This Xmas, I and my family spent touring in a few places in Tamil Nadu: Madurai – the temple city, Yercaud – a hill station and Hogenakkal – known for the Hogenakkal falls.
Our first destination was Madurai, which is almost a 6h drive. The drive itself is something to look out for with the beautiful mountain views and big industrial centres all along the way.
The roads are excellent and well kept which makes up an enjoyable ride. Anyway you may get tired paying the tolls which are plenty in number 😅 You can also see lot of wind farms on the way. Tamil Nadu is the leading wind power generator of the country with a wind power capacity around 29% of India’s total. They had set up a separate agency for this purpose even as a early as 1985.
Madurai is a major city and cultural headquarters of the state. Also known as the temple city, it is famous for the historical monuments Meenakshi Amman Temple and Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. The temple located on the southern bank of Vaigai river is a monument of the 6th century. It has 14 gopurams, each adorned with intricate sculptures and having a height of 45-50metres. As per the estimate there are about 33000 sculptures in the temple. It was on the list of top 30 nominees for the “New seven wonders of the world”.The temple is the most visited tourist place in the city.
Another remarkable feature in the temple is the thousand pillar structure inside the temple. It has thousand pillars each adorned with Dravidian sculptures. It will surely leave you awed at the kind of effort and talent of the people of that era.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal might be familiar to most of us as the location for the soulful ‘Kannalane‘ song of A R Rahman.
It reminds one of the Italian architecture with its long and wide pillars.Well the guess was right as the King had hired an Italian architect for its construction.It is 17th century construction by King Thirumalai. By 6.00, a light and sound show narrating the story of the great ruler Thirumalai takes place there. Sadly you can’t concentrate fully on the show because of the merciless attack of mosquitoes there. And if you wanna see the palace and catch good pictures of it go before the sun sets. Travelling in Madurai is a little hard. If it’s a car you’ll find it hard to park or even move on the road as the roads are very narrow and crammed with people. The only place with a parking lot is the temple. So we will have to take autos but the ride in them might feel like a roller coaster ride. Everything from shops to cows are on the road which is already very narrow and its through this that they ride in top speed.Anyways it’s a weird kind of fun too.
Thus ended our Madurai journey and after one day stay we set out for Yercaud.
Also called the Jewel of the south, it is a hill station in Salem at a height of 4970 ft above sea level.
It’s a not very popular tourist place down here though we met so many northerners there. So I hadn’t any idea of what was in store. But the place didn’t disappoint us. We have to cover 20 hair pin bends to get to the top. A lot of monkeys are there on the way. It’s better not to stop and try to feed them as they an attack you for food. The path up, 32km Loop road is extremely beautiful and the mountain views and the colouring of the sky by the sun is something to look out for.When we reach the top, what awaits us first is the Yercaud lake. We went on boating and its quite fun. All kinds of boating services are provided so you can go pedalling or rowing or simply sitting as per your wish. Everything from horses to cows will chase you for food in this place so be a little careful😅. Then there’s the Deer Park. What is expected is a park full of deers but it’s not what we get to see. It’s certainly a park but there are only 3 deers in it. Peacocks and pigeons are also there who are extremely friendly maybe cozy they expect some food from us. Then there’s the Kiliyur waterfalls. Make sure to visit there when there’s good rain otherwise it’s not that worthy. There’s also the Pagoda point which offers a good view over the place.
There are also rose gardens and various view points named Gents seat Ladies seat etc. Bungee jumping is also something exciting awaiting you there.
On the way there are some beautiful Jamanthi gardens. You can take postcard perfect photos from there and buy flowers if you need.
Next up is Hogenakkal which is famous for the Hogenakkal Falls sometimes referred to as the Niagra Falls of India. We can get upon a hanging bridge to view the Falls.
Coracle boating is also possible there but is a little highly priced. Another specialty of the place is that fried fish is sold like biscuits and toffees there. Oil massaging is also offered there but it looks quite sick to see shining people passing us. The Falls is quite beautiful but the premises are very unclean. Added to that monkeys are there in large number ready to snatch away anything edible from you.
As bathing is allowed there the place has become even more sick looking with the water getting polluted due to washing and bathing. The place is very much in need of some serious conservation.
Then we visited the Crocodile park which is just 1km away from the Falls. It’s a small park with large number of crocodiles of varying ages. There’s also a small park adjacent to it to rest. Crocodiles doesn’t move much and it’s difficult to find out whether it’s living or dead.
On our way back we visited Chinnalapatti, a town in Dindigal, famous for the silk sarees known as Chinnalapattu and the Sungidi sarees they make. It’s a very small town and the saree store is quite simple looking like a home. The sarees are all very beautiful and lowly priced. Churidar pieces are also available which are no less beautiful. Now kalamkari sarees and cotton pieces are also available there.It is these sarees that are sold at high prices by the big shops in the city.
You can also buy yummy sweets from Tirunelveli to gift your friends. Sweet shops are there in plenty near the bustop.
Thus ended our 5 day long journey and we tread back to our home sweet home on the xmas eve enjoying the lights and at the same time suffering the traffic jam due to the celebrations.