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Old 5th November 2023, 10:37   #1
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My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Prologue



Picture this: The setting sun painting the sky with a fiery palette as it goes down in a blaze of glory into the Arabian Sea. Then, the next day, imagine the golden morning sun punching through the inky darkness of the night sky as it emerges out of the Bay of Bengal. Once again imagine, standing at the very edge of the sub-continent and watching the sun perform its double act, with your feet in the only sands in the country blessed to witness both. That, my friends, is the TLDR version of our 1500 km journey along India's southern coastline. That, and ludicrous amounts of some of the best sea food we've ever had!

I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to darklord, --gKrish--, and Moderator Jaggu for their invaluable insights. A big shoutout to our travel guru, malllumowgli, who always knows the best spots to crash and the hidden gems to explore, making our journey that much smoother. Special mention to our dear friend Neethu, who identifies either as a proud Parassala resident or a devoted Kochikaari, depending on the day's vibe. Last but not the least DicKy, the relentless advocate for vegetarian grub, who, despite my loud protests, insisted on stuffing my itinerary with veggie options! Dear DicKy, let me repay the favor. If you ever find yourself in the northern part of our state, looking for vegetarian options, please don't bother ringing me up because, well, there aren't any! And yes, porotta and fish curry is a perfectly acceptable breakfast combo here in the north!



Route Map

Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram had been on our travel bucket list for quite a while, but the plans never materialized. In fact, they were a last-minute addition to our existing itinerary. Initially, we were supposed to travel to Changanassery for some personal matters and had even booked train tickets. However, the plans changed suddenly, and we had to make our way to Attingal, Trivandrum instead. Consequently, we opted to drive our Rapid all the way from Coimbatore, with a stop in Ernakulam. The following days coincided with the Puja holidays. While organizing our return journey to Coimbatore, we spontaneously decided to extend the trip by a few more days, covering both these places. Thus, within the span of an hour, Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram transformed from languishing in limbo in our bucket list to becoming our next travel destinations! Assisted by fellow BHPians, we quickly crafted an itinerary and managed to get hotel reservations.

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Locations

The entire trip came about because we had to travel to Trivandrum for some personal errands, making it the focal point of our journey. Due to our limited time, we explored a few popular places in the district including the following:

1. Perumathura Beach
2. Mangrove Village
3. Jatayu Earth Center
4. Varkala Cliff
5. Ponmudi Hills
6. Padmanabhapuram Palace

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In Kanyakumari, we visited the following places:

1. Gandhi Mandapam
2. Other view points along the beach road
3. Sunrise point
4. Vivekananda Rock Memorial
5. Vattakottai Fort

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In Rameshwaram, we visited the following places:

1. House of Kalam
2. Arichal Munai / Dhanushkodi

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Ride

Our Rapid remained our faithful steed, accompanying us on this journey. Her heavy clutch did pose some challenges along the narrow, congested 'highways' of Kerala, but once in Tamil Nadu, she relished munching miles along the brilliant TN highways.

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Stay

We stayed at the following places during our trip.

1. Hotel Savithri, Attingal

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2. KTDC Golden Peak, Ponmudi

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3. Nirvaan Homestay, Varkala

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4. Hotel Tri Sea, Kanyakumari

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5. Wyt Hotel, Rameshwaram

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Food

Of course, the central theme of all our trips has been, and always will be, food. Over the course of our journey, we indulged in a wide variety of cuisines, ranging from local seafood to Arabian, European, and even American. Whether dining in a fancy hotel or at a roadside stall with questionable hygiene, from beach sunset dinners to beach sunrise breakfasts, our adventure was as much about sightseeing as it was about savouring delicious dishes!

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P.S.: Adding this mega collage here because our friendly moderator, graaja, threatened to kick me off the forum if I didn't share sufficient food pics.

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 17th November 2023 at 16:38.
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Old 17th November 2023, 17:20   #2
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Trivandrum



Trivandrum is the southernmost district of Kerala and happens to be its capital city. It is one of the largest cities in Kerala and a treasure trove of places to see and explore. Despite its attractions, we've only visited a couple of times before. Why? Trivandrum is approximately 450 kms from our home-town, making it a day's journey to get there. It takes more than 13 hours to cover the distance via the laughable 'highways' we have here. In comparison, the 500-km stretch from Coimbatore to Chennai can be easily covered in around 9 hours! Interestingly, it was the first time in my life that I encountered a language barrier within Kerala! Somewhere near Parassala, we stopped by the roadside to ask for directions. The person could barely understand my Malayalam! I had to switch to a more neutral Ernakulam/central Kerala slang/ dialect to communicate with him!

Trivandrum holds historical significance as the erstwhile capital of the Travancore Kingdom. Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple was a central religious and patronage focal point for the Travancore royal family. Despite the cessation of the monarchy in 1949, the Travancore House, the former royal residence, remains a cultural landmark. The Travancore Kingdom, established by Maharaja Marthanda Varma in 1729. One of Marthanda Varma's notable military achievements occurred at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. In this decisive battle, Travancore forces, led by Marthanda Varma, defeated the Dutch East India Company, marking a significant victory.

We were in Trivandrum for about 4 days and managed to squeeze in a few spots between our personal errands.




Perumathura Beach

Perumathura Beach is a small beach located near Attingal, situated at the junction between the Arabian Sea and the Vamanapuram River. Perhaps not as popular as other beaches in the district, it was nearly empty when we arrived. We had hoped to reach in time for the sunset, but the narrow roads were quite congested, and we ended up catching a glimpse of the sunset on the way.

The beach is right next to the Perumathura bridge, and we were able to drive all the way down, stopping just before the sands started. There appeared to be some construction underway, possibly for a fishing harbour. We spent some time exploring the beach and relaxing after a taxing day, enjoying the cool evening sea breeze. We stayed at the beach until it got really dark, after which we made our way back to the Rapid.


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Mangrove Village Adventures

This is a kayaking and water adventures provider located a few kilometers from Chathannoor. They offer a wide variety of packages for different water sports. We opted for the morning 2-hour kayak ride, starting at 7 am.

Here's an interesting trivia: the river we were kayaking on was the Ithikkara River. The famous outlaw Ithikkara Pakki hailed from around here. Known for robbing the rich and giving to the poor, he was a South Indian Robin Hood. Ithikkara Pakki was a close friend of the legendary outlaw Kayamkulam Kochunni. The duo lived during the British rule when the Travancore kingdom was merely a puppet state of the colonial powers, mistreating the lower class terribly.

Upon arrival, we learned that we were the only ones registered for the morning session, so we had the entire place to ourselves! After a brief but thorough session on how to paddle and navigate a kayak, along with safety instructions and some basic kayak balancing trials on land, we were finally launched into the river.

Once on the water, we were immediately struck by the serene silence of the area. While there are a few adventure providers nearby, being a working day meant we had the whole area to ourselves. Our instructor doubled as our guide, navigating in a solo kayak ahead of us as we paddled in a two-seater kayak. After some initial struggle with coordination, we eventually managed to synchronize our rowing patterns. The initial stretch of our ride was downstream, and with a strong current, we had a lot of fun paddling along the river. Soon, we found ourselves surrounded by thick mangrove forests, and our guide expertly navigated us through some narrow sections.

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Our guide took us through some really narrow but beautiful (and occasionally scary) sections. What really amused us was that he knew the exact spot to stop and what angle to pose to get that 'perfect' Instagram shot! He was very enthusiastically guiding us and making us pose holding hands, Korean heart symbols, transition poses, and whatnot. It speaks volumes about the real purpose of why people travel! It's really sad that people nowadays are more concerned about the perfect pose and shot than actually enjoying the travel and appreciating the scenery. We had to inform him multiple times that neither of us were into social media, and we barely have an Instagram profile!

After 2+ hours of exploring the mangrove forests, it was finally time to return to base. We had explored some open stretches of water, narrow 'trails,' run aground on some shallow areas, gotten our paddles stuck in the mud, cramped up from shoulders to abs to calves, and even encountered some prickly bushes. It was around 9:30 am by now, and the energy bars we had in the morning had long since burned away. We were exhausted and happily made our way back to the jetty when we encountered the toughest section yet.

Remember, I had mentioned the strong current that helped us paddle? Well, now we had to paddle the last 100m upstream against the current. This was without a doubt the toughest part of the ride. The current was so strong that even stopping for a few seconds would have us drifting backward! Paddling at full strength, we were barely moving forward. Exhausted, famished, and sore all over, we were all but ready to give up. But our guide paddled right next to us and spoke the magic words that re-energized us: "There's a fantastic restaurant nearby!" Those few words sent us into overdrive, and we paddled like we had never paddled before! He kept our spirits up by naming the delicious dishes that were available there.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally reached the jetty. Soaking wet and drained, we collapsed onto some nearby benches to catch our breath. They offered us some water, which we gratefully accepted. A bottle of Pepsi from a shop nearby gave us enough of a boost to make it to the Rapid and drive over to the restaurant.


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Jatayu Earth's Center

Jatayu Earth's Center is located in Chadayamangalam, in the Kollam district. The center is named after Jatayu, the eagle from the Ramayanam. This can be confusing because in school, we were taught that Jatayu is the king of vultures. There is also a theory suggesting that Jatayu and his brother Sampati were warriors who had an eagle/vulture as their emblem/crest. Anyways, the highlight of the center is the huge 21m tall eagle statue at the top of the hill, which is the largest bird sculpture in India.

From the center entrance, you can either take a cable car to the top or walk and climb all the way. There's ample parking space available near the entrance. Just as we arrived here, I immediately noticed some changes since my last visit around 4 years ago. The upkeep has definitely gone down. Plants were overgrown, there's some trash strewn about in the parking area, and the ticket purchase process is a bit of a mess. Tickets have to be purchased in a two-step process, with around 40% payable at the entrance in cash only, and the rest of the amount to be paid at a counter inside, which can be paid digitally (perhaps some kind of tax workaround). Earlier, we were given a wristband that we could swipe at the entrance to the cable car, and the entire facility felt like an airport. Now, it's just another tourist spot. We were made to wait in multiple lines at multiple spots, and nothing felt seamless. Also, even though it wasn't very crowded, they were cramming as many people as they could into the cable cars, making it a very uncomfortable ride to the top.

At the top, we spent time walking around the magnificent structure, taking in the scenic beauty of the green hills. The statue is incredibly well-made, with great attention to detail the feathers and claws look very realistic! Ample staff were on hand to manage the crowd, which was necessary as people kept trying to climb onto the sculpture for photos. After exploring all around, we made our way back to the cable car terminal, where thankfully, we got a car all to ourselves on the way down.


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Varkala - Helipad, Cliff and Beach


Varkala is a unique blend of cliff and beach. We had encountered the terms "cliff" and "beach" used interchangeably in various descriptions of the place, and it wasn't until we set foot here that we fully grasped the concept. There's a tall cliff overlooking the Arabian Sea, featuring a helipad at the center and beaches on either side, along with a small beach at the base. The helipad serves as a parking lot for visitors.

Two paths lead from the helipad down to the beaches, both lined with homestays, hotels, stalls, shops, tattoo parlors, cafes, and assorted stores, creating a bargain hunter's paradise. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk along these paths, taking in the sights of fancy stores, beautiful homestays, catching the aroma of food and coffee, all while witnessing the sun setting into the Arabian Sea in a fiery display of colors!

Varkala Cliff appeared to be the most "happening" area, teeming with homestays and hostels, offering numerous options for backpackers. The vicinity is a host for many late-night party cafes and serves as an unofficial hub for the Bob Marley/Snoop Dogg fans (cough cough*). Given that neither of us was interested in anything too "happening," we opted for a homestay a bit away from the cliff.

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We walked down to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset. The beach was bustling with activity, including a group of "influencers." We literally saw a couple set up a ring light and repeat the same pose/dance step over and over for well over an hour, all to capture that perfect 30-second reel video! Sheesh! Enjoy the sunset like a normal human being!

We sat down on the cool black sands for a long time, well past sunset until it started to get really dark. Did you notice anything strange about the sands? They're black! These are the famous black sands of Varkala, due to the presence of Thorium oxide. We would have stayed there longer, but it started to drizzle, forcing us to make our way back up the cliff. Soon, the drizzle turned into an all-out storm, downpour, thunder, and all! Lightning and thunder on a beach with Thor-ium sands? What a Marvel-ous evening indeed!

We had dinner from one of the cafes on the cliff. Excellent food while watching the lightning light up the Arabian Sea! Easily one of the best dinners we ever had!


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Bonus pic: While taking a stroll around the helipad the next day, we spotted a driving school vehicle teaching beginners. What a perfect location to learn driving! There's already a huge 'H' printed on the ground to practice! Plus, it's at the very edge of the cliff, so if you're that bad, Darwin and Newton will ensure you won't drive again!

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Bonus Pic 2: While running some personal errands around Attingal, we spotted this house. Older Malayalam movie fans would be able to identify this house without zooming into the picture. This house belonged to Abdul Khader, also called Nithyaharitha Nayakan or Evergreen Hero, the Malayalam movie legend Prem Nazir.

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Old 19th November 2023, 15:57   #3
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Ponmudi Hills


Ponmudi, a hill station in the Western Ghats outside Trivandrum, is a pleasant 2-hour drive with winding roads adding to the charm. The hills are blanketed in thick fog, creating a surreal experience for exploration. Walking around, there's a watchtower on top of a hill and a tourist center nearby selling honey, spices, and a canteen.

The place is efficiently managed by forest department staff, with ample parking nearby. We discovered that Ponmudi had been closed for the past two weeks due to heavy rains and had only reopened the previous day. Looking at the hills, it made perfect sense the slopes are sharp, and rain can make the rocks very slippery. This also explained why almost all the shops and hotels on the way were closed, as most of their customers would be tourists heading to Ponmudi. Finding a hotel for lunch or even a small tea stall for snacks proved to be quite challenging.

We arrived around noon when the sun was still intense, making us cut short our plans for exploration, and then returned to our nearby hotel, KTDC Golden Peak.

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After a bit of rest, we returned to the peak. The harsh sun had been completely replaced by a cool, soothing, almost mystical blanket of mist. It was completely foggy by now, and we seemed to have stepped into a completely different landscape! Visibility was limited to just a few meters, and the atmosphere was filled with the sounds of disembodied voices. Climbing our way up to the watchtower, even though the entry to the top was barricaded, the view from the base was just as awesome! It was quite eerie standing at the edge, with almost no visibility. By the time we were planning to make our way down, the fog had thickened, and the path was almost completely hidden.


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Halfway down, we stopped to catch our breath. The parking area was completely hidden by now. We tried to spot the Rapid from here; surprisingly, the remote had sufficient range, and we were able to see the indicators lighting up when we pressed the lock/unlock button.

The entry to the peak closes by 5 PM, and the forest officials were asking people to leave. As the parking area emptied, we too left, and the only vehicle to remain was the last KSRTC bus for the day.

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Early the next morning, we went for a stroll around the hotel compound, and we were treated to a sight of the morning sun emerging from the mountains, painting the sky in golden hues.


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Padmanabhapuram Palace
Padmanabhapuram Palace is a historical edifice of the Travancore kingdom, located in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu but managed by the Kerala government. The original palace, constructed around 1601 CE by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal, was later rebuilt by King Marthanda Varma around 1750. The palace features a main structure with the king's council room, various official rooms, a performance/dance hall, and a well-maintained clock tower that has been ticking for over 200 years!

Inside the courtyard, there are counters for depositing footwear and purchasing tickets. The grounds are well-maintained, though the palace interiors could benefit from better upkeep and illumination. We spent over an hour exploring the seemingly endless rooms and buildings, each dedicated to different purposes, including meeting rooms, dining halls, and more.

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The lamps come to life once again, this time with a high-res screenshot of a flame!

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♫...Oru murai vanthu Parthaya.. the Natakasala or the performance hall, immortalized by the legendary performance of actress Shobhana in the movie Manichitrathazhu. The dance sequence was shot here. The movie, especially Shobhana's dance, is seared into the brains of every single Malayali alive. A person does not get to be called a Malayali unless he has memorized the movie. That's the law.

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PS: I just watched the dance again for the millionth time. And once again after adding this PS here!

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 22nd November 2023 at 07:17.
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Old 20th November 2023, 23:15   #4
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Kanyakumari


Kanyakumari, or Cape Comorin as it was known earlier, is the southernmost city in mainland India. It is named after the goddess Kanya Devi and is considered the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. The section of the sea here is also referred to as the Laccadive or Lakshadweep Sea. It's the only place in mainland India where one can watch both the sunrise and sunset on the same beach!

We arrived in the afternoon, checked into the hotel, and headed straight to the beach road. The queue for the ferry was beyond humongous, so we decided to try our luck the next day. The beach road runs parallel to the coastline and has several points of interest. We leisurely walked along the road, popping in and out of some of these.


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♫...Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari... Finally, after 4 years, we were able to get our Kashmir to Kanyakumari pic! Woohoo! It was a wonderful feeling indeed, to have touched both the snow from the Himalayas, as well as waters from the Indian Ocean! My wife has collected sand/soil from both these places and will be making a Sand Collection Bottle!

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Gandhi Mandapam


The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, or Gandhi Mandapam, is located on the beach road, just by the sea. It was built in 1965 in honour of the father of our nation. Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were split into 12 urns, and one of them was placed here in 1948 before being immersed in the sea. The mandapam is built around the spot where the urn was placed. The notable feature of the mandapam is a round hole in the ceiling, which is placed and angled in such a way that sunlight only enters on the 2nd of October and falls directly onto the spot where the urn was placed! Brilliant engineering! The rest of the mandapam contains various pictures from different points of his illustrious life.

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There were plenty of shops, stalls, and roadside vendors along the beach selling all manner of trinkets. After some bargaining, we bought a couple of beautiful seashells as souvenirs. A bit further along the road is a watchtower by the sea. As we made our way to the top, we were greeted by a spectacular 360 view of India's southernmost tip! It was very windy at the top, and along with the loud sound of waves crashing into the rocks, it made for a very memorable experience! We stood at the top and watched as the sun went down into the sea, and the dying light flickered out. The town had lit up by now, and that was a beautiful sight as well.

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Sunrise Point

We woke up early the next morning to catch the sunrise. The sunrise point was a short walk from our hotel. As we hit the road, it was already quite crowded, and the sunrise spot even more so! A massive turnout to witness the majesty of sunrise, only to be disappointed by the thick clouds obscuring the horizon. We could only catch a glimpse of the sun well after it had risen. What a letdown.


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Vivekananda Rock Memorial

The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is located on a rock about half a kilometre from the coast. Built in 1970, it honours Swami Vivekananda, who is said to have meditated for 3 days and 3 nights on the rock to achieve enlightenment. It is also believed to be the spot where Goddess Kanyakumari performed tapasam. The journey to the memorial is a short boat ride, and tickets can be purchased from the nearby jetty.

After a disappointing sunrise, we went to the beach road for breakfast, and upon our return around 7:30 AM, the queue for boating had reached mythical proportions, snaking all the way to the main road. There is a separate queue for "special" tickets, which cost more (₹300 compared to ₹80 for a normal ticket). This queue was of semi-mythical proportions only, and so we joined here. After about an hour of waiting, we finally boarded the boats,which seemed to be questionably maintained, with several floor sections rusted through. The life jackets were only a very stinky prop for photos.

Upon landing on the rocks, there is a counter to purchase tickets to visit the memorial. We spent time walking around the memorial on the rock, enjoying both the beautifully built mandapams and the view of the sea all around.

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The sun calendar, located on the east side, displays the location of sunrise for every week of the year.

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The Thiruvalluvar Statue is a 41m tall statue of the Tamil poet Valluvar, author of Thirukural. Built in 2000, it is located on a rock adjacent to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. To get to the statue, a separate ticket has to be purchased from the rock memorial. Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance, and we could only see it from a distance.

The return trip back to the mainland was much scarier. The wind had picked up by now, and the waves were stronger. The boat swayed and bobbed all over the place, immediately causing nausea. What was worse, we had to wait for 15+ minutes for the jetty to clear, as another boat was there picking up passengers. The swaying and the backward movements nearly had us regurgitate our breakfast. Finally, we made it to solid land and heaved a sigh of relief!

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Vattakottai Fort


Vattakottai Fort, also known as the Circular Fort, was constructed as a coastal fortification during the Travancore kingdom in the 18th century. It received further fortification by Dutch Naval officer Eustachius De Lannoy, who joined the army of Marthanda Varma after the Travancore army defeated the Dutch in the Battle of Colachel. Subsequently, a significant portion of the fortifications was demolished by the British.

We reached the fort after a short drive from Kanyakumari town. The place was beautifully maintained, offering us an enjoyable stroll through the central grounds. The wide walls provided a spectacular view of the coastline, with rows of windmills visible in the distance.


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Old 22nd November 2023, 23:05   #5
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Rameshwaram


Rameshwaram, part of the Ramanathapuram district, is located on Pamban Island, only about 40 km from Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. Rameshwaram, named after Lord Raman, is the place where Raman is believed to have built the Ram Setu all the way to Lanka. It is also the spot where Raman, Lakshmanan, and Sita prayed and built a lingam to absolve themselves of any sins committed during the war.

Rameshwaram is the birthplace of the legend, the Missile Man of India, the People's President, APJ Abdul Kalam. A recipient of the Bharat Ratna, he was buried in his hometown with full state honors.




Pamban Bridge

Rameshwaram is connected to mainland India by the famous Pamban railway bridge, India's first sea bridge. The 2 km long bridge was conceptualized by the British for trade with British Ceylon and was opened in 1915. It was rebuilt after being damaged in the 1964 cyclone. The railway line originally terminated at Dhanushkodi, but that section was abandoned after the cyclone, when the Pamban Dhanushkodi train was swept away by the storm. I believe all railway traffic on the Pamban bridge was stopped a few months ago due to structural damage to the bridge. A new modern bridge is being built right beside it, but we couldn't see any active work going on. Rameshwaram is also part of the Char Dham Pilgrimage.

We reached Rameshwaram around 3 PM. It was quite crowded due to the holiday season. The town roads are quite narrow and easily clogged up due to the huge volume of traffic. Our hotel was close to the railway station, and it took us some time to wade through the congested roads.


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House of Kalam

This is the childhood home of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, located near the Rameshwaram railway station on a narrow Mosque Road within walking distance from our hotel. The well-maintained house serves as a wonderland for admirers, including my wife. The first floor showcases his books, awards, achievements, and photos from earlier days. My wife, an avid admirer, could have spent hours here, immersed in his writings and quotes. The top floor functions as a souvenir shop run by his family members. Initially taken aback, we later realized that it serves as a means of income for his family, who continue to face financial difficulties.

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An entire wall devoted to his doctorates! What an achievement! I was pleasantly surprised to find one from my own Alma mater.

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Adjacent to the home, we found a quaint shop selling souvenirs, trinkets and copies of his books, managed by his nephew.

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Dhanushkodi


Dhanushkodi is the eastern tip of Rameshwaram, the end point of which is called Arichal Munai, and is about 20 km from Rameshwaram. Dhanushkodi is currently a ghost town, having been completely destroyed in the 1964 cyclone, and is now uninhabitable. The remains of the destroyed town can be seen by the road, with only a few small eateries and souvenir stalls open. Dhanushkodi is connected to Rameshwaram by a very well-maintained two-lane road, the entry to which is controlled by a police check-post.

The check-post opens at 6 AM in the morning. By the time we arrived at 5:35 AM, there were already several vehicles in front of us. Perhaps due to the huge crowd, they opened 10 minutes before time. As soon as the barricades were moved aside, it was a free-for-all to reach Arichal Munai. For a few minutes, we really felt like we were in a racing game, with the way people were weaving in and out to get ahead. The 1.6 TDi made sure we stayed well ahead and beyond the reach of the four-wheeled squids.

We thoroughly enjoyed the 20 km drive on the arrow-straight, super-smooth road! The wind blew sands onto the roads as we drove along. Some sections really made us feel as if we were driving through a desert! We reached Arichal Munai past sunrise, but due to the cloudy horizon, the golden morning sun was just making its presence felt. Once again, we stood in awe at the beautiful display of golden colors over the clear blue sea! This point is only about 30kms from Sri Lanka, and is regarded as the staring point of Ram Setu, the bridge constructed by Lord Raman with the aid of the Vanarans.

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On the way back, we stopped at the ruins of St. Anthony's Church. Looking at the remains, we couldn't help but marvel at the scale of destruction that had happened and could only imagine the plight of the people caught in the cyclone. We explored the area behind the church, where we spotted several similar smaller ruins. The buildings seemed to have been constructed with sea rock and we could see beautiful patterns on them.

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Last edited by GeneralJazz : 26th November 2023 at 21:57.
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Old 23rd November 2023, 10:17   #6
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Food, Chow, Grub, Munchies, Gastronomic delights etc..




Haripad

Hotel Aryaas

This was one of the only restaurants that was open early morning. The food was decent, and the restrooms were clean.

Cuisine: South Indian
Dishes we tried: Pooris and dosha
Rating: 7/10

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Trivandrum

Hotel Savithri, Attingal


The in-house restaurant of our hotel served good food but had terrible service.

Cuisine: South Indian, North Indian, Chinese
Dishes we tried: Chattichoru with chicken, fish, and beef
Rating: 6.5/10

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My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline-20231017_130156.jpg


Chillibees Cafe, Attingal

Excellent food, quick service, and cleanliness, but the space is cramped.

Cuisine: Fast food
Dishes we tried: Chicken and beef burgers, shakes
Rating: 8/10

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Hotel Kripa, Nedungolam

A small eatery located by the road. Brilliant food, especially seafood, and quick service. Average cleanliness.

Cuisine: Kerala style
Dishes we tried: Appams, Koonthal (Squid) roast, beef coconut fry, Karimeen (Pearlspot) fry
Rating: 8.5/10

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Vazhiyorakkada, Kilimanoor

Seafood lovers' paradise! Amazing food and very quick service. Can get quite crowded, and the main dining area is quite cramped and hot.

Cuisine: Kerala style, Seafood
Dishes we tried: Meals, Kappa (tapioca), Prawn roast, Koonthal (Squid) roast, Mathi (Sardine) fry
Rating: 9/10

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Abba Restaurant, Varkala

Situated on the Varkala cliff, we hadn't initially planned on dining here. We sought refuge from a sudden downpour and, upon taking a quick look at the menu, decided to give it a try—an excellent decision. The food was fantastic, the service was excellent, and the ambiance was phenomenal!

Cuisine: European
Dishes we tried: Lasagna, Pizza, Mocktails, Cheesecake, and hot chocolate
Rating: 9/10

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Nawab's Restaurant, Marthandam

Situated along the Trivandrum-Nagercovil highway just outside Marthandam, the restaurant offered delicious food, although the service was disappointingly slow. Moreover, there is no parking available.

Cuisine: Indian
Dishes we tried: Biryani, faloodas
Rating: 8/10

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Kanyakumari


Seashore Food Court, Beach Road

Beach-side food court with various outlets inside. To order, we needed to obtain a prepaid card from a separate counter and use it to make purchases at the different stalls. Quality and quantity depended on the outlet we ordered from.

Cuisine: Mixed
Dishes we tried: Grilled Chicken, dahi puri, milkshakes
Rating: 6.5/10

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Guna Hotel, Beach Road

Situated across from the Gandhi Mandapam. We visited this place after waking up early for the sunrise and finding limited options. The food was average, as expected from a typical roadside eatery.

Cuisine: South Indian
Dishes we tried: Doshas
Rating: 5/10

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Thirunelveli

Vaira Maaligai, Murugankurichi

A big thanks to Prashant for this suggestion. The restaurant was clean and orderly, offering fantastic food with quick service. The ambience was great, and there was ample parking space. It turned out to be one of the best meals we've had on our trip.

Cuisine: South Indian
Dishes we tried: Porotta and Mutton Curry, Nattukoli Chukka
Rating: 9/10

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Rameshwaram

Daiwik Hotel, Rameshwaram

Most hotels in Rameshwaram were beyond capacity due to the holidays, and the narrow streets were a nightmare to navigate. We found this one just outside of town. It's the in-house restaurant of Daiwik Hotels. Due to the huge holiday crowd, only a buffet was available. It's a vegetarian hotel, and most items available were quite tasty. Great ambiance and beautifully laid-out food.

Cuisine: Indian Vegetarian
Dishes we tried: Buffet
Rating: 7/10


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Unnamed Roadside Eatery, Dhanushkodi

Desperate for a quick bite, we reluctantly stopped here.I'm not questioning their hygiene, I'm denying its existence!

Cuisine: South Indian, Fish
Dish we tried: Idli
Rating: 3/10

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Madurai

Temple City, Ayyankottai

On the way back from Rameshwaram, we were looking forward to some awesome chow from the gastronomical hub that is Madurai. But a last-minute change in plans meant we had to skip Madurai entirely and made a pit stop here. The restaurant was just opening up after the puja holiday, and only a couple of items were ready. Clean, good service, tidy restrooms, but mediocre food.

Cuisine: South Indian Vegetarian
Dishes we tried: Meals
Rating: 6/10

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My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline-20231023_115735.jpg

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 26th November 2023 at 21:53.
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Old 24th November 2023, 09:23   #7
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Tiberium



Our trusty steed, the Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI, dutifully carried us through the trip, from twisty windy hill roads to the lands' end, from narrow congested city roads to magnificent highways, and from the west coast to the east. She helped us witness beautiful sunrises to glorious sunsets! She enjoyed the trip just as much as us, especially the Tamil Nadu leg of the journey!

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CONCLUSION




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Total Number of days: 7
Total Distance covered: 1580 km
Total Fuel consumed: 93L approx


So, that was a long time dream come true for the both of us. Warmed by sunset and sunrise hues and ocean blues; here we are looking forward unable to decide our next destination. But this was one cherished trip and an invaluable source of content. The many people we met and the places we saw are without a doubt the cornerstone of this trip just like before. Oh and the food, the glorious food and the comfort ridden drive!

This is GeneralJazz, signing off!

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 26th November 2023 at 22:10.
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Old 27th November 2023, 10:05   #8
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th November 2023, 18:11   #9
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

What a lovely travelogue. This route is def now in my travel list. Loved the bit about touching both Kashmir and Kanyakumari. Look forward to more such travel stories.
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Old 29th November 2023, 03:31   #10
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

I must say, your travelogue was a delight to read after a long winter day. The stunning photographs, coupled with vivid descriptions teleported me back to Trivandrum for a while.

Almost a decade ago, we did a weekend getaway to Padmanabhapuram Palace in our trusty Esteem. Even though it was my first visit, I felt a sense of familiarity with many corners of the palace, undoubtedly due to the countless times I had watched ‘Manichitrathazhu’.

The picture of your Rapid at Ponmudi brought back fond memories (5th picture in the last post). I had taken a similar shot of my Linea a few years ago at the same spot on my old Nokia phone. It is amazing and funny how that random electric post and tree remained etched in my mind for so long.

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Old 29th November 2023, 09:34   #11
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Travelogues are my favourite pieces on TBHP. I have read a few of them and skimmed through a lot more. I have to confess that this is among the top ones I have read wrt content, structure and coverage.

And definitely, this is the best written, linguistically, in all of the ones I have read. The language, diction and paragraphing is immaculate and your ability to keep from slipping into a typically Indian hyperbolic wordfest is remarkable. Thank you. Moreover, thanks for the Malayali spellings of Indian nouns

Happy trails.

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Old 29th November 2023, 12:44   #12
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

As usual an entertaining and exhaustive thread. Agree with @Pennant1970...your logs are easy and interesting to read at the same time. And the food photographs are tempting to make a trip to the coast soon

Great to see that Tri Sea lodge, Kanyakumari is still operating. This used to be the only hotel in Kanyakumari during my childhood days. The other options were only Kerala House and TN house where you needed 'connections' to get an accommodation. Am talking about times nearly 4 decades ago.

And an embarrassed thank you for your big mention of my tiny help

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Old 29th November 2023, 13:07   #13
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

A well written travelogue which will motivate each and everyone to visit all these places. The photos are too good and the food spread will make one salivate. Being from Trivandrum I could correlate each and every place. But surprisingly you left out a few places like Kovalam was it by design or by default. Hoping to read more travelogues from you.
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Old 2nd December 2023, 15:58   #14
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

Great write-up and glad to see that you two enjoyed the trip. Especially love the way you mentioned the Foods and the Steed in separate posts, many travelogues in the forum avoid mentioning them, rather forget to mention them.

Wish you visit again in the future, more for a proper city visit with Forts and Museum hopping thrown in, unlike now where you cleanly made a ring road bypassing the core areas of TVM and ending up in Tamil Nadu straight from Ponmudi.

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Originally Posted by GeneralJazz View Post
Interestingly, it was the first time in my life that I encountered a language barrier within Kerala! Somewhere near Parassala, we stopped by the roadside to ask for directions. The person could barely understand my Malayalam! I had to switch to a more neutral Ernakulam/central Kerala slang/ dialect to communicate with him!
I am guessing when Google chechi(elder sister) changed your route to the hill roads instead of Neyyattinkara route, you must have ended up in the border areas, where one side of the road is Kerala, and the other is Tamil Nadu.

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Originally Posted by GeneralJazz View Post
Last but not the least DicKy, the relentless advocate for vegetarian grub, who, despite my loud protests, insisted on stuffing my itinerary with veggie options! Dear DicKy, let me repay the favor. If you ever find yourself in the northern part of our state, looking for vegetarian options, please don't bother ringing me up because, well, there aren't any! And yes, porotta and fish curry is a perfectly acceptable breakfast combo here in the north!
C'mon!!! People are gonna think I am some sort of vegan activist.. Just wanted you to have a propah sadya. Anyway, in my defense I did suggest more non-veg joints than veg ones, though couldn't fit into the time/distance schedule. Talking of which, during your planning I really thought you wouldn't be able to fit Rameshwaram/Dhanushkodi in the schedule, since it appeared tight to me. Glad to see you made it. The writings and the pics, really want me to try out the Dhanushkodi road.

Poroota and mathi (sardine) curry (slightly threw up in my mouth RN)...for breakfast (barfed)

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Originally Posted by GeneralJazz View Post
we were looking forward to some awesome chow from the gastronomical hub that is Madurai. But a last-minute change in plans meant we had to skip Madurai entirely and made a pit stop here.
Same story here. Always wanted to try out the Madurai food scene, but since it is always on the way to somewhere else, would end up bypassing the city scared of the inner city traffic.
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Old 4th December 2023, 18:30   #15
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Re: My Travel Diary | Chasing the Southern Sun | A 1500-Km Journey Along India's Southern Coastline

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Originally Posted by click View Post
What a lovely travelogue. This route is def now in my travel list. Loved the bit about touching both Kashmir and Kanyakumari. Look forward to more such travel stories.
Thankyou click! Please do travel this route, preferably in December, as it can get unbearably hot in the summers.

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Originally Posted by --gKrish-- View Post
I must say, your travelogue was a delight to read after a long winter day. The stunning photographs, coupled with vivid descriptions teleported me back to Trivandrum for a while.
Thankyou so much for the kind words --gKrish-- ! Trivandrum deserves another visit, for the palaces, temples and museums. Will definitely bug you once again for suggestions!


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Originally Posted by Pennant1970 View Post
Travelogues are my favourite pieces on TBHP. I have read a few of them and skimmed through a lot more. I have to confess that this is among the top ones I have read wrt content, structure and coverage.

And definitely, this is the best written, linguistically, in all of the ones I have read. The language, diction and paragraphing is immaculate and your ability to keep from slipping into a typically Indian hyperbolic wordfest is remarkable. Thank you. Moreover, thanks for the Malayali spellings of Indian nouns

Happy trails.

Thank you so much for your kind words Pennant1970! I've been experimenting with different styles of travelogues, glad you liked this one!

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Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
As usual an entertaining and exhaustive thread. Agree with @Pennant1970...your logs are easy and interesting to read at the same time. And the food photographs are tempting to make a trip to the coast soon

Great to see that Tri Sea lodge, Kanyakumari is still operating. This used to be the only hotel in Kanyakumari during my childhood days. The other options were only Kerala House and TN house where you needed 'connections' to get an accommodation. Am talking about times nearly 4 decades ago.

And an embarrassed thank you for your big mention of my tiny help
Thank you so much Praveen ji! Tri Sea is indeed a landmark! When I last visited Kanyakumari as a child decades ago, we stayed at the very same place, with my grandparents! The view from the rooms, especially from the upper floors, is just unbeatable!

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Originally Posted by Kkumar View Post
A well written travelogue which will motivate each and everyone to visit all these places. The photos are too good and the food spread will make one salivate. Being from Trivandrum I could correlate each and every place. But surprisingly you left out a few places like Kovalam was it by design or by default. Hoping to read more travelogues from you.
Thank you so much Kkumar! We had to skip a few places due to paucity of time. We were really looking forward to visiting Boacaud, but that was closed for some reason, and the forest personnel weren't giving us any proper answers. Next time maybe!

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Originally Posted by DicKy View Post
Great write-up and glad to see that you two enjoyed the trip. Especially love the way you mentioned the Foods and the Steed in separate posts, many travelogues in the forum avoid mentioning them, rather forget to mention them.
Hehe! Fooding was as important to us as travelling. Basically travelling is just some sightseeing in between foodings!


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Wish you visit again in the future, more for a proper city visit with Forts and Museum hopping thrown in, unlike now where you cleanly made a ring road bypassing the core areas of TVM and ending up in Tamil Nadu straight from Ponmudi.
Most definitely! Trivandrum deserves another visit. Perhaps I could even try some veg options, provided you hold me at gunpoint!


Quote:
I am guessing when Google chechi(elder sister) changed your route to the hill roads instead of Neyyattinkara route, you must have ended up in the border areas, where one side of the road is Kerala, and the other is Tamil Nadu.
I guess so. We travelled through some really narrow sections before reaching the highway.


Quote:
C'mon!!! People are gonna think I am some sort of vegan activist.. Just wanted you to have a propah sadya. Anyway, in my defense I did suggest more non-veg joints than veg ones, though couldn't fit into the time/distance schedule. Talking of which, during your planning I really thought you wouldn't be able to fit Rameshwaram/Dhanushkodi in the schedule, since it appeared tight to me. Glad to see you made it. The writings and the pics, really want me to try out the Dhanushkodi road.
Ahem! A propah sadya without atleast fish is no sadya! Even our Onasadya has fish!

We managed to cut down our rest day and drove to Dhanushkodi. Else it would have been a separate 7 hour drive from Coimbatore, not that driving along the brilliant TN highways is not enjoyable! Please do visit the place, the sunrise drive to Arichal Munai was a completely different experience!

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Poroota and mathi (sardine) curry (slightly threw up in my mouth RN)...for breakfast (barfed)
Really?! What a sad sad life

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Same story here. Always wanted to try out the Madurai food scene, but since it is always on the way to somewhere else, would end up bypassing the city scared of the inner city traffic.
Planning a Madurai only trip, just for the food. But have to drop 10+ kgs to be able to come back with my current weight!
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