12 days & 3 Seas- Across Malabar & Coromandel

Tripoto
21st Mar 2018
Photo of 12 days & 3 Seas- Across Malabar & Coromandel by Kanj Saurav

Long back in December, I had booked my train ticket from Korba, Chhattisgarh to Mumbai, where I would meet my friends and take a trip to Goa. But just like any other Goa plan, it did not work out. So, I had this ticket to Mumbai, leaves at my hand, and a brain active thinking about possibilities.

The next thing that I did was that I took a 9 day leave from office (which surprisingly got approved). Counting the Sundays and Holi, it turned out to be 12 days in all. I had been wanting to visit Kerala for long, and somehow I never had enough time to take a trip down South. Thus, I booked a ticket to Kochi from Mumbai and to amuse myself, a return ticket from Chennai to Raipur, Chhattisgarh. This was going to be a long South Indian Odyssey.

On 21st February, I packed my bags to take a 2hr long train journey from Korba to Bilaspur from where I had an overnight train to Mumbai.

Day 2

I was in Mumbai, and had got some 5 hrs before my flight to Kochi. I decided to meet my friend at Lower Parel at her office. This turned out to be an interesting affair when seeing the camera in my hand, the guards suspected that I might have taken pictures of the building, and held me at the gate, inquiring about my whereabouts and the purpose for which I was there. It was only after Shikha arrived that they were convinced that I wasn't up to something fishy. Few hours later, I was in my flight to Kochi.

Landing at Ernakulam Airport, I realised that Kochi city was far off from the place, and Fort Kochi was even farther. Uber & Ola disappointed me when they offered me the ride for 900 bucks. I decided to take an auto, but they too were charging no less than 800 bucks. I convinced an auto guy to take me for 500 Rs though. As soon as we had covered a km, the guy started giving me some advice in his broken Hindi. I tried talking to him in English, but he knew Hindi more than English. Eventually, I understood that he would drop me to the nearest Metro Station-Aluva for 250 bucks, from where I could take a metro further. Kochi Metro dropped me till its last station at Maharajas College. The Transgender staff in the metro and the Teal Seats was a fresh change from the Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore Metro. Off the metro, I waited for about 20 minutes at the bus stop with this lady who guided me about the bus to Fort Kochi. The 12 Rs 14 km bus ride to Fort Kochi was pretty airy because of the open windows of the bus, and I intuitively ended up my journey exactly at the same point where my brother was having a sandwich. As I got off the bus, I read his message about his location, but by coincidence, I was already there. My brother had been travelling in Kerala for a while, and this was a juncture where we were supposed to meet. We quickly booked a room nearby for 500 bucks. It was a pretty decent room for me, as it offered a private washroom and double bed.

It was already 10 in the night, and we decided to take a walk. The streets were calm and a nice fragrance blew all over. We ended up at the eateries just right close to the Kochi Beach which were offering instagrammable sea food. However, it was that day of the week on which mom would call us to not have non-veg, and over the years after rejecting the idea for long, we have decided to respect it for her, and for us as one day of abstinence. It's quite difficult though, as we are pretty carnivorous. My brother's friends came over and had their dinner, while I just chugged the Lime Soda- with Sugar & Salt. The friends left, and we went around the place for a bit, ending up hungry and returning back to the eateries. We ordered Prawn noodles, and by the time it arrived, it was still 11.50. We counted those 10 minutes, until we ate it. Both the brothers slept off in my hotel later.

Kochi Beach

Photo of Kochi, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Chinese Fishing Nets

Photo of Kochi, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Fort Kochi

Photo of Kochi, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav
Day 3

Early morning, we woke up to go to the beach, see the chinese Fishing nets, and just roam around the pictursque Fort Kochi. There was an open gym where some guys had brought in equipment for guys who could just enjoy some work out at the beach. My brother told me that while I was away taking pictures of the street, actress Parvathy made her visit to the beach. On seeing the pictures he had got, I realized that she was the actress from Qarib Qarib Singlle and Bangalore Days. We had our nice breakfast of Idli, Puttu & Fish at this nice small cart, who forbid us from giving the attention his food deserved to instagram. It was a good meal for two people in 200 bucks.

My brother had to now leave with his friends for Munnar, which was off my travel circuit, so we bade goodbye to each other, and in few hours I took a bus to reach Ernakulam station, and bought a ticket for the next train to Alleppey for 35 bucks. The train was running almost empty which is unlike the state of general compartments in any North India bound train. I enjoyed the view filled with Greenery, occasionally disturbed by the clear backwaters.

Right at the Alleppey Railway station, I had a Rice-Fish Meal at the IRCTC Eatery. Having done that I got an auto to drop me at the Alleppey Beach. I walked towards Zostel Alleppey, which was almost a km away, or so I felt in the blazing heat at 3pm with the Sun reflected on my face from the white sand of the spectacular beach. However, the heat and the weight of my luggage kept me away from going closer to the shore. Zostel was right in front of the beach at a far North corner. I hadn't made an advanced booking, but they had a dorm bed empty for the day, and were happy to have me.

My roommate Sidhharth had been traveling for about 6 weeks now of which he had been here for about 4. I just inquired him of the houseboat scene and he told me that there was a government ferry at 4.45 pm that gave you a round trip in about 3 hrs. I left for the Boat Ferry immediately, and reached there just in time, I got a 40 Rs ticket for the ride, and perched on the upper deck for a grander view. The ferry boat was basically a bus in the backwaters meant for transporting people. Young students got off to their homes which lay in the middle of the creeks. It was a pleasure to see the greenery and the luxurious houseboats floating around in the water. Fishermen in smaller boats created a beautiful sight. There were Shikaras that gave couples a nice alone time witnessing the pleasant landscape. My ride took 1.5 hours to reach the terminating point at Vembnad Lake which looked like an endless expanse of water. The ride back was quicker. In all I paid 80 bucks to and fro. This is a great deal for solo travelers as the shikaras or the houseboats charge much higher in the range of 2000 Rs, and spend more time in the water which may be a bit boring for someone who is restless.

Backwaters

Photo of Alleppey, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav
Photo of Alleppey, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Backwaters

Photo of Alleppey, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Backwaters

Photo of Alleppey, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

I got back to my stay by 8 pm, and decided to look around for cheaper options for dinner. However, The Indian Coffee House that appeared on the map was shut down, and Cafe Catamaran just across my place was mobbed with travelers. Thus, I had my humble meal of ginger Chicken & Rice at Art House Cafe which too wasn't very far. By the time I got back, the property manager called up people for a bonfire at the beach. Siddharth was actively getting up people gathered and we lit fire and sat around it with music playing. I was pretty tired with the activities of the day and moved on to my room in some time, and fell asleep much before anyone else came back.

I woke up early in the morning and got fresh, I had a walk across the beach and clicked some pictures. I figured out that there wasn't much left to do in Alleppey, so I decided to move on to my next destination. I went to have breakfast at Halais Restaurant who supposedly made good Kebabs and Shwarmas. However, they didn't have that on the breakfast menu and I ended up having Egg Curry and Appam, which was pretty good. I got into an auto for the Railway Station, and about a km later realised that I left my camera at the restaurant itself. We drove back to the place where I found my camera lying unattended at the same place I had left it. Arriving at the Railway Station, I got a ticket to Varkala Sivagiri for 50 bucks. The direct train to Varkala was a bit late, so I boarded the next train that took me to Kayankulam. From Kayankulam, I boarded the New Delhi- Kerala Express which had its only General Compartment at the front end of the train. By the time I could get to that compartment, the train had already started moving, and hence, I got into one of the Sleeper coaches. I waited for the TTE to come but that didn't happen, and in an hour I got down at Varkala.

Day 4

At the Varkala Railway Station, I once again had my lunch at the IRCTC Canteen- Two large chapatis and Chicken Curry. And then after a bit of negotiation with the autowallahs, went on to my stay at Vedanta Wake Up at North Cliff. I had booked a bed in the dorm room for 450 bucks online. I met Seongjun from South Korea who was heading to the beach, and later joined Jyotirmay to the beach myself. It was still pretty sunny at 4.30, and I wanted to explore the 1km market at the North Cliff abound with eateries & souvenier shops. I just found a place where they were going to perform Kathakali in a while, and had begun the make-up. I had for so long wanted to capture the Kathakali artists doing make-up, so I went on to watch it. There were 2 French ladies apart from me who were watching the make-up in progress. The artists were pretty funny and gave us hillarious moments while they were getting ready for the show. They got selfies with us and told us stories about each other, but of course, in Malyalam which none of us understood. Slowly, the place got filled up with people and they put up a pretty entertaining show. I had an idea that it could be boring but the show was highly dramatic and sort of funny because of the expressions the artists gave. By the time the show ended it was already dark and I couldn't take pictures of the sunset. I had dinner at the Tibetan Restaurant for a change. In some time, I had found Mohammed from Amsterdam and we had a long chat on religion & politics at the moonlit Black Beach which ended up only at 1.30 in the night.

Varkala Beach

Photo of Varkala, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Varkala Cliff

Photo of Varkala, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Kathakali Artist

Photo of Varkala, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Kathakali Artists

Photo of Varkala, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Kathakali Artists

Photo of Varkala, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Kathakali in Action

Photo of Varkala, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav
Day 5

I woke up early to find a Finnish guy who had arrived at the place. He told me that Delhi was colder than his place in Finland when he arrived there early in February. In some time, I went on to take a long photo walk up the North Cliff towards its end. The sea looked amazing with its Turquoise color. The gradient of different rocks and gravel made it a gorgeous sight. I had a nice Israeli Breakfast at a popular restaurant. I returned back to the stay where I found Mukesh who had been riding from Delhi. I told him about my desire to visit the Kappil beach, and he was happy driving me to the place before he left for Trivandrum in a few hours. Kappil Beach, about 15 kms North of Varkala is a pristine beach in Kollam with amazing greenish hues and almost no population. the other side of the beach lies the backwaters which makes it a rare golden patch sandwiched between green & blue water. The Sun was at its peak at the midnoon though, and good enough to give serious skin burns. We clicked pictures of each other against the backdrop of hard hitting waves. Later, we had juice at a shanty near by, chilled for a while, and came back to our place. Having dropped me, Mukesh left for Trivandrum.

Varkala Cliff

Photo of Kollam, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

North Cliff

Photo of Kollam, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

North Cliff

Photo of Kollam, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Black Beach

Photo of Kollam, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Varkala Beach

Photo of Kollam, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

Sunset at Varkala

Photo of Kollam, Kerala, India by Kanj Saurav

I had my dinner of Fish & Rice at the Kerala Restaurant, and came back to rest for a while. By far, I hadn't entered the sea for once, so I decided to take a bath in the sea itself. I got down from the cliff to the beach, found a place on rocks to keep my clothes and entered the sea. As a non-swimmer, I jumped around for quite a bit, had a one sided battle with the waves and drank some salt water. While some guys had gone too far into the sea riding over the high waves, the coast guards warned people of the high tides, and soon all of us had to come out. I dried myself on the beach, getting another layer of tan on my already well-tanned body. And then walked alongside the decently crowded beach. I ended up walking much farther the North Cliff and got on to the South Cliff. Having realized that it wasn't the way, I climbed my way down to the beach and had another tiring climb up the Helipad, 300 metres from my stay. I took a fresh water shower at my hotel, washed my clothes, and put them up on the terrace for drying. In the evening, I went back to the beach to take pictures of the Sunset and ended up having a Kerala Chicken Parotta Meal in another expensive place. The eateries at Varkala are decently priced for someone out solely for a trip to Varkala, but definitely not for a solo traveller travelling widely who doesn't keep a budget of 1000 bucks per day for meals. However, most of these restaurants offer good food from different cuisines. Later in the night I found myself talking to a Belgian guy who had been a regular visitor to Varkala and loved the place.

Day 6

Next morning I had been planning to change the course of my journey. It was pretty hot and I felt that some hilly place would be better, but the lack of good connectivity and distance discouraged me to move to any such place. Meanwhile, Raul, my Chilean roommate with whom I had some interesting conversation about South American culture and the popularity of Slumdog Millionaire there, was leaving for Mumbai. Hence, I too decided to move after the breakfast. It felt bad leaving Varkala because it was a pretty happening place with aesthetic beauty and an active beach culture. Anyway, I had to. I paid the oblivious, movie junkie owner for the extra day I stayed, got to the Railway Station and found a non-functional ATM. I bought some Tapioca chips at the Railway Station along with a sleeper ticket to Kanniyakumari for 120 bucks. Ernakulam-Kanniyakumari Express was pretty slow, unlike the other trains I had taken so far, as it was continuously giving passes to other trains. However, I had an empty coach post Trivandrum, and I slept peacefully. The Nagercoil-Knniyakumari patch had brilliant landscape with rugged mountains against the foreground of golden paddy fields and ponds filled with lotuses. Finally, I arrived at Kanniyakumari by 5 pm.

I ditched the autos to walk till the tip on foot. It was a gorgeous 270 degree view of the 3 water bodies- the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean & the Bay of Bengal. The cool breeze was much relief from the hot sun I had been facing until so far. The water looked fresh, light green and the sky was gradually turning red. The giant Thiruvalluvar Statue looked picture worthy. I felt an unknown happiness and peace being at this place which was abuzz with tourists and vendors. I chilled for a bit in the rock structured complex at the tip, until it was dark. Then I walked through the bustling street markets to have biryani at a restaurant. I tried to book a Volvo to Trichy, but those were expensive and also unavailable for the day from Kanniyakumari. I was told that Nagercoil is a better junction to find buses to other parts of Tamil Nadu. That made me walk towards the State Bus Depot, where again I got to know that there were no direct buses to Trichy. However, they asked me to get on one of the buses which was plying towards Nagercoil. The bus conductor contacted another bus which was going directly to Madurai, asked them to stop for me, and performed the kind gesture of dropping me till the bus. I, now, was in this state bus which would get me to Madurai at 2 am. Old Tamil music played as a lullaby while I slept in the bus.

Thiruvalluvar Statue

Photo of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Sunset at Kanniyakumari

Photo of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Vivekananda Rock Memorial

Photo of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav
Day 7

I woke up in Madurai; got down the bus; thought for a while over waiting until the morning to visit the Meenakshi Temple, but then dropped the idea thinking that in those 3 hrs, I would reach Trichy. I walked across the State Bus Terminal to easily find a bus till Trichy.

I was in Trichy at 5.15 am, and it was too early. After having snoozed at the Bus Depot itself, I decided to go to the Railway Station. At Tiruchirapally station, I found a 20 Rs Ticket for an hour long stay in an AC Waiting Room equipped with comfortable sofas. I spent my 1 hour quite peacefully taking a nap. Now was the time to visit the temples of Trichy. I asked the autos for taking me to the Ranganathar Temple. I felt that the auto guys were overcharging, and I booked an Ola from the Ola Stand right outside the Railway Station. In half an hour, I had crossed the dried Kaveri River to reach the Ranganathar Swamy Temple.

The temple complex was enormous with a matrix of Gopurams all over the town. I was dropped at the far end of the complex, and I began walking trying to take pictures of the highly detailed Gopurams, avoiding the electricity cables that came in between. I walked back to the entrance of the temple, and they asked me to drop my bags at the baggage counter and cover myself up. It was since I had left Varkala that I was travelling in Beach Shorts to avoid the heat. It wasn’t a problem though, as I pulled on my jeans, and dropped the baggage at the counter. Once inside, I got a ticket for the Viewing Point which offered me the visual of all the temples in the premises. I took a Photo walk around the Temple Complex for about an hour, and then I was ready to leave.

Gopuram

Photo of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna, Karnataka, India by Kanj Saurav

Gopurams

Photo of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna, Karnataka, India by Kanj Saurav

Intricate Design on Temple Walls

Photo of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna, Karnataka, India by Kanj Saurav

Ranganathaswamy Temple

Photo of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna, Karnataka, India by Kanj Saurav

Ranganathaswamy Temple

Photo of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna, Karnataka, India by Kanj Saurav

I took an auto back to the bus stand looking for buses to Pondicherry. A guy found me and asked me to hastily board the bus that was leaving for Pondicherry. I ran behind him to catch the bus. Reaching the place, he told me that the bus goes till Villupuram which is half an hour away from Pondicherry and I will get a bus there. I got onto the AC bus which stood at the spot for about 1.5 hrs. However, I was fine relaxing in AC, because I hadn’t had the luxury of decent sleep in the past 24 hours. They played two movies in the bus- Kadamban & Bahubali, and I was entertained. I was checking on the maps to see when we reached Villupuram, however, the bus took on the highway and skipped the town. I asked the driver to drop me at a place from where I could get a bus to Pondicherry. And that point happened to be the Toll Gate. The people at Toll Gate told me that I could take a bus from to the Villupuram bus stand where I would get a bus till Pondicherry, as no government buses went to Pondicherry. I got onto a bus which dropped me at Villupuram bus stand, and then I was in another bus to Pondicherry.

In an hour witnessing hundreds of hoardings of Jai Lalitha, I was at Pondicherry. Once again I had decided to stay at Vedanta Wake Up, and it happened to be far off the main town, closer to Auroville. After arguing a bit with the auto guys and walking randomly, I got an auto to drive me till the place that was 12 kms away. A bed at Vedanta Wake Up dorm was for 350 bucks a night, which was lower than the after discount price at Goibibo and Make My Trip. At my stay at Varkala too, the offline price was lesser than the discounted online price. So, I would suggest people to check options offline before you book something online, keeping in mind that you are not travelling in the peak season, and how willing are you to toil around finding a place. My only roommate happened to be a 47 year old British guy who was confused over how to visit Puri to meet an old girlfriend of his who he had met 13 years ago.

It was already about to be sunset; I walked some 300 metres to find myself at the Auroville Beach where the water looked nice, dark green, but the beach was littered. The Sunset on the opposite end looked pretty. I had my first meal of Kerala Chicken and Rice with Mutton Balls at a decent place nearby and went back to my stay, where I had a long discussion with my roommate over where he should go next. He liked the idea of including Ajanta & Ellora Caves in his itinerary.

Auroville Beach

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav

Auroville Beach

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav

Auroville Beach

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav
Day 8

The next morning, I got up pretty early, boarded a bus from the main road, a few metres away from my stay for 10 bucks that took me to the Pondicherry town. I had a humble breakfast of Idli and Filter Coffee, and walked around the place clicking Instagrammable pictures of Pondicherry. I went to the Pondicherry museum which was fine and seemed to be promoting Arikamedu, an archaeological site in the Pondicherry territory. However, I had no desire to visit the ruins at the time, and went around the town itself. I had some cake at the Bakers’ Street and got myself some beer and wine from the wineshop across. I went to Aurobindo Ashram, but it was already 12, and I had to wait until 1.30 to get inside. I spent the time on the Street itself. Aurobindo Ashram happened to be a quiet place, with something funny happening around. All the people who entered were asked to keep mum and sit around meditating or praying, and it was visible from the faces of the people that everyone was confused at the begin, but then they were acting sure after a few minutes, having realized that they have to behave like everybody else. The ashram had a book store that sold books on Sri Aurobindo in over 25 languages. Walking back I had lunch at a aesthetic restaurant which failed to give me a decent Thai Curry, and it was the worst food that I had in a long time. Once again, I got a bus that drove me to Auroville beach for 6 bucks this time.

Gandhi Statue, Pondicherry

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav

Streets of Pondicherry

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav

Streets of Pondicherry

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav

Streets of Pondicherry

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Kanj Saurav

I kept the alcohol in the fridge and rested for a while. I had thought of visiting Auroville the next morning, but since I had made my way back to my stay pretty early, I decided to go to Auroville in a while. Auroville’s territory was closer to my place, but the entrance to it was about 6 kms from the place, and I wanted to hitchhike as I hadn’t done it on this trip. I had walked for about a km on the Auroville Road when a guy on moped gave me a lift. He told me all sort of defamatory things about Auroville, and asked me if I was into the bad habit of alcohol. I dodged all the question. The good part was that he dropped me very close to the Matrimandir, as it was the time for the entry to end. A guard guided me towards it and I saw the Golden ball structure from a distance where a lot of tourists were already there. To enter Matrimandir, one needs a prior permission, a day in advance. I went around the place to reach to the Visitor Information Centre. There were a few eateries there with a number of displays informing about the concept of Auroville. The space offered cultural programmes and some hipster stuff, but the Sun was about to set and I decided to walk back. The premises of Auroville is a grand place to have a nature walk, the landscape is beautiful with all sorts of trees and wide roads, common areas for sports and entertainment. I found a few short cuts and made my way out pretty quickly.

Tanto Pizza was about 4 kms away from the Visitor information centre, and I had walked enough to have a good appetite. I ordered a nice big Sea food Pizza with Soda Lime- Sugar & Salt. I went back to me place; bought a book from the bookstore next to my place; got to the entertainment area where I found my British roommate trying to fathom the story of how the colonialists brought in syphilis with them to Canada told by my new grand old roommate from Canada. I decided to get to the terrace and watched stars while I drank my thing. In a short time, I was with Joel, a Belgian guy working at Auroville teaching organic farming to the nubes. It was pretty late by the time I got back to my place, and I wasn't too sure about creating noise to wake up the people at the place. Hence, I climbed up the railings that ended at the stairs to the rooms. They should actually make it more secure. Anyway, I got in, and went off to sleep.

Matrimandir

Photo of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Auroville

Photo of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Auroville

Photo of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Auroville

Photo of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav
Day 9

I slept for a bit late, meanwhile, a new lady roommate checked in; got ready; and left too; my other two roommates too left; I freshened up, had breakfast of dosas at the roadside shanty, and got ready to leave. As I was staying closing to the East Coast Road, I just waited at the bus stop to board the next bus. However, the bus was only Pondicherry bound, and it dropped me at the border from where I got a bus to Mahabalipuram in 5 minutes. I was dropped at the highway and walked towards the Tourist information Centre to get an idea of the places around. Today again was my Veg Day and I had a lunch of Mushroom & Tandoori Roti at Hotel Chettinadu Virudhu, a popular place in the area, who surprisingly, had a perfect North Indian flavour in the food. I walked around to find a place to stay- the first one offered me a room for 800 bucks, and of course, I chucked it. I negotiated with the guy at Mara Guest House for a pretty decent room for 400 bucks.

Having rested for a bit, I walked towards the beach that was at a few steps from my stay, and then moved on to the Shore Temple, at a 10 minute walk from there. The shore temple stood in solitude, segregated from the shore by the wires installed by the Archaelogical Department to save its status as a World Heritage Site. I took a lot of pictures of the temple, but the bright sun wasn't providing me much support. Way back, the market outside the temple was thronging with people. It was some sort of festival and people were taking a dip in the bath, at the centre of the market, and buying uensils from the roadside vendors who probably had lined up for helping people meet one of the rituals of the festival. It gave me that perfect Indian Market Scene. It was 5 pm by then, and I started walking towards the 5 Rathas, but mid way, I stopped to climb up to the Mahishamardini Rock Cut Mandappa, which provded an excellent view of the entire town and the sea. By the time I got down to get up the Lighthouse, the guards had started evacuating people of the premises. I walked towards the 5 Rathas, but the entry had closed there too. I just happened to take pictures of the site from outside and the Stone Carvers Street.

Shore Temple

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Shore Temple

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Market

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Stone Carvers

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Mahishasur Mardini Mandapam

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

At dinner, I had found Jonathan, a Columbian guy, studying in Germany, who looked more like Middle Eastern, but wanted to assure me that people thought of him to be Indian. While he had Kerala Parotta & Chicken, I ate Veg Pasta and we had warm beer, because nobody spposed to have any drinks served cool there. I had Lime Soda too- of course with Sugar & Salt. Jonathan had heard firecrackers and wanted to see what was happening. We went towards the bath, and the streets were croded like anything, I told Jonathan to not lose me in the crowd like it happens in a Bollywood plot. He asked me whether the same way it happened in Slumdog Millionaire. The movie is quite popular in South America. There was a massive procession going on, and chariots of Gods were being drawn out of the temple bath. The massive fireworks thrilled Jonathan who was happy that he witnessed such a sight before his tour to India ended. We strolled round the market for a bit and then walked towards the beach where we sat for a while, and then came to my hotel.

Day 10

I was woken by the noise of trumpets & dhols at 8am. The festival at the night was the eve to this Full Moon festival that happens to be Holi in North India. The beach was mobbed with people who were taking bath and worshipping the Gods who stood in their chariots at the beach. In a while, the chariots made a way to the Othanwadi street where my hotel was, and people came up to take the blessings. By 12 the procession ended. Jonathan was awake by now and working on some project. He sent his papers by 1, and we went for lunch. While he enjoyed the Spanish Music playing there, he was definitely dissappointed by the Lasagne he ate. He wanted to surf and hence, rented a surf board from the place at the beach. I sat at the seashore watching him struggle with the low waves. He disappeared in the sea, and my attention was lost to the North Indian family playing Holi in the sea, and the kids digging up mud to pluck crabs and other creatures out which I didn't recognize. Jonathan finally was able to stand up on the board for a few seconds while surfing. He was excited telling me about it, I was happy that I saw him do it. He had been very disappointed with his performance and the waves otherwise.

Procession

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

The Devotees at the Beach

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Drummers

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

God's Chariot

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

We went on to see the monuments both of us hadn't seen, and began from Krishna's Butter Ball, and went towards Koneri Tank. That wasn't actually the route to be followed, but we made our way through the boulders to get to Mahishamardini Mandapa, and as we were about to get to the lighthouse, the guards whistled again. We made our way back seeing the Raya Gopuram and Ganesha Ratha. Jonathan got some Postcards and wanted to get them stamped to send to his friends, while I wanted to get some cash from the ATM. My first attempt at the ATM failed, and I told Jonathan that it happens with me all the time I am travelling. Jonathan joked at me saying that I was unlucky for ATMs. We went around to find the post office, but as we already had known, it was shut down for the day. He wanted to have some decent food, and not the expensive useless thing that he had been offered so far in Mahabalipuram, which in hi view had the worst food in his 10 day travel in Tamil Nadu. We went to Chettinadu, and he told them that he wanted to eat that thing with Chicken in Rice, but they didn't have Biryani, and we decided to leave.

We had a nice dinner of Biryani, Fried Kalamari, Lime Soda & Coke at Dhanlakshmi Mess, which against its name, is a pretty decent restaurant. After a bit of window shopping, we went to the beach and walked around the shore behind the boundary of Shore Temple to reach to a crowed market selling stuff for the lower income class. Fried Sea food, chunkie jewellery, street vendors lassed with all equipment making instant tattoos for the young crowd, and what not. Having strolled enough in the streets, we parted ways to go back to our own places.

Day 11

We woke up pretty early the next morning, and went to Sun bathe. While I soaked in the Sun, Jonathan went for surfing again. In a while, I took a bath in the sea. 2 hours were spent and it was already 10. We had quick showers and handed over our luggage to the individual hotel owners, having checked out. Mine allowed me to let me keep my stuff in the room itself. We had a quick brunch of a South Indian Thaali at Dhanlakshmi, and got onto our foots to the Rock Complex. This time, we did get into the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse had a spiralling stairs that could not accommodate two way traffic, and it took us some time to get to the top. The last flight of stairs rose at some 70 degrees and barely had any space to place a whole foot. But the view from the top was splendid. The massive boulders appeared like pebbles and Bay of Bengal looked amazing. The Shore Temple could be seen as a pretty small peck against the Blue Sea.

Thirumoorthi Cave

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Koneri Tank

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Lighthouse Stairs

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

Shore Temple by the Sea

Photo of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India by Kanj Saurav

We made our way to the 5 Rathas, and got tickets for ourselves, mine for 30 bucks and 500 for Jonathan. Inside the complex, Jonathan got crazy with photography, and children surrounded him. It was very sunny, and having clicked for over an hour we sat in the shade pondering over the end of our trip. 'Life is hard' he said in that Spanish accent of his. Finally we went to the Shore Temple and having seen and clicked enough, Jonathan went ahead to the post office to send the post cards, while I picked my bag from the hotel. We walked to the bus stop and got onto a bus plying towards Chennai.

5 Rathas

Photo of 12 days & 3 Seas- Across Malabar & Coromandel by Kanj Saurav

5 Rathas

Photo of 12 days & 3 Seas- Across Malabar & Coromandel by Kanj Saurav

5 Rathas

Photo of 12 days & 3 Seas- Across Malabar & Coromandel by Kanj Saurav

The Lighthouse

Photo of 12 days & 3 Seas- Across Malabar & Coromandel by Kanj Saurav

The smooth East Coast Road (ECR) provides great view and a relaxed back. In an hour we were in Adyar. Jonathan had already spotted the Biryani place before I pointed it to him. He had his Biryani and went ahead to the airport in Ola, while I took another one to get to Nungambakkam to meet Anitha, my batchmate, and once colleague, who would help me buy Saree for my mom. We got done with the Saree shopping in an hour and Anitha hosted my sumptuous Chettinad dinner at Maplai. I bid goodbye to Anitha, and got an Uber to the airport.

It was 9.30pm and my flight was at 6 am. Jonathan's flight was at 2 am. I called Jonathan but he didn't pick. I sat outside the airport for a while, and Jonathan called me back, he wasn't allowed to check in before 11, so he too was waiting outside at the International Terminal that happened to be 5oo metres away from the Domestic Terminal on the same pavillion. We walked towards eah others terminal and sat at the Domestic one for a bit as it was much less crowded than the International. In an hour, Jonathan checked in, and I entered the airport to make attempts to sleep before the check in began at 3.

Day 12

Early in the morning I boarded my flight to Raipur via Hyderabad, and reached to the destination at 9 am. I decided to watch a movie before I took a train to Korba. But the movie ended up pretty late, and I decided to shop in the mall. later took a bus that took me to Bilaspur in almost 3 hours, because, hardly any roads, and finally another bus to Korba that took 3.5 hrs for the 90 km journey, because no roads again. I slept to be ready for the office the next day.

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