Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 4

 It was Sunday morning , and around 6:30 am . We freshened up and walked towards KanyaKumari Temple.
About Kanyakumari  temple:  It is said to be a 3000 year old temple and is dedicated to  Kumari Amman or the Virgin goddess (KanyaKumari). The temple is situated at the southern most tip (also known as Cape Comorin), which is also the confluence of the three great water bodies, the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. One has to enter the temple from the northern gate, since the eastern gate is opened only on a few occasions. Devi KanyaKumari is seen standing  as a charming young girl in her penance , with a  garland of roses in her right hand .There is a story behind why she remained a virgin goddess. The nose ring of Devi Kanyakumari  is believed to be set with rubies  and shines so brightly that it could be seen from far at night .As we look at the ring, it shines so brightly that it is not surprising to believe stories of ships being wrecked mistaking the radiance of the nose ring for light from the light house! No Photography is allowed inside the temple.
Kanyakumari temple
Other places of interest in KanyaKumari: Vivekanandapuram, Guhanadeeswara Temple, Baywatch, Wandering Monk, Murugan Kundram, etc.

We moved  towards our final destination, Madurai. The Madurai temple is also commonly known as " the mother of all Temples in India", while Madurai itself is known as the "Athens of the East". 
History of Madurai: Founded by Pandyan King Kulasekhara in the 6th century . Improved further till 14th century, during this time Malik Kafur invaded it . After 70 years of Muslim rule , The Pandyan re-established themselves and built many structures . Madurai Meenakshi temple dominates the old city . Located at the heart of the city , the temple is a superb example of Dravidian architecture and sculpture. It has for long been the greatest attraction for the tourists as well as one of the most important places of pilgrimage. The temple has two shrines, one dedicated to Shiva as Sundareshwara, and the other to his consort Meenakshi .There are no words to express the beauty and elegance of this temple. Grand, exotic,  an excellent piece of art and one great place to visit are few words I have. Photography is allowed  in the outer limits of the temple at a charge of Rs.50/-.
One of  those big Gopuras
Guess ?
Zodiac Signs on the ceiling

Official Photographer of TGS
As all good things come to an end (for the beginning of better ones of course!), this trip too ended, the only part remaining  was the long drive back to Bengaluru .We had about 450 kms to drive . It took us about 7 hours to reach Bangalore .
First of all, thanks to the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) and the GOI (government of India) for upgrading the NH . NH 7 was a pleasure to drive, since it was a 4 lane road  all along up to KanyaKumari.

It was a very comfortable journey . Our connection with Tamil Nadu has just begun . Hoping this only gets better over time and Tamil Nadu feels happier with the number of people visiting it keeps increasing .

Overall Travel Route: Bangalore-Salem-Dindigul-Madurai-Srivilliputtur-Tenkasi-Courtallam-Papanasanam -Kanyakumari-Suchindrum-Nagercoil-Mathur-Kanyakumari- Tirunelveli-Madurai-Salem-Bangalore

Total Kms- just over 1700 kms
Duration - 4 days
Date: April 29,30, May 1,2, 2010

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 3

Today, we had Kanya Kumari on our list.So, in the Cape, at last the feeling was very different . We have been craving to see this place since long. The only thing remaining in our mind was to get up early and catch the lovely sunrise . With all efforts, we woke up at 5:30 am and headed towards the beach to see the sunrise. Trust us , it was worth all the efforts we had taken to wake up early that morning!.
Wake up India

The early morning  view was worth more than the 700 kms drive that brought us here. It was a beautiful one and thousands of people had gathered to watch the sunrise, one of the things KanyaKumari is very famous for. After watching the sunrise, we went back for some rest and breakfast. Later, we wanted to visit the Vivekananda memorial which is situated amidst the beach .Since the queue for the ferry was very long,  we did not waste any time waiting and headed towards an old Dutch Port named Vattakottai, about 7 kms from KanyaKumari .

Entrance to the Fort 

Inside the Fort
From here, we drove towards Nagercoil . On our way ,we came to know about a very famous temple in Suchindrum . The main attractions here, are the renowned shrine dedicated to Lord Sthanu-Mal-Ayan (Shiva Vishnu Brahma) and a huge statue of Lord Hanuman depicting his Viswarupa Dharsan, given to Sita at the Asoka forest .This statue is 18 feet high. Lord Hanuman was as mighty as he always is! No photography is allowed inside the temple .
Imposing Gopuras

After visiting one more beautiful Kovil (Temple), we moved ahead, appreciating the skill  possessed by people of olden times and wondering how much  pain and effort was undergone in constructing such marvelous and mighty  structures those days, with little or no technology  and know how's . I doubt the possibility of re-creating structures like these or even closer to it, in a fast moving technological world with  new inventions happening every second and anything and everything being made available to man. What we lack majorly is probably the skill , patience and time, the people of olden times possessed. It was a pleasure seeing and feeling these places.

After reaching Nagercoil ,we decided not visit the temple and moved towards the Thirparappu falls . Its about 15 kms from Nagercoil and is located at the end of  the Western Ghats .The river Kodayar falls as Thirparappu.
The falls
As usual, the falls has a provision of bathing under it . There are facilities for boating in the backwaters.
From here, we headed to see the hanging bridge known as Mathur Aqueduct .
The Bridge and the walk way

There are many places nearby like Udayagiri Forts ,Padmanabhapuram Palace, and so on. These places were closed as it was 1st of May. We just got a glimpse of these places from outside.
Udayagiri Fort entrance
We went back to the lodge and the feeling of sadness sunk in ,as tomorrow, we had to head back to Bengaluru. We decided that we would  see the Kanyakumari Temple and head to Madurai , then to Bengaluru (720 kms drive).

Final part .To follow soon.

Overall drive : 170 kms 
To be capped ................

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 2

Direction to Tenkasi from Dindigul: Proceed on NH 7 till you reach Thirumangala ,continue on the bypass of Thirumangala on NH 7 till you get a crossing for NH 208, take  a right turn.Continue on NH208 till you reach Tenkasi . On the way, one will get Srivilliputtur .The primary landmark of Srivilliputtur is a11-tiered tower structure dedicated to the Lord of Srivilliputtur, known as Vatapatrasayee. The tower of this temple rises 192 feet high (64 meters) and is the official symbol of the Government of  Tamil Nadu.

View Larger Map

About Tenkasi : It is located at the foothills of  the Western Ghats.Tenkasi is also know as 'Varanasi of she South'. It is home to the very famous Courtallam Falls  and Shiva temple dedicated to Kasi Viswanathar. The temple tower was built by king Parakirama Pandian in 1456  and the temple tower ,originally was172 feet tall . It was damaged in 1924  and rebuilt to a height of 163 feet . It has beautiful sculptures and also houses musical stone pillars, that emit notes of different pitch when tapped with fingers. The entrance is really grand, with heavy steps and unique pillars . Photography is prohibited . 
The Sahyadris
Tenkasi travel guide
The Grand Entrance and heavy steps

Then we  headed  towards to the Courtallam falls . This was the second important place to visit  in our itinerary after the cape. This place is also known as 'The Spa of  the South '. It has many falls.
7 falls
On the way to falls, there is a ticket counter .The ticket collector advised is to go to another place, the Papanasam falls since Courtallam and its neighbors actually did not have any water falling!! But ,we insisted on going and checking it out anyway.
Mud puddling (common emigrants butterfly)
And so, there it was! Or may be wasn't!!  The best season  to visit most of the falls is during monsoon or just after it. In South India, it is any time between July and December. Since we had nothing much to see here,we followed the route to Papanasam. 

About Papanasam : It is a holy place situated on the western ghats of Pothigai hills, about 42 kms from Tirunelveli. The natural beauty of this place is enhanced by the Water falls due to the river Tamparani (Thamiraparani).This place is located inside the Mundanthurai  Sanctuary. River Tamparani cascades into two waterfalls namely, the Panatheertham and Agasthiyar falls. Agasthiyar Hill Karaiyar Dam (Thamiraparani Dam) is the dam built across the river Tamparani .
Not to miss: The Falls, dam with boating facilities  and  the wildlife sanctuary with great chances of sighting  a Nilgiri Langur.
Agasthiyar Falls

Stone inscriptions near the temple
Soothing and healthy drink (nice and natural way to beat the heat)
Nilgiri Langurs
View of Western Ghats
The Road
Back Waters, the Route to Pannatheertham
Initial view of the Panatheertham Falls 
The Boat Ride

Panatheertham falls
Magical Rains
Pirates of the Panatheertham
In and Around
Invariably, to our notice or may be it is so, all falls in Tamil Nadu have a provision for bathing under the falls. This place took away all the disappointment of Courtallam falls . We had the reward for our patience. Panatheertham was indeed magical to us. The boat ride across the river was the most beautiful experience. It started to drizzle mid way during the boat ride and the picture looked perfect. There was nothing more we could ask for. Here on, we decided to head towards the Cape to catch the sunset. But we were late and so missed it. Back to the lodge, we rested, had our dinner and slept early to catch the sunrise.

Day 2 : Total kms : 204 . 
To be capped ..........................................

Road trip to Kanyakumari from Bengaluru, 'To the CAPE' Part - 1

       This trip is the first trip of Team G Square in Tamil Nadu. Since  most of our journeys were around Bengaluru and in karnataka , we decided to go on a long journey this time given the number of days available for vacation.This made way for another  exciting chapter in the travel diary of our Team G Square, very rightfully named as " Enchanting Tamil Nadu " . The greatest attraction of Tamil Nadu lies in its magnificent temples, fine beaches , several hill stations, unspoilt forests , resorts and wildlife.  But for us, it felt like it was the land of Idlies and Dosas, Pongal and Sambar!
Mission : Drive to The Cape.

On a  Thursday morning , we had a very strange feeling of holidaying instead of  following the normal work  routine. Cruising along the NH7, watching the lovely countryside of Tamil Nadu, we crossed Hosur  and reached Krishnagiri Toll,  from where we could see the Krishnagiri Fort .

Suraj Chacha Jaage!
View of Bala Raya Konda Durgam
Krishnagiri Fort
From Krishnagiri, we took  the road towards Salem . We stopped for some delicious and colorful breakfast at A2B .

Very inviting Ghee Roast (Trust me it was yummy)
Continuing the journey ,we crossed Salem and further. proceeded towards Namakal. As we crossed the town of Salem, we found an eye catching place called Oothumalai.  We needed a break very badly  since we'd been driving all along  and hence thought of spending our little break quite wisely., of course by exploring this place. Believe us, it was worth the call made.
View of the Oothumalai Hill
About the place (Sthalapuranam)
Bird's eye view of Salem town
God or Demon?
Cave temple
     This place had lots of temples ,caves and statues of gods.The neighboring  hill had very strange look . It had a very mysterious looking cave temple. We tried to gather information of what was really there, but in vain.  Since language posed a problem  for us, we could do nothing much except to move on. The only piece of information we got  was from the  Sthalapuranam in the temple, luckily it was  put up in English. As the temperature  was soaring (around 40 degree C), and we were already walked a lot around Oothumalai Hill, we had little strength left to explore this cave. After resting for sometime, we moved  further towards our destiny,  'The CAPE '. We crossed Namakal and drove towards Madurai . About 60kms before  reaching Madurai , we found a place called  'Dindigul '. From the highway ,we were able to see a nice imposing fort on the small hill and wanted to check out this place for sure.

About Dindigul, Hill Fort : It is believed to be built by the Madurai Nayaks in 1605. Later, it was occupied by the Wodeyars ,then by Tippu Sultan and ended with  the  reign of British. Currently,  it is being maintained by the ASI . An entrance fee of Rs.5/- is charged for all Indian tourists. The Fort has a great history , according to our guide, Mr Karthe. The Fort has been maintained well, but its surroundings  looked like a dump yard, which was very disappointing .

Dindigul Fort in the background is Sirimalai Hills
The Outer wall
Yesteryear's Bazooka
View of Dindigul Town
Inside the Fort
Temple atop 
The Temple
View of Kodai Hills
After exploring Dindigul, we raced towards Madurai. Somehow, we decided to skip Madurai  for time being and headed towards Tenkashi . We checked in to a lodge and had  a nice nap.
Total Kilometers traveled 611.3 kms.
Total Driving time: 9 hours .

To be capped       .......................