Month: February 2020

South India Expedition: Part 2

South India Expedition: Part 2

This is part 2 of of our journey from Mumbai to Kanyakumari and back home. You can read Part 1 depicting our journey from Mumbai to Kanyakumari(day 1 and 2), here.

Day 3: Kanyakumari

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019.

One of the main attractions of Kanyakumari is the beautiful sunrise. Kanyakumari is the southernmost point of peninsular India and the meeting point of three oceans-the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.  The sunrise and sunset here are both occur over the water of these great seas.

We woke up at 6.00AM in anticipation of watching this famous sunrise. We had got a nice sleep and did not face any difficulty in waking up. Since it was a 4th shortest day of the year(22nd December being shortest), I expected sunrise to be at around 7.15 AM or later. To my surprise, there was already good light outside at 6AM. After checking online, came to know that the sunrise was at 6.29AM! Once I factored in the 11° drop of latitude in form of our last two days of ride from Mumbai to Kanyakumari, everything was in place. It was amazing to see the change in color of sky at different times within 2 days.

We left the hotel at 6.20AM. The Sunrise point was only a kilometer away. As soon as we were on the road, we noticed unusual number of people on the road. The real sunrise was at the sunrise point. There was hardly any place to stand there! We were expecting a couple of dozen people waking up this early to view the sunrise, however there were hundreds if not thousands of people present at this point. There were tea vendors, samosa, vada idli sellers all over the place. There was a also a fully functional market open for business.

To our further disappointment, there was no sunrise due to cloudy weather. We enjoyed there for about an hour and then decided to go to our hotel which we had pre booked.

Just waiting for sunrise…

On the way, we found out a huge seaside garden type area with very low number of people hanging around. We decided to stop there to enjoy the view. Our tripod cum selfie stick was setup on a ledge to capture the beautiful sunrise. In front of us was a vast Indian ocean. After checking Maps I confirmed that looking South from Kanyakumari where we were standing, there is no land till Antarctica. It was a pleasant and out of the world experience.

Beautiful Sunrise.
The Sunrise timpelapse.

We had a bad experience with OYO booking in our Mahabaleshwar ride in October where hotel refused the checkin for OYO booking. It was a frustrating experience. For this ride, we had booked hotels online for all locations except for day 1, day 2 and day 15 because of the uncertainty of our stops. For all the hotels, I had taken a confirmation about their acceptance of online bookings via call or message. All of them had confirmed including this Kanyakumari hotel called “The Grand Diamond”. We did not again want to take our bags, go to the prebooked hotel only to be refused to check in. However, previous night when this hotel was contacted, they had quoted an absurd price and the owner was mumbling something about not accepting online payment. To confirm the matter, we visited the hotel.

This hotel was outside the town and as expected, the manager/owner of this Grand Diamond hotel denied the check in saying that they online accept booking via OYO(which was 1200Rs.) but we have to pay 4,500Rs. for actual room. The rooms of the hotel were worth rs 800 at most. They were clearly taking advantage of high rush of the season. We decided not to waste time and left for our current hotel.

Packing from 1 hotel and mving to another.

We were back at hotel by 8AM and asked to extend booking for 1 more day. From the room, I called OYO and after a few minutes of talking to an agent, an OYO supervisor called us back and arranged for a nearby, better hotel. We got ready and moved there and immediately left for sight seeing by 11AM on foot.

Church on the way to ferry.

It was very hot(30°+). We decided to first go to the Thiruvalluvar Statue, or the Valluvar Statue, which is a 133-feet tall stone sculpture of the Tamil poet and philosopher Valluvar, author of the Tirukkural, an ancient Tamil work on secular ethics and morality. This statue is situated on the small island in sea where the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meets. The island also hosts Swami Vivekanand memorial and hence there is a common misunderstanding that the statue is also of Swami Vivekanand. To get to the island, we had to board a ferry for 10 minute journey through shallow waters. On the way to reach there, we observed that the way suspiciously less crowded. Upon reaching ticket window, we disappointingly found out that the ferry is closed for 2 days for ‘security purposes’ because president Kovind was coming. We were disheartened because it is one of the main attractions of the Kanyakumari.

Lies! There was no wind/wave/under water current!

Not letting our morale down, we walked back and went to the nearby Kanyakumari temple. For the first time ever, we paid an ‘entry fee’ for the temple! There was separate extra fee for special VIP entry for those who were in hurry. This is apart from separate footwear and bag costs. Moreover mobiles weren’t allowed inside and had to be kept in bags. The temple line was not too long and we reached temple in about half hour. Gents were required to remove shirts/T-shirts before entering. Everything was weird for us. We soon collected our things and left the temple. There was another seating area near temple looking directly to the statue. We chilled out and took some photos here. From here we walked some more, explored the market, ate some food. Not much was left to do. We returned to our room to take afternoon nap.

दुरून डोंगर साजरे
Next time.

We left the room at around 4pm to go sunset point explore Kanyakumari city, this time on our bike. There was Kanyakumari railway station, obviously last station of India which we decided to visit later in the evening. Roaming around slowly, we found the sunset point. Took some pictures here with the bike and taught Supriya some photography lessons. Soon the place started crowding even though it was just 5pm. We decided to go to a secluded place where there are not many people. However, there were no locations in Kanyakumari which weren’t crowded. One Google maps search revealed that there was a scenic beach named Periyakadu beach 20kms outside Kanyakumari, in Kerala’s direction. I started the bike immediately as we didn’t want to miss the sunset. Reaching there was a hassle because we had to take many roads connecting each other and all went through dense palm trees. We missed road a couple of times even though we were using GPS. The place was so secluded that there were hardly any people on this long beach. It was an enjoyable experience to say the least after having dealt with so much of crowd the whole day. Finally it was worth it.

The Beast.
Official Sunset point.

After sunset, we decided to return to our room as we were tired and not hungry. Also had to change the way and had to stop for 15 minutes while the roads were blocked for Mr. President and the crew to enter Kanyakumari. At the hotel, I tightened the mirror which had loosened from taking continuous winds for 2 days. On the room, we quickly went to sleep as we had woken up early and also had to wake up early the next day to leave for the main attraction of ride: Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi.

Km traveled: 50km?

Day 4: Kanyakumari to Rameswaram.

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019.

Alarm chimed to wake us up at 5.30AM. After getting ready and going through hectic packing schedule, we said our goodbyes to Kanyakumari, only to return and complete pending boat ferry and left hotel at 6.10AM. A regret I felt for reaching Kanyakumari at night a day ago was that we missed the beautiful road and scenary beside it. But only after riding though this part today we realized how beautiful the road was. There were endless windmills on the both sides, mesmerizing hills covered in clouds, tall palm trees, green farms and the beautiful road to accompany. We spent a lot of time by taking a lot of small breaks to capture the changing beauty every few kilometers.

Small lake by the NH44 highway.
Lot of beauty in just one picture.
Clouds covering the mountains.
Legendary NH44.

We had heavy breakfast at 8AM and took the diversion from NH44 towards Rameswaram at around 9AM. From here, single lane road went mostly through Indian contryside and small villages. Again we were running through lush green farms and plam trees. The weather was cloudy and there was a good chance of rain. We took multiple connecting roads and as we reached eastern shore where the road was touching the seashore, the temperature increased dramatically. The scenary also changed from farms to only palm tree farms beside us. After slowly riding till 1pm, we finally reached the iconic Panban Bridge which is 15km before Rameswaram.

The size of this massive idli.
Beautiful Kanyakumari to Rameswaram road.

THE FUCKIN PAMBAN BRIDGE! We made it! We reached the Pamban bridge on our own bike! Pamban Bridge is a railway bridge which connects mainland India with Rameswaram. Opened on 24 February 1914, it was India’s first sea bridge, and was the longest sea bridge in India until the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in 2010. In 1988, a road bridge was also constructed parallel to the rail bridge which took 14 years to complete. I personally was more excited to reach here, even more than Kanyakumari. The bridge and beauty surrounding it was so amazing that the ride totally felt justified that instant moment. We took a few pics, spent half an hour admiring the beauty and then left for our hotel, crossing our fingers, hoping that they don’t deny our checkin.

The color of water 😍
Selfie camera not doing justice to the scenery.