful to those guys at the service centre as it would have my next day really packed if I had to do the Alignment right before leaving. Now back home and wash the Beast for a tiring 2 hrs before I hit hay.

Some of the pics we saw about the location before leaving.
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to be continued .....

Last edited by ram.west : 17th August 2009 at 17:58.
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Old 18th August 2009, 09:34   #2
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Good start Ram, Manjolai and Megamalai are in my list of places to visit. Please give details of how you took permission to stay in Manjolai and other permissions needed to be taken to visit Kalakkad as well.

You must be lucky to sight a tiger at Kalakkad, great going
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Old 18th August 2009, 09:53   #3
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Good start ram, awaiting for more.
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Old 18th August 2009, 11:04   #4
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Nice thread Ram.
Vickramasinghapuram is my native and this thread brought back childhood memories.

That second picture brings back some scary memories as well.The original bridge in that place was washed away during a very fierry flood in 90's.You can see remains of the old bridge too in those pics.
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Old 18th August 2009, 11:28   #5
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I was there on 7th August, but no water though.. Check out my travelogue for real pictures on that time
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Old 18th August 2009, 12:20   #6
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Nice teaser dude....bring up the rest now....
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Old 18th August 2009, 14:58   #7
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Well started Ram and the pictures looks awesome..waiting for the details now
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Old 18th August 2009, 16:28   #8
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good pictures which asks to get into your narration and keep on going Ram.
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Old 18th August 2009, 21:47   #9
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Post Part- 2.

sorry guys stuck at office.. writing this whenever I'm finding time or tired of reading those Code Lines...

D-Day (30th July)

And yes all set. Bags packed in a hurry after reaching home late from office. One by one the rest of the guys drop in. Went to the nearby Temple for the pooja (Grandma's strong recommendation). Lemons in place below the Tires of the gleaming Beast. The Rain God wants to shower his blessing on us and starts to drizzle and off we start, bidding adieu to my mother, bro and sis. The guys wanted to start this trip with a Grand Opening (actually with crackers: D) so off we went to our hangout spot the Beach. By this time it had started to rain cats and dogs and it was already 6PM. We were like waiting for the rain at least give a small break so that we could start off after bursting crackers, but no way was there even a hint of the rain stopping. This wasn’t going to deter us, out in the rains, off goes cracking the 100Lar and yes we are on the trip in full swing. Still raining fuel stop at Shell, Pallikarnai and the guys go getting fuel for us. The Beast drinks almost 62 Litres of diesel and still has space for one more litre inspite of it already having around 7-8 litres in tank. And yes one more cracker goes cracking right in front of one our office building, which is the very next building( Crazy guys you see ) and we are off again. Took the OMR route to Kelambakkam and from there to Vandalur in the newly laid Four Lane Road. Stop for a small tea break at SRM as the Nights going to be long as we had planned for dinner at Dindivanam. BTW it’s still raining nonstop, and by the time we start from SRM it’s almost 9PM and off we go again in full rain, wipers at full pace and still trying to figure out the road.

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We cross Dindivanam at around 10:30PM with the rains still blasting us, so we don't stop for food, thinking we'll stop at Villupuram or Ulundurpet. How wrong could we have been! Rain, Rain & Rain. The roads are flooded and were almost drifting the Beast at every pool of water accumulated in the bends of the all the new NH45. There were almost no shops along the Bye-Pass and we stopped somewhere before Ulundurpet to stretch our legs a bit and I had 10 min a power nap to give some rest to my eyes as had to be double active with the flooded roads. And in this gap the rain had slowed down a bit and by the time we crossed Permabalur it was almost dry and we picked up pace and reached Trichy by 2AM and at last stopped for some food in one of the Bus Stand shops.

A couple of pics at Trichy
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Stretched a bit and start towards Madurai and somehow manage to cross Madurai by 4’o clock. We are now setting paces on the roads that have take diversions every 2-3kms and stop for quick break at Kayathaar as the sun begins to fade the long night and our Journey and by 6:30AM we are circling the New Tirunelveli Bus Stand searching our friend.

At Kayathar
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The Sun Greeting Us
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India Cements Factory
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Tirunelveli New Bus Stand
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Spot him and off we are to is his house which is a 5 min drive from the Bus Stand and what do we have, “ A mini T-BHP Tirunelveli Meet “. Well it was only the Beast and Esteem meeting as we were all sipping some special homemade Filter Coffee inside.

Spotted the Esteem
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to be continued ....

Last edited by ram.west : 18th August 2009 at 21:50.
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Old 18th August 2009, 22:10   #10
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I grew up in Ambasamudram / Vikramasingapuram, where my Father worked for Madura Coats. I studied in the Coats school, Vikaasa.
Manjolai was a regular haunt and the BBTC guys were all good friends. I grew up trekking at Mundanthurai, Manimuthar, Kothayar, Upper Dam etc.
Your travelogue brings back sweet memories.
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Old 19th August 2009, 23:47   #11
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Default Part -3

Day 1

A small chat with Prasanna’s mom and we were told that going to Kalakad is not going to happen as a couple of elephants went on complete rampage over an Innova last week and the forest has been strictly closed to everyone. A bit disappointed but still we go ahead with the trip and first thing part of it is rest and I hit the bed for sometime as the last night’s drive takes me out completely. Ask Prasanna to take the Beast and check for Alignment (just to be on the safer side), as all the Water Plunging and drifts made me feel that there was something not Ok. By the time I’m up it’s almost 10AM and all are ready to go on and there was no problem with the Beast, just a stopper bush missing. Today’s actual plan was that we start early and go to Karaiyar Dam and go to ‘Paana Theertham’ and Sori Muthu Iyanar Temple, as by our original plan we had to reach around 3 or 4AM and get up by 8or9’o clock. But then with all the late start and rain we were behind schedule and I also had to visit our farm at Karisalpatti. So we start towards my farm first with the traditional cracker bursting and reach our farm first.

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By the time we reach there it’s almost 11’o clock. We check out with the caretaker and decide to go for a small trip inside the farm. Did a bit of Rock Climbing and travelling through no roads, the Beast jumping out of the highways for the first time all of us were real excited and felt how much fun it would be if we go off roading and have a photo session.

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In all the fun, we forget to check the time and it’s almost 12:30PM, so we start towards Papanasam en route we had to go to Cheranmadevi Panjayat Office to meet Prasanna’s mother.

A couple of pics en route
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We start from Cheranmadevi at 1:15 and leave towards Papanasam through the beautiful country side. Crossed Ambasamudram aka Ambai and now cross Vikramasingapuram aka VK Puram and reach Papanasam by 2:30PM and meet the Karna, our local guide for the next three days and also friend of Prasanna’s Cousin Valli. And suddenly we hear a growling noise and all of us look at each other, and realize that it’s our tummy as we’ve had no food since 2AM. Head back to VK Puram and have a sumptuous meal and Karna and Prasanna go to meet the Ranger and get permission for Manjolai tomorrow. Return back with a permission saying that all regions have been put on high restrictions and people will not be allowed till September. We did not expect such a set back here also, now it was told that we had got permission to visit the place during day time and had to return by evening. Alas something to be happy about. With the permission for tomorrow in hand, we set of to Sori Muthu Iyanar Temple and postponed Karaiyar for later part of the trip as we had Sunday free. We were cruising past all check posts, though checked not put to frisking as we were with guys from VK Puram. Crossed Lower Camp, Agastiyar Falls and the metal road laid by the army in 1992 as the original bridge was washed away due to floods, we reach the temple and see a beautiful river right beside it. Right away we jump inside and stay in the water for more than 2 hours. Absolutely crystal clear and clean water, the bath itself got us relaxed. We were sitting in the water and listening to all stories from Valli about the forest and places and the wild animals how they attack and what to do if we encounter them. Now we had to go the temple, so get ready and go to the temple and come back as it is almost getting dark.

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Last edited by ram.west : 19th August 2009 at 23:50.
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Old 19th August 2009, 23:55   #12
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Post Part-3 contd..

Reached Papanasam and visit the Papanasam Siva Temple and we are out by 6:30PM. Now get a big room to stay at Sri Ram Tourist Home, pretty decent place. Settled down and hit back to VK Puram for dinner and finished our dinner. Planned to visit Prasanna’s Grandma at VK Puram but the streets were all dug up and Beast could not enter in and no place to park so head back to the room just giving her a call that we will turn up before leaving back. We are in the room by 9 and all hit the mats by 9:30 for a good night sleep.

Pics of the Metal Road and Papansam Siva Temple
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to be continued ...
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Old 21st August 2009, 11:11   #13
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I missed the temple (Sori Muthu Iyanar) due to time constraint. After looking your pictures, i think it was a blunder to miss. I just love the river and the serene background.
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