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A rendezvous with The Lord - Sabarimala

Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by PatchyBoy, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. ramjn

    ramjn Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    5,244
    Chennai
    Linea 1.3
    Some where on the stretch between Pamba and Pathanamthitta
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    Views from the stretch between Punalur and Tenkasi

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    10 people like this.
  2. PatchyBoy

    PatchyBoy Esperto

    Messages:
    2,438
    Bangalore
    Sorry about the delay in continuing.

    Here goes:

    After grouping with Raj29, an hour behind schedule, we decided that the next stop would be A2B. Due to all the construction work going on with 6 laning, I totally missed it and got to Krishnagiri. Just after crossing Krishnagiri, spotted Saravana Bhavan and pulled over for breakfast. Though we were carrying 3 cameras between the 6 of us, no one thought of getting any pictures. We were all very hungry.

    Left there after a very delicious breakfast and Ramjn called to say he was at Trichy - less than 2 hours to the meeting point at Dindugul. Told him where were and also expressed doubt if we would be able to make it to Dindugul any time before 1:30 PM. From there to Dindugul was a boring drive on 4 laned divided highways. Decided to test the Jet's / My limits. I lost. Did not have the guts to go past 165 kmph :D

    Some pics:

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    Got to the outskirts of Dindugul by 1:30 and called up Ramjn, only to realize that he was still 45 minutes away. Quick check with the GPS revealed that the originally planned Meenakshi Bhavan was less than 4 kms away. Decided to head there and wait for Ramjn for lunch. The hotel turned out to be a shack. So much for planning and so much for internet ratings. Sorry brother, who ever it is that rated this place, I respect your opinion, it is just that our tastes differ. Nothing personal.

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    So, both Raj29 and me pulled out the phones and started looking for nearby alternates and Ramjn calls saying he has arrived in Dindugul and is in Balaji Restaurant opposite the bus stand. We found out from the security guard outside Meenakshi Bhavan that this place was barely 100 mtrs away, just round the corner. Decided to leave the cars parked there and walk down. Balaji turned out to be far more acceptable. I cannot comment on the food, as I only had curd rice, but the size of the banana that was served with the food was hilarious. I have never seen a banana that small in my life.

    More to come....

    Rajan

    - - - Merged Post - - -

    Awesome pictures Ramesh. I sorely miss my DSLR :(

    BTW, that is not my Jet in the first pic, that is not me clad in a dhoti, standing by the car and doing something that appears to be close to nature :evilsmile

    Rajan
    6 people like this.
  3. ramjn

    ramjn Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    5,244
    Chennai
    Linea 1.3
    Once I realized that Rajan and Raj are late, I decided to visit Ranganathar Temple at Srirangam. It almost took 2.5 hrs in the temple. And when I realized that I am behind the schedule, I pushed my car as far as I can to reach Dindigul in less than an hour. :)
  4. raj29

    raj29 Superiore

    The start

    The first leg of the journey on 15th June'13

    This was my first trip to Sabarimala and it was a memorable trip.
    Where i had the opportunity to experience a special, calm and peaceful feeling when in the temple during darshan of the lord.
    Got to meet very good and humble people and learnt about some of their valuable experiences.
    Started @ 5:45 am from Home in Whitefield.

    Spoke to Rajan to know that the train which his friends are coming was also late. Informed him about the delay in my friends arrival too and agreed to meet at the first toll gate near Hosur.

    Had to pickup my friend who was coming from Hyderabad @ Marathahalli. My friend had informed me that the bus he is travelling in broke down on the way and he got into another bus to Bangalore. The initial schedule of arrival of the bus was 6 am but because of the delay expected delay was 30-40 mins. But i preferred to reach Marathahalli and wait there.

    Reached Marathahalli @ 6:00 am. Bus arrived only @ 6:50 am.
    Started to the meet point @ Attibele toll.
    Checked with Rajan who informed that the train has arrived and they have also started towards the meeting point.
    Reached the first toll @ 7:37 am and waited for Rajan to arrive.
    Rajan arrived 10mins later. At the grouping, we had a small intro session with our friends and then started from there @ 7:55 am.
    Since the travel from here is same for Rajan and me, i wouldnt write much and leave the writing part to the expertise of Rajan :) . Will add some of my thoughts/experiences only.

    As Rajan wrote although we had multiple cameras with us none of us clicked any pictures!!

    I was driving at constant speeds of around 100 KMPH with occasional 120 just to keep up with the Jet ;) (max i did once or twice was close to 140, because i didnt feel the need for speed :) )

    Had to loose out on lots of time after reaching Dindigul @ 1:30 pm for the hunt of Lunch.

    The Meenakshi Bhavan inside Dindigul town turned out to be a disaster to say the least. We were not even interested in entering the restaurant (if we can call it one) premises. So used Google to see whats around.

    Rajan also checked with Ramesh who informed about Balaji restaurant.
    We reached there and had a good Lunch, i had something called a "Bombay meal" which was served with the smallest possible banana as a desert. Upon enquiring the person told that it will be very sweet hence served as a desert. When i tasted it, it was nothing different than a regular banana, lol. We were releived to see a better place to eat and the food tasted good.

    After filling our bellies we had to take care of our loved rides. We were looking for a fuel station in Dindigul town and were going around same places only to find a very small fuel station which didn't look in good shape and it also started raining. I was surprised to see that there was a camera installed to monitor the readings on the fuel output station and also they gave a auto generated bill too.

    Then decided to head out of the town towards Theni and refuel at Theni. But, while heading out of town we found a fuel station and got the refuel done here.
    With all this done we were ready to move ahead and the time was already close to 4 pm.

    Continued...

    Some pictures that i managed

    Gleaming Dhanno @ Marathalli while waiting for my friend


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    Somewhere after Krishnagiri

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    @ Omalur toll for tea break

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    Lunch stop

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    Fuel stop @ Dindigul trying something with the rain drops


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    Toll details

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    Ramesh, superb pictures. You were literally flying past all the time - lol
    Rajan, you did 165 i never realized that when you zipped past :eek:
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
    8 people like this.
  5. Pauleralil

    Pauleralil Regolare

    Messages:
    324
    Kochi/Bangalore
    Kerala looks so green during monsoons..I am missing out the rains back home..
    Just loved the pics guys :)
  6. PatchyBoy

    PatchyBoy Esperto

    Messages:
    2,438
    Bangalore
    A request: Some parts of this post may come across as irrational to some. All I have to say is - "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary and for those who do not, none possible". Would appreciate if members refrain from ridiculing those parts. Thanks.

    After lunch at Dindugul, by the time we moved out and got out of town, it was almost 4 PM and it had started to rain. It rained almost all the way till Sabarimala. The road between Dindugul and Theni is almost done and was a pleasure to drive on, but being undivided and lane marking not complete, I decided to stay around 100 and occasionaly touching upto 120, conditions permitting. After about 20 kms, Ramesh got tired of driving behind an overly cautious old man and went past like a bullet :D. We stopped only once in between for a quick photoshoot, pictures of which are already posted by Ramesh.

    We got to Theni and stopped at a much better Meenakshi Bhavan this time for a quick coffee and top up for Ramesh's car. Almost the rest of the onward trip was ghats and the way the cars took the curves was a feast for the eyes. Finally after about 2 and half hours of driving, Ramesh pulled over as his companions were tired and wanted a hot cup of tea. I too stopped and suggested we drive some more and stop at "My Guest" , a place that we always stopped during earlier Sabarimala drives. The place had tasty hot Kerala Paranthas and nice curries.

    Then disaster struck. I missed that place. Not sure if it was due to darkness due to lack of power for most of the stretch or the shop had shut down for the evening. It is also quite possible that the place was brightly lit and wide open, but I completely missed it. Either ways, we drove and drove through dark curvy roads, with no hope of a meal is sight. Sorry Ramesh. I apologize. Please do convey my apologies to your companions as well.

    Finally, we got to Erumeli and found one shop open, but we could smell the fish being cooked from miles away. Though the guy offered to serve us dosas and sambhar none of were keen and decided to eat bananas, puffs and biscuits we had carried with us for dinner. When we realized that Pambha is just 40 kms more, I commented to my friend ( this was his 35th + trip to Sabarimala), "I will get you there in 45 minutes", for which he just smiled. Little did I know what was in store.

    After that make do dinner, Raj and myself left ahead, assuming that Ramesh was right behind. Disaster struck again. I took a wrong turn and started heading towards Ranni. My GPS was showing me as on track. Poor Raj, trusting me, followed. After a couple of Kms, I realised that my postion indicator on the map was not moving, so I pulled over and stopped and we had to move closer to the edge of the road to let an Innova pass. Then I realized that the device had lost connection with my external Bluetooth GPS receiver. To make matters worse, I was not getting 3G on my phone either and of course it was raining. No sign of Ramesh.

    After 10 agonizing minutes, with no one to even ask for directions, it struck me why this happened. 45 minutes, eh? Spoken too soon and too arrogantly. I sat there behind the wheel of my car and uttered a silent prayer and asked Him to help. The Innova that passed us earlier came back. The gentleman stopped, lowered his window and asked us " Are you lost? Do you need any help" and then proceeded to gives us directions. He then told us, "After I passed you and got home, just down the street, I suspected that you are lost. So I came back" Thanking him profusely and humbled, I turned around and headed back to the turn I had missed. From there for the next 25 kms, the road was pure bliss. Rubberized and butter smooth, with cat's eyes helping us find the way, it was smooth sailing and we came to these two pure vegetarian restaurants, brightly lit opposite to each other. So we stopped for a dosa and coffee, when Ramesh called and asked to know where we were parked. He had just reached Pambha and we were a good 20 kms away. We then started from there and it took us almost an hour for that last 20 kms. The roads from there on were not in a very great shape.

    Finally we arrived at Pambha, post midnight. Ramesh saw us come in and came up asking what the plan was. All of wanted to have a bath in Pambha and start the trek right away. But Ramesh and his companions were not too keen on doing that and wanted to rest. We decided to go on and reached the shores of Pambha. She was in full spate. My friend commented that he had never seen Pambha with so much water, ever before. So, after a bath, the uphill trek started. Though this is my 6th visit, I have never before climbed so quickly. I was the slowest in our group, but made it in less than 2 hours. It was by no measure easy, but this time, somehow it was more enjoyable than the previous times. The bath and the trek was all in non-stop drizzle.

    Finally a little after 3 AM, we were at the Holy 18 steps and for the first time ever, I was able to approach the steps and actually touch them. Raj is a very lucky guy to get that chance the very first time he visited and it was probably his company that allowed me the privilege. We then sat outside a closed shop for a while, as the temple opens at 5 AM. As soon as the temple opened,we proceeded to the queue and got the Dharshan in less than 10 minutes. We were allowed to stand in front of Ayyappa for almost a full minute. With renewed energies and reinforced faith, we bought the Holy Prasadham and started the down hill trek by 6:30 AM. We met Ramesh half way through. We wished him a good Dharshan and got down to Pambha again. Crossing the bridge and heading to the car, I felt a very strange calm and not an iota of tiredness after driving 650 kms, trekking uphill for 7 kms and not sleeping a wink.

    Got to the car, packed up and started the homeward journey by 9:30. Stopped for a short nap at 12 noon and got to the very same "My Guest" place for lunch by 2 PM. After a lunch of Chappathis, mixed veg. curry and curd rice, picked up some aromatic spices and fresh green tea from the shop and continued the journey. The whole return trip was uneventful. After dinner somewhere between Namakkal and Salem, Raj suggested I needed a rest and offered to drive my Jet, while Hari, Raj's friend from Hyderabad would drive his Punto. So I handed over the keys to Raj and slept blissfully in the front seat for the next 3 hours. I was finally woken up at Attibele and from there we both took the Sarjapur - Varthur road, all the way till Hope Farm junction, where we had to part ways. Reached home by about 3 AM.

    Pictures from the trip

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    And a short video:


    Thanks for reading.

    Rajan
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
    10 people like this.
  7. theblack

    theblack Esperto

    Messages:
    2,188
    Bangalore
    Experiences can only be experienced. They cannot be explained!
    So although i maintain pretty much the same idea as you do. I just tell folks what I experienced and dont ask for opinions on that, they are never there so they are never valid!!
  8. ramjn

    ramjn Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    5,244
    Chennai
    Linea 1.3
    Nice narration Rajan. I didn't know that you guys reached Bangalore at 3 AM.

    We too had very good darshan. In fact, we were in front of the deity in 5 minutes after standing in the queue. I was also allowed to stand for a good one minute in front of Lord Ayyappa. Abhishekam was going on that time and it was a moment that I could never forget. We then came back to Pamba by 12.30 PM. Had some hot tea and proceeded towards Courtallam. The route I chose was Pamba-Pathanamthitta-Punalur-Tenkasi-Courtallam. The road was awesome between Pamba and Pathanamthitta. We broke at Pathanamthitta for lunch and continued towards Punalur. The road was average here and it became worse after Punalur. Roads were nothing to talk about all through the ghats and it became super smooth on the plains and till Courtallam. We reached there by 5.45pm and checked into Hotel KR Residency. We slept early that day at 9 pm to wake up early at around 5am on Monday to take bath at the Main Courtallam Falls.

    The whole of Monday morning was so exciting for us. We took bath at Main falls, Old falls and also at the Agasthiyar falls at Papanasam. We started the return journey at around 1 pm from Papanasam. I decided to touch Tirunelveli and then drive all the way to Chennai in the 4 lane highway. We broke at Madurai bypass for very late lunch (???) at 6 pm. The drive after Madurai was epic. We reached Chennai in flat 4.5 hours from Madurai. This was my fastest drive ever in this stretch. :)

    Between Pathanamthitta and Punalur
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    At Courtallam Main Falls
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    Entrance to the falls and the approach road
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    At old Courtallam Falls
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    At Agasthiyar falls
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    'Pathanir' at Papanasam
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    5 people like this.

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