Road trip... down south!

21st Aug 2015
Photo of Road trip... down south! 1/13 by sanket sawant
Tea Gardens of Munnar
Photo of Road trip... down south! 2/13 by sanket sawant
Mattupetty Dam, Munnar
Photo of Road trip... down south! 3/13 by sanket sawant
Rain Soaked Gardens, Thekkady
Photo of Road trip... down south! 4/13 by sanket sawant
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo of Road trip... down south! 5/13 by sanket sawant
Breathtaking Tamilnadu
Photo of Road trip... down south! 6/13 by sanket sawant
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo of Road trip... down south! 7/13 by sanket sawant
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo of Road trip... down south! 8/13 by sanket sawant
Fog, Rain & Thekkady
Photo of Road trip... down south! 9/13 by sanket sawant
Photo of Road trip... down south! 10/13 by sanket sawant
Sunrise at Kanyakumari
Photo of Road trip... down south! 11/13 by sanket sawant
Sunrise, Kanyakumari
Photo of Road trip... down south! 13/13 by sanket sawant
Vivekananda Rock Memorial

I am in love with North East India since my childhood and always thought that there is no other place in India which is as beautiful as this part of the country. Even after I started travelling to the different parts of the country to satisfy my wanderlust, I was still in the awe of North Eastern Beauty until I was invited by one of my friend who is from South and we decided to take this road trip!!! Road trip is the best way to travel because you get the best chance to interact with nature all along the away and right up to your destination. you an stop whenever & wherever you want, you don't have any limitation. Driving across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and then reaching the Southern Tip of the Country is an overwhelming experience. An experience that every wanderer must have!!!

Mysore is one beautiful town located in the heart of Karnataka. Though this town is known for its many famous places like Mysore Palace, Mysore Zoo, Mysore Lake etc. a simple ride in the town or a walk in the by lanes of Mysore will give you immense peace & pleasure. Coming back to the famous places of Mysore you have Beautiful & Grand Mysore palace right in the central region of Mysore overlooking the city. It is one of the most visited places of India and one of the famous tourist attractions of the country. Best time to visit the palace is in the month of October as during this month Mysore Palace host the famous Dasara festival. also during this period palace is illuminated with more than 90,000 lights which makes the entire view mesmerising. The next place of our visit was Mysore Zoo. It is one of the oldest & most popular zoos in India. this zoo is home to more than 160 different species. As we didn't have much time we could not spend more time in Mysore and moved to our next destination.

I have always been admirer of North East India for its lush greenery, vast Tea Gardens & panoramic landscapes and always neglected this southern beauty (which I regret now). Munnar is one of the most beautiful, amazing & pleasant places that I have ever been to. There are so many things you can do & umpteen numbers of places you can visit. As we were on a road trip & coming from Mysore, we decided to enter Munnar from Tamilnadu-Kerala Border. Yes, though we took a longer route it was worth it as we entered Kerala through Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. This road is not any highway, it’s a small road full of twist & turns but the natural beauty that accompanies you right from the beginning till the end is simply mesmerizing. Dense forest of sandalwood & many other trees, naturally sculpted Rocky Mountains and waterfalls running down the hills; this all makes one superb view and carves permanent place in your memory. From Kerala Border to Munnar is a distance of around 59Kms and all along this way you get glimpse of this beautiful forest. After crossing first 20Kms you will come across famous tea estates of South which accompanies you right up to Munnar. Once in Munnar there are many points to visit like Echo Point, Shooting Point, Chennai Express Point (Bollywood movie Chennai Express was shot here) and the list goes on….We started out with Mattupetty Dam. As name suggests it’s a dam and very famous tourist attraction. Built in the mountains, the river and blue sky collectively create a mind blowing effect. They also carry out boating in the river on nominal charges. This dam is not huge but given its location it’s very beautiful & on every tourist’s must visit list. From there on we started visiting all the points one by one. Top Station is one more fantastic place. You must visit this place early morning to enjoy the beauty of this place at the fullest because as day progresses it gets hot over there. From Top Station we could witness the wonderful Western Ghats which leaves you speechless. One of the Tea vendors also informed us that in this part of Ghats, a specific blue flower called Neelakurinji blossoms once in 12 years. Lock Heart Gap was our next stop. Actually this spot was not on our list, in fact we didn’t know about any such place until we reach this area. The fog that was rising there was so dense that visibility was almost down to zero & hence we had to stop our cars & we came across this beautiful, scenic point….. Lock Heart Gap. For me, this was the best part of my short visit to Munnar as this place is not so crowded & there is just one tea stall here. But what amazes you is the Fog, it makes whole surrounding looks so different but beautiful. It also gives us perfect opportunity to take out your cameras & start clicking. Once the fog clears you get stunning view of the valley with Tea estates & some small water streams running down the valley. I just love Munnar because this place gave me one of the most scenic views and beautiful moments of my journey which I will cherish forever; also it completely changed my perception about south India.

Thekkady was our next destination after Munnar. From Munnar to Thekkady route is probably one of the most beautiful roads we have in India. Rain soaked Tea estates on both sides of road, sometimes you get water stream running across the road and clouds kissing the trees & the street, all of it makes a your 156 KM journey memorable. Thekkady is very similar to Munnar in many ways. It is also one of the cleanest towns in the country. But Thekkady has one thing which makes it stand out for wanderers like us, “Periyar National Park & Tiger Reserve”. It is one of the biggest National Parks of India and one of the biggest Tiger Reserve Project undertaken by Government of India. Periyar Park is rich with Flora & Fauna and surrounds Pariyar lake. You can take a boat ride across the lake at nominal charge. It’s better to reach park as early as possible otherwise it becomes very difficult to get the tickets for boating. If you get the ticket in the first ride then you might get lucky as most of the animals come to the lake for water in the early hours of the day. We were not lucky enough that day as we could not see a single animal during our entire boat ride. Though the experience of boat ride right through the middle of the jungle was simply amazing, we still decided to again try our luck to get the glimpse of animals in their natural habitat. We took a jungle safari in jeeps. Here in Thekkady you can get a jungle safari at Rs. 1700 per vehicle (in each jeep 6 people are allowed). They take you through the jungle & also hills surrounding the jungle. This ride takes almost 4 hours to complete. The road in and around the jungle is not in the best of the conditions, so expect a roller coaster like ride in the jeep. But overall experience of safari was thrilling & pleasing as we usually don’t get chance to spend so much time in the lap of the nature, right in the middle of the jungle!!!

Before starting our journey towards our last destination of our roadtrip we decided to take a detour and decided to visit Courtallam. Courtallam is a town located in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Courtallam is famous for many rivers which originate in this region & numerous waterfalls located in the area. Courtallam is also known as Spa of South India due to hundreds of health spas & resorts running in this region. As I mentioned before Courtallam is very famous for its waterfalls of which Main Falls is the biggest one. In the rainy season flow of water is very strong but still you can enjoy a refreshing bath here. Other there Main Falls there are few other falls in the vicinity like Small Falls, Five Falls and Old Falls of Courtallam. After continuous journey of thousands of kilometers Courtallam came as a perfect rejuvenating point for us.

Kanyakumari!!! This place has very unique historic & geographical importance in India. As this place is the Southern Tip of India and also have many famous temples, Devi Kanya kumari temple being the most notable of them. Also Kanyakumari is the place where two seas and an ocean (bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean) comes together to form a “Sangam”. When you are in Kanyakumari no matter what you do, don’t miss the Sunrise & Sunset in Kanyakumari. This astonishing natural phenomenon will surely leave you awestruck and also it gives you an overwhelming feeling when you are watching sun rise & set standing on this Southern Tip of the country. We reached at this point at around 5:30 in the morning as usually sunrises at around 6 AM and we didn't want to miss that beautiful moment. Standing on that shore and looking at rising sun and the sky dramatically changing its colours; it all looked like constantly evolving beautiful painting of some artist, only in this case the artist was The Almighty himself (Sorry for being so poetic :-P). There are two famous monuments built in the sea not so far from the sea shore. One of them is Thiruvalluvar Statue, 133 feet tall sculpture of great Tamil Poet & philosopher Thiruvalluvar who has very important place in Tamil literature. The second monument is Vivekananda Rock Memorial, this entire memorial stands on just one big rock. It was built in the honour of Swami Vivekananda, who used to meditate on this rock. There is also a meditation hall built on this memorial for meditation for visitors. It’s an eternal experience to come to this memorial, spend some time here & then sit in the meditation hall, no matter if you find that inner peace or not but when you are leaving you surely get feeling of content. The sea water here is so fresh & clean which is very rare thing in our metro cities. Definitely an opportunity for photographers!!!Other than these two memorials there are many there places to visit like Gandhi Memorial, Wax museum, Our Lady of Ransom Church. This church is beautiful & huge building with Portuguese feel. In the evening it looks even more beautiful when it lights up.