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Day 0 – 25th Dec 2010: Bangalore to Chidambaram (412 Km)
Day 1 – 26th Dec 2010: Chidambaram to Point Calimere (208 Km)
Day 2 – 27th Dec 2010: Point Calimere to Ramanathapuram (370 Km)
Day 3 – 28th Dec 2010: Ramanathapuram to Kanyakumari (291 Km)
Day 4 – 29th Dec 2010: Kanyakumari to Vathalagundu (413 Km)
Day 5 – 30th Dec 2010: Vathalagundu to Bangalore (508 Km)

Route Map (Interactive)

Day 2 – Dec 27th, 2010

Km 620 (0)

I slept late till 0600 waking up a few times at night to flip the clothes. It helps them dry faster.The clothes are still wet when I am ready to leave so I pack them in a polyethylene bag.
I first go to the beach to see if there is a possibility of catching the sunrise. Driving all the way over the sand, I park near the water.

The cloud cover  prevents the sun from coming out. After watching a few fishing boats leave I turn around.

Km 624 (4)

Yesterday on way I had seen a watch tower meant for looking at migratory birds. I park off the road and take a short walk to the tower taking the last of my Bangalore apples for breakfast.
The watchtower is a rickety affair. Halfway up I have second thought about climbing up but I gather enough courage to keep going and reach the top.
The gentle swaying of the tower makes me regret the decision to climb. I plant myself firmly in the middle carefully avoiding the small hole with weak edges.

The view from the top was nothing to boast about. I could see far into the marsh land dotted by small lakes and trees. In the distance I could see several birds flocked together. However, they were too far away for a good look. A pair of binoculars would have been useful.
I stand there for a while munching on the apple. Occasionally a stork or a pelican would fly by with the its magnificent wings glittering white as snow in the light of the sun peeping from behind the clouds.
After finishing the apple, I linger longer for chances to see more of the birds flying by. All seem to be congregating at the flock far away like a morning school assembly.
Returning from the tower, I drive towards Vedaranyam stopping on way to click the salt for memory.

Km 629 (9)

Aware that my water bottle was running low, I watch out for a road side water tap. I am still on the outskirts of Vedaranyam and small hut and houses line the single lane road. I observer that every house has a hand pump outside the gate.
Not finding a water tap, I stop next to a hand pump. As I was filling the bottle, a person stepped out of the gate, with an expression of “who is filling water from my pump?”.
Seeing me and the bike his expression mellows and we exchange a customary smile before I move on.

Km 633 (13)

At Vedaranyam, turn west towards Tagattur. This outskirt is the affluent outskirt of the city. Big houses with bigger Kolam line a wider road separated by fields.
The road is excellent and ,with no traffic, it is fun to drive on. The road has a twin dividing line the purpose of which eludes me.

Km 646 (26)

The morning drive has been excellent. The morning has a slight chill and the warm sun on the back feels good.
Past Vedaranyam, the road is flanked by water bodies (either a small lake or pond of a canal). White lotus add beauty to the serene landscape of  water, coconut trees and blue skies.

Km 663 (43)

After crossing Tagattur the road condition deteriorates. I also find myself lost. I probably took a wrong turn among the many intersections I crossed.
After pulling over, I take out both my maps and cross-reference to locate myself and find a way to Muthupet. After a few minutes of study, I find myself getting nowhere. As I am contemplating using the GPS and google maps, a person going the other way stops to ask in clear English whether he can help me.
I explain to me that I need to get to Muthupet. He seemed surprised and explained to me that I was further north than I should be and directed me towards Thiruthuraipoondi from where I could take the East Coast Road (ECR).

Km 665 (45)

2 Km down I join the ECR and turn south towards Rameshwaram.
The road is excellent partly divided and partly undivided twin lane. On this day the traffic was minimal and I could do with minimal concentration on the road with my instinct doing most of the work.

Km 689 (69)

ECR bypasses most towns and Muthupet is no exception. The excellent road continues and I make good time driving at a constant speed.

Km 723 (103)

Petrol break. I also rest a while under the pump overhang.

Km 730 (110)

The sea is now been visible on the East. Watching out for a way to the water I take a narrow mud path to the water.
To my disappointment (I wonder why I expected sand) there is no sand. The path ends in slush with boat parked on water.
A fisherman surprised at seeing me, comes to me and wonders what I am doing there. I ask for beach and he laughs pointing me in the direction I am coming from.
We exchange a few words, with him exercising the few words of Hindi he knew.

On way back to the main road, I see two kids sharing a packet of chips. At the sight my stomach started protesting at its step motherly treatment. Having eaten only an apple since morning it was time to grab some grub.

Km 736 (116)

When I stop at a small but crowded junction, the shadows are no longer long. As usual the most crowded place was my criterion. For Rs 14/- I devoured 4 paronthas and a glass of tea.
As I ate, I had the ring side seat of the paronthas being made.
First dough is turned into a thin and large sheet, by a combination of rolling and tossing. Then by holding the center, lifting the middle like a tent it is converted into a long tube with folds. This is then twisted into a spiral. The spiral is gently rolled on before cooking. Not to mention that these guys do it extremely fast making one parontha in less than 15 sec.

With the stomach ready to doze off, I start again.

Km 752 (132)

The road again run parallel and close to the sea. I am on the watch for a way to the water and a secluded tree where I can rest and possibly sleep for a while.
Couple of attempts yield no results. There are pretty much no trees. The few ones I find are either in the vicinity of numerous temples that are mushroomed all over or too dirty to relax around.
Tamil Nadu is probably a state where if you close your eyes and walk a Km in any direction you are likely to hit a temple.

Km 808 (188)

ECR is a great road if you want to cover distances. However it has little character. It bypasses most towns and villages. Though small settlements are starting to crop up at intersections, they still are just an assembly of brick and mortar.
What is missing is the smell of villages/small towns and the people to give it color.
Also missing are the large trees which provide shade to travellers since the days of yore and are still looked for people like me.
I guess today’s travellers do not need them, for they look for CCDs (Cafe Coffee Day) rather than trees for rest and recuperation.
After being on the lookout for a decent tree for more than 50 Km, I find one on a road leading away. There was also a parapet to lie on.
Wasting no time, I park the bike and lie down to doze off. The cool shade and gentle breeze are catalyst enough to lure me into a deep sleep.

A strong sun on my face woke me up. Getting up I find the shade has moved on leaving my parapet blazing in the sun’s glory.
Ignoring the attraction to shift position and going back to sleep, I pack up ready to go. Wise decision as it was going to be a long day ahead. Rameshwaram was not going to be friendly.

Km 836 (216)

Large sign boards encourage the drivers to take the bypass to Ramnathpuram and head towards Rameshwaram. I am happy to oblige for Dhanushkodi is my destination.
Past Ramnathpuram the road condition is still excellent and the surroundings  more interesting. There are large institutes (naval, research, marine) surrounded by small towns.
Unfortunately I pay little attention and hurry up towards Rameshwaram stopping a while on the bridge to see what is crowd is stopping to see.

Km 897 (277)

The city is larger and more commercialized than I expected. After checking out a few lodges with negative outcome, I head towards Dhanushkodi.

Km 915 (295)

Dhanushkodi is little more than 20 Km from Rameshwaram.
After sometime, the road is flanked by sea on both sides with walls protecting the road at places. The road is excellent and the primary traffic is of tourists.
Unless you have a 4×4 you cannot drive all the way to Dhanushkodi. There is a small parking lot with food shops and gift items a few Km from the actual village ruins. From there one can take a ride on a 4×4 jeep or a truck to the actual village.
After looking for a safe parking place for the bike (somewhere I can leave the saddle bags), I park near a small shack where an old man and his wife are frying fish.
The smell is salivating enough for me to delay the rush to catch the next truck and relish the fish.
After informing the old man, that I am parking the bike in front of their place, I hurry to catch the truck.
There is chaos and rush to catch the truck among the tourists. I manage to sneak in and secure a seat on the benches in the next truck. However, I give it up to an elderly tourist in exchange for standing on the foot board, holding a thick rope.
The ride is bumpy with several ups and downs. Holding on the foot board is difficult but provides a better view. It is fun. Ruins are visible on the way and so is the abandoned railway track.
At the village, there are abandoned building and even more small shops selling curios.
The ruins at Dhanushkodi make for good photo subjects. Walking around sand is cumbersome and I soon have sand in my shoes as I navigate around the ruins finding the right angle to avoid lens flare.

After a 40 min stop, the truck driver collects all the tourists and we head back.
200m before the parking lot the truck stops. Up front there is a truck stuck in the sand. Deciding not to wait, I jump off and start walking towards the parking lot.
It is a laboured walk as the sand make for difficult walking.
I am back at the parking lot after a little more than two hours. The bike and its baggage is safe.
I head back to Rameshwaram to search for a place to stay for the night.

At Rameshwaram, the story is same. No one wants to give a room to an individual traveller. Most places reject out-rightly. A few which have rooms available, make excuses (like “Sir, only suite for 6 people available”) to avoid giving room.

Km 932 (312)

After doing an on bike prakrima of the temple, and in the process checking 10-15 lodges, I head out towards Ramnathpuram.
Every cloud has a silver lining. So did my riding away from Rameshwaram. I rediscovered a culinary delight of my childhood.
Just before exiting the city I fill up on gas.

Km 965 (345)

Desperately needing a cup of tea, I stop at a largish bakery.
Looking for something to eat, I ask for a bun. The man behind the counter point me to a stack on the corner. Couple of flies buzz around on the buns. Below the stack I spy a few buns individually wrapped in a plastic bag. Uncharacteristic of myself, I opt for the wrapped buns only to discover them to be a packaged variant of bun-malai – a regular bun stuffed with sweet cream.
Something I would relish as a kid.
Cream bun with hot sweet tea – a perfect comfort food makes me hopeful of finding a place to crash at Ramnathpuram.

Km 988 (368)

It is already dark when I cross the ECR and get into Ramnathpuram city.
On the lookout for a place to stay, I stop at the first decent place to stay and get a room. This is a pretty fancy place with a/c and a tv. Unfortunately there are no Hindi or English channels on tv.
After relaxing for a while, I head out for dinner.
There is a restaurant attached to the hotel advertising its multi-cuisine fare. It doesn’t look to attractive and so I head towards the bus stand and get into a small crowded eatery.
After a basic meal of roti, dosa and mutton curry (with a bottle of sprite pushing the price up) I return back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep.

Km 990 (370)

Day end.

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