Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Yearly Trip to Tirunelveli

A Trip to Tirunelveli

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It was the usual, yearly, family trip to Tirunelveli. Only this time it was that decided it would be more of sight-seeing and less of temple visits. Even though we visit Tirunelveli every year, we had not done much of sight-seeing around this southern town. That changed this year.

The first place we visited was the Padmanabhapuram Palace near Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district. Typical Kerala architecture within TN. It certainly did not have the bells and whistles of a palace that comes to our mind. But it was rich in heritage, architecture and of course the size.

It took a solid 1.5 hours to go through the various sections of the palace. It was already 2:30pm and all of us were famished from walking and walking through the Palace. We had to skip the museum which houses some of the weapons and articles used by the kings. This would have taken another 1 hour.

It has to be noted that the Palace is closed for visitors on Mondays and on other days it is open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and then reopens around 3:00 PM. Keep the time in mind if you are planning a visit.

We had a quick lunch in a small eat out near the Palace and then decided to head to Tiruparappu falls which is about 30 km from the Palace. Since we had to go through town and village roads it took us about 1 hour to reach the place. It was around 4:00 PM.

I have heard about the place from my father but have not seen it before. I was already imagining a small falls with lot of people taking bath in it. Since we had good rains this year adding to the fact that it was raining in Tirunelveli till the previous day, the water flow should be good.

But what I saw just took my breath away! It was a small fall and not that popular as some of the other falls near Tirunelveli (Kuttralam, Manimuthaaru etc.). The water was flowing in such a great force that bathing or even going near the falls had been prohibited. This is unheard of in that usually calm falls. There were people posted everywhere to ensure that people do not cross the makeshift barricades.
We spent some time in falls, just taking in the beauty of the falls. Since it was only about 4:30 PM in the evening we had abundance of light. Mix that with the abundance and trees, you will have to be there to enjoy the beauty of nature!

The next agenda was to return to our hotel, but on the way we decided to take a detour to the Perunjani Dam. Permission was restricted to enter and strictly no photography on the dam site. Knowing that we have come from Chennai, the guard just allowed us to take a quick look but informed very clearly not to take any photographs. When I walked up to the dam and reached the top, what I saw there was just stunning. I was quite tempted to click a photograph, but there was a guard always there watching us and hence could not click anything. This was by far one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen!

The capacity of the dam was 77ft and the water was 75ft, lapping slowly on the walls. The other 3 sides was surrounded by the mighty and beautiful western ghats. Most of the part was in shadows, since it was already around 5:30 PM. The sun’s light was hitting the hills on the far side of the hills, exactly opposite where I was standing and the colours reminded me of the fall colours I have seen in US. Another beauty that cannot be described in words.
The second day we decided to get into Kerala through Tenkasi, as this is a very beautiful route. We headed straight to Thenmala through Tenkasi and Shenkotta. I was quite aware of the beauty of Tenkasi, as we have been through those places quite a lot during my childhood days. Even though we had decided to take that route, we did not have any particular agenda or place in mind to visit. So we thought we will just explore the place. We headed straight to Thenmala dam and took tickets for all of us to get into the dam site. Yes, even for entering the dam site, you need to take tickets. Once again, photography is strictly prohibited here as well. I guess as a rule it is prohibited in almost all the dams in TN and Kerala. It was almost noon when we reached the place and it was quite hot.

The walk up to the dam was not so difficult, but it was a good walk. Typical of Kerala, everything was a tourism opportunity for them. Even the dam site had been one. Another breathtaking view from the dam with the western ghats surrounding the dam. But certainly not as spectacular as the view I saw the previous day.
But what Kerala tourism has done is convert this site to a good walk way. You can walk through the dam and cross it over to the other side and continue the walk along the meadows and come back out of another gate, which is about 100 mts from the place you entered. This is a very good walk irrespective of the time of the day. Once you cross the dam and get into the meadow you will forget all the heat outside.
When we enquired with a guard whether photography is allowed in the meadows away from the dam itself, he mentioned that it is not allowed, but Kerala tourism provides a day-long eco-tourism package. This will take us through Deer Park, Butterfly Park, a hanging bridge and a few other adventure activities. I am not quite sure what those activities are, but I understand photography is allowed in those packages. The rates are also quite nominal. The activities start at 9:00 AM and ends by 7:30PM. Unfortunately we did not know about this before so were not able to make use of it. Another place added to the ever-growing must visit places!
It was already past 2:00 PM and all were famished after the long walk. So we decided to have lunch. Now there are not much options here. You need to make do with the small eat-outs that serve some rotis or Kerala type meal. So if you are sensitive about food, it is better to pack something. We had a light lunch in one such eat-out and then proceeded to Palaruvi falls near Aariyakaavu. The walk up to the river was only about 150 mts from the parking space. Though we were able to hear the falls from quite some distance, we had to walk up to it to see the full height of the falls. I am not sure if the falls was in its full flow, but at least we were able to see quite some people taking bath at the bottom of the falls. Since we did not have any specific agenda and saw about the falls only when we were driving past, we did not have clothes to take bath. So decided to just spend some time there.
This falls reminded me of the falls in Kolli hills. It was a sheer drop of about 100ft and standing under such a fall should have given rejuvenating. The stream that had formed by the falls was flowing through the rocks and if one is not so interested in standing under the big falls , then the stream can provide a good alternative for relaxed bathing. The water neither had too much current and nor was too deep. There were rocks at quite some places, which can help in a relaxed bath in a pool.

After spending time to our heart's content here, we decided to head back to our hotel and call it a day. It was a good 2 hour drive to reach the hotel and all we had in mind was dinner and sleep!

The next day we spent time visiting one of my dad's childhood friends, whom he was thinking of visiting for a very long time. The rest of the trip was spent in visiting temples. Of course, our ancestral temple at Rengasamudram was on the top of the list. You can read about this in my blog about this temple.

Overall this time it was a good mix of temple and sightseeing, which I was thinking of making for a very long time. There are still lot of unexplored place around this beautiful southern city. I hope to make those trips as well, in the coming days!