I was planning for a trip to visit some of the places mentioned in Ponniyin Selvan and after talking about it with my wife since our marriage and after 2 kids, we were finally able to take off this Dec 31, 2008 for the trip.
Having in mind that I have 2 kids to take care of, I have to restrict the trip to most of the well-treaded roads and had to be content with visiting some of the places I have already visited. But then, it turned out to be one hell of a blast for all of us in the end. Here is a travelogue of the same.
Day 1 Dec 31, 2008
Chennai - Viranam Eri - Gangai konda cholapuram
We started by 5.30AM on Dec 31 with Gangai Konda Cholapuram as our first stop. Hitting NH45 early helped in avoiding most of the Chennai traffic and after passing through the toll plaza we stopped for a quick breakfast in Achirapakkam. The hotel (Ganesh Bhavan) basically runs a swindling operation in the guise of a hotel. Though the food is good, prices are exorbitant and better to avoid this. Moving on, the road was fantastic to drive on and we made good time till Tindivanam and after which the road work is still going on and roads are just OK. We took the detour to Panruti before Vilupuram and hit the gas till Neyveli and were forced to slow down till after Vadalur due to some real bad roads. We drove along the viranam Eri thinking of the 'Adi perukku' Vandiyathevan witnesses. Good monsoon this year means there was water all along in all the rivers and canals.
We went past the Viranam Eri and reached our first destination, Gangai konda Cholapuram. I've never been to this temple here and everyone in our party (my parents, kids and wifey) were excited to look at a near replica of the Big temple. Sibi was all excited about the cow-god (Nandhi) and was more impressed with the Yali sculptures. In every temple we visited, he started looking for Yali and was wondering whether they are powerful than lions.
We were just in time before the noon puja and after watching it to heart's content and letting the kids play in the surrounding lawns for sometime, we started back to our next stop, Kumbakonam.
Kumbakonam - Darasuram - Thirunageswaram - Oppiliappan temple
We had our lunch and checked into LeGarden Inn in Kumbakonam. It was actually a serviced apartment with two bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a kitchen, hall and a dining area, which was quite a deal. After a little rest in the afternoon, we started again for Darasuram around 4PM. Airavatheeswarar temple was so fantastic we spent more than an hour roaming around still coming out feeling we haven't seen everything. We engaged a ASI guide and there was a trove of information he came up with for the panels, the 'Raja gambeeram' mandapam, the pillars, the overhead panels, the chariot-style etc. Sibi was busy counting the Yali's he could find and generally running around.
We left Darasuram and after a cup of tea from the local boiler shop, we proceeded to Nageswaram and Oppiliappan temple. We went back to the room after a tiring day for us and the kids. But then J had other ideas and dragged me along for a shopping trip in the shopping district of Kudanthai. After visiting 'Seemati silks' (a landmark I heard so much about in my school days courtesy of Trichy AM station), we bought the new year cake and came back to the apartment.
We cut the new year cake by 10.30PM and hit the sacks immediately to make sure to prepare for the visits the next day.