Velankanni: Longest Car Trip

This is not our first journey to Velankanni, as we had been to the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health the last time in 2010. But this is the first time that we are traveling in that direction by car. Tata Tigor was ready for the most distant location from its origins, and the journey was a memorable one. We took the journey in two different routes – on the way there, we went through the Palakkad-Coimbatore-Karur-Trichy route and while returning, we took the Trichy-Dindigul-Pollachi-Nenmara route, and I would suggest that traveling through the return route, but avoiding Nemara would be the right choice, for traveling from Trichy to Pollachi is joyful. While getting to Velankanni, the route through Mannargudi was better than the shorter Nagappattinam route, which was undergoing repair. Well, we reached Velankanni at a time when there less visitors. There are times when so many people go to the pilgrimage site, and there is rarely even the space to pray in peace.

The better roads in Tamil Nadu made sure that the journey was not troublesome, and only a few areas were troublesome for the vehicle’s suspension. I don’t remember much about that earlier journey to the sacred place, but it didn’t feel like something that far away from memory; yet the place has changed in twelve years. Velankanni is part of Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) for urban planning, economic growth and heritage conservation, which means that we have hope for the place to feel better. We prayed in the Lourdes of the East, and hoped for the best, as we live in an uncertain world. These are the times when life in this world seems irrelevant, and therefore, such spiritual journeys seem to be the need. Among the requirements to survive in this world, the connection to the other world becomes more important than ever. This trip has been pending for a long time, and the completion of this one provides more confidence and self-belief.

The trip anywhere would require a Tata Tigor and the usual food.

There is something about visiting Velankanni that never leaves us.

The beauty of the basilica will continue to enchant us.

The basilica has been visited by all of us for such a long time.

There is always something about the prayers and penance around here.

You keep looking towards divinity for the spiritual guidance.

Resting at places of divinity has never ceased to bring blessings.

The shrine of the old times continues to be a place of faith and belief.

You look up to God and hope for redemption in a world of chaos and hatred.

No journey is complete without Tata Tigor stopping by the side of highway for tea.

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***The images used on this blog post were taken by me on my Samsung mobile phone during my visit to Velankanni.

TeNy

Yercaud: Vagamon’s Twin

There are many interesting hill stations in South India, and among them, we have Yercaud, the less visited and lesser known one in comparison to the others of the same kind. With Ooty and Kodaikanal being the better placed attractions, and also with a cooler climate, this place has gone unnoticed by many nature enthusiasts. If we look at the climate there, the two places in Kerala which can be compared to it are Vagamon and Kumily. The place is located about thirty kilometres from Salem, to which a journey from Coimbatore is remarkable, considering the quality of the roads. We did think about going to Valparai, another hill station with a similar climate, but this one was preferred due to the roads. You can always trust Tamil Nadu with their roads, as they are as good as you will find anywhere else in the South. Well, always choose the less travelled good roads.

Yercaud is well-known for Montfort School, its chapel and the Sacred Heart Church, but all of them were closed. The three lovely viewpoints are Gents’ Seat, Ladies’ Seat and Children’s Seat, all providing some fine views of the area around. Cauvery Peak, despite a long drive away, is a must visit for coffee lovers – they also have some activities of adventure and some history attached to it. The boating and park area is pretty good, and the lake in the middle of the town is a lovely thing of beauty. There is scarcity of big restaurants, and the Guru Restaurant turned out to be a favourite. We stayed at Hotel Tamil Nadu just like we did in Kodaikanal, and it turned out to be lovely option, very close to the boating and lake area, also providing some fine breakfast. Our journey was quick, and it was lovely. The place was not crowded at all, and that helped us to go through the whole hill station very quickly.

You have the wonderful roads and you love the 20 hair pins.

We loved the rowing boats over everything else.

Just cool enough on the lines of Vagamon in Kerala.

The hair pin roads can be seen from a distance here.

The misty, foggy world of Vagamon was missing here though.

There are always the signs of antiquity being seen around.

Cauvery Peak is a place of coffee, unlike the usual tea plantations.

It is calm, peaceful and without the crowd; so love the serenity.

I would always choose Hotel Tamil Nadu (TTDC) when available.

When roads are so good, why wouldn’t you choose to drive Tata Tigor?

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***The images used on this blog post were taken by me on my Samsung mobile phone during my visit to Yercaud.

TeNy

Kodaikanal: Hills and Us

Kodaikanal has been as much a well-known destination as Ooty has been, during our childhood. There hasn’t been many people from around here who didn’t go to the place, it reminded one of Ooty itself, and the temperature was around eleven. Coming from Cochin, Kodaikanal is almost as the same distance as Ooty, and both becomes perfect destinations for vacation as they have served for a long time to the students and families of Kerala. There are many routes to Kodaikanal, and we decided to go through the one which goes through Kuttikkanam, Kumily, Cumbum and Theni. It was a fine route except for the high traffic of Sabarimala season. Unlike the other hill stations, I have felt that Kodaikanal is not a place of different tourist attractions, but a grand attraction all by itself. We stayed at the TTDC Tamil Nadu Hotel, and that proved to be good too.

Journey through the mist means towards eternity.

One side of TTDC Hotel Tamil Nadu located close to the town.

The clouds are never too far away when in Kodaikanal.

The views are grand, and we need to be there again.

Some smaller, but lovely views are yet to be had here.

Always have a look from up above when in Kodaikanal.

You have to stop often, either for tea, or for some fruits.

Some places of spirituality are around when at this hill station.

A foggy morning serves Ford Figo Aspire with tea.

Some roads are divergent, and less traveled, but too good.

***All images here were taken on my Samsung Galaxy J4+

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TeNy

The South: Nilgiris

I have been wishing to travel again for a long time. It is one of those many things that I think about these days, and as I look back, I remember that it has really been a very long time. It has been so long that I have gone for a trip for the traveling purpose alone. But it doesn’t stop me from looking at those old photos of travel, and as you might have figured it out, I have so many of them. Well, I am going to need a hard disc to store them all soon – a separate one. As one journey provides thousands of photos, I have always felt that there would be the need. But here, I share ten photos of Ooty and Coonoor.

We stayed at Coonoor when we decided to get to Ooty. Well, I have been to Ooty only once and that journey actually came too late. I visited Ooty in the last few years, and I should be the last one in my friends circle to visit the hill station for the first time. Both of these places were nothing less than charming; I loved my stay at Coonoor and the tea there. The places to visit exist close enough both towns. Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiris, and you will want to stop there too, along with being at those usual tourist destinations at Ooty. The photos shared here were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

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Meanwhile, I hope most of you haven’t missed Charlie.

TeNy

Further to the South

I have written a number of posts related to the places in Kerala and did share a number of photos taken during my visits there too. Among the places outside Kerala, I have visited a lot of places in Tamil Nadu, and the list is longer than the rest. It has been quite some time since I last visited my neighboring state, but I have been there a lot. I have visited Chennai more than any other city outside Kerala, and right from my childhood, the one place which has always been on our list, should be Kanyakumari which was earlier known as Cape Comorin, even though the one memorable journey to the destination came much later. It happens to be one of my favourite journeys of the time, and that was also an extended one.

It has felt good to travel in those local buses around. As almost everyone knows about Kanyakumari as the southernmost point of peninsular India and the sunsets as well as sunrise being very popular, there is not much of information needed to be provided about the town which is often added to a journey which is included with the Trivandrum visit. It used to be a part of the Kingdom of Travancore, and later of the state of Travancore-Cochin, and this district of Tamil Nadu with the same name as the town, was one place which I visited in detail and spent my time in peace with such amazing view. Thiruvalluvar Statue, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Gandhi Memorial, temples, churches and everything else will stay with you. These photos shared here were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 during my last visit.

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Meanwhile, feel free to read about the movie of the week, Paavada.

TeNy

Spirituality: Special Ones

***About a few special churches from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, from the City of Kochi to Kanyakumari. The photos were taken on my Sony Cybershot.

St. John’s Cathedral, Tiruvalla, Kerala
Have you travelled around Tiruvalla at some time? Then you might not have missed this one because it is such a beauty on the side of the road. We came across the church while going for Niranam Church, and this happened to be a big find because nobody really told us about this one – may be people at that side might find it too usual a thing and don’t want to make it a big deal, but this is not the kind of church you will see anywhere else. It is a special structure which you need to visit.

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Kappal Matha Church, Uvari, Tamil Nadu
The simple structure might resemble many things including a ship and an airplane, but surely not a church if you look from a distance. The scene of a ship carrying the plane might rather seem strange, but it is another special place to be – I found this one while searching for places around Kanyakumari, and added it to the list of destinations to visit while traveling to the southern most point of the Indian peninsula, and the journey towards this place is also an interesting one. There won’t be many visitors around here.

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St. Mary’s Church, Kuravilangad, Kerala
A very famous Marian pilgrimage destination and with a history which goes back to a time when Christianity hadn’t spread through Europe, and was not yet the grand official religion of the Roman Empire as proclaimed by Emperor Theodosius; this one actually goes even before Constantine the Great had declared the religion legal for the first time. It is also believed that the first Marian Apparition was here, and the church remains a much visited pilgrim centre and a beautiful structure.

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Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam, Kerala
This is a major pilgrim centre about which you might know enough already. Nowadays, it is even easier to visit with the better road links, and this church with is locally known to be dedicated to Vallarapadath Amma (Local name for Mother Mary), this was one of the first few churches to be dedicated as basilicas in this part of the world, and as you climb to the top of those towers of the renovated church, the view is just spectacular. This one also has a long history which goes back through Kochi’s past.

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St. George Church, Edathua, Kerala
The Edathua Church is a very well known pilgrimage centre with devotees flocking from all around Kerala as this structure remains a place of peace on the banks of the river Pamba. The feast at Edathua is very famous, and people pray for the saint’s intercession all the time to save them from ailments. Whenever I watch the Malayalam movie – the beautiful romantic satire of visual and musical beauty, which was Amen, this is the church which comes to my mind (movie is to be remade in Bollywood with Ranbir Kapoor playing the lead role).

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Our Lady of Ransom Church, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
There are many things to catch one’s attention at Kanyakumari, and the list is like an endless one with more and more places added to it. But what caught my attention after the Thiruvalluvar Statue and Vivekananda Rock Memorial was this church which catches the attention from a distance with its tall tower, and also has a special look with the blue sky and the clouds around. This one was actually not part of the places to visit, but just appeared out of nowhere and caught our attention.

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St. Mary’s Church, Thiruvithamcode, Tamil Nadu
This small structure is part of the seven and half churches which are believed to have been established by Saint Thomas the Apostle. We had read about the same, and so had gone searching for this one which was not really easy to find. This is also believed to be the first church in Tamil Nadu (formerly part of the Kingdom of Travancore), established in 63 AD. Located between Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari, this church is a place of serenity, and remains the only church established by the Apostle in Tamil Nadu.

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TeNy