Posts Tagged ‘ Tamilnadu ’

Backpacking trip – Day 3 – Kutralam

Me @ Old Kutralam falls

Me at Old Kutralam falls

MK at Old Kutralam falls

MK at Old Kutralam falls

To reach our next destination, Kutralam, we had to travel for nearly half a day. So we got up early, got ready and boarded a bus to Madurai. It was a 4 hour long journey. At Madurai, we boarded another bus to Kutralam. From what we saw online, we found that Kutralam is pretty near to Madurai. But the buses that go to Kutralam travel a much longer route. So instead of 2 hours, we ended up travelling for nearly 6 hours. We reached Kutralam at around 4:00 PM and decided to first visit the old Kutralam falls since the transport options to that place were less. After a quick visit, we went the main attraction – The Five falls. We had a refreshing bath and to top it up, had some hot chill bajjis. A local vendor who wanted to sell us some dry fruits started talking to MK. He offered to sell something he called as “Neogara”, which according to him was the local Viagra. In his words “if you use this sir, yours will work like a bullet!”… we just couldn’t control our laughter. That guy was pretty serious in marketting his wares! After sharing some more lighter moments, we took a auto to Tenkasi. One of MK’s friends had suggested that we buy some Thirunalveli halwa at Tenkasi. It is a sweet delicacy that is made of ghee and jaggery. We were planning to have it as our dinner on our way to Trivandrum.

After buying the halwa we boarded a KSRTC (Kerala State… not Karnataka State!) bus to Trivandrum. The bus was a pretty old Ashok Leyland bus. All the way the bus was shaking crazily, more violently than a wet dog. Given the tiring day we had, we slept for almost the entire trip even with lots of its parts rattling!

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Backpacking trip – Day 2 – Rameswaram

After a great start to our backpacking trip, our next destination in the list was Rameswaram. When we enquired at Pomdicherry, we were told that the best way to get to Rameswaram is to go to Tanjore and take a bus from there to Rameswaram. The estimated time of travel was around 10 hours. Since there were no direct buses to Tanjore at that time, we were told that the alternate option was to go to Kumbakonam and take a direct bus to Rameswaram. After checking out the bus schedules we had to board a bus to Chidambaram first, and then take a bus to Kubmbakonam. With no seats available, we had to travel standing for almost 2 hours. After reaching Chidambaram, we took a bus to Kumbakonam which took another couple of hours. When we reached Kumbakonam we found that we had just missed the last bus to Rameswaram. The only option was now to go to Tanjore to board a bus to Rameswaram. Overall this added some 5 more hours to our travel. Having no other option, we boarded the bus to Tanjore and then took the bus to Rameswaram. We had left at around 4 in the evening and by the time we reached our destination, it was 7:30 in the morning. We had travelled for more than 15 hours.

Nagarajan, the autorickshaw guy

Nagarajan, the auto guy

Railway line next to Pamban bridge

Railway line next to Pamban bridge

Compared to Pondicherry, Rameswaram was a tad bit better in terms of local transport. We hired an auto and asked him to take us to some affordable hotel. He took us to a place called “Alankar lodge” which was decent enough for it’s price. The auto guy gave us his phone number and asked us to call him in case we needed any local transport later. After the long bus journey, we decided to have a quick nap before freshening up. We woke up at around 8:30, had a quick brush and bath and decided to go for the 22 well snanam that the temple offered. Being a weekday we expected the crowd to be less. To our surprise there was a huge crowd, mostly old couples from north India who were on a piligrimage. We had to wade our way through to get to each well. We finished up with it fast, had a darshan of the diety and came back to our room.

Me waiting for 4x4 vehicle to take us to the tip

Me waiting for 4x4 vehicle to take us to the tip

MK on top of the 4x4 vehicle

MK on top of the 4x4 vehicle

After changing clothes, we headed to our next big destination, Dhanuskodi. Dhanuskodi is supposed to be the place from where Lord Ram had shot his first arrow to Srilanka. We took a local transport to the navy outpost from where we had to take a 4×4 vehicle that would take us to the tip of Dhanuskodi. Last time when I visited, it took some 30 minutes to reack there. But this time the cab driver took us to a half way point and told us that this is all he could drive to since it was not possible to drive further. It was February when I visited last time and I was surprised with how they could change the itenerary so soon. After some heated debate with the driver we decided that come what may, we are not going to return without visiting the tip of Dhanuskodi. We paid the driver and told others in the group that we are walking from there. After a brief walk when we turned back, we found that the group too was following us. When we enquired they said that they too wanted to visit the tip and th edriver was debating against driving them to that place. Seeing that the group was with us now, I explained them how it as when I visited in February. Given this information, the group decided that until and unless they are not taken till the tip they are not going to pay the driver. Seeing this the driver had to agree or loose some 2000 bucks. At that moment I realized how will and determination can change everything. It reminded me of what Mahatma Gandhi had done during our fight for independence. While I had heard lots of analysis about why Gandhi’s approach was so powerful I had never grasped the complete idea of non-cooperation. I must say, at that moment I did feel a bit like Gandhi. 🙂 After reaching the tip of Dhanuskodi, we spent some time admiring the serenity, calmness and the peaceful atmosphere. We returned to the navy outpost after an hour or so and took a auto back to Rameswaram.

Road taking us to the tip

Road taking us to the tip

Old Dhanuskodi town... devasted during 60s storm

Old Dhanuskodi town

The tip

The tip

A old boat pushed ashore

A old boat pushed ashore

The Saadhus at Rameswaram

The Saadhus at Rameswaram

By the time we reached the lodge, we were completely exhausted and decided to have another nap. Some 2 hours later we got up and called the auto guy who had given us his number. He took us around Rameswaram. We visited a few places like Ramarpadam (Rama’s foot) and a lake where Sita had supposedly bathed when she was in Rameswaram. We happened to meet a few saadhus from north India at a Hanuman temple. We had a brief chat with them about their experiences and their suggestions for mortals like us. It was a pretty interesting conversation. According to them, mother is the only parent that one has to respect the most. They said that god is the father who provides the seed while mother is the one who carries the child in her womb for 9 months before it can be born. The mother feeds the baby by transforming her blood into milk. Hence all children must worship their mother as they worship god. Any harm done to the mother is as good as harming the gods. Even if the mother doesn’t take good enough care of the child the mere act of her carrying the baby for 9 months and feeding it and caring for it is good enough for her to be treated like god for the rest of her life. Being a pantheist, it was interesting to learn their point of view. After a few more discussions we came back to our lodge. We had dinner and slept early since we badly needed proper sleep.

We happened to meet a few saadhus from north India at a Hanuman temple. We had a brief chat with them about their experiences and their suggestions for mortals like us. It was a pretty interesting conversation. According to them, mother is the only parent that one has to respect the most. They said that god is the father who provides the seed while mother is the one who carries the child in her womb for 9 months before it can be born. The mother feeds the baby by transforming her blood into milk. Hence all children must worship their mother as they worship god. Any harm done to the mother is as good as harming the gods. Even if the mother doesn’t take good enough care of the child the mere act of her carrying the baby for 9 months and feeding it and caring for it is good enough for her to be treated like god for the rest of her life. Being a pantheist, it was interesting to learn their point of view. After a few more discussions we came back to our lodge. We had dinner and slept early since we badly needed proper sleep.