A different road trip to begin this year combining with visit to temples. From Bangalore the first halt was at Madurai. By the time I reached Madurai it was night fall. The route Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal – Karur – Dindugul – Madurai. A distance of 450kms on NH7 highway and a travel time of around 9hrs. The roads are good till Dharmapuri after that there are too many take diversions due to highway construction work which would take another year or so to get over. Dont miss the A2B at Chinnar for good food. The night stay was in Hotel Sree Devi. Pretty comfortable stay but not the best hotels. Its on the west side of the Meenakshi Temple. For food in Madurai check out kaiyendi bhavans (road side stalls), very cheap but good quality food.
Next day morning I visited the Meenakshi Temple. Renovation work was ongoing so wasnt able to click too many photos. The next visit was to Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, this palace was made famous by Maniratnam in his movies Bombay, Iruvar, Guru. The Mahal is also under renovation and would be complete in 2-3months time. After a visit to friends house I started of towards Tenkasi. You need to take the NH208 which goes till Kollam (Quilon). The route Madurai – Thirumangalam – Srivilliputur – Rajapalayam – Palayangudi – Idaikkal – Tenkasi. A total distance of around 180kms takes around 3.5hrs. The roads are good except when you come across towns. The highway on towns are the worst. It consumes more of travel time.
In Tenaksi, I joined my parents and with them travelled to Tirunelveli for visit to Nellaiappar Temple on the same evening. Its temple for Lord Shiva. Its pretty huge temple and was renovated few years back by Sivanthi Adithan. Tirunelveli is also famous for Alwa (Halwa) and no other city has matched to the taste from this place.
The next day we visit Lord Muruga temple in Ayikudy, 6kms from Tenkasi and a subsequent visit to Sankaran Kovil, 56kms from Tirunelveli. If you ever visit those areas, dont come without visiting AmarSeva sangam. For more details on this organization, click here. Its run by Mr. Ramakrishnan who was completely crippled below the waist after an accident when attending interview for Naval Officers selection. The sangam was established in year 1981 and has won lot of awards for his efforts.
The following day was also a visit to Lord Muruga temple in Tiruchendur. On return to Tenkasi after temple visit, I started on my journey to Rameshwaram. The route Tenkasi – Tirunelveli – Kaitar – Kadambur – Eppoduvaruvan – Arupukottai – Paramakudi – Ramanathapuram – Rameshwaram. The distance is less than 300kms but took a travel time of 8hrs. The other route which I had planned originally could not happen due to very bad roads. Luckily the road from Paramkudi to Rameshwaram was without much potholes that I was able to cover the last 105kms in less than 2hrs.
Stayed at Karthick lodge, which was very decent and well maintained. Dont miss out road side stall opposite Venkatesh lodge and Praksh Hotel. The food is of good quality and cheap.
Next day was as usual visit to temple of Lord Shiva. This is very famous temple all over India and people visit this temple before visiting Kaashi. To know more, click here. This temple has 1212 pillars.
About 2kms from this temple is Ramar Padam (Lord Rama’s feet), Gandamadana Parvatham. Its also the highest point in the island. Till the tower of Doordharshan was erected.
This ended my trips to temples. There are few more nearby with historical significance but I got tired at this point and did not want to visit any more temples.
I walked 2kms back to Lord Shiva temple and took a bus towards Dhanushkodi. This is place that borders India and SriLanka. Also the entry point for SriLankan’s refugees for so many years now. Currently there is lot of policing and Navy helicopter keeps circling around at regular intervals.
The bus goes only till certain point, to reach the tip point one can either walk or get into the vans that ply. The vans charge you around Rs.50/- for the 8kms stretch one way and 8kms back. Deciding not to part with so much money and use for better purpose I walked down. I was joined by a construction worker. we had an interesting conversation which would be a different post altogether. This is avery tough walk, with humidity, sun above. But if you can walk, then do so. Its an experience.
The last day of the trip, no matter what I wanted to reach Bangalore without halting anywhere. Started early in the morning, clicked few photos from Pamban bridge. This is the longest sea bridge in India of about 2.3kms. The route Rameshwaram – Ramanathapuram – Paramkudi – Madurai – Dindugul – Karur – Namakkal – Salem – Dharmapuri – Krishnagiri – Hosur – Bangalore. A distance of around 630kms, took me more than 14hrs. The excess time due to heavy truck traffic and buses. Also the stretch till Madurai is pretty bad. Then you need to cut across Madurai town and enter into NH7. And too many take diversions till you reach Dharmapuri.
Temples sound boring, but the architecture of these temple will stun anyone. Every bit of construction has been thought over and has lot of significance.
For photos of the trip, click here.