Tagged: Weekend breaks from Chennai

Bird Watching @ ECR & Test Driving Nikkor 70-300 VR II Lens – (Dec ’11)

After acquiring the Nikkor 70-300mm lens, I wanted to test drive it around Chennai. So, did a quick drive along the ECR road and the bird photographs presented here are taken in Muttukadu. Though this lens isn’t an ideal one for shooting free flying birds, I tried my best to get some shots.

Weekend Drive to Manimuthar Falls – Manjolai – Kuthiraivetti – Part II (Nov ’11)

The next day we woke up as early as 5 AM as we had lot many things to do before we head home the same day. Got ready by 6 and went to visit Raja’s palace before we took leave. Some pictures of the Raja’s palace were shared in the previous post. After this quick tour, we started our journey towards Manjolai/Kuthiraivetti. The atmosphere is quite good and soon we were on the uphill road to Manjolai. We quickly passed Manimuthar falls & proceeded towards Manjolai and ours was the first vehicle to enter that day. The drive was in itself was a pleasurable experience as we saw small to medium waterfalls for every couple of kms. It was an awesome ride with lush green all around with no souls except the chirping of birds. We stopped at a waterfall, which was close to the road and washed our car. Once that’s done, we went straight to Manjolai and were greeted by few peoples of Manjolai. It’s being a very tiny settlement, not much facility available for food, except an Estate Bakery & a Tea stall, where we munched some crispy hot Vada.

We left behind some curious onlookers and proceeded towards Naalumuku, out next stop before Kuthiraivetti. The drive from Manjolai to Naalumuku was even more adventurous with narrow roads & sharp turns inside dense forest. We crossed a wooden bridge, under which a stream of fresh water was flowing. Took some photographs around that place and quickly hopped on to the car as we have return to base before 4 PM, also we were hungry. By the time we reach Naalumuku, the breakfast was over and we had the same tea/vada, but we skipped and got some biscuits from the nearby shop. We ordered lunch at the Kerala mess, which he said will be ready around 1 PM. So, after confirming the food, we started our journey towards Kuthiraivetti. It was some good 15-18 kms and it took around 90 mins to reach our destination. The wind was blowing quite fast and the weather looked overcast. We stopped our car at the base of the place and walked towards the view point, where one can see three dams.

We were able to see 2 dams only due to the overcast conditions, and soon the atmosphere changed drastically. The clouds converged on the top and it seemed we are in for a big lashing of rain. To protect our camera gears we soon left the place and started our journey back to Naalumukku. The return journey till Naalumuku was awesome as we witnessed fog covering the narrow roads in no time. Driving through fog at noon was so wonderful, added to that it started drizzling a bit making the scenic landscape more beautiful. Enjoying these scenes we reached Naalumuku at 2.30 and had our lunch. The lunch was delicious as I asked them to prepare ‘Chicken Curry’. After filling our empty tummies we headed towards Tirunelveli and reached the base around 4.30 PM. While we are heading towards Tirunelveli to buy the famous ‘Alwa’ we witnessed another beauty, ‘The Rainbow’. It spread across the vast area forming a semi-circle; unfortunately we couldn’t capture the entire area.

After that we quickly went into the town and purchased few kilos of the famous ‘Iruttukada Alwa’ and started our journey back to Chennai by 5. The return journey was uneventful except witnessing a live accident between a Govt. bus and a sedan. Couldn’t identify who was wrong, but passengers in the car got hurt badly and a couple of passengers were taken to hospital by a passerby cab. We quickly passed on that area and praying for their wellness. We reached Chennai around 3 AM with a dinner break and couple of breaks for nature calls. Overall it’s a satisfying & wonderful experience. Overall distance covered over the weekend stood at 1350 :), not bad indeed.

Weekend Drive to Manimuthar Falls – Manjolai – Kuthiraivetti – Part I (Nov ’11)

This trip was a long pending one since I bumped in to a blog post detailing about the place ‘Kuthiraivetti’. The fact that only one bus ply between Tirunelveli to Kuthiraivetti ignited a special interest in me to visit this place. Last Friday when I decided to go on a weekend break, and searched for some new places, I bumped into another blog post detailing about ‘Manjolai’. The place looked quite beautiful and decided to head there. Tirunelveli is located some 600kms from Chennai and this Manjolai is further 30km from there. Also, checked for accomodation and found a link which provided details about staying options in Singampatti Zamin, which is located at the foothills of Manjolai. It; is located very close to Manimutharu dam and the staying options are maintained by bed and breakfast services of Tourism department. After gathering all these details, I decided to use public transport as the distance to cover on a weekend is too much and tried to book tickets in Volvo. Unfortunately, there was a problem while booking and money has been deducted from my account without booking a ticket. Upon verifying, got confirmation that the money will be credited back to my CC in 7 days.

Don’t want to make another try, decided to use my trusted car to take us there. Once out of office at 5.15, headed home and packed things and loaded everything in the car. It was raining heavily outside and the initial plan was to start around 2 or 3 AM. But watching the heavy downpour and travelling to this place for the first time, I decided to start at 7 it self as the rain will not allow us to travel at a speed I expect. So, left home at 7.00 and took Chennai bypass and crossed Tambaram at 7.40. Rain stopped just after Chengalpattu and from there on it’s an uneventful journey. Took the route Chennai – Villupuram – Trichy – Madurai – Tirunelveli. Took a couple of hours break after crossing Trichy and had a small nap just crossing a toll plaza. After that the drive was easy and we reached Tirunelveli around 7 AM.

Called up Singampatti Zamin’s residence to get the directions and reached the palace around 8.30 AM. It just looked like any other building but had the signs of a Zamindar’s residence. We were guided through the rear entrance where we parked our car just in front of a residence where we will be staying. Then we met the Raja, Theerthapathi and had little chat about our travel and what we are intended to do during our stay. He handed over the permission letter, which he has got from Forest Department for our visit to Manjolai / Kuthiraivetti on Sunday. Then we went to our residence and freshened up. In the mean time, Raja has arranged for some delicious breakfast. After that we had a quick nap for couple of hours before we freshened up again to check out Manimuthar falls.

The drive to Manimuthar Falls from Singampatti is quite scenic. A few kms from Singampatti on the uphill road, you will see the forest check post. You need to sign the register & pay for entry tickets (Rs. 15/ head & Rs. 25 for camera). If you like to go beyond Manimuthar fall, you need to give them the permission letter else you will not be allowed to go beyond Manimuthar falls. The beauty of the place increases on every curve and the route becomes narrower as you go on. It will take 20-30 mins drive from the check post to reach the falls. A guard will standing near the entry point of the bridge and verify the vehicles going beyond that point.

We spent close to an hour in the falls, though the water flows from relatively low height, it’s not easy to stand there for quite long. Not much people around at that time and we enjoyed our stay there, clicking photographs at will. Along the water falls, you can spot numerous monkeys and one must be careful with their belongings.

After spending time in Manimuthar Falls, we headed Papanasam where you have ‘Agasthiyar Falls’ & VaanaTheertham falls in Karaiyar. By the time we reached Papanasam, the clock showed 4.45. There is again a forest check post where you need to sign the register. They informed us to just visit Agasthiyar Falls as one has to exit the place by 6 and we wouldn’t be having time to visit Karaiyar. We quickly moved on to the uphill road and reached the place a downhill road goes to Agasthiyar Falls & the uphill road goes to Karaiyar. We quickly decided to visit Karaiyar and took that risk to visit the place which is some 20km away.

The drive through the forest was quite an experience in itself. We spotted a fox & bison but couldn’t capture as they moved into the thick forest in a matter of few seconds. When we reached Karaiyar around 5.20, the path to boat house is locked down as the time is between 9 to 5 PM. From here only one has to take a boat ride to reach Vanatheertham Falls. We quickly returned to Agasthiyar falls and visited the Shiva temple, which is located on the top. The place was deserted and the looks from here are quite scary. After taking few snaps, we returned to Singampatti without any further delay as its getting dark.

That concludes Day 1 & Trip to Manjolai & Kuthiravetti will follow soon.

Quick Visit to Dakshina Chitra (May ’11)

This was a quick trip to Dakshina Chitra without any plans. It’s hard to ride on this scorching Chennai heat and an additional layer to protect my tees doesn’t help the cause. Started off around 10 AM and tanked up the bike and quickly off the road. The traffic from CMBT till Guindy was pretty hectic due to the Metro Rail construction and after that the ride was as good as anything. Stopped over for a breakfast at Hotchips around Palavakkam and quickly filled my tummy and reached Dakshina Chitra at 11.15 AM.

In a nutsheell, this is an attempt to showcase the bygone era of some southindian living by setting up traditional homes of South India (Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala & Andhra Pradesh). Tamilnadu section possess Chettinad House, Ambur House, Potter’s House etc., & Ilkal, Weaver’s House in Karnataka Section, ILkat Weaker’s House, Coastal Andhra Thatch House in Andhra Section & Hindhu House, Syrian Christian House from Kerala Section. You can easily spend couple of house visiting the various houses and try your hands on the activities (pottery, painting, weaving etc.,) setup in various points.

After visiting these sections, finally visited Mask Exhibition where famous sound indian masks were on display. Had a quick visit at the exhibition and moved on.

There are few shops setup in the premises for the people who are interested in purchasing handicrafts & souveniers. There is a craft shop as well and unfortunately it was closed for lunch when I reached there. After you done all these activities, I am sure you will be hungry enough and there is an restaurant right inside Dakshina Chitra and they serve Veg/Non-Veg.

After spending quiet few hours in Dakshina Chitra, left the place with no heart. This is a must visit place if you are looking for some quite and calm place to spend your weekend.