One fine afternoon, I watched the movies ‘Euro Trip’ and ‘Road Trip’ back to back with a close friend of mine and we convinced ourselves that a road trip in my old Maruti 800 was the thing to be done. We collected two others to share in our adventure and then proceeded to the tricky task of approaching our parents for consent. A task fraught with danger. After days of negotiations, it was agreed that the road trip would last seven hours- two hours of driving, three hours spent at our destination and two hours to drive back home. Not on the grand scale as in the movies, but the best we could manage.
All of us were based in Trivandrum, Kerala, at the time and we knew this would be one of our last times together before we scattered to different places to continue our studies. We decided to go to Kanyakumari, the southern most point of mainland India. The town is about 85 kilometres from Trivandrum. We set out at nine in the morning, with a tank full of petrol and four bodies full of excitement.
Driving largely on the NH 47, we coasted along at a good pace, the recently re-laid road helping our cause. There were some areas which still had work in progress and they contributed their fair share of dust and mud. Otherwise, the journey to Kanyakumari was fun – laughing at funny boards and signs along the way, ogling at the few BMWs and Audis that chanced to grace the road, commenting on the insensitive truck drivers and singing along with my friends awesome collection of rock music playing on the car stereo.
The journey took on a rougher note when we crossed the Kerala border and had to ask for directions almost every ten minutes. A some what poor sense of direction and even worse comprehension of Tamil meant that we drove around in a few circles and got to see a few parts of southern Tamil Nadu we had not planned on seeing. After varied spells on the Chennai-Kanyakumari highway and the Trivandrum-Kanyakumari roads we finally managed to reach Nagercoil, a prominent town and one very often mentioned in the Google searches we ran while planning for our trip.
Events took a turn for the better from there. Ably aided by locals, we managed to reach Kanyakumari at about 12 noon, almost an hour behind schedule. Stowing away the car, at what I deemed to be a convenient and safe location, we set out to see the sights.
We decided that we would visit the landmark monuments and statues of Kanyakumari first. The small town, which is the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, boasts an impressive list of such structures that are a must-see for any tourist. First stop – the Kanyakumari temple. Also known as the Kumari Amman temple, this famous place of worship is dedicated to a manifestation of the Goddess Parvati. This manifestation is considered to be the patron goddess of the town. The diamond nose-ring of the deity is indeed enchanting and can be seen from far out at sea. The temple overlooks the expanse of water that is a mix of the three water bodies mentioned earlier.
The great thing about Kanyakumari is that most of the famous tourist spots are close to each other, making it convenient for tourists like us who have limited time. Though I should assume that most tourists have their itinerary well planned out, unlike us.
When we felt we had employed our eyeballs on the walls of the temples for long enough, we decided to haul ourselves away to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. It takes a crowded ferry ride from the coast to reach the rocks but it is worth it. After all, it is not everyday a city chap gets to ride a ferry. Swami Vivekananda is said to have seated himself on these rocks, deep in meditation and thus achieved enlightenment. Apparently there was no ferry back then and he had to swim. The 133 feet tall Thiruvallur statue is another sight to behold. One of the biggest statues in Asia, it was completed in 2000 or so an old gentleman told us.
Other eye catching structures around the place were the Gandhi Mandapam and a few parks. The Gandhi Mandapam was built as a tribute to our Father of the Nation. It was built on the spot where the urn containing his ashes were kept for public viewing after his assassination. Interesting fact: the building is designed in such a way that, on October 2, Gandhiji’s birthday, the first rays of the sun fall exactly on the spot where the urn was placed. Once again, thanks to the old gentleman.
After lingering around all the important monuments of Kanyakumari, it was finally time to hit the beach. We ran around like eight year old kids on the black sand of the beach and ventured into the sea until we were wearing water as much as t-shirt and jeans.
The return journey proved to be much more comfortable than the one we undertook to get to Kanyakumari, largely because one of my friends remembered most of the route back. Thus, after causing a few road blocks and a couple of screeching tyre marks on the national highway, we got back to Trivandrum. It was time to hang up our tired legs after an exhilarating journey to the southern tip of mainland India.
Aju Basil James
Image Source: [http://blog.newsok.com/interns/files/2009/07/road2.jpg]