Monday, January 26, 2009

Dhanushkudi, Ramanathapuram, Tamilnadu

On day-2 of my South Tamilnadu trip, I drove to Dhanushkudi also after my visit to Kurusadai Island since I had time and since I wanted to visit once more... but this time I just went to the point from where one usually takes those Jeeps or Matador Trucks which have 4-wheel drive to drive further few miles on the white sand to the farthest Point. Those photos/ slides are here. The photos that I took this time are here. Is it not a wonder that everytime you shoot the same place the results turn out different or you find that you missed something earlier?

After this visit I come back to my Govt Bungalow and rest.. nothing else to do..! I could have seen Chettinad houses and come to Mandappam same day evening and then after doing these visits I could have gone to Kannyakumari....this because I did not spend time to see Rameswaram temple... which I had seen earlier.

Next day I went to Kannyakumari.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Gulf of Mannar Marine National Reserve, Tamilnadu, India

2nd day continued from my post here ... but this visit was special. It is about Marine Life....
People usually visit Rameswaram and then Dhanushkudi - the farthest tip towards Sri Lanka where the Epic of Ramayana tell us that Hanumana built a Bridge (called Ramar Setu- Setu=bridge. Ram's Bridge) by dropping huge boulders so that Ram could cross to Sri Lanka to retrieve his Queen Sita from the clutches of Ravana. But there is another fantastic place to visit for those who love nature.
Kurusadai Island.
These islands are on the west of the Pamban Bridge and are about 20 kms from the Rameswaram railway Station. The chain of coral reefs surrounding this island make it an ideal research area for biologists and a beautiful place for tourists. The marine life includes algae, sea cucumbers, crabs, starfish, sponges, sea anemone etc.

Those who are interested in reading about Marine Life in Gulf of Mannar can download this booklet from the Forest deptt here.

You cross the Pamban Bridge towards Rameswaram and just after 2 kms or less you have to turn right. This turning will be before you reach the Forest Deptt offices on the left on this road. Unless someone takes you, you will miss it. Then the road goes through the village. Since it was raining before I came, the village was inundated with water and at some place I had to go through water.. but no problems.. Then I reached the sea shore where I took the forest deptt boat to the Island. This is the only island they allow us to go, all other islands are out of bounds.

Due to the windy weather the glass bottom boat which runs near the Pamban Bridge was not operating as the sea was not clear and the waters were murky. I had difficulty in photographing the corals and the sea anemone and the sea cucumber & sea grass, I saw under water on the island beach. But anyway.. the slide show is here below. We got down on one side of the island and walked one km to the other side.. -very narrow island..just long. that is all. The sea on the other side where the coral reefs were there unde the water was COMPLETELY CALM. NO WAVES!! Oh by the way the island is also full of medicinal plants and so on. Read about them in the booklet.

It takes one- two hours from waiting for the boat to going there (motor boat) to walking to the other side and then coming back. They do not give you much more time.. you cannot sit on the beach and spend a whole day. Tamil Language is a problem so I could not understand a single thing the forest official was saying.

Contact Wild Life Warden Office, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Mandappam Road, Dt Ramanathapuram- 623501 Phones- 04567 230079

Mandappam, Ramanathapuram, India

My South Tamilnadu Tour's 2nd day. I had reached Karaikuddi to see the Chettinad Houses that are a sight for people to see, on 25th Dec 08. Next day morning I woke up before 5 am got ready and got behind the wheels and just as the clock struck 6 am the sun rose and I started...and drove through NH-210 towards Devikottai then Tiruvadanai to just bypass Devipattinam (I went here last time when I visited Madurai- that is also a religious place with Hindu Mythological significance) to Ramanathapuram and then to Mandappam via NH-49 to halt there (135 kms total). The road map is shown at the end. It had rained the last night and so the day was cloudy. I really wonder how people get colourful pictures of cloudy days.. either my bad luck to have only dull scenes on a cloudy day or some do digital modification of the photos. In one way it is good that the photos are actually showing the original cloudy atmosphere..... but some days I do not feel happy! Simply not happy shooring such dull pictures.. ...

You can see how the rain in the night has flooded the farmlands by the roads. NH-49.

This is near the only petrol pump outlet in Mandappam. The photos below are behind the pump. This place is just 5-10 mts before the Pamban Bridge connecting Rameswaram with mainland....
Basically all fishermen at their various activities.

This is a StarFish, covered by sand.. I should have removed the sand.!! So I had to edit this photo to make the fish come out clearly.

Fish and Crabs!! Anyone??
And not to forget snails. !!!!

The detailed Chennai to Mandappam road map can be downloaded from here or from the sidebar link. Karaikudi to Ramanathapuram = 52 kms. Ramanathapuram to Mandappam= 35 kms. The Pambam Bridge to Rameswaram.

By the way Mandappam is just near Pamban Bridge. You can see that in my later post or the earlier one on Rameswaram. At Mandappam you will find no place to stay except a Govt Rest House available only through source.. I had so I got to stay there.. There are no eating places here.. Nearest ones will be at Rameswaram or 45 kms behind at Ramanathapuram.

Here you will also find a Tamil Refuge camp (Sri Lankan ones) and fishing community. The Govt Rest house is near that at the top of a hill.

In my next message I will talk about Kurusadai island & Gulf of Mannar) for which I had come here. Of course here people come to see Rameswaram Temple mainly. My earlier visit pictures are here for Rameswaram. And here is where I stayed- the only place at Mandapam besides a Coast Guard Mess probably - I am not sure but I did see coast guard. This is the Govt Bungalow. Old British Structure... not kep very well. But Surprise Surprise.. President Pratibha Patil was to visit this place (and did visit on 28th Dec 2009 to visit Rameswaram Temple) earlier and some 25 lacs was allocated to spruce up the bungalow.. Though her visit did not happen at that time due to cyclone and the money did not get used (she was not to stay here but just halt) JUST IMAGINE!! Poor People die without water and a complete meal in India.. and our Great Leaders waste taxpayer's money!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My South Tamilnadu Tour - Chettinad

My solo car drive across Tamilnadu last weekend (Chennai- Karaikudi (Chettinad) -Mandappam - Dhanuskudi- Kannyakumar- Kodaikanal-Trichy-Chennai) took me across quite a few interesting places covering some 2000 kms totally about which I am going to write in the next series of my posts. Ever since the time I came to Chennai, people always responded with names of Temple Cities that one could visit in the name of tourism. And rightly so too. Because Tamilnadu is indeed a place of temples, temples and Temples, ample temples. Take Thanjavur (Brihadeeswar Temple- a world heritage site) or Madurai (meenakshi temple) or Rameswaram (the largest temple in Tamilnadu) or Thiruvannamalai or Vellore (golden temple) just to name a few.

But I did my own web search and found out quite a number of other interesting places to see. So just started my car on 25th December on the route out of Chennai via the NH-45 that takes you from airport to Tambaram to Trichy and then NH-210 to Pudukottai to halt at my first place of visit Karaikuddi in Sivaganga District. Later I drove down via NH-210 to Mandappam in Ramanathapuram Dt, near Pambam bridge that connects mainland to Rameswaram and halted there at Mandappam on 26th and then on 27th via NH-49 to Madurai and then bypassed it to catch NH-7 and went through Tirunveli to Kannykumari and halted there and then on 28th returned by same NH-7 to reach Kodaikanal bypassing Madurai to take the route through Vattalakkundu or Batalkundu and then back to Chennai via NH-45 bypassing Dindigul and through Trichy. The details of these travels will come up in my next series of posts. Please keep keep a watch.

The road map for Chennai to Kadaikuddi is posted below. I drove from Chennai to Trichy (Chennai Aiport to Trichy town=316 kms). NH-45 is good considering I started at 6:25 am and crossed Trichy at 11 am - just 4.5 hrs.. because I could drive @ 140 km per hr in first 2/3 hrs which allowed me to cover 100 kms per hr in first 2/3 hrs and then because of road diversions.. overbridge constructions on NH-45 I slowed down. The NH-210 from Trichy to Karaikuddi (and then Ramnathapuram, Mandappam, Rameswaram) is like a State Highway (SH) and a broken at the initial stages but after that is quite good and you can reasonably attain a speed of 100 kmph at many places and average 80 kmph. The Distance from Trichy to Pudukottai (NH-210) is 52 kms and to Kadaikuddi is 97 kms.. so Total from Chennai to Kadaikuddi is around 416 kms. That was my first day's journey. I reached Kadaikuddi at 2 pm or so. [Trichy to Ramanathapuram= 247 kms)

This district was once a part of Ramanathapuram District and now is headquartered at Sivaganga District. The places to see in Sivaganga are:-

  1. Chettinad- this comprisesof Karaikuddi and 74 villages which are the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars. The Chettiars were a prosperous Banking Community who ventured overseas to do business of money lending in South and South East Asia in the 19th century and early 20th century. They can be equated to the Marwaris of the North and many of them have today diverted to different businesses. Their legacies are the fascinating houses of Chettinad they built with simple materials. These are artistically built houses that have to be seen to be believed.

  2. Karaikuddi -just 10 kms from Chettinad. Actually both towns are inseparable. Apart from the houses, Karaikuddi offers extensive antique shopping [ No I did not try it] and a good eating place called Bungalow [- as I was told after I left the place!!!] and of course Chettinad cuisine is spicy and tasty), weekly shandy (village market), a number of temples worshipped by Chettiars, visits to craftsmen working with wood, silversmiths, goldsmiths etc. The Alagappa University building is a treat for the eye. I could not take photos of the city roads and these magnificient buildings becaue there was something wrong with the battery and I had to save it for the Chettiar mansions, which were the prime attraction and which photos are posted here below.

I saw one Chettiar Mansion and the Pillaiyarpattu Temple- which is a Ganapati or as he is called in Tamilnadu- Vinayaka Temple.

Sivaganga is 501 kms from Chennai but Karaikuddi via NH-45 and then NH-210 is just 416 kms odd. The map of the route is downloadable here.

Large Road map. For detailed downloadable road map districtwise click here.

At Karaikuddi I stayed at Hotel Subhalaxmi Palace, (Ph 04565- 235200 (6 lines). They charge Rs 825/- for an Ac room single occupancy. They have a veg restaurant, I believe, but I do not know why the boy got me food from outside! The hotel is okay for staying. Foreigners too are staying there I saw. Has a car parking place.
To get guide you can contact: Mr A N Karuppanchetty c/o Kannathal Travels, New Bus Stand, karaikudi Cell- 91 98428 26653 or his wife who is a trained guide KR Annam cell- 9198422 80533

My next post is here.

Image Map from some of my Photos - Click to visit the linked blogs

Colonial days at Calcutta, India Agra Fort Madurai Temple Architecture Fruits, India Silk Worm Cocoons, India Fish Market, India Happy Children, India Logging in Andaman Islands, India Tramcar, Calcutta, India Dharamshala, India Snowy Roads, India Painting by my wife, India Catwalk, India Fashion Show, India Beas River, Manali, India Autumn Leaves, Manali, India Snow in Manali, India Vagator Beach, Goa Mussoorie, India Mysore Palace Jaisalmer Desert, India Tamil Marriage Indian Market Scene Rajasthani Village Girl Birds of India Bay of Bengal, Pondycherry Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary Hogenakkal Water Falls, India Indian Roads Gulab Jamun, India Globalisation, India Indian Map Indian City from Sky Clay Pot Art, India Himalayas, India Benares, India Indian Palace