Welcome to the Cultural Capital of India - Chennai, Tamil Nadu. I said to myself after I moved here from Bangalore. I have always been fond of Chennai. The city is an amalgamation of culture and traditions. Plus a lot things to look forward to, personally and professionally.
First few weeks went in settling down here and once that was over, I wondered - what next? A hobbyist photographer has the luxury of time to decide what next. It took me a while to plan. The right moment I decided was during the Eid weekend (Jun 23-26 2017). I planned to start from the southernmost point of India - Kanyakumari.
I had been to Kanyakumari long back but that trip is quite old for me to recollect any details of the place. I researched about the place online on what can be done in 2 days that I was there. Kanyakumari is more of a 1 day location. People mostly go to the Rock memorial during sunrise or sunset and take a boat to the rock memorial and this was my agenda as well. I wanted to capture both the events whilst I was there. Then I read about Muppandal which is the worlds second largest onshore wind farm. In my trip to this place as a kid, I remember crossing these farms. These were not as humongous back then as what they are now - but those memories came rushing back. So yes - another point added to the plan. Then of course I did not want to skip Sucheendram Thanumalayan Temple. I will talk about the temple here as I don't have any pics to share about this place as photography is not allowed inside the premises. This temple is dedicated to Bramha, Vishu and Shiva. It's a 17th century temple which is famous for pillar carvings and sculptures. The highlight of the temple is 4 hollow stone pillars. These are called musical pillars. They create a sound of various musical notes when struck. These pillars are around 18ft high and quite a marvel. Apart from this, there are 1000+ pillars in the dancing hall. For more detail on this temple one can read their Wiki page - Thanumalyan Temple.
Another place I planned was the Padmanabhapuram Palace. This is a 16th century palace located on the foothills of Veli hills (part of western ghats).
After adding these must visit points, I left the rest of the places to be covered as part of journey. That is what I usually do in any travel. Add some places as markers where I need to go and then leave the rest for self discovery. It helps me routed to an agenda - but at the same time leaves few open doors for detours and exploration.
So lets begin with the journey.
Day 1: Kanyakumari
I took a bus from Koyembedu bus stand (CMBT)and the bus started at 8:30PM on 23 Jun 2017. But by the time it left the city it was 12 AM. Heavy rush around the Tambaram-Vandalur junction resulted in a lot of delay. I was sure I will miss more than half of the next day to travel. My worst fears came true as the bus that was supposed reach Nagercoil at 9:15 AM, reached at 2:30 PM.
Yes, I anchored myself in Nagercoil. I selected Nagercoil as my central point and decided to visit rest of the place from Nagercoil as this town was equidistant to the other places I wanted to visit. Also, there were multiple trains available for my return journey to Chennai and this seemed like a good place to camp in.
I checked into a room near the bus stand and without wasting time, I left for Kanyakumari which is approximately 25kms from Nagercoil. I hired an auto for the entire duration of the trip. I wanted to hire a bike but I am glad I did not do that as for the entire duration of my trip down there, it was raining and although it made the trip a very pleasant experience, I did miss riding bike in that weather.
I reached Kanyakumari at 4:30 PM and rushed to the ticket counter. The counter was closed. They stop ticket sales at 4:00PM. So for everyone who's planning a trip here, please make a note of this. The ticket window opens at 7:45 AM. I was in no mood to come back again as I had limited time - so I proceeded to walk around the place myself.
There is a long path way made of rocks that goes up to a kilometer into the sea. I identified that as the point where I will wait for the sun to set. It was one of the most peaceful evenings. The only sounds that accompanied were of the waves that hi-fi-ed the rocks. As the sun was busy lowering itself, I met many fellow travelers and indulged in mini chit-chat which made me feel the world is inching closer and loser towards each other.
After sunset, I visited couple of temples nearby (Thanumalayam Temple being one of them) and then went to this place called Mani's mess in Ozhuginasery, Nagercoil. It is a small eating joint. I found it hygienic and the food was very tasty. Don't forget to try the vada curry they serve in a bowl. These small joints are the best place to try local specialties.
After the tiring journey, I was happy with the way my day unfolded. Was looking forward to day 2....
Day 2: Nagercoil (Muppandal, Padmanabhpuram, Pechiparai Dam, Thirparappu Falls, Mathur Acqueduct)
I started the day very early today as I had lost some time the previous day due to the delayed bus journey. My first point today was Muppandal. I had never heard of this place. I remember seeing a lot of wind mills when I traveled to Kanyakumari from Valliyur as a kid, but little did I know this place will grow to become a thriving village which is home of one of the world's second largest onshore wind farm. With the western ghats in the backdrop and the wind being scattered all across the place it felt heavenly. I also wanted a uniqueness in the pictures I take. A lot of us may not be aware of such a village existing in the tiny corners of our vast country. I am glad I came here. I had to take the help of the local residents to compose my pictures and they were kind enough to allow me use their house terrace. One of them gave me the permission to climb the windmill and I was happy to do that. Muppandal is about 25kms from Nagercoil and one can easily plan to reach there in 40 mins. The nearest rail head is Aralvaimozhi.
From Muppandal, I headed back to Nagercoil for breakfast. We went to this place called Siva Sakthi Vel Tiffin Centre. Its an old joint in this place that made typical Kerala and Tamil breakfast such as puttu, aappam, idly etc. After refueling myself, I left for Padmanabhapuram Palace.
Padmanabhapuram Palace is a Travancore -era palace located in Padmanabhapuram, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu. It is owned and maintained by the Government Of Kerala. The palace is 20kms from Nagercoil town. It opens at 9 AM so I was there pretty early. I got to walk around the place before I could enter and it was a peaceful Sunday morning. As I walked around the palace from outside, I noticed this fine edifice is made completely of teak wood. The Palace is built in the indigenous architectural style of Kerala. The entrance of the of the palace is shaped as a triangle and it had many mini-palaces inside the main structure.