Tamil Nadu Road Trip

After my recent US Road Trip (I am yet to write about it, should write about it soon) I decided to spend the year end time off on a road trip covering historical and religious places around Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry instead of going to typical tourist places like Ooty, Kodaikanal etc.

I planned the trip such that I will be driving mostly along the coast, since I have a huge affinity to the ocean 🙂 Some of these historical places have confirmed recorded history dating back to more than 1800-1500 years and mentioned in religious texts from millennias ago.

In this trip I also wanted to visit some of the places mentioned in the famous Tamil historical fiction book Ponniyin Selvan.

I did the entire trip in my car (Ford Figo) with my wife and 3 year old son.

Here is my travel log in case you are planning to visit some of these places.

Day 1 (Dec 19, 2016)

I started my trip from my home in Chennai around noon on Monday and drove along ECR to reach Pondicherry in the evening.

I had already booked my stay for 3 days in St James court Beach Resort. I choose this resort since it had easy access to beach and also a swimming pool.

After checking-in I spent the rest of the evening playing with my son in the beach and swimming in the pool.

Day 2 (Dec 20, 2016)

The next day was very cloudy, so I spent the entire morning in the beach again. In the after noon I went around Pondicherry and visited Bharathi Park and then roamed around the rocks along the beach that is called using different names like Rock beach or Gandhi beach or Promenade beach.

It was a exiting experience to sit on the rocks and watch the water flash on the rocks and spray on you. My son really enjoyed it. We stayed there for some time and then noticed that if you look carefully, you can see some crabs in the rocks.

There was an old harbour and a dock near-by. I wanted to get in and walk along the dock, but it looked like that place is not open to public anymore 🙁

Day 3 (Dec 21, 2016)

The next day we went for boating in Chunnambar backwaters and reached Paradise beach. Paradise beach is surrounded by backwaters and that is the reason why it is called as Paradise island.

While on the boat, I saw people doing snorkeling and Scuba Diving in the back waters. But after reaching the beach, the life guards didn’t allow us to get to the part where the back waters connect with the ocean since it is very deep there and dangerous. I was little disappointed with it, but I am planning to visit that place again in my next trip and hire a boat or Scuba Divers to dive there.

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After the boat ride, I visited Botanical garden where my son enjoyed playing with all the play items in the park.

Day 4 (Dec 22, 2016)

We checked out the resort and went to Cuddalore. On the way I visited Auroville and Ousteri Lake. The Ousteri Lake was good, but since it was a weekday, boating was closed. It would had been a good experience to go on boating in this lake.

We reached Cuddalore around noon and checked into Hotel Suriya Priya for the night. I didn’t book this hotel in advance.

In the evening I visited the famous Thiruvanthipuram Temple (Vishnu) and Paadaleswarar Temple (Shiva). Both these temples are old and have major religious significance.

Day 5 (Dec 23, 2016)

In the morning, we checked out of the hotel and started towards Chidambaram. On the way we visited Silver Beach which is near Cuddalore. The beach was good, but it is very deep and there were lot of warnings asking you not to get into the water or swim.

After that we went to Pichavaram Mangrove Forest and went for boating to explore the Mangrove trees and different islands. It was one of the best highlights of the trip for me. The beauty of the place is beyond words and I am planning to write a separate blog post about this place. Till then enjoy these pictures.

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We reached Chidambaram after lunch and checked into Hotel Akshaya. I didn’t book this hotel in advance.

In the evening we visited Veeranam Lake, which was built by Cholas about 1200 years ago. This is also the place where the Ponniyin Selvan book starts.

In the night, we visited the famous Thillai Nataraja Temple which was built by Cholas around 1100 years ago. This temple has lot of significance both from historical as well as religious perspective.

Day 6 (Dec 24, 2016)

We checked out early in the morning and crossed Kollidam river on the way to Poompuhar.

Kollidam river is a very famous river from historical sense in Tamil Nadu and is the northern distributary of the Kaveri River. Kollidam river is also mentioned in Ponniyin Selvan where the main character of the book, Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan crosses the river to continue his journery from Veeranam Lake.

Poompuhar is an ancient port city which has huge culturual and historical significance. Poompuhar is also the city where the characters Kovalan and Kannagi live in the famous Tamil epic Silappatikaram. It is also the place where the famous South Indian river Kaveri joins the sea.

We then drove to Karaikal and visited the famous Karaikal Ammayar Temple which is dedicated to one of the sixty-three Nayanmars.

After that we drove to Kodiyakarai also known as Point Calimere, which is the location in Tamil Nadu map that looks like a nose. Along the way we passed through Nagapattinam, velankanni which has the famous Roman Catholic Latin Rite shrine called the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health and Nagore Dargah that attracts pilgrims from both Islam and Hinduism.

I stayed in VMT guest house in Kodiyakarai. I booked this palce in advance since it is very difficult to get acomodation in Kodiyakarai.

I definitely wanted to visit Kodiyakarai since it had lot of significance for me. I will write a separate blog post about Kodiyakarai soon.

  • Geographical – Kodiyakarai is the point in Tamil Nadu map that looks like a nose along the coast.
  • Wild Life – Kodiyakarai has both Animal and Bird Sanctuaries and is the only place in South Asia where you can see both blackbuck and flamingos in huge numbers.
  • Historical – Kodiyakarai has (remains of) the light house that is belived to have been built by Cholas at least a thousand years ago. Sadly this light house got hugely damaged during the 2004 Tsunami.
  • Religious – Kodiyakarai is belived to be the place where Lord Rama first saw Sri Lanka before entering it through Rameswaram. There is a small shrine called Raman Patham which is belived to have the foot print of Lard Rama.
  • Fiction – Kodiyakarai and the light house is mentioned in great detail in the famous and one of my favourite Tamil historical fiction Ponniyin Selvan

Day 7 (Dec 25, 2016)

We got up in the morning and visited both the animal and bird Sanctuaries. We spoted some blackbucks and flamingos and lot of peacocks, spotted deers and monkeys. Inside the animal sanctuary we also saw the light house that is clamied to be built by Cholas around 1300 years ago. This is also the light house that is mentioned in Ponniyin Selvan as the one that was maintained by the family of Poonguzhali.

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After visiting the sanctuaries, we went to the recent light house that is built by the government of India in the recent years which is allowed for public. We climbed on top of the light house and got a good view of the sancutary and the ocean.

We left Kodiyakarai and then went to Devipattinam to visit the Navagraha temple in Navashabashanam which is belived to have been worshiped first by Lord Rama. The speciality of this temple is that the Navagraha statues are inside the sea.

We left Devipattinam in the evening and reached Rameshwaram in the night after crossing the famous Pamban bridge and stayed in Hotel Senthil Andavar. I had booked this hotel in advance, otherwise I might not have gotten a place to stay since Rameshwaram was extremely crowded due to it being school vacation time.

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Day 8 (Dec 26, 2016)

We woke up a little early in the morning and visited the 22 Tirthas of Rameswaram (water from holy bodies, according to Hindu legend) and then visited the Ramanathaswamy temple, which has the longest corridor in Asia. This temple is believed to be built by Lord Rama to worship Lord Shiva to absolve the sins created during the Ramayana war at Sri Lanka.

After that we went to Dhanushkodi which is the southern tip of the Pamban island. Dhanushkodi used to have a railway station connecting Indian mainland and a port connecting Sri Lanka but has been extensively damaged during the 1964 cyclone. These days it is just a ghost town where only a handful of fishermen family lives without electricity or any basic amenities.

I wanted to visit the tip of Dhanushkodi called the Sethu Point. So I drove till Mukundarayar Chathiram beyond which private vehicles are not allowed and then hired a mini-van to cover the remaining distance. They took me along the coast in a very bumpy ride till the old ghost town of Dhanushkodi and said that it is the tip. But it was at least 4-5 KM’s before the tip 🙁 There is also a road that has been laid, but it is not open to public yet 🙁 I am planning to go back to this palce again so that I can visit the very tip of Dhanushkodi.

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We left Dhanushkodi and then drove to Thoothukudi, where we stayed in Hotel Raj. I didn’t book this place in advance.

Day 9 (Dec 27, 2016)

After breakfast, we left Thoothukudi and went to Thiruchendur to visit the famous Thiruchendur Murugan Temple, which is believed to be built around 1200 years.

After that the original plan was to continue the drive along the coast to reach Kanyakumari, but unfortunately there was a cyclone warning and it started to rain a bit. So instead we took a detour and reached Courtallam, so that we can relax in Courtallam falls.

We checked into Hotel Saaral for two days. I didn’t book this place in advance.

Day 10 (Dec 28, 2016)

We mostly relaxed on this day by just taking bath in Courtallam falls and then having a heavy lunch in Koora kadai mess in Tenkasi.

Day 11 (Dec 29, 2016)

We started the day by taking bath again in Courtallam falls and then started our return journey back to Chennai. Instead of taking the typical route back to Chennai, we decided to go via Salem and visit Namakkal.

From Courtallam we visited Namakkal Anjaneyar Temple and then stayed in Hotel Sing Saral in Salem.

Day 12 (Dec 30, 2016)

We checked out the hotel after breakfast and started our return journey back to Chennai. On the way we visited Ambur and had lunch in the famous Star Briyani and then reached my home in Chennai at about 6:15 PM.

Google Map of the entire trip

Here is the Google Map of the entire trip.

Some facts

  • Total distance – 2050 KM
  • Duration – 12 days
  • Number of districts in Tamil Nadu that I covered – 22 out of 32 districts
  • Roads in Tamil Nadu are awesome. Even some of the very remote places had decent drivable roads.

This is my first major road trip with my son and I was little hesitant in the beginning, but he perfectly adapted to the trip and enjoyed a lot. I am planning to do more such trips in future and I am definitely planning to visit some of these places again, especailly Kodiyakarai and Dhanushkodi.

This is what I did for my year end vacation. How did you spent your year end?

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