Back with a BANG !!! - Road Trip Down South India ..

Have been out of action for obvious reasons … I have now returned back to India. Before you make hasty conclusions – that’s not what really I meant ... :) … After coming back (1st Oct, 2010), I have been unusually busy – trying to fix some operational stuff at office (like proving that I still work for Accenture, getting a place for myself in the office etc) and then by 7th Oct I took some time off for a vacation. That was an interesting part, so let me elaborate some more on that.

It was an unusual vacation and a very adventurous (and also spiritual) one at that - where I was on a Road Trip from Pune to the South of India. We drove our car for about 2200kms in total !! Here’s how we did it.

Day 1 (7th October 2010):
  • Kolhapur – we drove from Pune in the afternoon to Kolhapur. The main agenda was to visit the famous Mahalakshmi temple. We managed to get a beautiful Darshan with not much of a crowd around. The Navaratri was starting only the next day so the crowds had not started to pour in yet.
Day 2 to 4:
  • Bangalore – After staying overnight in Kolhapur we started from Kolhapur to Bangalore. We reached Bangalore by evening 6:30 pm. We could have reached much earlier but the main reason for our delay was the famous Dharwad Peda. We (Ok .. I) wanted to have the delectable peda and so we took the road into Dharwad and to get back to the Bangalore highway was a nightmare (or lets say a daymare !!) We lost about couple of hours in total because we had to stop for lunch also at Devangere. The visit to Bangalore was mainly to see some relatives and friends. Also, we wanted to check the progress of the flat that we have booked in Bangalore.
Day 4 to5:
  • Thiruvannamalai – We started from Bangalore on the Sunday (10th October) late afternoon to Thiruvannamalai. We reached there and took rest in one of the ashrams there. Next day morning (11th October) our agenda included the visit the Shiva temple there and also to the customary Girivalam (the 14km walk or pradakshina in the around the hill surrounding the temple). I managed to walk bare-feet for the entire 14 kms of Girivalam. Janani gave me company for first half the way after which she took an auto to complete the Girivalam.
  • Mailam: After the delay due to the Girivalam which took much longer than I expected, we rushed to Mailam (about 30 km away) to visit the Murugan temple there. Again, it was a quick and nice Darshan that we got there.
  • Thiruvakkarai – Our next stop was to Thiruvakkarai to visit the Vakrakali Amman Temple there. I was      hoping that I would be able to reach there before the temple’s scheduled afternoon closure – which I thankfully managed just on time.  It was a very rare and different form of Amman that we saw in the temple. The temple also has a very interesting story associated with it. The story behind this temple, Amman was about to kill the devil, finding that she was pregnant she took the child in her ear and then killed her with her leg. The posture of the deity is very different in this temple. She is slightly tilted with the small child in her right ear and her left leg extended for killing the devil. Was a nice and satisfying experience.
  • Pondicherry – After the above two temples we rushed to Pondicherry to visit the Auroville ashram.  The near-by Manakula Vinayakar temple was close for the afternoon so couldn’t visit that unfortunately.
  • Tanjavur – After that quickie visit in Pondicherry we drove towards Tanjavur to visit my relative there and also to visit the famous Bragadeeshwarar temple. The temple had recently completed its 1000 year celebrations and so it looked absolutely fabulous in its full decorations and focus lights. Here are some photos that I took there. After spending that night at my relatives place, we drove to Trichy next day morning.
  



Day 6
  • Trichy – Visit to Trichy (12th October) was primarily to see my many relatives there. But I also caught the glimpse of the majestic Raja Gopuram of Srirangam. Here is the photograph.

Day 7
  • Rameshwaram – On 13th October, we started from Trichy towards Rameshwaram to visit the famous island city which is part of the famous Char Dhams. As a part of the darshan one has to visit the 22 theerthams present in the temple and take bath with the water from each of them. Thanks to the prior arrangement that we had done, we got wonderful darshan at the temple. It is a very scenic town with many smaller temples around the main temple – we tried and covered some of the smaller temples as well. Here are some photos taken there including the famous railroad bridge which is a still-functioning double-leaf bascule bridge section that can be raised to let ships pass under the bridge.
  



Day 8
  • Coimbatore – We headed out of Rameshwaram on the 14th October to reach Coimbatore by afternoon. After meeting relatives we reached our final destination – my sisters residence at Coimbatore at night finishing our  part of the road trip. Below is the photo taken at a wind farm on the way to Coimbatore.

We then spend the next couple of days with her and then took a train to head back to Chennai. After spending 3 days in Chennai and its horrible heat we took a train back to Pune. You may wonder what about that car !! My sister and her family would execute the other half of the plan when they drive our car back to Pune from Coimbatore when they visit us for Deepavali !!! :)

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