Thats my name of the trip.`
Bangalore- Krishnagiri- Vellore- Kanchipuram- Mahabalipuram- Pondicherry- Tiruvannamalai- Krishnagiri- Bangalore.
Total Distance: Trip meter read 799.4 Kms.
When: 26th,27th and 28th September,2009.
Places of interest covered: Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Gengi (Sengi), Tiruvannamalai.
So how it all started ??
It was holiday of Durga puja that resulted in an extended weekend. Since no body was interested in leaving the comforts of Bangalore and I was not ready to get rotten in Bangalore, I decided to go alone. And believe me, its good to be just yourself once for a while. I know its kind of psycho, but its much better than rotting for 3 days in Bangalore. It was a great trip, with Smooth roads, Soft music playing all the time with no one to disturb, driving as per your wish, waking up, eating…all as per your wish. Walking alone in a beach under moonlight, wandering in temples- as if lost, was just awesome. Now decided, at least I will make such trips twice a year, just to be MYSELF.
Day 1: 26th September,2009.
Woke up at 4:00AM, took bath and started from home at sharp 4:30AM. Prayers done, bags packed and trip meter set to zero. After searching for petrol pump in 25kms travel in Bangalore, I was getting worried if I will get any, which would delay my travel, as the tank was in last stage of its reserve. But once I crossed Bangalore, infact Karnataka, to Tamil Nadu, good roads and numerous 24hrs Petrol pump greeted me. After filling in tank for Rs 500, I travelled non-stop 89 Kms finally to take snaps of early morning Sun at Krishnagiri. Krishnagiri, best district I have ever seen. Whenever I pass through this district, I all looks like a western country as shown in movies. The good, safe roads with early morning charm of sun and breeze was just AWESOME.
After having breakfast of 2 plates of Pongal on a roadside motel, reached Kanchipuram by 9:30AM, well before my planned time. The city was hosting a big political rally for DMK and so at every 10 meter there was a policeman to greet. From 9:30AM to 1:30AM, wandered the ancient temples of Kanchipuram.
Places of Interest: Temples, temples n temples. Most of them devoted to Lord Shiva.
All in a radius of 5-10Kms, and there are sign boards to guide, if you know the temple names.
Kamakshi Temple, Ekambaranath Temple, Kailashnath Temple, Kachabeshwara temple,Somnath Temple.All are same in architecture, typical South Indian temple with large rectangular temple campus, Gopuram, dedicated water tanks.Browse following link for more details:
ETC Info: Limited lunching/dining facility, ATM facilities available n keep lots of changes for temple, shoe keeping, beggars etc. Although some staying facilities are available, but not recommended.
While returning because of that political rally, the city was sealed off and with no one entering or leaving the city. Because of a kind person, I was out of the small town after 1 hr of driving through kucha roads. Got we Indians have kept our politicians so pampered, a small rally brought the whole city to standstill and cut off. Anyways I was out of Kanchipuram by 2:30PM and zoomed my way to Mahabalipuram and reached there by 4PM.
This touristy town just 80Kms south of Chennai, on Coromodel coast, is famous for its ancient ruin temples and beach. Now if one wants to see some tourist management in India, this is the place to be. All the sites are charged and definitely the usage of charged money can be seen here. Parking facility, Toilets facility, drinking water facility, dustbins, crowd management, well lited places, sign boards, history etc are all there. Lots of restaurants, hotels, ATMs are there to ensure comfortable stay.
Attractions: All places of interest in an area of few sq km.Best time to visit Winter or Monsoons and again best time to visit these palces is 6AM. Thanks to Govt. all sites open at 6AM. Very nice time to explore.No crowd, best weather.
a) Sea Shore temple: The ancient but small temple is right on beach. It has one big garden to enjoy and so is the adjacent beach.
b) Arjuna’s penance
c) Five rathas
d) A big complex with lots of ruin temples
e) Long beach.
Just in the village, there are beach shack kind of restaurants serving all kind of delicacies including sea food. I booked a room in Sea Shore Hotel, right in front of infinite seas. Whole night just saw the thundering skies over the Bay of Bengal, from room window. The partial moon and light cool breeze just made up my night and that was end of day1.
Day 2: 27th September,2009.
Woke up a cool breezy morning at 5:30AM, expecting to see sun rise. But my bad luck, it was cloudy was sun was no where to be seen. After walking the virgin beaches and trying my hand in some photography for an hour, took bath and was all set for drive by 9AM. Disappointment of Hidden sun in dawn, actually turned out to be blessing in disguise. The moment I hit ECR, east coast road connecting Madras and Pondicherry, the cloudy weather, soft music from my mobile, butter and vacant roads made this ride into one of the best drives I ever had.I just got here, life can be very beautiful.
The road run parallel to sea and criss cross salted marsh land, mangroves, overgrown bushes and beautiful hamlets. With stops at some beaches I reached Pondicherry by 12 noon.
The road has major attraction of world famous Auroville, TN famous Pondicherry Engineering college and Pondicherry university. But I bypassed all of these and none suited by taste and straight away headed to beach road of Poncicherry.
The union teritory was a French colony till 1960, before gettign amalgated to Indian union. And so, some french aroma can be felt in the city and more strongly in Beach road. Truely there’s nothing to see but definitely is the place to relax for days, hang out with friends or love ones. The place is neat and clean, well maintained and the whole of tourist throng the beach road only.
Best way to explore Pondicherry is doing day tours arranged by tourism authority, whose office is right on Beach road. Although I didnot do that way, because I reached in Sunday afternoon, when its off for them. Disappointed for missing tour, I explored the whole of beach road by foot for hours.
Another good way to explore Pondicherry is Bicycles, mopeds and bikes which are available on rental basis. Check out places near by beach road to get rented two wheelers.
The beach is not for bath, but there’s a small patch at the end of beach to take bath. Toilet facilities are available to freshen after salty water bath. Roadside restaurants, eat outs etc will always keep you hungry.
After walking for over 3 hrs, I gave myself a costly lunch treat in La Cafe restaurant. Bill for one was just Rs 500.
After the lunch headed for Gingee ( pronounced as Senji), via Villupuram. Roads were again good with few bad patches.
Gingee (Senji): Pronounced as Senji, its a small town, famous for big hill top forts. Since it closes at 4:30PM and I reached at 4PM, I didn’t had much time to explore. The fort is right on Gingee-Tirunavalli highway, on hill top.If i am not wrong one has to scale some 500-600 steps to reach the fort. The sun could be harsh and there are few shading option while scaling hills. The town did have one-two hotel for staying and eating facility.
Tiruvanamalai: The temple town is ~50Kms from Ginjee on NH66. The road is excellent and I reached the Shiv temple town by 5:30PM. The town is small and spread along the circumference of the temple, called Arunchaleswar temple. The 1-2 sq km around temple is very crowded and I was stuck in suddenly encountered crowd. First I booked a room, unloaded myself, took bath and finally went to temple by 6:30PM.
Half pants/Shorts are not allowed inside temple as I figured out. Although there are numerous Gopurams to enter, only main Gopuram has shoe stand facility. Its recommended to leave shoes in hotel or vehicle. Vehicle parking could also be a problem, as there is no organised parking facility.
Arunachaleswar Temple: The temple devoted to lord Shiva is really big and situated on foot hills of Arunchaleswar Hill. Again a typical South Indian temple, with a rectangular campus, but has around 12 big and small Gopurams. The temple may take over 1 hour to explore. I even got lost for an hour, not getting the main temple sanctum. Finally I figure out the main sanctum by following the crowd. Special entry darshan of Rs 20, allows you to go the main sanctum, where as the free darshan is just from outside and could be very crowded. Luckily when I went, temple are not that crowded and special darshan allowed immediate entry to sanctum.
After spending ~3hrs in temple, had dinner on South Indian meals, went to room and had a sound sleep. Next morning woke up at 6 and was all set to check out by 7. The town was still sleepy, n I guess morning time is good time to explore temple. But I preferred to explore town by bike. And I figured out pilgrims go for 14Kms walk around the Hill. The 14Kms circumference around the hill, is dotted with numerous temples, ashrams, eateries and lodges. The early morning walk actually could be very pleasant, with cool breeze coming down the hill. I completed the 14Kms religious path by bike and not by bare foot..;-)
After having my breakfast on tasty Pongal and vada, I started for the last leg of my trip. I zoomed through NH 66 to reach Krishnagiri. Again the roads were smooth with zero traffic. The surrounding hills were blowing out pleasant wind and the sun was not yet harsh.
After hitting GQ, in Krishnagiri, I zoomed my way to Bangalore and reached home by 12:30PM. So that was end of very relaxing holiday.