Sunday, February 05, 2006

Velankani Trip

Saturday, 20th August 2005: This is how this trip started. My colleagues were making plans to work on Sunday to finish off some backlogs. I had to escape! I made some quick enquiries – Madurai, Pondicherry, Velankani were the prospects, all within a radius of 150kms. I put off Madurai and Pondicherry for another weekend, with some good pillion rider ;-) I had no clue about the place, no idea what to expect, but one thing was for sure, I would head for the highway on my TB at 6:00 in the morning.

Sunday, 21st August, 2005: It was a pleasant morning, although there was no cloud cover. I enjoyed the ride in the first few hours in the morning. I guess, I will start real early, before the crack of dawn, next time around. I started on the NH-67 which is the route to Tanjavur, covered some ground before I reached the Tamil University. There were good sculptures, which caught my eye and I stopped for the first break there. This stretch of road, till I took the deviation off the Tanjavur road was good. The place is the granary of the south, with lots of paddy fields adding to the scenic landscape. Slide the visor of the helmet open and the cool, fragrance of the paddy fields greets you. It made me nostalgic, reminding me of my childhood when I would spend a lot of time in the fields during my vacations at Udupi. All along I had been cruising along the banks of Cauvery, suppressing the urge to stop at every curve of the road for photos.
My next stop was under a pipal tree on the banks of the cauvery (perfect setting for a small trishul and some worship?). I got into conversation with this farmer guy and guess what, by the time I left after 15 mins, we were chatting about BHEL disinvestment issue!! As I passed Thiruvaiyaru, I had breakfast at a Hotel Park Inn or something. The lodge had no guests, it looked like, the restaurant was empty too. Two plates idly and one filter coffee cost a mere 16 bucks. There was now some 40 odd kms to go. I reached Velankani in scorching heat at around 10:45. After parking my bike close to the Our Lady church, I headed off to the beach.
The beach was pretty disappointing, after all the riding, I deserved a better crowd. There were numerous structures being built for the stalls for some festival next week. Most part of beach was also devoured by Tsunami Dec 26, last year, killing nearly 4000 people. I spent sometime in the beach. No, I did not take off my shirt, I told you, the crowd was disappointing. I met Reva and Eeta – two german gals and their dirty puppy (who they carried in a basket all the way!) who had come from pondicherry on a scooter. I went to the church and offered prayers. Just before leaving Velankani, at about 12:30 or so, I met a South African couple. The guy was totally impressed with my Thunderbird. He said, when converted in to Rand, the price would be about 15000 rand and a similar bike in SA would cost 90000 rands. He made some plans to purchase some silencers and helmets for his bike from Mumbai. He happened to be one those ubiquitous software engineers.
On the way back, I visited the Tyagaraja temple of Thiruvaiyaru. The temple has a great history, built by the chola rulers. It was blazing hot and walking barefoot on the corridors of the temple, makes one remember all the gods he knows. The temple was closed till evening, I wish I had done this during the onward journey, would have really enjoyed it.
I was back on NH-67 at by 1400. My bike had made 950 odd kms and I was excited about reaching the milestone. As luck would have had it, as it turned from 3 to 4 digits, there was a small temple. It had been exactly 10days since I had got my bike and I had done 1000kms. I stopped once more at a Asphalt plant. Crushed stone and tar are heated at high temperature to make the asphalt that goes on those beautifully laid roads that we drive on. The temperature was so high, I felt you didn’t need those furnaces to heat mix.
I reached Tirchy at around 1600 in the evening. The trip was good, if only the heat had spared me, I was truly enjoyed it. I had a clear line of demarcation on my biceps, between the part that was covered by my tee and what was not.
Moral of the story: If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
And while you are at it, you may want to check:
For all those fotos check out:

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