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:-
- 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.
- 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.