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Old 16th October 2009, 16:18   #76
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Ufff.. Man, that was a excellent log. You have really taken time for writing this log and picking pics etc. So many temples. Thanks for the nice tour.
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Old 16th October 2009, 17:12   #77
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Hey Hotstuff , Great pics and even greater narration.

Had a question though , Are you or wifey fluent in Tamil ?
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Old 16th October 2009, 18:15   #78
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One of the most comprehensive and detailed travelogue ever read coupled with some superb pictures ( some of them especially of the clear waters of Andaman with those blue skies left me dumb founded) and i can imagine the hard work and patience it must have taken on your end to share it with us.

Thanks for sharing it with us
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Old 17th October 2009, 13:23   #79
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@raju2512;
@nairrk;
@Majic;
@Gansan;
@mjothi;
@RP_812;
@mobike008;

- Thank you for your comments and notes. I really appreciate your patience in going through this long & winding account


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
... Pity you missed the Pitchavaram mangrove forests, second only to the Sunderbans. Very close to Chidambaram
- We realized that there were probably so many other places all along the route that we skipped due to time contraints. Hopefully next time...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RP_812 View Post
... Are you or wifey fluent in Tamil ?
- Me no. (I manage with Kannada, Telugu, Hindi & English), Sangeetha yes, (She can speak fluent Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, English and some Malayalam too.)

But language is not a major problem while travelling around India, you can always manage with Hindi / English.
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Old 17th October 2009, 13:40   #80
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Lightbulb 27th Sep 09- Srirangam, Thirumayam, Kanadukathan & Rameshwaram.

'Beep beep... beep beep' - Snooze. 'Beep beep - beep beep' - Snooze again. Finally got out of bed to freshen up and caught the sunrise through the hotel window...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-003.jpg


One of the Srirangam temple gopurams as seen from the hotel room...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-001.jpg


Since the hotel is in a street adjacent to the temple, we just had to walk across...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-002.jpg


Srirangam is a huge complex, with a number of temples, mantaps and other buildings spread out across several acres. We entered through the gate that is close to the Ramanujacharya temple.

This mantap is noted for its beautifully carved pillars...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-004.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-005.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-014.jpg


The Ramanujacharya temple is the place where the saint's mortal remains were interred. A life-size wax (or is it wooden?) statue of the saint is worshipped here...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-006.jpg


There is a view-point on top of a building near the Ramanuja temple; from where you get a panoramic view of the temple. I could count 9 gopurams from here, 6 are in this picture... (Without considering the dome-like structure in the bottom left corner and the golden shikharam)

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-009.jpg


And three in this picture...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-007.jpg


Some other pics from the streets around the temples:

Starting her day with a glass of 'Kapi'...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-010.jpg


On his way to the temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-011.jpg


Waiting for business...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-012.jpg


There is also a thousand pillared hall in this temple. It actually has more than a 1000 pillars, but most of them are plain and simple stone columns...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-013.jpg


No pics from inside the temple since cameras are not allowed. We walked around in the temple for quite a while and headed back to the hotel to pack up and proceed.

The previous evening, Sangeetha had mentioned that quite a few Tamil serials are shot in Srirangam, especially in the old houses that surround the temple. When we were walking back to the hotel, we saw a power-van and the tell tale signs of a shooting in progress...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015.jpg


The scene was an autorickshaw driving up to one of the houses and an old man & his daughter (in law?) step out of it and head inside the house.

The 'old man' was being played by Sudhakar, who has acted in quite a few Telugu & Tamil films in the 80s & 90s.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-016.jpg


While chatting with a priest at the Srirangam temple, he mentioned that in terms of size, the Anantasayi statue (Vishnu reclining on Seshanaga) in Thirumayam is much bigger than Srirangam, and is the second largest in India after the statue in Tiruvananthapuram. He also mentioned that Thirumayam was along the route to Rameshwaram.

Hmmm... Interesting! Fired up Google maps and checked to see the exact location of Thirumayam and we added it into our plans.

Started from Srirangam and bypassed Trichy and headed towards Thirumayam & then onto Rameshwaram.

The rockfort as seen from the bypass road...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-017.jpg


Somewhere along the way I saw this sign-board.
"Looks interesting, why not go check it out?"
"Ok."

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-018.jpg


Took the diversion and drove slowly to see if any other boards could guide us to this 'Pre-historic' site. We even enquired with a couple of folks we encountered on the way and nobody seemed to have any clue about this board or the site.

After driving down that road for a couple of Kms, we felt that this would probably be a futile exercise, decided to turn back and returned to the main road.

"Maybe the 'pre-historic' site is still under construction" Sangeetha quipped

Soon we were close to Thirumayam and the fort with the cannon placed at its topmost point looked very fascinating...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-019.jpg


We took the road that leads up to the temple and headed up.
"Looks like someone threw away perfectly good cannon... should we load it into the car and take it home?"
"Shut up and drive..."

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-020.jpg


The temple was almost deserted when we reached there. Walked in and the priest opened up the sanctum for us. This was originally a cave temple which has been developed into a full-fledged structure. The reclining Vishnu statue is around 16 feet in length and very majestic.

After darshan, we headed out and walked through the temple. You can see some intricately carved pillars (including the now common 'musical pillars')...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-021.jpg


Though this looks like a free-standing statue, it is actually been carved out of the same rock as the rest of the pillar behind it. A coating of oil gives it the black color. One unique aspect of the statues in this temple is that unlike the stylized carvings in other places, the artists of this temple were more realistic in their portrayal of the benefactors. You can even see the overhanging paunch in this statue...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-022.jpg


When Sangeetha asked the priest about the 'Sthalapuranam' of the place, he was quite hard of hearing and could not understand her question... instead this person who was standing next to us pitched in and started speaking about the temple, its history etc.

He spoke with a lot of passion and conviction about how the folks who carved these temples had to have superhuman qualities to be able to visualize and 'liberate' such incredible works of art from within the hard rock.

He made us follow him around the temple and showed us some statues and explained how difficult it must have been to achieve the level of detailing. (Some of the statues have musculature and even veins carved into the details. A couple of statues even have toe-nails that have slightly overgrown the toes and there is a minute gap under them!)

He had a very pleasant voice & modulation and though I could only follow bits and pieces of his speech (he was speaking in Tamil) I was just standing there listening to him. Sangeetha would pause occasionally to translate the conversation when she felt I was a little lost. He must have spoken for almost 25 to 30 minutes!

I was expecting that he was perhaps a 'guide' and would ask for money towards the end of the conversation. Finally Sangeetha asked him about his occupation... and he mentioned that he is a stone-mason who undertakes construction work. He asked us to hurry up and go to the nearby Shiva temple before it closed...

It was only later that I regretted not having recorded the conversation as a video clip and not having asked for his name...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-023.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-024.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-025.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-026.jpg


After visiting the other temple, we decided to continue towards Rameshwaram. But could not resist one more look at the Vishnu statue... promising ourselves that we would just take a quick peek, we went back into the temple.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-027.jpg


One more darshan and we were walking out when the priest mentioned that 'prasadam' would be served shortly and asked us to wait.

The 'Prasadam' was very liberal servings of sweet pongal and khara pongal...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-028.jpg


It was a little past lunch time and we were indeed quite hungry. There was enough prasadam for everyone to have a second round and that was a very satisfying lunch!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-029.jpg


We walked out of the temple and tried to find the person who had spoken to us earlier, no luck. Started the Xing and headed back towards the highway...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-030.jpg


Contd...
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Old 17th October 2009, 14:21   #81
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Lightbulb 27th Sep 09- Srirangam, Thirumayam, Kanadukathan & Rameshwaram. (Contd)

Sometime later during the drive we came across this board. Having been through the 'case of the missing pre-historic site' earlier that day, we contemplated whether we should go take a look at this place.

Ok fine! Let us just go see what a heritage town is all about. It is not every other day that we drive this way.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-031.jpg


And we are glad we decided to take the turn... instead of a quick look, we ended up spending around 4 hours in Kanadukathan! First of all, it is a small town with neatly laid out streets and HUGE! Mansions all around, dating back to the late 1800s and the early 1900s.

This place is one of the home-towns of the Chettiars (of the Chettinadu fame).

One of the biggest mansions is called 'the Palace' and is the ancestral home of Mr.M. A. M. Ramaswamy, an Industrialist and one of the most famous names in Indian horse racing.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-032.jpg


Every road, every turn... you'll find palatial houses.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-033.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-034.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-039.jpg


One such house has been converted into a palace-hotel of sorts, catering mainly to visitors from US & Europe. We walked into the mansion and wandered around wondering at the extravagance...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-035.jpg


Elaborate wood-work ceilings, huge rooms with intricate stone worked floors, courtyards within the houses...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-036.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-037.jpg


We spoke to the owner of the house who graciously allowed us to not only walk around his house, but also arranged for us to see a couple of other houses in the area...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-038.jpg


A few pics from inside the other houses we saw...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-040.jpg


Belgian mirrors...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-041.jpg


Solid wooden pillars...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-042.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-043.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-044.jpg


Huge rooms...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-045.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-047.jpg


Wooden ceilings...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-046.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-049.jpg


Antique furniture...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-048.jpg


Tiled ceilings...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-050.jpg


A courtyard in the living area...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-051.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-053.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-056.jpg


A courtyard for the kitchen area!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-054.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-055.jpg


This was a dining hall! Notice that there are mirrors next to the doors ? A guest could just lean back and stretch out his / her hand, the serving staff would see the indication through the mirrors and walk up to the guest...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-057.jpg


Contd...
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Old 17th October 2009, 14:38   #82
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Lightbulb 27th Sep 09- Srirangam, Thirumayam, Kanadukathan & Rameshwaram. (Contd)

We drove around the town for a while wondering at how life would have been when the town was in full bloom.

Sadly 80 - 90% of the houses are now in a state of disrepair, with the younger generations having moved on into the cities and only servants / caretakers now living in most of the mansions. There are apparently over 150+ significant mansions in the town and the surrounding areas...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-058.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-059.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-060.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-061.jpg

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'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-065.jpg

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'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-067.jpg


We were running behind schedule due to the detours we had taken. Reached the highway and I mentioned to Sangeetha "Next stop Rameshwaram". But I spoke a little too soon; it had started to rain heavily and after about an hour's drive, we found the road was blocked by a fallen tree.

Slushy fields on both sides and the nearest diversion was too far away, so everyone was just waiting for the tree to be cleared. An earth-mover had been summoned from a nearby village and would take some time to arrive.

Leaned back, opened a pack of chips and took a break for a while. A JCB arrived and made short work of the fallen tree and cleared up the highway again. We had been stuck for around 30 minutes...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-068.jpg


From there on it was a non-stop drive all the way to Rameshwaram...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-069.jpg


It was already around 8.00pm when we crossed the Pamban Bridge and entered Rameshwaram; found a hotel close to the temple and checked in. Had dinner in a small restaurant nearby and called it a day!
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Old 17th October 2009, 15:32   #83
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Hotstuff, intresting posts, nice photos of the heritage houses, this reminds me of my in laws place where everything was huge and the carving on the wooden pillars were really intricate. I still do have memories of the same. The building was given to some Dutch missionary in Tranquebar. Any way keep posting, i am sure you would be going one step ahead and would be reporting on with detailed photos of Danushkodi
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Old 17th October 2009, 18:14   #84
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Lightbulb 28th Sep 09- Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi & Kanyakumari.

Rameshwaram is actually an island, connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Dhanushkodi is on the other tip of the island.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-001.jpg


Went into the Rameshwaram temple by around 6.30am...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-001a.jpg


There are 22 wells / ponds inside the temple complex. The water from each of these wells apparently has a different taste and pilgrims will take bath or taste the waters from each of these wells.

There will be 'guides' walking around in the temple with buckets and long ropes, for a fee they will quickly walk you around to all these wells and pour a bucket of water on your head...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-003.jpg


Rameshwaram is also a temple of corridors. The passages around the temple run for a length of over 1200 meters in total...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-002.jpg


The paths that lead to all the wells can be easily identified, it will be perennially wet with all the dripping pilgrims rushing around from well to well...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-004.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-005.jpg


This is the longest un-interrupted passage in the temple, running to a length of 230 meters...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-007.jpg


In the queue we somehow got pushed into a Marwari group who had taken up some special pooja; and we were made to sit in front of the sanctum for quite a while till the abhishekas were completed, so it was a very good darshan.

Next, we decided to head to Dhanushkodi, which is at the tip of the Rameshwaram Island from where the 'Ram Setu' or Adam's bridge starts.

Dhanushkodi was a thriving town till December 1964; when a 20ft tidal wave driven by a cyclone crashed through the place and destroyed almost all the buildings; also carrying away a train loaded with 115 passengers, all of whom were drowned.

We had to drive through a narrow strip of land with sea on the both sides, which progressively gets narrower and narrower...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-008.jpg


After a while you can see sand / beach on both sides of the road...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-009.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-010.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-012.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-013.jpg


After a couple of more kilometers, the road ends in a small village...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-011.jpg


From the village you will have to go to Dhanushkodi in four wheel drive Mahindra vans. It is a 20 to 25 minute drive through the sands, till you reach the final tip of land...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-014.jpg


For 50 rupees per head, you get a wild ride through the sands; with options of sitting inside, hanging on to the outsides or clambering up to the top!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015.jpg


We came across ruins of what was once the thriving town of Dhanushkodi...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-016.jpg


In some places the sand bar is reduced to just a narrow strip with sea on both the sides...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-017.jpg


Reached the tip at last...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-018.jpg


A pilgrimage to Varanasi is considered to be incomplete till you visit Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi, so you'll see lots of visitors from up north performing poojas on the beaches here...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-019.jpg


Say cheese...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-020.jpg


From here, you can see that the sea is quite shallow and there is a series of sand-bars and islands that reach out all the way to Srilanka...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-021.jpg


Wet black sand, getting covered by the white dry sand blown across by the wind...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-022.jpg


A boat to nowhere...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-024.jpg


On the way back the van guy stops between the ruins of Dhanushkodi for a short while. This was once part of the railway station...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-025.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-026.jpg


There a number of buildings strewn around, slowly being swallowed up by the sands...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-027.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-029.jpg


Remains of a church...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-030.jpg


After this we drove back to Rameshwaram, we had a couple of more places to see, post which we planned to have lunch, return to the hotel to freshen up and wash the car; and proceed towards our next destination.

First stop was the 'Ramarpadam', a temple at the highest point of the island, where the foot-prints of Rama are carved into the stone. The Ramarpadam temple offers an all round view of the island.

The Rameshwaram temple as seen from Ramarpadam...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-031.jpg


Next stop was the Panchamukhi hanuman temple, famous for the 'floating stones'. As I had expected, this is a tourist trap... the 'floating stones' are actually blocks of coral, which will float since they are porous.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-032.jpg


Contd...

Last edited by Dippy : 20th October 2009 at 09:21.
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Old 17th October 2009, 18:20   #85
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Wow amazing log. Keep the photos coming!!!
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Old 17th October 2009, 18:49   #86
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Lightbulb 28th Sep 09- Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi & Kanyakumari. (Contd.)

Came back to the hotel post lunch, washed the car, had a refreshing bath and moved on.

We had driven over the Pamban Bridge the previous night, now we stopped there to take a look.

Wikipedia says "The Pamban Bridge on the Palk Strait connects Rameshwaram to mainland India. It refers to both the road bridge and the cantilever railway bridge, though primarily it means the latter. It was India's first sea bridge. It is the second longest sea bridge in India (after Bandra-Worli Sea Link) at a length of about 2.3 km.

From the elevated two-lane road bridge, adjoining islands and the parallel rail bridge below can be viewed.

The railway bridge is 6,776 ft (2,065 m) and was opened for traffic in 1914. The railroad bridge is a still-functioning double-leaf bascule bridge section that can be raised to let ships pass under the bridge."

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-034.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-036.jpg


The bridge is a regular tourist spot where travelers stop for a few minutes to admire the view...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-037.jpg


Fishing boats from the nearby coastal village...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-033.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-035.jpg


We drove on from there, towards our next destination - Kanyakumari.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-039.jpg


Stopped at a bunk to fill-up and saw this contraption, probably quite a common sight in many parts of India. But each one will be unique!
From what I could see, this one was:
- powered by a Bajaj engine (with the kick start intact.),
- Engine is mated to the rear wheels through a chain-drive,
- front wheel assembly from a Rajdoot bike,
- head-light and handle from a TVS moped,
- rear-wheels from some ancient mini-truck or pick-up,
- The load-bed is mounted on 6 heavy duty shock absorber units, probably from a jeep or van.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-040.jpg


After a couple of hours we started seeing un-ending rows of salt pans.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-041.jpg


"We must be close to some port or coastal town" I said.
"Yup, we are close to Tuticorin" - Sangeetha said, looking up from the map.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-042.jpg


Soon enough we came across large container yards...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-043.jpg


Next on, we reached Tirunelveli, planning to drive through and reach Kanyakumari for dinner.

"You know, Tirunelveli is famous for Tirunelveli halwa"
"Yes I know..."
"I feel like eating Tirunelveli halwa"
"Ok, we should come across a shop selling it along the way, will stop and buy"

But as luck would have it, I did not find any sweet shop along the route we took and soon we were near the outskirts of the city.

"Oh, we did not find any shops on the way no..."
"We'll pass through this place on our way back; I will buy you halwa tomorrow."
"Ok, but I feel like eating halwa now...but it is ok, so what if I feel like eating halwa, it is ok, let us drive on..."
"Tauba tera halwa, tauba tera pyar, tera emotional atyachar..."

So we turned back, hunted down a sweet shop selling the gooey halwa, bought around 250 grams of the stuff and tracked our way back to the road to Kanyakumari.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-044.jpg

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Reached Kanyakumari and stopped to ask for directions to the Vivekananda rock etc. (Most of the places to see in Kanyakumari are within walkable distance from there.) Immediately we were pounced upon by touts trying to give us 'sea-facing, beach side rooms' One guy was so insistent that he kept following us on his moped for quite some distance.

First task was to have dinner, which we did in a hotel 'Saravana bhavan' very close to the main temple. Then we drove around slowly to check into a hotel.

After enquiring in a couple of places, we figured out the going rate for rooms that night. On a whim, we stopped at a Hotel Sun World. To keep the story short, the guy showed us a rate card for Rs.3200/- for an AC room for the night, so we decided to walk away and check into one of the smaller hotels where the rate was around 900/-, the guy started offering some discounts. Sangeetha bargained that our budget was around 1000/-... and when we reached an impasse, we finally walked out.

We were about to get into the car when the guy called us back and agreed to Rs.1100/-, with a 12.00 noon check out the next day. Which suited us fine. [Considering that it was 10.30pm and on a week-day, the room would have been vacant anyways...]

The guy mentioned that Sunrise would be at around 6.00am, there is also a gallery on top of the hotel from where you can catch the sunrise, else you can walk to the beach, which is a good 20 minute walk. We decided to head to the beach.

Checked in, set the alarm for 5.00am, watched news for a few minutes and zzzz...zzzz....

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Old 18th October 2009, 00:12   #87
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Lightbulb 29th Sep 2009- Kanyakumari, Suchindram, Padmanabhapuram.

Not wanting to miss the sunrise, we had set the alarm to 4.15am; planning to be on the beach by 5.30am at least.

The beach (Sunrise point), Vivekananda memorial, Kanyakumari temple, Triveni Sangam, Gandhi mantap etc. all are clustered within a couple of hundred meters from each other; and very close to the hotel too...

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Reached the beach at around 5.40am and there were already quite a few people crowding all the vantage points...

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We noticed that the jetty wasn't crowded and briskly walked towards the end of the jetty...

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Sunrise had already commenced, but due to the low clouds on the horizon, we still could not see the sun. But the scenery was spectacular. That's the Vivekananda rock memorial and the 133 ft Thiruvalluvar Statue...

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So many colors and shades...

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The Sun quietly slipped through the clouds and it was way past Sunrise time...

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We headed towards the temple and finished darshan. Next on we decided to see all other places within walkable distance, before taking the ferry to the rock memorial.

Swami Vivekananda was surely a brave man to have swum through these waters to reach the Sripada rock (On which the memorial was built)...

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The Gandhi mandapam...

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Sea shells on sale...

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After a 30 minute wait in the queue, we finally boarded the ferry to reach the Vivekananda rock memorial. This structure was built in 1970 on the rock where Vivekananda meditated in December 1892 and attained enlightenment...

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The ferry took us to the Thiruvalluvar statue next...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-013.jpg


We came back to the hotel, packed up and checked out by around 11.30am...

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Next on our list was Suchindram, which is around 11 kms from Kanyakumari.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015.jpg


Wikipedia : "The temple is an architectural marvel known for its quality of workmanship in stone. The musical pillars carved out of single stone and which stands at 18 feet is an architectural delight. There are 7 musical pillars in the Alangara Mandapam each cut out of single rock, which emit the sounds of various musical instruments when struck. There are 1035 pillars with carvings in the dancing hall.

The Anjaneya or Hanuman statue stands at 22 feet or 3 m and is carved of a single granite block and is one of the tallest statues in India. It is of great historical interest that this statue was buried in the temple, fearing an attack by Tippu Sultan and was, subsequently, forgotten.

The religious significance of the temple stem, from the fact that the main statue of linga represent Siva (Sthanu), Vishnu (maal) and Brahma (Ayan).The representation of the three central gods of Hinduism in one Linga makes it one of the unique temple in India."

Of all the things in the temple, the Hanuman statue alone is enough to justify the drive to this place.

* No cameras allowed into the temple.


Even the gopuram of the temple has entire epics depicted on it...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-016.jpg

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From Suchindram, we headed towards Padmanabhapuram, which is famous for its wooden palace. Drove past this picturesque church along the way...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-018.jpg


Wikipedia: "The palace was constructed around 1601 A.D by Iravipillai Iravivarma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 A.D. and 1609 A.D.

In the late 18th century, the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Thiruvananthapuram, and the place lost its former glory. However, the palace complex continues to be the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hall mark of traditional Kerala style building art."

A curious thing about the palace is that though the palace is in the State of Tamil Nadu, it is a part of Kerala! I.e. the land and the Palace belong to the Government of Kerala.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-050.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-049.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-019.jpg


An ingenious hanging lamp that could be turned in the direction where you needed light...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-020.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-021.jpg


The 'Mantrasala' - King's court Chamber...

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A dining hall where around 2000 people were fed every day...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-023.jpg


The older sections of the palace are currently being repaired...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-024.jpg


Wooden pillars, each carved from a single jack fruit tree...

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Huge pickle jars...

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Narrow balconies on the first floor...

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The King's bed, which was made from 64 different types of wood with medicinal qualities...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-028.jpg



Contd...
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Old 18th October 2009, 00:23   #88
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Lightbulb 29th Sep 09- Kanyakumari, Suchindram, Padmanabhapuram. (Contd.)

More pics from within the palace...

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The hall which served as the office space for the administrative staff...

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A balcony that overlooks the adjacent street. Seated here, the king could provide an audience to the people below and also watch races and other cultural activities...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-034.jpg


A painting showing the coronation of King Marthanda Varma...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-035.jpg


Floors which have still retained the fine finishing...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-036.jpg

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"The Nataksala or the hall or performance has solid granite pillars and gleaming black floor. There is a wooden enclosure, with peepholes, where the women of the royal household used to sit and watch the performance." - The openings near the ceiling are the peep holes.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-042.jpg

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Some pics from the museum within the palace complex...

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'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-046.jpg


A punishment cage...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-047.jpg


Some curios in the shops outside...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-051.jpg


It was late evening by the time we came out of the palace. Had some nariyal pani and started our drive to Madurai. We drove back to Nagercoil and got onto NH7...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-052.jpg


We reached Madurai by around 10.00pm and the area where the Meenakshi temple is located is a super mess. One ways, blocked roads, trucks & tempos parked all over. (The traders in that area load and unload stocks at this time of the night.)

We spent almost an hour trying to find the temple and then trying to find our way out of the area. Finally we extricated ourselves from the mess and accomplished two things… found a restaurant to have dinner and found a decent hotel nearby with safe parking.

Good night!

Last edited by hotstuff : 18th October 2009 at 00:24.
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Old 18th October 2009, 00:36   #89
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Brilliant brilliant travelogue! Loving it!

So, what is your name? Ashwin or Sanjay?
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Old 18th October 2009, 12:24   #90
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@Majic;
@sabsubs;
@Nikhilb2008;

Thanks a lot. Hope you enjoyed reading this log as much as I did writing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikhilb2008 View Post
... So, what is your name? Ashwin or Sanjay?
Which reminds me of this joke I had read:

" Bond meets an Andhra Guy .

Bond: My name is Bond..( pause with smile).. James Bond. wats your name.

Andhra guy: I am Naidu….( pause with smile)… Venkata Naidu…(pause with smile).. Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu..( pause with smile).. Srinivasulu Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu…(pause with smile)… Rajasekara Srinivasulu Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu..( pause with smile).. Sitarama Rajasekara Srinivasulu Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu..(pause with smile).. Bommirajulu Sitarama Rajasekara Srinivasulu Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu…(pause with smile)..Ketharanya Bommirajulu Sitarama Rajasekara Srinivasulu Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu..( pause with smile) badam Ketharanya Bommirajulu Sitarama Rajasekara Srinivasulu Lakshmi naryana Venkata Naidu…"
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