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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 3 – Dec 28th, 2010

Km 990 (0)

When my eyes opened, the silence surprised me. Aside from the hum of the a/c, there was no sound – no traffic noise and no sounds from nearby rooms.
Assuming very early in the morning, I turned over to sleep. Then I got up and pushed the curtain aside to peek outside. Morning had already broken in. The room was too insulated to let any noise in.
Hurrying up to get read, I was out within minutes.
It doesn’t take me long to exit the Ramnathpuram and settle down on cruising South on the ECR.

Km 1000 (10)

Seeing a roadside board pointing left towards Sethu Karai, I turned left. I remembered the name vaguely from the maps I had seen the day before.
The morning was fresh and adventure was in the air.
The road was good with trees and greenery lining the road.

Km 1004 (14)

A peacock flew over me into a tree and disappeared. I stop and walk back to click a picture but it disappeared. I would get lucky on my way back.

Km 1006 (16)

Sethu Karai is the place where Lord Ram is said to have constructed a bridge from here over the sea waters to reach Sri Lanka.

The Sethu Karai temple is a small temple.

Aside from me a bus of tourists was waiting for the temple to open. As I parked my bike, a person appeared out of nowhere to collect the parking ticket. It seemed funny paying for parking in an isolated place like Sethu Karai. I guess it really gets crowded on special days.

Km 1013 (23)

On way back I spot the peacock and his friends again. Surprisingly there were a few pet turkey on the road. First time I saw turkey in India.

The Thiruppullani temple is much bigger and had more pilgrims. It could be that most pilgrims first come to Thiruppullani and then go to Sethu Karai.

A few Km later, I take another diversion towards the Erwadi. Knowing of the dargah I expected a lots of shops and small eateries. The shops were closed and the eateries did not exhibit anything interesting to persuade me to stop.

Km 1024 (34)

Even though there are no trees on this stretch of ECR, the surrounding are green with lots of low-lying areas filled with water.
The weather is gloomy. The sun should have been out by now.

Km 1065 (75)

Pangs of hunger force me to look for something to eat. I wonder why we get hungry at short intervals while driving.
I stop at a small shop at Sayalgudi for breakfast.
I start with Puri which almost everyone else is having. Unfortunately the puris are cold server with piping hot alu sabji. Not content with that I ask for a dosa. The guy does not understands masala dosa. So I just ask for dosa and out come freshly made hot dosa.

Km 1110 (120)

The drive is becoming boring and I am increasingly getting sleepy.
Stopping next to a salt pan, I wash my face. I also wanted to take a hand full of salt and let it sieve through my fingers like the movies.
The salt tastes horrible unlike table salt. I guess this salt  goes through several rounds of processing before it reaches our table.

Km 1146 (156)

Reaching Tuticorin I search for an easy way out. The bypass, though extra wide, is jammed with trucks. After asking a couple of truck drivers, I manage to find the exit roads.

Almost out-of-town, I stop for tea accompanied with cream bun. Being morning, the cream bun is extremely fresh and I relish two of them.
I also withdraw some cash from a nearby ICICI ATM.

The road condition deteriorates after Tuticorin and the going becomes slow navigating around the pot holes.

After a while I reach a junction where there is a large church being constructed. I stop in the shade of the church and watch a ceremony being performed. Though it looked like a marriage with band/baja, the bride and groom were nowhere visible.

The new church did not look anything like the old one.

Km 1181 (191)

Entering Thiruchendur I am pretty much lost. Surprisingly the town is like a ghost town. The streets are empty and most shops are closed. It just looks weird.
Unable to find anyone to ask for directions, I am tempted to stop and knock on some door. Resisting the urge I take blind turns and navigate around. After one such turns, I see several buses lined up on the road up ahead.
Driving further I see a large temple tower up ahead and I turn towards that. Turning the next bend I see where the town people are.
Up ahead there is a huge crowd gathered near the temple. Apparently some special function.
The temple is next to the beach and several people are bathing and paying obeisance to the god.

After sticking around the beach for a while I ask a bus driver for direction and head on.
The roads now though narrow, look much better.

Km 1202 (212)

The churches of Manapad are visible on the horizon several Km before the village. The Holy Cross Church situated on the hilltop was built-in 1581.

However the building looks new, probably recently renovated.

There were a couple of other large churches being built-in the village which looked grand from a distance.
I wonder why a small village like this needs so many churches.
The Holy Cross Church is located in a beautiful location overlooking a curved shoreline with a beautiful beach.
To my disappointment, there was no natural shade here for a noon siesta. The afternoon sun discouraged me from lingering on much longer.

Km 1267 (277)

The road condition deteriorates and potholes appears with more regularity.
The soil has become red which does not seem to support large trees. Mostly there are shrubs and small trees.

Wind mills start appearing on the horizon. As I continue down the road, the frequency increases.

By the time I join NH7, I am yearning for Kanyakumari to put my feet up and rest a while.

Km 1277 (287)

At Kanyakumari the usual drama ensures. No one willing to give a hotel room. Almost at the end of my patience,  I find a room at a hotel whose owner had been a professor at Bangalore.
He spotted my Karnataka license plate and a conversation ensured. And then he gave me a room after his manager had declined with a polite “no room saar”.
Dumping my gear in the room, I head out for lunch. South Indian meal after a long time – rice, sambhar and masala fish.
Returning back to the hotel I sleep a while before deciding to walk to edge of India.

Kanyakumari is a quintessential tourist trap and extremely crowded for my liking.

I can understand why Swami Vivekanand had to find an island offshore to meditate. He was running from the crowds.

Sitting on the parapet on the edge I waited for the sunset like the thousand others and watched it go down like any other sunset without the serenity of environment to enjoy.

The islands offshore light up after dark providing ample opportunity for post card shots.

After lingering around for a while I walk towards the other side of the town towards the Vivekanand Kendra. It is recommended to me for dinner.
The food is simple and tastes fine. But it is expensive for the price.

Returning back to the hotel, I wash clothes before going to sleep.
The night was bad with a few college kids and traffic keeps me waking at night.

Km 1281 (291)

Day end.

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