It has taken me a while to get back to writing. Actually, it has taken me a while to get back to Life itself after having my share of chasing the mundane.
The folks were in and wanted to take a train or a Bus to Kanyakumari from Bangalore -not exactly my idea of a fun Vacation -so suggested that I tag along as the designated Driver and we do this leisurely on the Swift! Boss was sweet (Writing this line as it is the Annual Review Season) and granted Leave pronto.
As these things go, scheduled a routine service for my Car and the day of service it got buggered by a bike and ended up with a proper maintenance schedule of a Week with 3 days to go for the Trip! Did not want to do this trip on a Alto-Lets go with 4 Adults and 1 hyperactive Kid so exchanged it with Ajay's Swift (TN Registration was an additional boon since it meant that one would not get too noticed while one drove down TN Roads!) and the Car held good (After a 9 Point Service and Nitrogen in the Wheels) for all of 1760Kms although the fuel efficiency could have been better!
The Drive started off well on Sunday the 25th April, we started early (about 8.00am) and hit a relatively free NH7 beyond Hosur - We carried our own Lunch so did not really have a lengthy stopover anywhere except to have lunch by the way side (Had a Large Ice Bag so there was no dearth of Supply of Chilled Butter Milk for most part of the day!)
We hit Madurai around 2PM (435Kms in 6 Hrs with a stopover of about an Hour is not such a bad thing!) and checked into Hotel Tamil Nadu - Madurai I (Old Properly but very clean and very neat and Value for Money for a Twin Bedded A/C Room with Separate Dressing Room at Rs1000/Night! - Was our acco of choice at all stopovers wherever rooms were available. You Can book online at http://www.ttdconline.com/) - We spent the evening at Meenakshi Temple and I alone spent the night at the TTDC Bar with a Rum and Coke!
26th Morning saw us head for Rameshwaram and enroute we changed plans to come back for the night to Madurai and instead decided to stay back at Rameshwaram - at hindsight a good decision - Rashmi booked the Hotel at Rameshwaram - Non TTDC as it was not available since we planned our trip and one of the reasons for the original decision to head back to Madurai instead of staying over at Rameshwaram. Rashmi also managed to get TTDC to postpone our 26th Stay at Madurai to 29th (for our return journey)
Rameshwaram was great especially Pamban Bridge which connects the mainland to the Island. The place is falling apart due to neglect but retains its original Temple Town charm.
Performed Pooja at the Ramanathswamy temple on 27th before heading off to Kanyakumari. Realised that there was a Bandh Call by the Left, so decided to stick to the National Highway rather than take the smaller State Highways and connecting roads. This meant coming all trhe way back to Madurai on NH 49B (Two Lane-but road in excellent condition and rejoining NH7 from there on, possibly an additional 50 Kms, but worth not taking a risk). Still managed to hit Kanyakumari at 3PM (Started from Rameshwaram at 1o:30am and travelled a total of 405Kms.). NOT.BAD.AT.ALL.
TTDC Hotel Tamil Nadu Kanyakumari was more...much...much...more than what I expected. Two Double Rooms for Two nights at Rs.4080 Plus Taxes gave you a Beach front property where Peacocks (in the plural and wild ones!) strolled on the Lawns. The Bar stocked Old Monk at 50 bucks a Large! The Restaurant served Indian, Chinees and Tanthoori Food - Good Food spelling notwithstanding!
The Heat was killing although Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvaluvar statue were great. The Sunrise was a dampener due to over cast conditions, but still got a good picture!
Also discovered the Suchinram Temple (The only temple of its kind where Bramha,Vishnu and Mahesh are worshipped together as a Trinity and presumably the place where Indra got salvation after doing the deed with Ahilya, hence the name Suchindram!). It's here that we found a place selling Barotta (Sounds like Beretta!) and Boori Masal (I know it sounds like a very hot and very well known place but roughly translates into Poori-Sabji!)
The Drive Back from Kanyakumari was a relaxed one, we took our time to start and reached Madurai only at 5PM. Checked into Hotel Tamil Nadu Madurai Unit II (A Star property, no less although the rate remains reasonable at 1200+Tax for a Double A/C Room. It was here that I also realised that since we managed to continuously stay at 3 Hotel Tamil Nadu's at a Stretch, we had a 15% discount due to us! (Pocketed a cool 1272/- which meant that Petrol for the Journey Back was now Free!). The Bar (Bar-Bar for me on this Trip, as you've noticed by now!) was as good as ever although costlier in terms of 65 Bucks for a large Old Monk!
Basically did nothing but sleep on this trip to Madurai, although did manage to catch up with the beautiful Thirumalai Naick Palace the next day before heading back to Bangalore.
Reached Bangalore at around 5.30pm on 30th April and headed straight for the Balcony to check on my 24 Potted plants (All survived, partly due to heavy watering and Plastic covers placed around the roots before we started our Journey!) and Buckets of Water flowed!
The body gave up around 7PM and stayed that way till 1PM the next day (A Good Massage at Ojus between 11 and 1 cured me!)
Will add details as I remember them. You can catch up on the Photos on my Facebook profile, till I figure out a fast way to load a slideshow here.
Hope you enjoyed reading this account.