Sunday, October 23, 2016

Road Trip to Maharashtra

Click for photos here if the word don't entertain you...

And, to track the tour: Click "Bangalore to Aurangabad" and "Aurangabad to Bangalore" here

Note: Follow the links throughout to read a bit about the place, mostly Wiki links

A trip to rejuvenate is always on the cards in October, when son has his holiday's. "Where to" is the only question and options are too many and not easy to finalise...

With son's holidays from 1st October to 12th, our plan was to take off for a week and make it 9/10 days. Let's drive was the unanimous decision and Maharashtra was finalised (Thanks Pranav for suggestions). Wanted some freedom with the destinations and nothing was booked. A look at the map and Ajanta/Ellora was the farthest we could see a known place and like the earlier trips, we decided to cover whatever we can on the way and be flexible with it...

One of the places on this trip was suggested by Vishruta taking inspiration from an Auto Magazine he was reading and it proved to be one of the best places we visited! Keep reading to know more...

Day 1 : 1st October 2016 : Bangalore - Davangere
Stay : Davangere, In-laws place
Distance Covered : 260 KMs
Total Distance : 260 KMs

We decided to take a short break on the first day after few hectic weeks because of Bandh/Saturday working..

Started around 7AM and with a breakfast stop near the house, it was a non-stop drive till Davangere except for a short fuel break in between. We were in Davangere by 11:30AM. The day was over without getting out of the house.

Day 2 : 2nd October 2016 : Davangere - Kolhapur (Via Belgaum) - Pandharpur
Stay : Aishwarya Hotel, Pandharpur
Distance Covered : 540 KMs
Total Distance : 800 KMs

Started at 6:30AM and off we were on a good highway. The roads are good till Kolhapur and we were near Kolhapur (300+ KMs) by 12 Noon. On the way, took a break on the outskirts of Belgaum to purchase the famous "Kunda", though not from Purohit's who are famous for that. 

Being the second day of Navratri and Sunday, Kolhapur was too crowded. Mahalakshmi temple here is one of very few in India having Lakshmi as a deity (other one I can think of is Goravanahalli near Tumkur). With the serpent line it looked almost impossible to get a Darshan on the same day:-). We had an option of "Mukh (Face) Darshan which will be a Darshan 20 feet away from the deity and went for it. It was little irritating to see mis management of crowd (as always). 

On normal days, there are touts who can get you inside quickly through back door for a fee. (No comments here, I will move forward).

Kolhapur is famous for "Kolhapuri's" which are sandals made from Buffalo skin. Did some shopping for that here.

Left Kolhapur around 4:30 and we decided to drive towards Pandharpur which is 175 KMs away to gain sometime and avoid the rush next day at temple. The roads are broken throughout and the pattern in this part of Maharastra continued for few more days, till we hit Ellora. Reached Pandharpur around 9PM and even the pattern of driving late in the evening continued for few more days to gain time.

This was one of the longest driving day in our trip. The hotel was decent enough.

Day 3 : 3rd October 2016 : Pandharpur - Solapur - Tuljapur - Beed
Stay: Yashraj Inn, Beed
Distance Covered : 260 KMs
Total Distance : 1060 KMs

The decision to drive paid off. We went for an early Darshan (6:30 AM) and finished it within an hour, though we had to go through a queue spanning multiple buildings. It was a brisk walk through the place. Also visited Kaikadi Maharaj Ashram which has statues depicting epics and is a nice place in this remote corner.

We started after breakfast and were in Solapur (75 KMs) by the lunch time. Solapur is famous for Bedsheets/Towels, Beedi and Sugarcane factories. The only major shopping on this tour was done here for Bedsheets/Towels. 

In Tuljapur (50KMs from Solapur) we were again for a quick shock as the police diverted us and made us park at the bottom of the hill. During Navarathri, this side of Maharashtra is abuzz with Tuljabhavani pandals. Again, group of touts asking for money to make a quick Darshan. 

Two gentlemen (supposed to be from Police Department at Mumbai) coming down from the temple told us to directly go to the temple as there was not much crowd. We took back our car, pleaded with police and were let go off near the temple which was around 1.5 KMs away. Near the temple, there were enough parking places available and we had our Darshan in 1.5 Hours. Near the deity, there were a group of policemen with their boss, who wanted to take Darshan and our family was allowed with them to go close to the deity. We left Tuljapur around 6PM.

Wanted to gain some time here and looking at the map said, Beed is the next big town at 130 KMs in the direction we were going....

The thrilling part of the drive were these 130 KMs as it started to get very dark around 6:30 and started raining. With the half broken roads which were being widened for our company it was a situation to question our decision of moving ahead. With no towns near by only option was to keep driving.

At around 7:30 PM, the situation became a little worse when we couldn't see the road in front perfectly, and it seemed to be hazy. After 2 minutes, it stuck to me we were driving in thick fog during that time of the day! This situation continued for next 30 minutes and I just drove behind a small truck (with a safe distance of course, taking the tail lamp as a clue) which was zipping through with confidence. 

Reached Beed at 10 PM and after searching for few hotels for cleanliness, settled for Yashraj Inn.

Total of 1000 KMs, yeah!!!

Day 4 : 4th October 2016 : Beed - Lonar - Ajanta
Stay :  New KP Park, Ajanta
Distance Covered : 360 KMs
Total Distance : 1420 KMs

The hidden place was to be uncovered today! Plan was to Visit Lonar and then stay at Aurangabad. Ellora is near to Aurangabad and Ajanta another 100 KMs to the north.

We started around 7/7:30 and breakfast was not in sight anywhere. We decided to move ahead and search on the way or just have fruits/biscuits and energy bars (oops, chocolates :-)). No luck throughout for a clean looking place and we filled our stomachs on fruits/vegetables and the like. The road goes through Jalna and roads are as pathetic as ever and at few places we could see the craters on road, which we were supposed to see at Lonar.

Lonar is the only place on earth with a Crater on Basalt rock and guess its the 5th largest lake created by a Meteor. They have a small road inside the lake circumference and we can drive in that road with few watch towers. It was a breathtaking lake and one of the best places I have visited! Vishruta got all the praise he deserved for telling about this...

The MTDC (Maharastra Tourism Dev Corp) hotel is on the rim of this lake and has a resort. We had our afternoon lunch here (remember we were empty stomach till now...) and this place had nice Phulka's and Dal. This was so nice, we packed for the evening/night from here as the hunger from morning was still fresh in mind.

About this point, wife suggested why we shouldn't go directly to Ajanta as both Aurangabad and Ajanta were same distance. This was a good suggestion as we will have to go to Ajanta and come back (100 KMs each side) if we stay in Aurangabad. A quick search on Trip Advisor and the like showed that there are options to stay in Ajanta. 

Left from Lonar at around 4PM and through again some patchy roads were in Ajanta at around 7 PM. 

At Ajanta, all hotels are named as Resorts and they are mostly small bungalow types converted to Hotels. Ajanta is a hilly/forest area and hence we had lot of insects around because of the rain. While the hotel was clean enough, the rain had created a havoc around the small town with black soil all around. The staff Ratnakar at the hotel was particularly helpful. When he saw the car with KA registration he was curious on where I am from. When I said I stay in Bangalore and native of Mangalore, he was lit up and said he worked in a Bunt's (a community from Mangalore) hotel at Aurangabad for 30 years. He is now a resident of Ajanta and settled there with family and some piece of land for agriculture.

Day 5 : 5th October 2016 : Ajanta - Daulatabad - Grishneshwar - Ellora
Stay : Vridhavan Resort, Ellora
Distance Covered : 150 KMs
Total Distance : 1570 KMs

Ajanta caves open at 9AM (Off on Monday) and this gave us sometime to have a little relaxed morning. The cave entrance was a kilometre from the hotel and from there we have to take a government bus to the caves which is 4 KMs. The buses start around 8:45 AM and we took one of the first buses. These caves were built during 2nd Century BC to 4th to 6th Century AD. These caves were deserted after probably 6th century and finally discovered by a British Officer hunting a tiger in 1819. (The place is 20 KMs by road and called Ajanta View Point)

I will not go over the history as Wiki link above would be a good place to look...

We took a tour guide for us at the caves. The guides are appointed by the government and the rates are a little steep at Rs. 1370 (compared to other places), but definitely worth as we will get to know all the stories of paintings and in a sequence. We were appointed a gentleman of 72 years as a guide who was from a neighbouring village and been in the guiding profession for 42 years after completing his MA (History) and 2 year guiding course. He takes only one client and goes back to his farm where he works with his son and daughter in law who are MSc and BSc in agriculture. 

The tour takes around 3 hours to complete and scintillating to look at the clarity of paintings which were done some 2000 years back. Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has done extremely good job to preserve these paintings by taking off the layers of dust/mud without touching the paintings. All the paintings we see are original and not done any touch up.

Checked out from the hotel after lunch (the hotel had a restaurant, if we can call it so but the food was good and simple) and started to Ellora. Plan was to stay at Ellora or Aurangabad (in case we can finish Ellora).

Reached Ellora at 4:45 PM and got to know the caves close at 6 PM and the time will not be sufficient. We had seen that Daulatabad (Remember Mohd-Bin-Tughlaq?) was on the way to Aurangabad and just 10 KM away. Went back to Daulatabad fort and started exploring the fort as we had another 1.5 hours before the close. This fort is massive and will need a good amount of walking to complete. The last part of the fort leading to the top palace with steps through a dark room (Bool Bulaiya) is the noteworthy feature of this cave.

Back to the parking place, start the car and the car feels strange....and its a flat tyre at 6:45 PM. The foot pump comes for the rescue and filled the car tyre with some air. A quick check with the locals and, we have the puncture shop in 200 metres. After a quick fix (it was a splinter of gravel pierced while driving through the under construction roads..) we directly went to Grishneshwara Temple (within Ellora village) which is one of the twelve Jyothirlinga's. The temple didn't have any queue and was done in 15 minutes. 

Searched for the hotel, which was another 500 metres from the hotel and it was the end of the day. 

Day 6 : 6th October 2016 : Ellora - Aurangabad - Shani Signapur - Shirdi
Stay : Hotel Sai Gurusthan, Shirdi
Distance Covered : 200 KMs
Total Distance : 1770 KMs

Ellora opens at 6 AM (Tuesday is a holiday) and we were ready there by 6:30 AM. Ellora caves are divided into Hindu/Jain and Buddhist caves, while Ajanta was primarily Buddhist caves. Again, better to read history in the link above :-). While Ajanta is famous for paintings, Ellora is famous for Sculpture. 

Hired a guide again at Ellora (same rates as Ajanta) and the gentleman here was with ASI for 35+ years as a guide. Cave 16, which is a temple cut-in from the rock is the major attraction (which is near the main road) and all other caves (except 1 to 16) need to be accessed again in State Bus. We were all done by around 11 AM.

The next stop was Aurangabad with Bibi ka Maqbara and Aurangabad Caves as destination. Bibi ka Maqbara is supposed to be a replica of Taj Mahal and if you have already seen Taj, just skip it. We finished the place in 5 minutes. Aurangabad also has 12 caves and 7th cave is the best of all. These caves look similar to the ones at Ajanta and Ellora.

Next stop was Shani Shingnapur with its famous Shani temple and even more famous houses without doors. While the temple didn't have much rush, there are touts all around telling what to do and what not to do + get as much money (Rs. 500 anyone?) as possible for oil and few threads. We conveniently ignored all of that. By the way, roads were good from Ellora till Shirdi.

We reached Shirdi at 7 PM and it was a Thursday (supposed to be auspicious for Baba's Darshan). We expected a lot of rush, but were done in 1.5 hours. Saved a lot of time here as the roads were good and we were able to get the Darshan the same day. Got the place at Hotel for 1000 rupee (AC Room) on Goibibo, while the rates at hotel were 1600+tax. This was a newly constructed hotel and one of the best budget hotels we have stayed in.

Son had an interesting point to make about Shirdi, "This place has more hotels/lodges than houses".

Day 7 : 7th October 2016 : Shirdi - Gargoti - Nashik - Tryambakeshwar
Stay : Chikki's House, Nashik
Distance Covered : 180 KMs
Total Distance : 1950 KMs

After 6 days of travel the car looked a mess with all the rain that we had throughout. The hotel we stayed had a car wash/service station next to it which opened at 8 AM. Started little lazily towards Nashik as we knew roads would be good enough and plan was to have lunch at Nashik (Wife's Chikkamma stays there). 

On the way, per Aunty's suggestion we visited Gargoti Museum which is around 20 KMs before Nashik at Sinnar. This museum is only one of its kind in Asia and one of the few in the world collecting natural crystals/gems (mainly from Maharashtra, Deccan Plateau) from around the world. 

Nashik was done in a jiffy and a "home cooked food" after 6 days, we were off to Trimbakeshwar which has a shiva temple (2nd for this trip of the 12 Jyothirlinga's) and Kushavarta where Godavari takes course. Not much queue here and we visited Sita Guha, Panchavati, Ram Kund and the place of Kumbamela. Pandavaleni, which is similar to the caves at Ajanta/Ellora were closed by the time we were there. By this time, not much enthusiasm was left to explore more places.

Evening was spent at Mukthidama and we called it a day after that and it was talking time with the family till late.

A little shy of 2000 KMs by the end of day...

Day 8 : 8th October 2016 : Nashik - Belgaum
Stay : At Girish's home, Belgaum 
Distance Covered : 550 KMs
Total Distance : 2500 KMs

Started after breakfast at 8:30 AM and next two days are going to be hectic drive. Nashik to Pune is 200 KMs, but with the digging/road work all around its messy in patches. We took the Pune outskirts to join Pune-Bangalore highway. Stopped at a "nice looking" road side hotel for a lunch before Pune and joined the Bangalore Highway. Some rest for google map as there are no deviations now onwards.

The Pune bypass for around 10 KMs is full of skyscrapers and I am not too how many people live there!!! 

A small incident to mention on the road, one motorbike fellow was moving with us, pointing to the tyres. If there was a problem, I should be feeling it first!!! Remembered the same racket running in Bangalore as well who make you to stop and might robber with slew of other bikers. Just ignored and hit 100 KMs and the guy was fast gone in the mirror. 

A just happened accident on the highway where a XUV was turned 180 degree and in the trenches made us 10 KM slower for the rest of the day. While the accident seemed to have happened because of over speeding and looked a lot damaging, it was heartening to see Ambulances from nowhere on the otherwise deserted highway. India has come a long way in infrastructure!!

The stop for the day was Belagavi (Belgaum earlier), at friend Girish's house. We reached their house at 9 PM. After dinner outside and long conversations till 1 PM with their family (especially the 2 adorable kids...), it was time to call off.

The longest drive day for the trip with 550 KMs ended with one more day to go!

Day 9 : 9th October 2016 : Belgaum - Davangere - Bangalore
Stay : Back Home!
Distance Covered : 515 KMs
Total Distance : 3015 KMs

The day started late with us getting up at 7:30 AM and having a leisurely breakfast of Paddu till 9 AM. We started at 10 AM and reached Davangere around 2 PM. After lunch, it was time for my favourite thing to do...sleeping. Got up at 4 PM and we started by 4:30 PM. 

Customary clicks to record 3000 KMs on the odo at Nagarbavi and we were home by 9:30 PM. The total distance of 3015 KMs is the first time we have crossed 3000 KMs (previous highest was 2400 KMs to Trivandrum).

What's next? Stay Tuned....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Taking it for granted

Well, I was a kid when I saw that white Lamborghini, in the sea of cars while going back home from office. But, just 3 years ago, a Merc C Class made me a kid...

Did I take the Merc for granted? Its just not the Merc in hindsight, all of them.
Few things grow upon us and we have a fascination of a kid towards them. The Lamborghini was just a metaphor and we do this day in and day out on everything we lay our eyes on. Over a period of time we grow to overtake the thing that grew upon us, as simple. The fascination becomes past and old.

Take it for granted, is it bad or...?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Happiness is...

  • Saying "Good Morning" when son wakes up
  • When son finally gets out of the bed after cajoling, to get ready
  • Smile on your family when you reach home
  • Sitting silent with a good friend and walking out refreshed
  • A gesture of kindness from a friend
  • That time when you are happy for a friend
  • When you know someone will be your good friend for life
  • Sitting by the side of river at home
  • To read "Hindu" with a hot cup of coffee
  • To get up early and to see the colors of sky change
  • Getting up late and no "to do" for the day
  • Curling up inside a thick blanket on a cold winter night
  • Watching it rain
  • Smell of earth on the first rain
  • Cooling off under the fan on a summer day
  • Afternoon nap
  • Bangalore weather
  • 240 acres of Lalbagh in the heart of the city
  • Cancelled Meeting
  • A meeting with an outcome
  • Bumping into an old colleague and the instant smile that brings
  • Watching a certain Federer on his day
  • Sachin batting
  • Reading about Saina, Vishy, Phelp, AB de velliers and lot many
  • That 10 seconds when Usain Bolt runs
  • Salary Alert
  • When a stranger helps you or you help a stranger and feel you know each other
  • Someone has taken pain to prepare a nice dish for you
  • Eating dates for Dinner
  • Home cooked food
  • Planning a dinner out at 8:00PM
  • Idly/Vada at SLV
  • Sweet (any and many)
  • Ice-cream
  • Curd rice when sick
  • Red Ferrari
  • Sound of Fighter Jets
  • Honda City Automatic in peak traffic
  • Raindrops on the windshield
  • Whistling and Singing inside the car as if the world didn't exist
  • Long Drive
  • Finding that end of the world road
  • Taking a photo with good sunlight
  • The fact that this list will only grow...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekend Trip : Heritage Trail...

494 Kilometers in a day, 600 steps to climb, visit to my college, visit to proposed UNESCO Heritage sites more ancient than my Engineering degree...
Why not a one day trip to go back in time?

First the date was fixed as August 9th to beat the traffic outside Bangalore on the next weekend, 15th August, the long one. And my son’s school had a different idea. They called in kids to turn out on that Saturday to compensate for the day lost on the previous week for Karnataka Bandh. Next best option as we three (The Kid, Wife and me) were raring to go was not to wait too long and make it on 15th weekend. We figured out 16th Saturday works well and all of us excitedly were up by 5AM.
This will be a story and to follow it in pictures and shorter stories, visit here. This blog contains links to Wikipedia articles to keep it short and only to focus on the road trip.

I studied for my Engineering Degree at Hassan (160 Kms West of Bangalore) and Belur, Halebidu are places of Archeological interest near Hassan. These two places along with Shravanabelagola (a place of interest for Jains) are being proposed as UNESCO world heritage sites. These places were ruled by Hoysala Kings and famous for star shaped temples with intricate carvings.
We started at 6:15 and as we are a little late, the little traffic caught us till Peenya. Our first search was breakfast and we were very specific on Mayura at Bellur Cross. This is because of a program on Kannada Channel where Mr. Sihikahi Chandru recommended it and my son wanted nothing other than this. Breakfast done at Mayura and proper deviation taken to Shravanabelagola near Channarayapatna and we were there by 10:30.

Who was happy? My son, to see that there are too many steps and he starts running.  The counting and climbing is parallel done and we complete 600 steps in 30 minutes. The Bahubali statue at Shravanabelagola is monolithic and stands at 57 feet. This statue was regarded as one of the tallest Monolith in the world. First visited the statue and then on the way back all the temples were done.

Shravanabelagola to Hassan and a detour at Hassan takes us to Belur. Belur has intricate carvings on the inside while Halebidu has more intricate carvings on the outside. The guides are available at Belur for a fixed fee of Rs. 200 (with receipt). The carvings are amazing to say the least and explained in detail in the photos. Belur has Channakeshava temple which has a Vishnu deity (worshipped till today). There are about 48 pillars of various sizes, shapes and designs with the Shilabalika’s and these are the main attraction here.
Next up was Halebidu which was the capital of Hoysala Empire and 12 KMs to Belur. Halebidu means “old city” as it was attacked by Alauddin Khilji and ransacked twice.

After Halebidu, we proceeded towards Hassan and MCE, my college was the next stop. Half an hour inside the campus (Saturday evening and hence all closed) and we were on the way back to Bangalore. I wanted a piece of nostalgia to feed our hungry stomach and we checked Hotel Sri Krishna Sagar and Hotel Gokul. I with my friends used to frequent these places. Both were undergoing renovation and the new revelation for me was Hotel Parijata at Mallige Residency. From here, it was straight back to Bangalore.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tips for a Road Trip...

This is a small hand book for myself. If it helps others, nothing like it.

Car : 
1. Irrespective of the Kilometers run, check/service the car 2 weeks before.
2. Main things : Breaks, Suspension, Oil Top up, Clutch, Lights, Tyre and Wipers.
3. The 2 weeks after the service will give you the run-in time and time to rectify any small errors. If you are not "feeling" comfortable, get it re-checked.
4. Wash the car whenever possible. A clean car is more motivating. The hotels you stay might help with a person to clean.

What to carry (Small family with a small kid):
1. Stock some non-perishable eats (Cookies, Biscuits, Chocolate Bars)
2. Chocolate/Energy bars come handy when you need that little boost during a hike, when food is ~50KMs away.
3. If possible stock water for 2 days, in a small/unknown place even "bottled" water is not too safe.
4. Carry 200 ml Tetra packs of milk for the kid (within 3-4 years). In Bangalore, "Nandini" has their good-life pasteurized brand available as a tetra pack. One packet at a time, no need to boil.
5. Carry a small Swiss-knife, Torch, lots of tissue papers, Good first aid kit. Few old news paper to wrap/clean.
6. A foot pump in case of puncture. With a tubeless tyre, even with puncture you can fill the air and drive for few hours till the next town.

On the road:
1. Don't drive too fast in an unknown road. 80-100/110 is a good speed to maintain and will not tire you.
2. Be courteous to locals, 99% of them are good.
3. Thank people, they will surely help the next one.
4. Nothing like it if more than one can drive. There is a lot of pleasure in watching the road go by, relaxed.
5. Only positive topics to discuss please.
6. Try not to eat inside the car. The car needs to be clean to enjoy the drive.
7. Try to stick to 6AM to 6PM. Doesn't work well to be stuck at night in an unknown place with a puncture/non-working car.

1. If you are staying only at Night and moving on, prefer a hotel within city.
2. For a night's stay cleanliness is more important.
3. Resorts are usually outside the town/city and if you require a quick fix for anything, you are in trouble.
4. If you plan to relax at a place, look for a Resort!!!
5. Have a list of good hotels/Resorts and eateries in all the place that you go. I suggest Tripadvisor. They have a mobile app as well.
6. Don't book too early if its not a season and you are not particular about a place. Call them a day before and make a phone booking. If you are staying less than 24 hours and leaving early morning, bargain for the best rate. They do give around 20% discount.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Between 92335 and 94781...

Bangalore -> Salem -> Chidambaram -> Kumbakonam -> Darasuram -> Tanjavur -> Srirangam -> Didigul -> Palani -> Madurai -> Kanyakumari -> Nagercoil -> Trivandrum -> Kollam -> Ernakulam -> Thrissur -> Guruvayur -> Palakkad -> Malampuzha -> Salem -> Bangalore

Yes, took so long to write. Now notes will help me to write this. Again, if this is boring; there are always photos here (500+) or a light version here (200).

Day1: (9th October)

Visiting Trivandrum was on the card to visit brother-in-law and the decision was to visit places on the way both sides. The plan was in place with a route map and staying options (here), thanks to wifey. As we were on a trip of 1000KMs+ one side, there were no fixed places to stay and we had the luxury of a major town every 40-60 KMs.

Left at 6AM and before we know, we were in a traffic snarl at Hosur Road. We need to get past Hosur to feel we are on a road trip! After the breakfast at Krishnagiri (Krishna Inn), it was the real start. We reached Chidambaram around 12:30PM and went straight to a hotel near the temple. On the way to Chidambaram, we have a road which reminded us of Green tunnel in Srinagar. We got our first taste of temple closures here. Temples close at around 12 and open only at 4PM, so waited in the hotel in hot sun and got into the temple at 4. We got the first taste of bad colors as well here. Ancient temples are painted in yellow, red, green, gold and what not. I wish the temple authorities have a minimum appreciation for the great carvings and preserve them as is. The Nataraja statue was amazing. This temple is one of the few instances where we have a statue instead of a Shivalinga in a Shiva temple. After a quick darshan, we changed our decision to stay at Chidambaram and proceeded to Kumbakonam.

It started raining the moment we left Chidambaram and it was nice to drive. The roads were narrow but good with water canal on both sides. With the low visibility, couldn’t take any photos. When we reached Kumbakonam, got to know that Navagraha Temples which (are!) famous, is not one temple but a cluster of nine temples each 10-40KMs apart. Peace was made not to go about all and just to visit Darasuram, famous for Chola architecture. Reached Darasuram at 7PM and found the temple closed. Planned to visit in the morning and rested at Hotel Siva Murugan as planned.

Total for the day, 483 KMs and one of the longest for us.

Find of the day, use Google Navigation, it works wonders. Found all the roads on self and didn’t have to ask any for directions.


Note for the day, you won’t get aarthi and prasadam without showing money.

Started the day with the visit to Darasuram (3KMs from Kumbakonam) and what a place this is. This place is maintained by Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and there is only an open and close time, no breaks in between. Thank god, this temple is majestic and not painted in all gaudy colors. Very calm place and a photo enthusiasts delight.

Tanjavur (40KMs) was the next stop and it’s via Darasuram. Tanjavur has Brahadishwara Temple, with a huge monolithic Shivalingam. Tanjavur also has a palace, but visiting that was a disaster. Again, the small palace was being re-built like another concrete dungeon. Why can’t we keep things as they are and restore them if required?

And the next destination was Srirangam, with Ranganatha Swamy temple. Reached again at the closing time and used this time to eat Pongal, Puliyogare, Muruku/snacks sold at the temple. I didn’t like this concept of eatables sold just few feet away from god like at ISKCON, but this was at least not a money making business (10 rupee for a plate full).

Next on the list was Palani (166KMs) and thought was to complete Palani and proceed to Maduari (another 120 KMs) and stay at night to gain some more time as we knew Kanyakumari to Trivandrum will be a nightmare. Palani was done in good time and we reached by 5PM. Dindigul to Palnai was 60KMs and some people walk the distance. There was a separate pavement being built for this purpose. In Palani, there are 3 options to go up the hill; a wrench, a cable car and stairs. We went-up in a cable car and came back by walk. The plan went a little astray here, the temple was closed. We had to wait a full 2 hours and nobody knew what time the temple will open. Finished the darshan and started to Madurai. One rare time when we drove after 7-8PM and reached Madurai by 11PM. Never will I try this again.
Another 400+ KM day at 408KMs. Stayed at Hotel Annamalai, a nice hotel.


We did gain some precious time, so started the day lazily. Madurai Meenakshi temple is one of the largest temples and it is enormous. Again the Gopuram are painted to my angst and I didn’t take any photos. These temples are a photographer’s nightmare with congested lanes with thousands of shops, ill painted temple walls.

Inside Meenakshi temple. The Goddess is shown for 2 minutes and then they close the door with cloth veil for next 20-25 minutes. I guess creating an artificial crowd is the paramount to the success of the place. Noted one more thing here, that “foreigners”/”non-Hindus” are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagudi). So much for a religion which said “Vasudaiva Kutumbhakam” (The whole world is one single family). We stopped at a place near Thirunelveli (Capris Restaurant) for lunch and met an old colleague of mine Mr. S and world seemed so small. I was meeting him after 1.5 years and not in Bangalore J.
Madurai to Kanyakumari is a delightful road with nice cloud formations, windmills and a relaxed drive. On the way, buying Halwa from Thirunelveli was a priority. Thirunelveli is famous for its Wheat Halwa. Searched for an article which I had read in Hindu, and the shop name famous for Halwa “Irrutukadai” and its selling point. The Halwa is out of the world. Lost around 2 hours here, but it was worth it. Previously gained time helped here.

In Kanyakumari it was straight to the sunset point and we were greeted by clouds. This was the pattern for next few days and strangely enough we didn’t see a “sunset” in this tour, nevertheless was able to capture a lot of light and cloud play. Hotel Sunworld was the stop for the day, after we were unable to get a room in Hotel Seaview which was our first choice. The main criterion was to watch the sun-rise next day morning from their balcony or terrace.  

Total of 253 KMs for the day.


Sunrise. Kanyakumari is a place where Arabian Sea, Hindu Ocean and Bay of Bengal meet and one can watch Sunset and Sunrise at a place. The cloud-play before the sunrise was captured in a series of photos and after the sunrise we were off to Trivandrum.

Next was Nagercoil on the way, again a temple town. Nagercoil to Trivandrum though is a short distance by the kilometers covered, the two lane “only” road and the traffic density makes it look an eternity. Got to Trivandrum by noon and after a series of turns and mobile calls and Navigator maneuvers, reached at Tech-Park of Trivandrum and then to BIL’s place 4 KMs from it. The destination reached and after a heavy meal, it was time for a siesta.

The evening’s lazy plan was to visit Veli beach which is an eco-village kind of setting. The clouds played spoil sport once again and we the beach closes at 6:30PM. The next stop was Pothy’s mall and met a colleague of mine in that mall. Meeting someone 800+ KMs away made the world seem very small. After the mall, we proceeded to Shanmugam beach, but the tiredness took us over and we just drove back home.


Sunday and plan was made to visit Poovar Island Resort. (Thanks Ms. P for enlightening me with this place). Enquired and found out they have a buffet spread. The Poovar Island Resort runs a boat ride and its free if you are staying there or make a certain amount of bill (2K+). Very nice place and to top it, the buffet was awesome. Spent a good 3-4 hours and returned back home. The night’s treat was Kapoor’s Kulfi from Tech Park, Trivandrum. The mallu who can talk only “malayalam” and selling “Delhi famous Kapoor Kulfi” to the cosmopolitan IT crowd made me think again; world is a small place.


Went to the richest temple, Ananthapadmanabha Temple in Trivandrum. Again a lot of rush because of this day being Vijayadashami. Met a couple here, who are from Bangalore and stay 100 metres away from us in Bangalore. The world is just 1 in total. The lunch was at Hotel Aariya.
Visited Varkala beach in the evening, and this is a very nice place with a combination of sea and hill/(s). Back home, we went to  Shanmugam beach where Vishruta played to his heart’s content.


Lazy day as next 2-3 days was travelling back. Did almost nothing except for washing the car myself. Night dinner at Sharma Dhaba, a rustic and nice place.


We re-planned to reach Bangalore in 2 days instead of 3. The idea was to get Friday back, so we have a rest of three days. Started at 7AM and the destination was Athirampilly falls near Kochi. From Kochi, take a deviation to Chalakudy and then to Athirampilly. While coming back, we can directly go to Thrissur on the other side. Athirampilly is called “Niagara of India” and is a very nice place.
Few Kgs of Banana chips later at Thrissur (Thanks Ms. S) and we continued to Guruvayoor. Waited in the queue for long time and got Darshan. Again, it’s a chaos at the temple with no proper timing of opening and closing. Stayed at Guruvayur Resorts (not a real resort, but has more space than a normal hotel/lodge).


Tried for Darshan at 6AM again, but the temple doesn’t open. Started back and the next stop was Malampuzha. The road leading to Malampuzha is not too good and 90 KMs took 2.5 hours. Enjoyed the ropeway and boat ride at Malampuzha dam for the second time. (First one a good 2.5 years back). The dam site is built with different type of gardens and well maintained.

Started back at 1:45PM and stopped at a McD for lunch in Palakkad. The waiter at McD heard us and started talking in Kannada. He had his training in JP Nagar McD at Bangalore and learnt Kannada in a short time!

A long drive back home, a traffic jam at Salem and we were home at 11:30 PM. This day was the longest ever for us with 532 KMs on the odometer.

And whats the total? 2446 KMs.  Hence the title Between 92335 and 94781...