The trip started with Mummy, Papa & Vibhi coming to Bangalore on 5th June morning. We spent the half day resting and in the evening we had our train to Kanyakumari (17235/KSR Bengaluru – Nagercoil Express). Since this train does not have any pantry, we had to get packed food from station.
Day 1 – 6th June 2017
We reached Nagercoil by 8:45am. Our pre-booked car was waiting for us at the station. Since we booked our hotel “Hotel Sri Devi” in Kanyakumari beforehand, the car dropped us there. We booked a family room instead of 2 separate rooms. All of us got ready while the breakfast was brought to us by the room service. As the hotel didn’t have kitchen they brought food from outside. We ate Idli & Dosa. Then we headed out see the places around.
The hotel was walking distance to most of the tourist places of Kanyakumari. We walked to the beach. We could see the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue from the shore. A vendor told us that we should hurry otherwise we might have to wait for lunch break to get over. So we bought the boat tickets for Vivekananda Rock Memorial. It is about 500 meters from the shore.
It was built in 1970 in honour of Swami Vivekananda who is said to have attained enlightenment on the rock. The rock has two halls; one belong to Swami Vivekananda and other belonging to Holy Foot. The Holy Foot is a foot shaped carving found on the rock and is believed to be the footprint of Goddess Kanya. Kanyakumari town is named after the goddess Kanyakumari amman, a popular deity of the area. Legend has it that the goddess Parvati in one of her incarnation as Devi Kanya stood on this rock on one leg and performed tapasya to obtain the hand of Lord Siva.
We had to wait inside for 20 min, till one mega boat came to pick us. It’s literally a big boat with shade on top and has a capacity of around 150 people. Everybody was supposed to take a safety jacket which they provided and handover when we get down. The ride took around 20 min to drop us in Vivekananda Rock since the there were 2 boats already near the rock. We had to wait for one of the boat to go back. We were asked to leave the footwear before climbing the rocks. There was a place to safe keep all shoes over a token for free. The Rock memorial has a tall statue of Swami Vivekananda with the year of death of Swamiji and the probable dates when Swamiji attained Samadhi inscribed on the rock. Swami Vivekananda came to Kanyakumari before his departure for Chicago religious conference. Photograph was not allowed inside this hall. We took photos of the memorial from outside.
Thiruvalluvar Statue was also visible from here which was on a nearby rock. He was the greatest Tamil poet, philosopher and saint. The rock supports a huge statue of the saint Thiruvalluvar carved out of many rocks and then were joined together. The statue is about 133 feet long which corresponds to 133 chapters in the greatest epic written by the saint – Thirukkural.
Then we went to have lunch in a small dhaba Taj Hotel. We allowed our taste buds to explore the delicasies like prawn chilly and fish curry over roti. After taking some rest in our room we resumed our sightseeing.
Our first stop was Mayapuri Wonder Wax Musuem. The museum is divided into three parts – a 9D movie theater, a Room with 3D paintings on the walls and a series of wax statues of a few popular personalities. It took us about 45 minutes to go through the entire place. Cameras were allowed inside the premises and we were able to click some nice pictures with the wax statues and the 3D paintings. I personally thought that while some of the wax statues seemed realistic, a few others weren’t. Specifically, wax statues of western personalities (Johnny Depp in his Jack Sparrow avatar, Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Terminator avatar, Bruce Willis from Die Hard and others) seemed to be more accurate than their Indian counterparts (Amitabh Bachchan, APJ Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh). In total, the museum had about 12-15 wax statues. The staff at the museum also gave us a few props that we used to click pictures with the wax statues. We had a lot of fun clicking pictures in 3D painting room. The projections were so perfect, it felt like we were standing next to the animals or walking down the stairs. 9D movie theatre had 6 seats on a platform. They played a roller coaster video and the platform moved accordingly along with sprinkling water depending on the video. It felt as if we were on real roller coaster ride.
Next to our trip was Ramayana Darshan & Bharat Mata Temple. We reached just on time when the temple reopens after lunch. When we got out of our car we saw a very pretty tea shop. We had masala chai which was made of various spices like dhaniya powder, pepper etc. It was very tasty. We then proceeded to the temple. The lower floor of the temple depicts ramayana in pictorial form. We were not allowed to take pictures inside. The upper floor has a statue of Bharat Mata. The temple was beautiful. We took photos outside the temple.
Our next stop was Suchindrum Thanumalayan temple. It is said that Indra was cursed by sage Gautama and performed penance here to get relieved of the curse. Suchindram thus refers to the place where Indra was purified (Suchi means purified and Indram refers to Indra). The temple has a tall door with intricate carvings done all over it. The deity is Thanumalayan in the form of a lingam and represented of the trinity of Hinduism – Shiva (Sthanu), Vishnu (Maal) and Brahma (Ayan). The bottom of the linga represents Brahma, the middle – Vishnu and the top – Shiva. The tall idol of Anjaneya (Hanuman) is made from a single rock and is supposed to possess great powers. We were not allowed to carry our camera. We kept our belongings outside the main door of the temple for safekeeping. Men were not allowed to wear anything on the upper part of the body and shorts were also not allowed. So Vibhi & Papa had to open their shirt/tshirt & vest. Vibhi was wearing shorts so he had to wear lungi provided by them on top of his shorts. The only bad experience we had at the temple was with the temple authorities trying to fleece people for anything and everything. They were asking us to buy one thing or the other at almost every shrine.
We then proceded to Sai temple whch was near Suchindrum temple. It was a small temple. We went and took a few photos.
We then rushed to Sunset Point to see the sunset. Kanyakumari is the only place where we can see both sun rise and sun set in water bodies in India. When we reached the place it was cloudy so we could not see the sunset. There were rocks in that area. We clicked pictures on the rocks and on the beach.
Finally our car dropped us near our hotel and we walked towards the final destnation of the day Bhagvathi Amman Temple. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Parvati who appeared in Kanyakumari as the Kanya Devi, the virgin goddess. Cameras were not allowed in this temple. Papa & Vibhi again had to remove their shirts / TShirts. At the time of our visit, the crowd at the temple was quite thin so it hardly took us 30 minutes for the darshan. After that we spent some time in the local markets just checking out what was on offer from kitchen utensils to fashion accessories to spices. There were Rs 10/- , Rs 20/- , Rs 30/- shops and they were selling pretty good stuff at such price.
We then went to have dinner at Devi Hotel. We tried the local cusines of tandoor fish fry and chicken curry along with roti. The fish was out of this world!!
Day 2 – 7th June 2017
We woke up at 5:30am to see the sunrise. We got ready and rushed to the Sunrise Point. There was a brilliant stone made kind of bridge which led to the interior of the union of these water bodies and I was delighted to see people going till the tip of that point. We went till the end of the stone bridge and waited to see the sunrise. The sky was very cloudy. That was disheartening because we came all the way to see the sunrise and sunset at Kanyakumari but couldn’t see either of them. But we clicked lots of pictures there. On the way back we encountered fish market.
Then we went to Triveni Sangam. Kanyakumari is the southernmost tip of mainland India and is surrounded by three water bodies. Bay of Bengal towards east, Indian Ocean in south and Arabian Sea in west and they are supposed to meet at this place, though no one seemed to know where exactly this place was demarcated. Almost every protrusion into the seas seemed to be the tip and the place where the seas mixed. We clicked pictures and headed back to our hotel to get ready for the day. Since we decided to head to Rameshwaram at night, we checked out of out hotel in Kanyakumari.
Our 1st destination that day was Vattakottai Fort. Vattakottai Fort which literally mean circular fort is a seaside fort built in the 18th century to defend the coast of the Travencore kingdom. The Fort, built entirely of stone, consists of watchtowers, rest rooms and a few weapon rooms. The entire fort has been constructed by granite blocks. The walls of the fort extend into the sea. We can see the scene of sea shore on one side and Western Ghats on other side.
Next we went to Padmanabhapuram Palace. Padmanabhapuram was once the capital of the princely state of Travancore, a state that later merged with Cochin and Malabar district to form the present state of Kerala. The Padmanabhapuram palace is a beautiful wooden palace located in this place, constructed by the rulers of Travancore around 1600 AD. Footwears were to be left outside the palace. There is a hall where the king held discussions with his ministers and took important decisions. There is the grand dining hall with a seating capacity of about 2000. This is where people were served free meals every day. The structure is two-storeyed with each capable of accommodating 1000 people. On display in the hall on the ground floor are big Chinese jars that were used to store pickles. There is an open verandah called “Ekantamandapam” which contains the “Kannithoonu” – a one-piece, exquisitely carved pillar made with wood from jackfruit tree. The bedroom has a medicinal cot made from 67 (?) medicinal plants that is believed to have been given as a present to the king by the Dutch – East India Company. There is a balcony that was used by the kings to view chariot races during festivals and to hear people’s complaints on designated days. The building that houses this balcony has been constructed in the shape of an ambari which refers to the seat put on an elephant’s back. Foreign tourists and visiting dignitaries were given accommodation in this building whose structure shows the influence of foreign styles of architecture. Cultural programs were conducted Navarathri Mandapam during the navaratri festival. The dance floor here is known as ‘kannadithara’ or mirror floor as it has been polished to mirror like perfection. This is the building in the entire palace complex that has been made of stone. The palace also houses an archaeological museum that has stone and bronze sculptures, paintings, coins, weapons and armory.
Our next stop was Mathoor Thotti Palam (Hanging Bridge). The Mathoor Hanging Trough is the tallest as well as the longest trough bridge in Asia, having a height of 115 feet and a length of 1 kilometer. The bridge has been constructed at Mathoor across the river Pahrali (also called Parazhiyar) and the trough canal (Pattanamkal canal) on the bridge carries water for irrigation from one side of a hill to the other. Due to summer, there was no water in the canal when we went. The trough has a height of 7 feet with a width of 7 feet 6 inches. The canal is being shouldered by 28 huge pillars. From the centre of the bridge, we could see a vast expanse of greenery, with hills of the Western Ghats in the background and the Pahrali river flowing below. There is a staircase from top to the bottom of the bridge. We went more than halfway across the bridge and then returned. We didn’t go down but we could see a children’s park and bathing platform near the bottom of the staircase.
We then proceeded to our next destination – Thirparappu Falls. The water fall is about 300 ft in length and has Rocky River beds. It falls from a height of 50 ft and looks to be artificially constructed one. The falls is located downstream and you have to climb down some steps to get to the falls. A good looking park was set up and apart from that there were Children’s play area and a swimming pool dedicated for Children. There were quite a good number of people that day. Some were interested in bathing, some were interested in just enjoying the scenery and some like us were involved in taking photographs. Adjacent to the waterfalls, or actually adjacent to the river upstream there is a temple known as Mahadevar Temple. Outside the temple, the scene was beautiful.
Finally, we went to Poovar backwaters. Poovar is a small coastal village in Kerala. We had a boat for the four of us. We started in the main river and soon abandoned it to explore the side channels. The place was really beautiful with wild trees, shrubs, mangroves and coconut groves on either side. We spotted many birds like Water Crow, Robin, Kingfisher, Swan, Snake Bird, Eagle .e.t.c. The boat driver stopped for us at many spots so that we could click pictures of the birds. We saw Snake Bird hunting for snake. It went inside the water completely and emerge at a diffrernt spot altogether. It was very difficult to take its picture. But we somehow managed a hazy picture. We crossed a few other boats but not many. It was very silent (except for the engine of the boat, of course), and it was very calm and relaxed. Soon we took a diversion, that lead us through narrow canals surrounding the mangroves. The trees covered the narrow passange from the top completely. It looked like a miniature version of what we see in the movie anaconda. The canals seemed totally unexplored. It was a different experience cruising along the river, listening to the songs of birds, and sound of the leaves from the coconut groves. Cruising along, we reached Poovar, a breathtakingly beautiful island, a place where the Neyyar river, Poovar Lake and Viraly lake joins the Arabian sea forming a beautiful estuary. We could see the Gold Sand beach on one side and the resort chains and floating restaurants on the other. The lake seemed to be separated from the sea by a thin golden strip of land. Cruising further we reached Pozhiyoor, the end point of Kerala and from there we headed towards Viraly. We then headed back to the floating restaurant. We ordered fish pakoda and enjoyed the view from the restaurant. We could see the estuary, gold sand beach,the anchored boats and sea from the restaurant. After having coffee and snacks we headed towards the Gold Sand beach to see the sunset. The beach was neat and tidy unlike the other beaches around and it was not crowded. It was still cloudy, so we couldn’t see the sunset even here. We were unlucky this entire trip because of the clouds which didn’t allow us to see the beautiful Sunrise & Sunset in Kanyakumari or Poovar. But we had a good time at the beach enjoying the waves. On the way back we took another side channel saw floating 5 star rooms.
We then headed to Rameshwaram. On the way we had dinner at Eat & Sight Restaurant. It was a decent highway restaurant. We ordered Roti, Chicken chettinad and Garlic Chichen. After dinner we proceeded to Rameshwaram and reached our hotel Hotel Duwaraka by 2am at night.
Day 3 – 8th June 2017
We woke by 8:30 in the morning and got ready for the day ahead.
We went to Kothandaramaswamy Temple (Vibhishan Temple). It is almost located in the middle of the sea with a thin road leading to it. We went to the sea side. the sea was very calm with almost no waves and the water level was so low the only our feet emerged in water. We saw people making Shivling from sand, so we made a Shivling too. We walked very far from the shore but the water level was the same. We finally returned and went to Vibhishan temple. Vibhishan Temple is built in honor of Vibhishan – the brother of King Ravana who was defeated and killed by Lord Rama. The central deity of the temple is Lord Rama, but it is called the Vibhishan temple as it is believed that this is the spot where Lord Rama did padabhishek of Vibhishan.
Next we went to Dhanushkodi which is located about 19-20 kilometers away from the Ramanathaswamy temple. The extreme edge of the beach also known as the Dhanuskodi Point is the identified as the point where the distance between India and Sri Lanka is at its shortest. Tempo buses are available there which took us via bumpy rock filled route along the sea. We could see the beach at all times. The bus then stopped near a clean beach of Dhanushkodi. The driver told us that this was the starting point of Ram Setu but the bridge was now submerged in water so it won’t be visible. The sand was very hot and it was getting inside our shoes. We ran to the sea to protect our feet. The sea water was cool and we were saved. We spotted Jellyfish near the shore. It was fun to watch it swim. We then boarded the bus and went to ruins of the village of Dhanuskodi which was abandoned after a cyclone in 1964 brought death and destruction to the place. The ‘ruins of the village’ have become a tourist spot themselves. We could spot ruins of church, school, post office etc. Again the sand was flaming hot and our feet was getting roasted because of the sand in my shoes. We again crossed the road and went to the other side of the road which had sea. The weather was so hot that I could see mirage (wet road even though it was completely dry). While returning mummy & I spotted a straight line of rocks for almost 1 or 2 km from the bus and guessed that these might be the rocks from the Ram Setu.
We then went for lunch in Dhanushkodi Hotel where we ate lots of tasty fishes. We were exhaused so we headed back to our hotel and took some rest before going to other places.
We went to Ram Zaruka. It is a temple located on the top of a small hill and offers a view of the whole of Rameshwaram including the Ramanathaswamy temple. We went on the upper floor and clicked pictures of the view of Rameshwaram from the top.
Ram Kund, Ram Mandir and Radhakrishna Mandir are located right next to each other. None of the three places were particularly crowded at the time of our visit so we were able to visit them all within 20 minutes or so. They were the first set of temples we visited after Dhanuskodi.
We then went to Panchmukhi Hanuman temple. It is named thus after an idol of lord Hanuman that represents him with 5 heads – hence the name ‘Panch-mukhi’ meaning ‘five-headed’. Photography was not allowed here.
The Lakshman Kund is located next to a temple dedicated to Lakshmana – the brother of Lord Rama. The central deity of the temple is Lord Shiva and it is believed that this is the spot where Lakshmana prayed before crossing the Ram Setu.
Next we went to House of Kalam which is a museum/gallery that recounts the various highlights of the life of India’s former President APJ Abdul Kalam who rose from a poor background in Rameshwaram. There is no entry fee to the gallery. Many books from his library were kept in the cupboard bookshevles. We could also buy the books written by him. We bought some rings and sea shells from the shop on the top floor.
We the went back to our room and watched India vs Sri Lanka (ICC Champions Trouphy 2017) for some time.
We then headed to Agni Theertham to enjoy and take bath in the beach. But we were a bit dissapointed when we reached. We had expected a normal sea beach with waves, but it looked like a river ghat and almost no waves. Since we were prepared to get wet, we went inside the ghat like beach and took bath there. We also clicked photos of one of the doors of Ramanathswamy Temple.
We then went back to our hotel and took bath in normal water. After everone got ready, we ate our dinner at Punjabi Hotel. We slept early that day since we had to get up at 5 in the morning the next day to visist the main temple.
Day 4 – 9th June 2017
We woke up at 5am and went to Ramanathaswamy Temple. According to a popular legend, while returning to Ayodhya, Ram worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam made of earth by Sita. It is said that Hanuman was entrusted with the task of bringing an image of Viswanathar from Benaras. Anticipating delay in Hanuman’s return from Benaras, Rama offered worship to a Shivalingam at a pre-chosen auspicious moment. It is said that the names Ramalingam and the town Rameshwaram were thus got. There is yet another Shivalingam here Viswanathar is said to have been brought by Hanuman from Benaras. This Shivalingam is referred to as Kasilingam and Hanumalingam. Prayers are offered to Viswanathar before they are offered to Ramanathaswamy.
One of the main rituals in the temple involves taking bath in water from 22 wells located around the temple. We had packed dresses to change after the 22 kund bath. It is believed that taking bath in all these Theerthams purify the body as well as the mind. It is also believed that this water is holy and also having medicinal qualities. The temperature of the teertham water varied and so did the salinity ranging from neutral to very sweet. We moved from well to well where a priest poured a bucket of water on our head symbolizing a holy bath. Each one has a story attached to it, in some way related to Ramayana and or removal of sins.
- Mahalakshmi Theertham is situated in the South of the Hanuman Temple. Dharmarajan bathed here and got riches.
- Savithri Theertham is situated in the West of the Hanuman Temple. King Kasibar got rid of his curse.
- Gayathri Theertham is situated in the West of the hanuman Temple. King Kasibar got rid of his curse.
- Saraswathi Theertham is situated in the West of the Hanuman Temple. King Kasibar got rid of his curse.
- Sethu Madhava Theertham is the tank at the third corridor. One will get Lakshmi’s blessings and purification of heart.
- Gandamadana Theertham is in the area of Sethumadhava Temple. One will get riches and their sins will be absolved after getting rid of their penury.
- Kavacha Theertham is situated in the area of the Sethumadhava Temple. One will not go to hell.
- Gavaya Theertham is situated in the area of the Sethumadhava Temple . Shelter under Karpaga Virutchaga tree.
- Nala Theertham is situated in the area of the Sethumadhave Temple. One will get Soorya Teejas and reach heaven.
- Neela Thertham is situated in the area of the Sethumadhava Temple . One will get the benefit of Samastha (entire) yaga and receive Agni yoga.
- Sangu Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the Temple. Vatsanaba, the Sage, got rid of his sin of ingratitude.
- Sakkara Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the Temple. The Sun got his hand turned golden.
- Bramahati Vimochana Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the Temple. Bramahati was absolved of his sins.
- Sooriya Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the temple. One will get the knowledge of the past present and the future and reach the worlds they want.
- Chandra Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the Temple. One will get the knowledge of the past present and the future and reach the worlds they want.
- Ganga Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the Temple. Gnanasuruthi Rajah attained wisdom.
- Yamuna Theertham is situated in the inner corridor of the Temple. Gnanasuruthi Rajah attained wisdom.
- Gaya Theertham is situated in the in the inner corridor of the Temple.
- Siva Theertham is situated in the South of nandhi Deva in the Temple. Completion of Bhaira Brahmahathi.
- Sathyamirtha Theertham is situated in the Amman Sannathi. Emperor Bururoonu got rid of his curse.
- Sarva Theertham is situated in the front of Lord Ramanatha’s Sannathi. Sutharishna got rid of his blindness (from birth), iliness, and old age and then he prospered.
- Kodi Theertham is situated in the first corridor of the Temple. Sri Krishna got rid of his sin of killing his uncle kamsan.
We were strictly told not to take a bath in tap water that day, to allow the healing properties of the well bath to soak in. After the bath we changed our clothes then went to the main shrine for a darshan of Lord Shiva followed by a visit to the other key shrine in the temple that houses a representation of Goddess Parvathy. Since we had opted for special darshan, we stood near the shrine for a long time while the priests did abhishek on our behalf to Lord Shiva. Our priest guide told us ours was the 1st abhishek that day. The priest also gave offerings to Goddres Parvathy on our behalf. After the visit to the shrine, we came out of the temple. We couldn’t find our slippers where we had left. Our priest guide told us to go to the right side for slippers. We thought we came out from a different door, so we walked bare foot to other doors. We finally came full circle and couldn’t find our shoes. We asked someone, again they said to look to the right. We noticed a small room with people around. We checked and found our slippers finally. Turned out that we had kept our slippers in the wrong place so they moved it.
After the visit to the temple, we headed straight to the food joint next door serving steaming south Indian meals. We ate idli, vada and rava dosa along with tea. We then went back to our hotel, packed our bags and left the hotel for Madurai.
We went to Kalam Memorial which was currently under construction. It is the place where Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was buried.
On the way to Madurai we stopped at Pamban Bridge which is a cantilever bridge on the Palk Strait which connects the town of Rameswaram on Pamban Island to mainland India. The bridge refers to both the road bridge (2.3 km long) and the cantilever railway bridge(2.6 km long), though primarily it means the latter. It was opened for operation in 1914 and still-functioning double-leaf bascule bridge section that can be raised to let ships pass under the bridge. The view from the bridge is spectacular.
Our 1st destination in Madurai was Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace. The palace was built by Thirumalai Naicker, the greatest of Nayakkar kings of Madurai. The palace is the place where Thirumalai Naicker lived and held his court. On entering the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, we saw a large central courtyard. This expansive and open courtyard area is flanked by huge white circular pillars on all four sides. The Swarga Vilasa or celestial pavilion was used as the throne room while the Ranga vilasa or Dance Hall was used for dance, music and other entertainment activities by the royalty. We spent our time walking around the open spaces of the Palace while observing the highly intricate and colorful architecture. The palace also had an archaeological museum that has stone sculptures and manuscripts.
While we were at the palace, our driver found a non-veg restaurant for us. By now he knew we loved fish. So we had fish, chichen biryani & mutton curry in Muniyandy Villas for lunch. The food was delicious but no one in the restaurant knew Hindi or even English properly. We had to play a bit of dumb-charades to order our food. One guy literally brought sample food from the kitchen because he did not understand what we said. Finally we pointed to the food bowls that we wanted and got our food. They served us on banana leaves.
Our final stop was Meenakshi Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is known here as Sundereshwar (beautiful Lord) and his consort Parvati who is known as Meenakshi. Outside the temple gate there was free service for slipper. We kept our slipper there and entered the line for checking. Mummy was wearing a sleevless Kurta which was not allowed. We had walked some distance from the car so we didn’t want to go back. And the cameras were not allowed so we kept it in the locker. We argued with the police checkers for a while to allow her in. But tey did not agree. Finally Papa came up with an idea. He gave Mummy his shirt to wear on top of the Kurta. The police women agreed to let her in. After this drama at the gate, we finally entered the temple. Temple consists of 14 Gopurams or towers including 2 golden Gopurams for the main deities. The temple has beautiful carvings. The walls depict some mythological stories with colorful idols. The temple has a pond called Pottramarai Kulam (The Pond with Golden Lotus). It is believed that Pottramarai Kulamis the same pond in which Golden Lotus had bloomed which was used by Indra to perform his mahayagya. We sat beside the lake after visiting the shrines.
Our car dropped us off at the Madurai Railway Station at 7pm. We had our train at 11:50pm. We got very bored sitting there for 4-5 hrs. The Madurai market was just outside, but Papa was very tired and was not in the mood to go anywhere. Finally he got food from a restaurant outside. We finally boarded our train back to Bangalore.
It was an exciting trip with lots of memories!!