Well ... this one was being planned for a long ... long time ... and visiting the land's end seemed to be a big 'project' for me. Not that I didnt try ... I did ... last december ... had to come back due to a minor accident, totally spoiling Soorji's Fiero and an SLR camera :((
This time around ... I was alone again ... along with my trusted accomplice ... my own CBZ :) I started off on a tuesday afternoon, around 4.00.
My initial plan was to stay at Salem for the night, but when I just passed Krishnagiri, sun started to hide behind the hills and I had to stay at Dharmapuri, around 60 kms short.
Starting by around 6 in the morning, after having breakfast at Salem, I reached the 'Andallur Gate' (not sure if the spelling is right), around 9. This is the place where me and Soorji met with the accident last year. And this is the same place where I reached during my Palghat trip, after taking the wrong road from Salem. Form where I took a right to reach Erode. That means, this was the furthest I've gone in NH7 and the remaining is unchartered waters !!!
Past the bypass construction in Namakkal, where I had to wriggle thro' some sand road, and a bridge over river Kavery, I found Karur a li'l more greener than its neighbours due to the presence of the great river.
This is the Karur bypass. Being part of the North - South corridor to be made from Jammu to Kanyakumari, this is a four lane road, with an extra lane for bullock carts and other slow vehicles on both sides. Bypasses are being built around most of the towns along this highway, along with four laning of existing roads to make it a single stretch of express highway right from Jammu to Kanyakumari.
Welcome to the real world !!! This is near Dindigal, where the construction of four lanes havent started. The sad part is that these trees are going to be history once construction starts here :(
Past Dindigal, a lunch break near Madurai, and a drive thro' the heart of Madurai (Madurai is one city where the bypass construction hasnt even started yet) in hot sun, this is near Tirunelveli. The Sankar's town where Indian Cements (producers of Sankar Cement) have this plant.
From Tirunelveli, the land becomes greener. The only way I can explain that is proximity to Kerala !!!
Kanyakumari was called the granary of Travancore (south kerala) till the state re-organization, which made Kanyakumari a part of Tamilnadu.
From Muppandal, around 30 kms from Kanyakumari, till almost upto Kanyakumari, the land is dotted with giant wind wheels. This area produces around 2 MW of wind power.
Well ... I cudnt make it by sun set, but I did have a look around, located the place to see the sun rise, took a room, had dinner and slept early, only to get up early enuf for the sunrise.
Sun rising from the Bay of Bengal. This is a view from near the famous Kumari Amman temple, where a zillion people have been waiting to see just this.
Sun getting brighter and hotter. To the right is the vivekanada rock memorial. Ferry services is available to reach there.
This is from the Vivekanda Rock, after a cool (though crowded) ride in the ferry. This is a piece of Indian Ocean. Well ... the small rocks in the snap is NOT vivekanda rock !!!
A view of Vivekanda memorial from the ferry. This monument is built on a huge rock, where Swami Vivekananda is believed to have meditated. Well ... Vivekananda crossed the ocean swimming and me did it by a ferry !!!
A huge statue of Tiruvalluvar built on an adjacent rock. There are steps to go to the foot of the statue.
There were some nice looking buildings around, like the Gandhi Mandap and couple of parks. This particular one is the Kerala House, you can also see the light house on the right side.
After noon, I started off to a nearby beach called Muttom, past Nagercoil. The route was extremely picturesque with thick vegetation and abundance of water bodies. Needless to say Nagercoil is along the Kanyakumari - Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) highway !!!
Muttom is around 34 kms from Kanyakumari, via Nagercoil (18kms) thro' the Kolachal road (remember battle of Kolachal, Marthanda Verma and De Lennoy, if no refer ur school history text :-D), till Ammandivila (15kms from Nagercoil), and another 1km to the left. The roads are descent, actually good, except for a small portion where its narrow. The Muttom beach has clear blue water, a li'l rough waves and a light house.
I had short bath in the beach, being a li'l skeptic about my things in the shore and left by evening.
Next day morning I was off to Vattakkottai (circular fort, though it wasnt really circular), a fort overlooking Bay of Bengal. Vattakkottai is arnd 7kms from Kanyakumari, 6kms along the Tirunelveli highway and 1km more to the right. I had a nice bath in the beach, this time the sea was calm and shallow.
Next trip was to Thirparappu, a small water fall arnd 60 kms from Kanyakumari. While going I took the Trivandrum highway, thro' Nagercoil and a right at Tuckalay (pronounced and sometimes written as Thakkalay), and arnd 25 kms from Padmanabhapuram (where the famous palace of the Travancore kingdom was located). Had to ask every second person I saw to reach the place :)
In the end, the waterfall wasnt really good and looked a bit artificial. But the return was easier, though longer. Thirparappu falls is located near Kulasekhara and a straight road is available from there to Marthandam thro' Thiruvattar. Thiruvattar has a famous temple and a bridge (highest in Asia) and from Marthandam I could join the NH47 (Trivandrum highway). From there, its around 46 kms to Kanyakumari, again thro' Thakkalay and Nagercoil.
While coming back, I dropped in at Padmanabhapuram palace. The palace was once the seat of Travancore kings, still managed by the Kerala government, though located in Tamilnadu. The simple look from the front is decieving, since the grandeur inside is amazing.
There were numerous wooden carvings and some pleasant looking buildings here. This one is the royal bed, made of some 67 pieces of medicinal wood, believed to be presented by the Dutch East India company in the 16th century.
I was back in Kanyakumari after some more wandering in few more places. Sucheendram temple (which was unfortunately under a cover due to renovation work), where the famous Hanuman statue and the 'Sthanumalayan' is placed is located 13kms off Kanyakumari towards Nagercoil. Udayagiri fort, with DeLennoy's tomb (refer the school history texts for Battle of Kolachel, if u cant remember whom), but now a bio diversity park with some deers, peecocks, love birds and some rare species of animals and birds, is to the right of Thakkalay.
The bike was having some engine trouble by then and I had to worry about going back.
The last sunset in Kanyakumari. This is from the Kovalam beach (not the one in Trivandrum) arnd 2kms from Kanyakumari bust stand, along the beach road.
Sanity prevailed in the end. Or did I have a choice :( ? I took a train back next day early morning and packed my bike also in the train. The train journey (in a 2nd class sitting compartment for almost a full day) wasnt less entertaining, either. The journey was thro' kerala, via Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palghat and the route was scenic in a way unique to Kerala. This snap is taken near the Kerala border, early morning.
Well ... this was indeed something to cherish for a long time and ofcourse one to bragg about for a longer time !!!!!