Trip covering Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Pichavaram, Poompuhar and Karaikal.
Trip Start Date: 21st Aug 2010 5:30 AM
Trip End Date: 24th Aug 2010 4 AM
Route: Bangalore – Salem – Attur – Chidambaram – Cuddalore – Chidambaram – Pichavaram – Poompuhar – Karaikal – Kumbakonam – Tanjavur – Tiruchi – Karur - Salem - Bangalore
People: Mom, Divi and me in Ritz
Jeeju, Hema, Aditi, Bhoomika, Paapa and jeeju’s ma in Wagon R.
Plan was to visit some beaches – but since it was heavily raining in the west coast – Goa/Karwar was rejected. On the east coast, since Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry were done, we wanted to goto some other places. Jeeju suggested Karaikal but since my first view of that place was as a remote village- i said we can visit it on one of the evenings. So we decided to cover Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Poompuhar and the temple towns Tanjavur and Trichy on the way back!
As usual we planned to start at 5 but ended up 30 mins late and started at 5:30. Divi was the last one to get ready. The 150 KMPH on Nice Road was good starting point and even though the traffic on NH7 is high with the slow moving lorries, we managed to reach the Athur Road in Salem by 8:15. 2 and 1/2 hours drive to Salem was great – I remember travelling by buses which took 5+ hours. But the roads have considerably improved except for a small stretch just before reaching Salem which has it’s share of huge potholes and a very steep descent.
We had the packed breakfast of Chitranna and puliyogre and managed to reach Athur for a cup of coffee at around 10:30. The roads after that were all 1 and 1/2 lanes and travelling became slow. On the route, bhoomi vomitted on Divi and that’s when we realized Divi hadn’t put her baggage in the car :(. We decided to buy clothes in Chidambaram instead of going back 350 kms… A right decision :). The routes are little confusing and the sign boards aren’t proper – so we got into wrong routes a lot of time. My B-I-L had GPS enabled mobile and following the path – not always accurate especially for remote places.
We reached Chidambaram at around 1:45. Headed to a crowded restaurant. After waiting for an hour, was able to get the meals and have it. Then we went on search of hotels and heard Hotel Saradharam is the best there. Though the rates are quite steep it looked a decent hotel and we booked 3 rooms.
After refreshing ourselves we went to Cuddalore – silver beach which was about 75 mins drive. The beach was good and since we went at around 6:00, there weren’t many people around. We played in the beach for good 1 hour. Bhoomi was surprisingly afraid of the beach and the sound the water waves were making. I did take her for a walk but not something that she enjoyed. On the way back, we did shopping for Divi in Cuddalore main town as well as in Chidambaram. We reached Sharadaram and had pleasant dinner.
Next day we got ready by 8 PM and headed to the Chidambaram main temple. This is the bode of Shiva – Nataraja temple and is a very huge temple. Nataraja is considered to be the god of dance. After doing special archana and completing our pooja’s we vacated the room and went to Pichavaram mangrove forest. we had lunch at that spot itself. Sharadaram has a small mess there. The rowing boat charges were cheap but they required around 3-4 hours to complete the tour. We took a speed boat (for 1000rs) and that was supposed to cover the area in 1 hour. After the initial journey of 15 mins on boring backwaters, we were transformed into a completely new world after that. The thick mangrove forest (mangrove has nothing to do with mangos which I came to know after going there) was enchanting. I believe the deepest point was about 5 feet and since the backwater doesn’t have any waterforce to pull, it’s extremely safe. We paid 200rs extra for him to take us into the inside of the mangrove forests and that was another great experience. we came back – had coffee – visited the backwaters and then headed towards Poompuhar. The route was too bad and it took nearly 2 hours. Poompuhar beach wasn’t anything great but we just played around for sometime. Mom and I went out to buy some hot fried fish (and so called octopus) from there and that ate away the time we spent on the beach. We couldn’t visit the poompuhar museum and jeeju who visited it said nothing worthwhile.
After eating the fish snacks, we headed to Karaikal and reached the lodge around 9 PM. Karaikal is a big city and I believe I travelled on the outskirts last time. We should have come directly here :).
Next day morning , we went to Karaikal beach without getting ready. The beach was good and since it was a monday, there wasn’t any crowd. Played nicely and surprisingly bhoomika too joined in and had a great time in the shallow beach. We then headed back after checking out of the hotel at around 1 PM. Had lunch at kumbakonam and couldn’t stop for temple visits there. We reached tanjavur at 5:00. Visited temple and left at 6. We didn’t stop at trichy and visit the temples again as it was way too dark by then. We decided to go via Karur and got lost. Reached Karur around 11:30 PM. One of the worst highways, it was a nightmare to drive on it. we skipped dinner and just had snacks. The journey from Karur was like a dream on the golden quadrilateral highway. What a change it was and it felt like heaven after all the hardwork on the previous roads. Reached bangalore at around 3:30 AM.