Drive to Rameshwaram

 I had planned to do a solo drive to Rameshwaram twice. But each time I plan some sort of problem will arise each and every time. I thought solo driving to Rameshwaram is a bad dream for me. One day while casually discussing with a colleague of mine we planned to do a drive to Rameshwaram. It was not in car. It was only in bike. We discussed this with some more colleague in office. Some were really interested. We then decided to go in bike. All were really happy about it.

So the Day was decided. It was on 5 March 2016.

My travel mates were Biju, in his Honda Unicorn, Vishnu in Pulsar 220, Arun in Suzuki Gixxer,. Sarath in Royal Enfield Classic 500, and myself Stephen in Hero Hunk.

We bought all the gears before 5 days so that we made sure there is no messing up things in the last minute. We made the plans of reaching each and every location so that to make sure that time is not getting wasted in the drive. The route is Trivandrum – Nagercoil – Tirunelveli – Tuticorin – Rameshwaram.

The team members started from Kazhakoottam at 3 AM, Biju joined from Balaramapuram on the way. I was waiting near Marthandam and they joined me at 4:30. We made some refreshment in Thuckalay and reached Nagercoil in no time. We filled up the fuel in the motor bikes and we headed to Tirunelveli at 6 AM. In another 30 minutes we were cruising in the 4 lane road. It was a pleasure in driving. We were cruising at an average of 80 KMPH. It was really a fun to drive. But we made sure that everything is safe.

We reached the road which deviates to Tuticorin at 7:30 AM. We took a break of 15 minutes. And we then headed to Tuticorin. From this junction I started to go first and all team members were made to follow me. In another 30-40 minutes we were in Tuticorin. On arriving Tuticorin we found that Vishnu is missing from the team. We made lots of calls to him and he did not attend. We planned to lookout for him and he called us back saying instead of deviating to Tuticorin road he took the Madurai road. He arrived in 15 minutes. We then headed towards the East coast road. We decided to stop for breakfast in Tuticorin. We filled our bellies with a delicious Tamilian breakfast and started again.


 
From the four-lane we need to deviate towards the ECR. Temperature began to change. It was getting damn damn hot now. We were maintaining the speed to a mx of 90 KMPH. We took break every 1 hour and drank lots of water and made sure that body is cool. Since we were wearing fully covered mask, gloves, helmets. In every place we took break we spoke to the local people, discussed their works and other things. It was a good feeling to speak with different type of people. And finally at 2:30 we reached Rameshwaram. It was around 12 hours of journey but it was with lots of break.
We went to hotel, took showers and took some rest. We then went to Dhanushkodi in bike. We hired a offroad van and ventured into the areas. There is a road which is being constructed till the end of Dhanushkodi. May be in another 1 year it will be ready.

We came back to hotel after having a heavy dinner. We have to sleep well before making a return journey. In the morning, the teammates planned to go to temple. They returned back at 10 AM.

After having breakfast we started at 11 AM. We took a couple of breaks in between and reached Tuticorin at 3 PM. We had lunch at the same hotel where we had breakfast. The hotel people were happy to see us back.

Again while crossing Tuticorin, we missed up Biju and Sarath. Around one hour was wasted. And we were then heading towards Trivandrum. It was going to be a tough time as driving in the night in 4 lane is bit risky. We were driving very carefully. We then reached in Marthandam at 9:30 PM. We had tea and some snacks. I had to say good bye to them as my house near to Marthandam. The team members started to Trivandrum, they all reached their place by 11:30 PM.

It was a fantastic drive over all despite some bad things, like a minor accident, happened. We made some plan to do a bike drive to Kodaikanal in June 2016. Hope we will do it.



Signing off now. Will meet you all in the next travelogue.

Solo Drive to Tiruchendur and Thoothukudi

I always prefer to travel any where all alone. If I get a chance to drive through out India all alone, Im always ready for it. Hope will make it one day for sure. We can have our own freedom if we do a solo drive. No disturbance, No late comings, etc etc. We can set our own limits. Might sound bit crazy, but I mean it. Lol. 


This time I prefer to do a solo drive from my home town → Nagercoil → Kanyakumari → Thiruchendur → Thoothukudi → Thirunelveli → Nagercoil →back to home town. The total distance is approximately 365 kms. Earlier I planned to drive in my Hero Honda HUNK. But since it was raining in the parts of the areas I visit, it might spoil my entire trip. So zeroed down to drive it in my THAR. Its a 2WD DI model. This drive will be done in the day time as 60% of the route will be like a no-mans land. I mean there wont be any humans at all.


I started in the morning at 9 AM from home. When I started from home, it was raining like hell. I was thinking if I could able to take any photos of the drive. I was driving towards Kavalkinaru and from there I was driving towards Kanyakumari. From Anjugramam I had to deviate towards the Koodankulam route. It was pouring out like anything.


By the way, I have a huge collection of Illayaraja songs. Driving the vehicle in the rain, and hearing those songs is really awesome. I bought lots of snacks too and was driving while eating those. Hmm.. superb.


The road was really worse at some places. This road is said to be a highway, but there is no road at all. In no time I was crossing the Koodankulam nuclear plant. 



The weather began to change as well as the roads now began to change. It was superb at some places. Till koodankulam can able to see the houses and vehicle coming by. But after that its totally a deserted area. There might be one vehicle passing every 5-7 kms. But road is awesome. In some areas can able to see the costal areas as the highway is said to be as East coast road. I have to drive till Thiruchendur.







The road was perfect in some places







After traveling some distance, found a village. I saw a village hotel. I love eating simple food in village hotel rather than eating in star hotels. I had lunch over there and spoke to the people. Spent around 1 hour there and began to continue my drive. 


I reached Thiruchendur around 3 PM. I had to drive inside the town and further drive to Thoothukudi. There is no by-pass I guess.




Now the climate and roads were totally different. I cant even switch over to 3 rd in some places, such a horrible roads. The govt bus were overtaking casually in a high speed. I was thinking how the people inside the bus were experiencing the ride. Lol. I was drained out by then. Parked the jeep in a place and took some rest for 30 min. Refreshed further and drive till Thoothukudi. Had tea and snacks, and was cruising towards Thirunelveli. This highway is a four lane road. It was great to drive the THAR. It was a bumpy ride but was feeling the ride in THAR.





It was 6 PM by then. I was getting excited for a night drive. Took for break for over 1 hour and wanted to do a night drive. Started at 7 PM and reached Thirunelveli at 7:30. From Thirunelveli I had to drive to Nagercoil. 




The 4 lane is good over here too. I was maintaining an average speed of 80 KMPH in most of the places. Driving in night in jeep is simply superb and that too it was fantastic by hearing the ever green melodies of Illayaraja. At 8:30 I reached Kavalkinaru, had tea and snacks and further drove till Nagercoil. Had a heavy dinner and reached home at 10 PM.


Overall, the drive was superb. And that too it was a solo drive, it was really amazing.


Trekking To Agasthyakoodam

Agasthyakoodam is one of the highest peaks in Kerala. This peak is a part of the Western Ghats and has a height of 1868 meters above sea level. It is a famous pilgrimage center after the sage Agasthya. It involves a trek of 56km (28km one side) from Bonacaud/Bonaccord making it a trekker’s paradise. The main attractions of Agasthyakoodam are it’s evergreen forests, grasslands,rare herbs, biodiversity, mind blowing scenic beauty and the chance of seeing wild animals.




Agasthyakoodam is located 50kms from Trivandrum and in-between Trivandrum and Ponmudi. It is accessible via road. KSRTC operates regular bus services from Trivandrum and Neyyatinkara to Bonacaud, from where the trek starts.The minimum duration for Agasthyakoodam Trek is two days, which needs to be completed in two phases.The first phase of Agasthyakoodam Trek is the trek to the base camp which is around 22 kilometres from the Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud, there is a shelter where you can stay overnight, and a canteen where you would be given food. Bathroom facilities exist and are well maintained. The second phase involves a steep and tiring trek of 6km to the peak of Agasthyakoodam.

Agasthyakoodam is open to public from January to April.You need to take prior permissions from the wild life warden’s office in PTP Nagar, Trivandrum for the trek to Agasthyakoodam, by submitting an application form along with photostat copies of two valid ID cards and an amount of INR 500/person. Females are not allowed for this trek /pilgrimage.

I heard about the Agasthyakoodam in 2006 and was desperate to do a trekking. But due to time constraints I was unable to do it. I used to read lots of travelogues and my intention to do a trekking over there increased. It was during 2010 when i did a solo drive to Manjolai Hills, i saw the parts of Agasthyakoodam from there. It was breath taking.

Finally the dream came true when one of my collegue made a plan to go there. We applied for a pass in Jan 2014. Our slot to trek was scheduled on 22 Feb. So during the one month gap I did walking in the morning daily for about 6 kms just to make sure i can walk. I never had a habit of walking since i was used to drive car/bike. So in the one month my legs were almost got fit for the trekking.

So the D-Day arrives. We planned to go as a team of 8 members from our office. At the last minute one member has to cancel the trip due to some personal commitment. Our Boss joined us.

The team members were Thomas, Anil, Deepak, Vinu, Binoop, Jayadev, Hari and ofcourse MYSELF.

Day 1

We arranged a Innova to take us till Bonacaud estate. We started at 4:30 PM from Karyavattom, Trivandrum. After picking up members on the way we finally reached Bonacaud camp at 7:45 AM. We had breakfast from the canteen and we were all set to trek. We bought lunch from the canteen. Our passes were checked with the ID proof given during the registration. We had our baggage checked completely as carrying Liqour/Cigrettes are completely banned. We were assigned to a guide. The guide keeps on changing for every 3 kms where there is a camp located. We were the first batch for the day.

1-2-3-4 here we go.






Initial part of trekking is of ease. The path laid is easy to walk for some distance. It was full of trees. Slowly it began to change. I knew that the worst part is yet to come.







We had to take small breaks in between refreshed ourselves with sweets and fruits. We were not in a hurry as we got a time to reach the base camp before 5 PM. On the way we found a water stream.







We took a small shower over there. The moment when we dipped our legs, the pain in our legs were gone. We found lots of water streams on the way. Water in these streams were pure. By looking at the places i was thinking that God created the earth today. it was all fresh and pure.













Around 12:30 we reached in another water stream. We had our lunch over there. We took rest for 30 min. Till now were were travelling under the shadow of the trees. The next part is trekking in open grass lands.










Now the real test starts. The path was full of rocks in the way. I was swetting like a hell. At this point of time, i was thinking why did i come for this trekking. It was better that i could sit in my home and play with my son... hahaha.. But still i was thinking that this trekking is once in a life time. The path got steeper when we progressed. We saw some people who were returning back. They were saying that the base camp is near. But we kept on walking and nothing came.







inally the grass lands began to disappear and we can feel a cool breeze. We took some break and again started. Now the path got worse. It got steeper and steeper. At one point of time, i had to take rest after every 10-15 steps. The climate in this area is awesome. Sun light never touches the ground, it was really cool atleast of 20 deg.








We walked further and came in normal path. And in no time we reached the base camp at 4:30 PM.













It is the place where we have to take rest for the night and again trek to the peak the next day. We could see the peak from the camp. Legs were paining like a hell as we had travelled for 22 kms. We got a shelter to stay for the night. We ordered kanji for the night and went to a stream near by for a bath. we spent around 1 hour in water refreshed our selves. we had kanji and then ordered the breakfast and slept.

It was around 11 pm during our sleep we heard some people screeming. We initially thought some wild animals might have entered in to the shelter. the forest guards came running and it turned out to be a King Cobra. One guy got scared bcos of the scream he climbed in the top. it was a fear of life. the forest guards made the snake to turn into the forest. Even though we did not see it we had a relief.

Day 2

woke up in the morning at 6 am. after completing the morning duties we were then set off to the next part of trekking. we bought breakfast from the canteen and set off to the peak at 7 AM. the initial part was ok but it got steeper and steeper. it was dense forest. we had to climb some big rocks.




i almost walked for 3 kms and from there i was not able to continue at all. still i continued further. at one point of time was i totally into a stand still. my legs were getting shiverring. i decided to end my trek here. i told my team members to continue their trek and i will wait for them here. they really motivated me, but my body is not permitting to continue further. they continued in their trek. it was in a lonely place and can feel the breeze of fresh air. many fellow travellers were crossing, they were guessing why i was sitting there. one guide told me that this is the path of the elephants and bears. i was thinking what to do. so at this time my boss also had to break the trek. so we planned to return back.

while returning on the way we heard some sound, thought it as some animal comming to attack us. we took stone and stick and walked slowly and nothing came across. we reached the base camp around 11 AM. we had lunch from there and started to walk to Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud. we were just two and had to walk alone in the deep forest without any guide or help. travelling downside also has the same effect like climbing. we almost missed a way and found that it is not the one and we retuned to the normal route. it was interesting. and in no time we both reached the grass lands. it was hot as hell. we took rest and continued the journey. we could see the foot steps of the elephants.




on the way we met another collegue and just told him that some elephants are in the way and have to be careful. we soon crossed the grass lands and entered into the thick forest once again. we were speaking and walking, walking all alone. Reached the water stream where we took bath the previous day and took another shower. drank lots of water and again set off to reach the Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud.




while we were walking we heard some heavy sound of the leaves, and turned towards it. it was a elephant. All alone. it was hardly 50m from us. the joke which we made to our collegue turned to be a real. we walked slowly for around 20-30 steps and ran as fast as we could. we were not sure how that energy came to us. it was a run for life. on the way there was a camp. we told the guide who was sitting there was an elephant. they immediately ran towards the place to drive it off as many others will be returning. we walked further and came to the forest camp at 5:45. they check the bags once again, to check if we are carrying anything from forest. after the formalities we had to catch the bus from bonacaud estate at 6:30 PM. it was around 2 kms. we got the bus and reached Nedumangad and took a auto-rickshaw and reached room at 9 PM.

Only now i was thinking why did i came out of the forest. Because inside the forest there was no pollution and a peaceful life. all we hear is the sound of birds and breathe fresh air. The memories of the trekking would stay in heart for ever. But the saddest part is i was unable to complete the entire trek. I was happy that i could this much as i never had a habit of walking. May be next time i wanna do it once again till the top.

Notes

Never carry water. You can find water in the streams.
Always carry light things.
Carry sweets. It will give you energy.


Signing off with a note to people who trek, never throw plastic into the forest. it will spoil the nature. this forest is still fresh with its beauty.

Trip to Kodayar Lower Camp

In my childhood days I used to see the bus which goes to Kodayar Lower Camp and friends say it is a dam. During that time once my father went with his friends for a trip and he told me those experiences.

Comming back now, I was planning for nearly 5 months to go there. Nothing worked out. This place is hardly 35-40 kms from my home. One day my friend named Manikandam came to my home to fix up a issue in the printer. When I told him about Kodayar he said his friend is working there and we planned for a trip on 26 Oct '12. It all happened all of a sudden.

In the mean time, I was searching for some photographs of Kodayar in google images. I was unable to get a clear cut pics. The best thing is go in person and see it.

We had applied for permission to go to the dam and we got it through the TNEB department.

It was all set to travel on 26 Oct. I had invited my other friends like Joshi, Evan, Sibi to join the trip. But they had to pull out in the last minute. Finally its me and Manikandan to go there. My newly maintained MM 540 was the carrier.

I started from my home at 9 AM. Filled the stomach of MM540 with diesel and set out to meet manikandan. He was waiting in his home in Kulasekaram and we had a tea and set out to Kodayar. We had to go to Kodayar via Pechiparai dam. After crossing the dam, there was a small village and from there we need to go for another 1 kms there is a check-post. Since we have got permission from the TNEB dept our vehicle number was given to the checkpost. The forest department maintain the check post. After a small formality we were inside the camp area. We travelled for nearly 5 kms through the rubber estate and we stopped the vehicles to take some shots. Wow.. its a beautiful place. We can able to find bus, jeep, tempo going inside. The place is not at all crowded. Only the estate people were inside. Happy that this place is not spoiled in the name of tourism.

I drove the jeep further and we crossed some beautiful places. Felt like to stay there forever. Cant imagine such a lovely place in Kanyakumari dist.

We then reached a small village named modiramalai at 12 PM. There was a small hotel named Hotel Achu. We had some snacks there. We ordered lunch too. We then set out to go to Kodayar Lower Dam. There was another place named Kuttiyaru on the way. On speaking with some locals they said there is no water over there and going there is mere waste. So we cancelled the plan and set out to the dam & power house.

By 12:45 we reached the dam and power house. Since we have already got permission the officials showed us the working of the dam. We saw the equipments which are needed for power generation. My god.. such a big. he explained us every thing.

Water is taken from the upper Kodayar in Manjolai through the penstock pipes and when the water comes in full speed they generate power through the shafts and this water goes to Dam - 1. From the Dam - 1 the water goes to Dam - 2. From Dam - 2 they generate power and the water from there is being pumped to the upper kodayar through pipes. Its totally a recycling process. This dam started to function from 1965. Fantastic plan. They saved every drop of water not to get wasted.

We saw the beauty of the power house and the dam. There is a winch which carry the people from the lower dam to the upper dam. Since photography is prohibited we did not shoot any pics. We had some conversation with the police who guard there. Its time for us to say bye to the people.

On the way we saw a beautiful water falls named RAIN FALLS. Good one. We then drove further and stopped the jeep near to a bridge in Kodayar. We took some bath there. The water was as cool as the water in fridge. We spent nearly one hr there. After that we came back to modiramalai. Had lunch in Hotel Achu. It was awesome. Fish curry meals and fish fry. Superb. Can never forget the taste.

Its time for us to go to home. We then came to the main check post and signed the registry and said a good bye to the entire area. At this time of writing I can never forget the scenaries inside the area. Its full of green. No waste things around. No pollution. The best thing is NO TOURISM. That makes this place a real place in earth.

I dropped Manikandan at his home and I came back to my home driving all alone with the memories of Kodayar Lower Camp.

The photos which I uploaded in FB was liked by every one.

 

Trip to Manjolai

I was planning for a solo drive for a long time. i was inspired by a solo trip by a guy from punjab. he has made a solo trip from punjam to kanyakumari. i was actually making a solo trip to pondicherry in the 2nd week of august. but due to some constraints i had to change the location to some places near by. then i selected this place Manjolai. I had come across this place during our earlier trip to mundanthurai tiger reserve. before that i had written a letter to the project tiger office in mundanthurai to give permission for me to enter to this place. i knew a officer over here and he gladly gave me the permission officially.

i had to drop my wife in tirunelveli to write a exam and then im a free bird till evening.

the companian for my drive is my manza. lol.

from tirunelveli, i had to go to ambasamudram to get my permission letter from the project tiger office. the permission letter was readily available over there. got the letter and took some photo copies of it and then headed to manjolai.

from ambasamudram had a drive till kaladikurichy and from there to manimuthar. in the manimuthar dam entrance, i have to show the permission letter and pay the pass.

for vehicle they charge 15 rs. for camera its 15 rs and for each person its 15 rs. he forest official asked me how many people are there with me, i said im all alone. he was quite surprised to see me. i love to travel alone always. he asked me if i love the forest. without wasting a single milli second i said YES. from manimuthar dam i had to go to the manjolai via the manimuthar falls. in the entrance of the falls, i had to show the copy of the letter to a forest guard he then opened a small gate. now its into the forest. the roads are now steep to climb. i had to ride the car in the 2nd gear. the climate too began to change. i was feeling around 35 deg in the low areas. the temperature began to fall. i can feel it.

i was driving, driving, driving. cannot able to spot a single vehicle comming from opposite side. then after time the entrance gate of the tea estate comes. i had to show the permission letter and even that security was quite surprised to see me alone driving in this place. now i have to travel to a place called kudiraivetti. from the main gate to udiraivetti its nearly 26 kms. travelling this 26 kms will take nearly 2 hours as its steep roads. according to my knowledge kudiraivetti is the highest peak in this manjolai hill station. not so sure if its correct or not. i had to travel to a towns named manjolai, naalumukku, oothu and then travel to kudirai vetti.

on the way to naalukukku i saw a beutiful place. its a golf cource i believe. but entry is prohibited. there is a small lake near to the area. its awesome. had spent some 10 min over there and spoke about manjolai to the security guard. i then headed towards naalumukku.

on the way i asked several people where is naalukukku they said its 1 km 2km 5 km. but road is going on and on. i got a doubt if im travelling on a wrong route. but i met a officer in the tea estate, he explained me the route very clearly that its better to avoid asking any one. after some driving reached naalumukku. its a small town. the people who works in the tea estate stays here.

from naalumukku there is a road which goes to kodayar upper dam. the lower dam is in kanyakumari dist. for going to kodayar we need to get permission from the EB office in kalakkad. i enquired about kodayar in naalukummu. the locals said its not so worth to travel over there. then i continued my drive towards kudiraivetti. on the way there is a place called oothu. there were two boys playing around i just waved my hands. they asked me where im going. i asked them to accompany me if they are free. they came along with me. they shared many things about the forest. these two boys are studying in a school in manjolai. i asked them what would they want to become. one boy said collector and another boy said civil engineer. awesome !!!

now the roads become really worse. felt really bad for my manza. anyways, she did not cry. atlast from a distance saw a watch tower and whooooo.. this is kudiraivetti. beautiful place. from the watch tower can able to see manimuthar dam, karayar dam. these boys showed me some hills. i think some 3-4 hills. they said these are the places that you have travelled. oh my god. amazing. the winds in kudiraivetti is very strong. it will push you down in some occasions.

can able to see lots of wastage over there. the people who travel over here just drop here. dear people, please dont throw any wastages over here. just respect the nature and the wild life.

its now time for me to return back to home. dropped the two boys in oothu and then had a drive till the main gate of the estate. in the entrance office they sell tea. i bought a organic tea named oothu tea. just 200 gms cost around 150 rs. its purely meant for exporting. then i travelled via the manimuthar falls and manimuthar dam and finally reached tirunelveli at 4:45 PM.

it was a great experience for me.

distance from the manimuthar dam to kudiraivetti is 35 kms. so readers, do get confused at any cost.

i had a talk with a official in the tea estate. he said he will arrange a stay in the EB Guesthouse next time and arrange for a night trek in the forest. i hav his number too. may be i hav to plan a trip there very soon.

climate is fascinating. hardly 25 deg in the day time. but in the morning it would be 18 deg.

Drive to Arukani and Pathukani

I was planning to do a ride to arukani & pathukani for a long time. Each time when i plan for it there would be some sort of troubles comming up. And this time all was clear. No obstacles.

Arukani is a village which is situated in the pechiparai hills. It is situated almost 15 kms from Kulasekaram town. From Kulasekaram, we should take the road towards nedumangad. We need to cross Thirparappu. From a village named Kaliyal we need to take right. Then we need to cross some villages like Kadayalamoodu, Pennu, Pathukani to reach Arukani.

As the name suggests the kani tribes live here. There is no attraction over there in arukani. But the way towards arukani is awesome. There are lots of rubber estates. On the way we can see the parts of Pechiparai reservoir. There are some dams like Chittar and Anamugam which is on the way. From Pennu, a road deviates and go to a place called Ganapathikal. There are some awesome scenaries over there.

In Arukani, there is a govt school which is meant for the kani children. We were actually planning to go beyond Arukani, but the road works were going on and we were unable to cross over it. May be next time we will go to those places. There is a small hill where we can do a trekking.

As this drive to arukani was planned all of a sudden i could not able to invite my friends. I had to call my cousin brother. He was driving my MM 540 jeep throughout the journey.