The three of us set out in the wee hours of Saturay, April 25, to board our train from Kacheguda station in Hyderabad. We reached Madurai right-time at 7 on Sunday morning, and boarded the Madurai-Rameshwaram passenger. We crossed the beautiful Pamban bridge that connects Pamban island with Indian landmass, and the morning view of sea and island from the bridge was both beautiful and magnificent.
We reached Rameshwaram in around 3 hours, and decided on visiting Dhanushkodi first. Beyond this place lies the farthest point from the Indian land, where the Ram Setu connecting to Lanka was supposed to exist centuries back. One has to board the mini buses that shuttle between Dhanushkodi and Ram Setu point, as private vehicle are not allowed. Travelling over the imaginary road of sand and water, we reached our destination in 30 minutes. It was both due to the picture-perfect white and blue seascape and the feeling of being at the farthest tip of India, separated from Sri Lanka by mere 18km. It was not the usual beach holiday experience, it was more of a satisfying traveler moment which took a while to get absorbed into the soul.
We relished a traditional south Indian meal at a local restaurant. We visited the world-famous Ramanathaswamy temple in the evening and enjoyed the classical aarti which includes temple elephants. Religious significance aside, I spent some time appreciating the beautiful architecture. The 1000-pillar corridor was as beautiful as I had always imagined them to be. We then strolled near the beach adjacent to the temple, which, honestly, wasn’t a good experience as it was squalid. But there wasn’t much to do anyway.
Kodaikanal (Misty Mountain Top)
We started as early as 5 the next day to catch the Madurai-Rameshwaram passenger, and reached Madurai by 9. We took the first bus to Kodaikanal. Even though it was a local bus, the weather was pleasant and it became cooler as we ascended the hills on our way to Kodai, which took us 4 hours. As is expected of a hill station, the views were breathtaking, full of greenery and pollution-free. We spotted a Punjabi Dhaba, and hogged on parathas after an overdose of rice meals.
We bought home-made chocolates and headed towards Vattakanal, 6km from Kodaikanal, where one can get cheap cottages for stay. We immediately found one, dumped the luggage and headed out to explore the place. Though it was cloudy, we could spot some view points. As the night set in, we headed back to our cottage, lit a fire and prepared omelette and Maggie for dinner.
Next morning we visited the places of interest in Vattakanal- Dolphin Nose, Lion’s Cave and two waterfalls. We wandered in the forest for some time and walked all the way to Kodai exploring the area, spotting local churches, pretty cottages and an abandoned factory. After the fire and dinner routine, we went out at 11 to have a night-view of the mighty mountains. The third day, we set out for an Israeli breakfast at Altaf Cafe and then headed for Koadikanal. We rented bicycles and went around the major tourist places – the Kodai lake, Pillar Rock, La Saleth shrine, Suicide Point, etc. The fourth morning we left for Kodai to catch a bus back to Madurai.
The bus from Madurai dropped us off at Calicut early morning. We took the next bus to Wayanad to reach our pre-booked home-stay. One look at the surroundings and I could say we were in Kerala: green, Coconut trees all around, and cool even in the month of May. The house lady served us with hot coffee, vegetable stew and aappam, and it definitely was one of the best breakfasts I ever had. We rented bike from our home-stay owner, and visited the Kuruwa Dweep. It took me some time to adjust to the lush green all around, literally, which makes Wayanad one of the must-visit places in South India. Personally, I did not like the Kuruwa Dweep. It was supposed to be a silent place, which brings you closer to the nature. It turned out to be a mainstream and crowded place instead, with tourists talking boisterously, not respecting the significance of silence around the place. We also went to nearby tea plantations. On the way, I realized that the beauty of Wayanad is more about enjoying its crisp, green ambiance than the tourist spots. We roamed around on random curvy roads in the hills. Weather turned more pleasurable with evening rains, and I could not have liked the place more.
In the morning, we left for Edakkal Caves. The view point on the top of the caves is a small 1 km climb, but worth it. The only thing that I regret leaving out was the Chembra peak trek, which we could not plan due to time constraints and distance issues. We left Wayanad in the evening to reach Calicut by 6. Without wasting a single second at the bus stop, we left for the beach to enjoy the last few minutes of sunset. It was a refreshing sight after having witnessed the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the second highest mountain peak in the South. Thereafter, we spent the evening near the Arabian Sea. We relished stew and Malabar Parota at the 'Beach Hotel', and left for the railway station to catch the train back to Hyderabad.