"He who does not travel does not know the value of men"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kanyakumari to Pondicherry—A drive through the Coromandel Coast.

 A drive along the coastal side is always refreshing. This time we had in fact a long and continuous drive which made us feel more adventurous than refreshing. Although our initial plan was to move from Trivandrum to pondicherry via NH 7, for a different kind of experience we decided to go through the coromandel coast from Kanyakumari, which is the southern most end of the Indian mainland. We four (myself, Nazar, Tarun and Sasi) reached Kanyakumari at 8.30PM as we were a little late to start from Trivandrum. Due to the heavy traffic it took almost 3 hrs to reach Kanyakuamri. We had arranged room in Kerala House, Kanyakumari. We had our usual chit chat till late night at the beach side enjoying the heavy cool breeze.

Early in the morning although we tried to peep through our windows for the sunrise, it was missing due to dark clouds. We started at 6.30AM for the Coromandel Coast drive. We had with us the map as a guide. Our first break point was Vattakkottai which opens at 9AM only. The fort is under ASI now. Somehow we managed to roam inside the fort with the help of the guards there. The view from the top of the fort towards the seashore is stunning. Evening is the ideal time to visit this place. If the sky is clear sky we can easily see the meeting place of 3 oceans(the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) in Kanyakumari from the top of the Fort.

At 10AM we reached Thrichendur which is a famous Murugan temple near the seashore. The temple was jam-packed and so was the beach. The Sun was at its peak and we didn’t bother to wait for long there.  Although the coastal road is in good condition there are two things which should be taken care of while driving through this route. One is the sudden entry of vehicles from side roads as the main road is narrow and other is the presence of goats in the main road. They appear from nowhere and will surely cause trouble.  
Our next destination was Tuticorin which is a port. A little diversion from the city took us to the Port area and we spent about half an hour there.

During lunch time we reached Ramanathapuram. This is the only place which is a little away from the coastal area, and the passage for Rameshwaram. From there it was a long drive till 6PM to reach the holy destination Velankanni. We enjoyed the serene and divine atmosphere there.

After that we drove via Nagapattanam, Kararikkal and Chidambaram and reached Pondicherry at 12 Midnight.(total of 683Km from KK to Pondi). While approaching Pondicherry from Chidambaram the roads are not that much good, which made us take somewhat more time than we anticipated. We settled in a hotel near the Pondi bus stand.

As our intention was not to go for sightseeing, we had a small drive to the places of interest in Pondicherry such as main beach, French settlement side, Vinayaka Temple, Aurabindo Ashram and some old churches .

 After lunch we returned via Chidambaram, kumbakonam swamimalai and reached Tanjavur at 7.30PM. This part of the Tamil Nadu is known for some of the best temples in India

The next day early in the morning, with the help of the tourist information officer we had a detailed description of the beautiful Tanjavur temple which is a must see spot. Of course it is one of the UNESCO listed World Heritage Site in India. It is an architectural marvel. As the temple is under ASI there is less importance there for poojas in temple. The Tanjavur Museum is also a worth seeing place with a collection of antiques used from 10th century onwards

We moved from Tanjavur at 12 Noon via Trichy, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, Trivandrum (550KM).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Thoovalmala is a hilltop inside the reserve forest area enroute Achankoil from Shenkottai side. The accessibility to Achankoil which is in Kerala region is smooth via Shenkottai in Tamil Nadu. The place is famous for the Ayyappa Temple and the temple itself is inside the Reserve Forest Area.

 A quick plan was made for a one day trip and the end result was to go to Thoovalmalai. We had to take permission from Forest authorities for a trek to this hilltop. We started early from Trivandrum, after having breakfast and packed food for the rest of the day from Aryankavu. At about 9.30AM we reached Thoovalmala.

A two hour trek from the Kottavasal Forest check post is required to reach Thoovalmala. Top of the hill is beautiful grassland with heavy wind all around. As we were all free birds with nothing in our hand except the food, which is all covered, we didn’t bother of the drizzles. One of us tried to open the umbrella but ended up with bringing it back in two pieces. Such powerful was the wind. When the rain subsided, we moved to our vehicle and filled our tummy with the food we had.

Kumbhavurutty waterfall is only 8KM from the Kottavasal Check Post. As the waterfall can be reached in 5 mts walk from the main road, lot of tourists with family enjoy the place. As it was quite rush out there we didn’t enjoy the shower.

We knew that Achankoil- Alimukku route is in poor condition, but rather decided to take chance by coming through this route in which we succeeded. Although it took 2 hrs to cover a distance of 45KM, we enjoyed the drive through this side.