Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pulicat Lake -> Une belle place de pique-nique

Hey Guys,

This time its Pazhaverkadu or Pulicat Lake. See the name the dutch people have given to this place "Pulicat Lake" since Pazhaverkadu didn't fit in their tongue. What ever the name may be the place is really awesome.

Location: Pazhaverkadu is located at 60KM to North of chennai. It can be reached by taking Natinal Highways 5 (NH5) and take right at Thatchoor. That right cut is called Thatchoor Kootu Road. When you are going from chennai in NH5 after travelling some distance you will come across the toll gate. After crossing the toll comes the above mentioned right cut to go to pulicat lake.

History: Pulicat is a small town situated at a distance of 60 km from Chennai. It houses a Dutch cemetery dating back to the 17th century. The Dutch built a fort here in the year 1609, to ensure a comfortable stay at the Coromandel Coast for a long time. It was finally occupied by the British in 1825. After independence, the fort became a part of Madras state of India, which was later renamed as Tamil Nadu, in 1968. There is also a Dutch Church here, which has withered away in spite of renovation.

Owing to the number of monuments and lakes present here, a trip to Pulicat is interesting from travel and tourism point of view. The cemetery is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India. The main attraction of the place is the Pulicat Lake. The lake is separated from the Bay of Bengal, by a strip of land which comprises of the Pulicat town. Owing to its proximity to the sea, it has turned into a salt water lagoon. It is the second largest lagoon of India and boasts of a rich biodiversity.

Therefore, the lagoon has been preserved as a Wildlife Sanctuary. A host of animals, such as the fish, aquatic and terrestrial birds, mammals and reptiles, find shelter here. It is the hub of migratory birds like Flamingos, which are the most frequent visitors, with about 15,000 of them visiting every year. Pelicans, Kingfishers, Herons, Painted Storks, Spoonbills and Ducks are some of the other birds that show up at Pulicat Lake every year. There is also a light house on the opposite side of the lake. Thus, Pulicat makes a good picnic spot for all.

Our Trip Experiences

Actually I went to this place twice within a span of 2 weeks. Both these times I enjoyed the place thoroughly. Main attraction here is the shallow beach that is situated at the place where lake merges with the sea. A narrow opening that lets water to flow to and fro from the lake to sea. Its a beautiful view in the evening time. Other places there are a Savukku Thoppu ( i.e Casuarina tree Grove) with little bit of shade nice romantic place with a beach view in front of you to relax. And then there is a bird sanctuary.

Our agenda was like this, We started at 8 AM in the morning from Chennai reached pulicat lake by 10 AM took the boat and went to savukku thoppu by 11 AM played volley ball there in the near by shore. Very good time pass. We enjoyed playing in that beach. The fishermen in those areas will be ready to serve you with boat. They will prepare whatever sea food you order and bring it for lunch. The boat plus food may cost you approx. 1000 Rs for a strength of 11 people. So after a good lengthy playing session of beach volley ball we got exhausted. We bought prawns and some good variety of fishes good for making fish fry from the local market there and gave it to the fisherman who came with us in the morning. He prepared the lunch and brought it by 2 PM. So after that exhausting play we all were famished. The food he brought was absolutely delicious. You will not get that taste even in 5 star hotels. It was so spicy and tasty even the quantity was more so it really filled our stomach, for all 11 of us. We spent for fish and prawns a 500 bucks. So total expenditure at pulicat lake is 1500 bucks. Then comes your traveling expenses. If you are going to take your own vehicles then only the fuel cost is the expenditure. Else if you are going to book any private travels It would cost around 2500 bucks.

After having a feast we took a short relaxation that afternoon under the shades of the casuarina trees with a beautiful beach view in front of us. Then started for the next location that is the shallow beach. The beauty of this shallow beach is you can keep on going inside the water for quite a long distance till water comes to your chest level. Very mild waves will be there. It will be very shallow for some distance from the shore. Nice place to swim and play in the beach waters. The entire ambience will be superb in the evening. And if it rains it will be very beautiful to sea. We spent rest of the time there till 6 PM and started our journey back in the boat to the Pulicat town and came home back.

Please click below to see the slideshow of our pictures taken in pulicat lake.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kolli Malai Trip . . .

Though I have travelled to many hill stations and tourist spots before nothing has tempted me to write about them because everybody knows many things about them already. Kolli Malai is a unique place less travelled and explored and it gave me new experiences thats why it made me to write about it.

Historical References
The Kolli hills are featured in several works of classical Tamil literature such as Silappathigaram, Manimekalai, Purananuru and Ainkurnuru. The region was ruled by Valvil Ori around 200 A.D., who is praised as one of the seven great philanthropists of ancient Tamil Nadu. His valor and marksmanship are sung by several poets, and his exploits are a popular part of folklore. Ori is said to have killed a lion, bear, deer and a boar with a single arrow.
The hills are said to be guarded by Kollipavai or (ettu kai amman), the local deity. According to legend, the sages chose Kolli hills when they were looking for a peaceful place to do their penance. However, the demons invaded the hills to disrupt the penance when the sages began their rituals. The sages prayed to Kollipavai, who according to the myth, chased away the demons with her enchanting smile. The Kollipavai is still worshipped by the people here and her smile is revered. The mountains have several mythological legends associated with them, and often come across as an eerie place in contemporary tales due to the unexplored and less traveled terrain.
Travel Experience
Our Trip travel time was like this
Friday night 10 PM bus from Chennai to salem.
Reached salem by Saturday morning 6.15 AM
From Salem to Namakkal another 1.30 hours of travel.
Then From Namakkal to kolli malai 3 hrs travel in government bus.
The last bus stop in kolli malai is Arapaleeswarar Koil stop. We reached there by saturday 12 PM noon.
So it is recommended to take travels vehicle from namakkal to go to kolli hills that would be much comfortable and less time consuming. Transportation in kolli hills is the big problem. If we have a bike or a travels vehicle we can go to most of the places there with the help of a local area person with in a day or two. If we dont have our own transportation its difficult to travel to different places on top of the hills.

Main Attractions in Kolli Malai are

1. Arapaleeswarar Kovil
2. Agayagangai water falls
3. Ettukai amman kovil or Kolli Pavai Kovil

Other places are
9 th century Shivan temple, Korakkar Kugai . . .and list of places shown in picture below

These locations are less travelled in kolli hills because only the local hill dwellers know where those places are. Seeing all these places in the list needs little search on the hills.

Our Stay at Kolli Hills

Places we visited are Arapaleeswarar Kovil, Agayagangai Water falls . . .
As I have told above we reached the top of kolli hills near arapaleeswarar temple by saturday noon 1 PM. After reaching there the first search was for the place were we are going to stay that night. In kolli malai there is a place called Semmedu where there were few places for lodging apart from that the other place is the Youth Hostel near the Sivan temple where we stayed that night. The price of a room there for one day is Rs 110/- per head. Seven person can stay in a single room, the room wll actually be like a hall with seven beds in it. We were 5 members so our lodging cost was 550 Rs. Apart from these two places there is no other place in hills where you could stay. After we got the room to stay we dumped all our bags in the room and started our journey towards the falls.
The way to the water falls has approx. 1000 steps down the mountain starting from near the Arapaleeswarar temple. The steps were very steep at certain places, on the way down to the falls there is view point which gives a nice scenary for your camera. As we continue down we were able to hear the flow of water gradually even before we reached the falls. We finally reached the falls took a nice bath and climbed up to the temple. We visited the Arapaleeswarar temple and settled in our rooms by evening 6.30 PM

That evening it started to rain . . .The power system in kolli malai is so poor that if it rains they cut the electricity supply . . .There was no power so we were jus hanging on inside the dark room waiting for the rain to stop so that we can go and get some food for dinner but rain didnt stop. Before coming to the room we ordered for food in the canteen there . . .So we have to go and collect it the time was around 8 PM everybody were hungry we dont know what to do . . . We had a umbrella with us so we thought of getting a torch light from the room maintenance person and go to the canteen to collect our food . . .We got the torch and started our walk towards the canteen its near the shivan temple and our hostel is some 1 km distance from that place. The path way was very beautiful in the morning . . .but in the night accompanied by rain, lightning and strong wind it was terrific and thrilling. Me and one of my friend walked to some distance throught the path way holding the torch there were no street lights nothing it was full dark only two feet ahead of us could be seen. We somehow managed and walked for some distance . . . then came the turning point after some distance the two sides of the path was just a valley suddenly a very heavy thunder and lightning flashed the entire surrounding jus flashed before eyes with a black and white effect and the entire path way was silverish in colour when the lightning flashed. We were shocked by that sight so we stopped proceeding further and returned back to room. Later one of our neighbour having a car were crossing us so we got into the car and went to that canteen and collected the food. Since there was no power we had a candle light dinner totally different eperience. Then somehow manged to get some sleep. Next morning again we planned to go down to the falls to take photographs since it rained the previous night water was gushing out through many places on the mountain. The falls was very violent such nobody could go near it and take bath. So we stood some distance away and took photographs and returned back.
If it rains in kolli malai then the force and amount of water in the falls will be very violent and huge . . . in that case there is another small falls just a few steps down besides the temple. we can take a quick bath there. So we took bath in there. That was also superb.
Then we took the bus down to namakkal and visited the namakkal anjaneyar temple and yoga narasimhar temple. Finally the namakkal fort. Then took the same route back to chennai.
Thats a short story of our trip . . .

You can see the slide show of pictures taken by us below . . .
Click on the picture to view the album in picasa web albums.