In the last 4 years of my professional life, I have traveled and trekked a lot in Himalayan region to appease my peripatetic alter ego. Though I prefer solo travel but for my parent's concern I usually tag along someone as accomplice in the adventures. But whether its me or my alter ego, one has to bear the frequent chide of the parent. So I decided to take my parents for a trip- killing two birds with one stone.
So in late Dec 2019 I went for South India trip along with my parents and their friends ( I along with 4 Senior Citizens). The trip was going to be a mix of pilgrimage and sight-seeing within a tight budget. I could get most of my 9 days plan, though it was hectic on few days. Here it goes:
28th Dec : Plan was to arrive to Chennai,our meeting point by noon. I came from Delhi and parents & co. flew from Hyderabad to Chennai. We hired a Ola cab to Mahabalipuram and spent the night there in a pre-booked hotel. A week long dance festival was going on there. We attended a Bharatanatyam performance in an open field near the Shore temple for free and visited the beach.
Hotel: Living Dream Residency,Mahabalipuram
29th Dec: Mahaballipuram used to be an important port city within the Pallava kingdom. The site contains a group of monuments, many carved out of the living rock which are dated to the 7th and 8th centuries : Shore temple, Panch Rathas,Krishna's Butterball,Descent of the Ganges with lighthouse, beaches and museums. By evening we took a local bus to Chengalpattu Junction(the nearest railway station) to catch our overnight train to Rameshwaram.
30th Dec: Reached the holy town by morning and went to the pre-booked dharamshala near Rameshwaram temple. In first we half visited the Dhanuskodhi and Arichal munai by local tempo(Cost Rs 800) . Arichal Munai is the last tip of island, that is beyond 4.5km of Dhanuskodi with single stretch of perfect tarred road having Bay of Bengal on left and Indian ocean on your right. From here Sri-Lanka is not very far (only ~20 nautical kms away).In evening we visited the nearby town attraction and went to Rameshwaram temple visit at night.
Dharmsala :Maheshawari Bhakt Niwas,Rameswaram
31st Dec- Early morning we went to Rameshawarm temple for the pious 22 Kund snan and then left for Madurai by 11'o clock by a local train. After 3 hrs of journey we deboarded at Madurai Jn. ,kept our luggage at Cloak room at station itself and went to visit Meenakshi Temple, a fine specimen of Dravidian architecture. There was long queue till main darshan and we toiled for almost 3 hrs. We strolled to nearby market and had tasty Jigarthanda drink(town's specialty). By night we boarded the train to Nagercoil.
1stJan'20: Reached Nagercoil Jn by early morning and went directly to our pre-booked hotel. At 9'o clock we started our journey to Kanyakumari by local bus from Nagercoil Bus stand. In Kanyakumari there was huge line to boat jetty ferry to Vivekananda rock as it was peak tourist season. Anyhow we went ahead and visited the same and by afternoon visited the nearby attraction near the beach. We waited there to watch the spectacular sunset view from the beach and came back to our hotel in Nagercoil by early night.
Hotel Stay: Hotel Ganga Palace,Nagercoil
2nd Jan'20: Boarded an early train from the Nagercoil Jn and reached to Kollam by 8 am. Kept the luggage at cloak room at station and went to DTPC boat Jetty office for our tour to Munroe Island, an inland island with appealing backwater sans touristy crowd. We were taken by Travellor along with some foreigners to the Munroe Island which is approx 43 km from there. There we had a backwater tour and came back to Kollam by 2 pm(Cost Rs 600 per person). I already had advance arrangement for a taxi for our tour to Jatayu Earth centre which is at 40km at Chadayamanglam. There we visited the world’s largest bird sculpture built at hill top associated with Ramayana mythology. In return we visited a very clean Kollam beach for sunset. At night we boarded the Kerala government "Minnal' bus to Munnar.
3rd Jan'20: We reached early morning to Munnar town at around 6:30 am and went to our hotel. Already I had a taxi tour pre-booked for entire day journey to attraction point on the way to Top station, via Kundala Lake, Echo Point, Mattupetty Dam etc. Now I could truly relate to why Kerala is called god's own country. If ever my lust for Himalayas satiates then Kerala would surely fill the void.
Hotel Stay: Cicily Cottage
4th Jan'20: Had small tour to nearby Attukad Waterfalls by a tempo in the morning and then boarded the local bus to Ernakullam. The route was again scenic with waterfalls, greenery and spice gardens accompanying for ones visual treat. However we reached very late in the evening to station, so could not visit the Cochin town as we had overnight train to Bengaluru.
5th Jan'20: Reached Bengaluru by morning, our last destination from where we'd return to our abode. Mine was flight to Delhi at night and for the rest it was flight to Ranchi the next day. And in meanwhile we visited some of our relatives and a Shiva temple as we all have had already visited the town earlier.
It was refreshing change from my usual hilly landscape to witness the myriad of diversity my country is bestowed with.