Sunday, December 08, 2019

Trip to Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari

Dec 22 - Dec 28, 2018




It had been a long time since we had taken our parents and in-laws out and hence we thought we could make one more trip, this time to visit the Southern Indian Temples of Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari.

Our In-laws also hadn't seen any of these places and we also had not seen Rameshwaram.

Dec 23, 2018 - Sunday:
We took the night train to Madurai on 22nd Dec (Saturday) and reached the Madurai early in the morning. Our reservations with Hotel Lotus was already booked a month in advance. 

When we reached Hotel Lotus, which was just behind the railway station, we realized it was just 5 buildings away from the Hotel New College that we stayed for a few hours last year!

After a sumptuous plantain leaf lunch at the famous 'Hotel Sabarees', which was next door to our hotel, we visited the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, entering from the West tower. 

It took close to 4 long hours of unending queues inside the temple to finish the Darshan and everybody were really tired. We took some rest back at the hotel and in the evening, visited the Thirumalanayak's palace. This time for a Light and Sound event. While it started well, found the experience a little too dry and stretched too much. We came out after 45 minutes. It was also slightly raining and we returned back to our hotel by 8 PM after a light dinner.

Dec 24, 2018 - Monday:
We had pre-booked our Taxi from Bangalore for the full day visit to Rameshwaram and back. Despite initial delays, we left Madurai by 4:45 AM and reached Rameshwaram temple by 8:15 PM. 

On the way, we spent time on the beautiful Pamban Bridge across the sea connecting mainland India with the Island of Rameshwaram. After a heavy breakfast at Saravanna Bhavan, we deposited our belongings at a nearby shop and entered the temple premises.

The experience of having a bath from 24 fresh water wells inside the temple was a Super-Duper experience. All of us liked this very much. This took close to 2.5 hours for us to compete the Pre-darshan temple activity. Then came queue to the actual temple and that took us another 3 hours to complete the darshan. Rameshwaram temple is a huge complex with thousands of pillars and very easy to get lost. And to add to the confusion, there were no directions inside the temple on where to buy the express tickets and where the queue begins. It was a real mess inside the temple. God only can save himself there.

After a 4 hour ordeal, we were done with the darshan and visited the near-by Rameshwaram beach. I remember visiting this beach in the 1980's which was then filled with filth and rubbish left over by visitors. And this time, it was even more worse :-). Nothing has changed. Rameshwaram has to be the dirtiest beach in the whole of India.  

We had lunch at Saravanna Bhavan and then taxied to visit 'Ramar Padam' temple about 10 Kms from the main temple. Located on a small hillock, it is a small temple that has the foot-mark of Lord Rama. There was no rush here and we spent an hour or so taking some rest under the shades.

We then left towards Dhanushkodi, the place I was personally looking forward to see during this trip. A narrow strip of land 500 mts wide and 20 Kms long takes you to a small fishing village 'Dhanushkodi' where the landmass of India comes to a dead-end. It is the last point on the Indian map. 

The drive to Dhanushkodi was absolutely breathtaking with one straight long road with Sea on both sides! We saw the shattered remains of Water Tanks, Railway Station, School, Church and other small buildings destroyed by the Tsunami that consumed the town in the 1960s. 

We reached the tip of the land mass, which opens out into a nice beach front with Turquoise blue-green water inviting all of us for a dip. Pooja and Ruchir had a wonderful time playing over there for an hour and gave us enough time to take videos and pictures of this beautiful place. At the tip of the road is a small Pillar with 4 headed 'Sarnath Lions', indicating the last point on the map of India. It was a breathtaking place.

We left Dhanushkodi by 6 PM and headed directly towards Madurai. We reached Madurai by 9:30 PM and rested back at Hotel Lotus.


Dec 25, 2018 - Tuesday:
We got up lazily in the morning and had breakfast at Sabarees. All of us went out for some local shopping near the temple, where Souji purchased some cotton sarees, a variety supposed to be very famous in Madurai. 

We checked out of the hotel by 1 PM and stayed the lounge before heading to the railway station by 3 PM. We departed Madurai to Nagercoil by 4 PM which we reached at 9:30 PM. We took a coupe of Rickshaws from Nagercoil to our pre-booked hotel, 'Hotel Sea Sun'. It was too late to find a decent hotel around this place, so we had the fortune of having dinner at the hotel's restaurant. The dinner was absolutely hopeless, but somehow managed to get over the shock by sleeping it out.

Dec 26, 2018 - Wednesday:
We woke up early morning by 5:45 AM or so and climbed to the terrace of our hotel which had a Sunrise and Sunset Viewing gallery. The Light House, Vivekananda Rock, Tiruvalluvar statue and other buildings were very well lit. We spent time watching the sun come up and then had a good breakfast at a small shack right opposite to our hotel who made much better Dosa, Idli and other snacks. All the guests who stayed at our hotel crossed over to this shack to have this breakfast. That told us how good or bad the restaurant at the hotel was.

We then took a rickshaw to the Kanyakumari temple and completed the darshan of the temple in about 3 hours. Then we stood in an even longer queue to visit the Vivekananda Rock, to which we took the ferry across the sea. 

Our In-laws had not seen these places and they were absolutely thrilled with all the new things they were seeing this tour. We stayed at the Vivekananda Rock for more than 3 to 4 hours, giving us a lot of time to soak in the beauty of that place.

We let our Parents and In-laws return back to our hotel while Souji, myself and kids, visited the Light house. We climbed the top in about 15 minutes. Ruchir was excited to see the views from over the top. About 9 years back, we had visited the same light house, and that time, we were allowed to go even further to the viewing deck at the same height as that of the mirrors. This time, it was only till that of the lower deck. But still the views were amazing. 

We walked back to the hotel and rested for the full evening and into the night.

Dec 27, 2018 - Thursday:
While Anna and Amma wanted to rest during the day, our inlaws and kids did a small trip towards the temple. After lunch, we checked out of our room, hired 2 Auto-rickshaws and headed back to Nagercoil, to catch our train back to Bangalore by 6 PM. 

We took one of the corners of the AC Waiting hall and loaded all the luggage there. Our parents, Inlaws, Souji and Ruchi, went on to visit Sucheendram, which was 30  minutes away from the Railway Station. Pooja and I stayed back as we had already seen Sucheendram earlier. The rest of them returned back by 4:30 PM. 

We departed Kanyakumari by 7 PM and reached Bangalore by 11 AM on Dec 28, Friday.

Overall, we spent quality time with Parents and In-laws and they good to see some great temples, new places and some nice experiences. A wonderful trip to remember.

Here are some photos and videos from our trip.