April 2018: A trip around South India.
From Dubai, we flew to Trivarundrum, visited the South West tip of India at Kanyakumari, crossed to the East coast via Tuticorin and arrived at Rameswaram.
Rameswaram is a town on Pamban Island, in the southeast Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s known for Ramanathaswamy Temple, a Hindu pilgrimage site with ornate corridors, huge sculpted pillars and sacred water tank.
It is also the closest large town to Sri Lanka, which lies across the channel from Danushkodi point. This channel is known as Adam’s bridge. We had previously visited Talaimannar in Sri Lanka and had got as close as we could to the point, but most of the area is fenced off as a Naval base.
Not so on the Indian side. It was fully accessible and full of visitors. As we had been to the Sri Lankan side, we just had to go to the Indian side!
But this post is about doors, not beaches and the doors were in town, so it’s back to town.
I found few worthy doors in the preceding towns but Rameswaram satisfied my door need.
India is so colorful, and this town was just such a blast of color.
Come and wander around with me…
Heading into town, towards the temple entrance…
The surrounding streets are full of little shops, brilliant color and roadside traders…
Heading down through the narrow streets for a sunset walk…
There was little lighting in these narrow streets. Although welcomed and greeted by most of the people who we passed by, it felt right to head back to our hotel before it became too dark. There was so much interesting life going on in these streets it was hard to tear myself away but a S.Indian dinner beckoned too…
Our visit to South India was inspired by our love of shells.
Visited: We flew Emirates from Dubai to Trivandrum, then drove onwards to Kovalam, Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, Rameswaram, Madurai and then flew to Chennai for two nights with a direct Emirates flight back to Dubai.
We used a company called Magic Tours of India I highly recommend this company, professional, helpful, at the end of a phone at any time and the guides are excellent. ( I used them for walking tours in Pune in 2017 and was terribly impressed with the guide and the company) We booked our own flights and hotels and they provided car, driver plus guides for Temple and city tours in Madurai and Chennai.
A note here on the drivers, you need to understand that driving is their job, not guiding. Our driver for the S.India coast to Madurai was just lovely. He drove us so well, with great care and was a pleasure to be with. In Chennai, we also had a great guy, more chatty but it was possibly down to his command of English.
I felt safe and secure with both of them at their respective steering wheels.That is important for your comfort zone, traveling in India.
As it’s a similar cost to hire a car for self-drive or hire a car and driver, we went for car and driver option.
A good choice, we wouldn’t have known about cross-state taxes, certainly, some of the dual carriageway driving was interesting, I think you could call it four-way and some road junctions would have been heart stopping if we had been the drivers. Not under our own steam, there were fewer options to leap out for a photo-opportunity, but I managed to get those in the towns we did stop over in.This area is not covered by the company with guided walking tours, but they provided us with an itinerary that we could change as we wished and as we drove.
Again, I can’t recommend them enough, if you are thinking of an India trip, check them out. The prices are also extremely reasonable.
Hotels: I used Booking.com. I am entitled to genius discounts and every single hotel I chose offered this. The places I chose ranged from a “room only” at Kovalam to a 5* in Chennai. Every hotel was clean and comfortable and had air conditioning and fans (necessary). Those who offered food provided a superb range of S.Indian traditional foods.
It is mainly vegetarian in the South, but when you get seafood on the menu, it is well worth the choice. Breakfast in all the hotels, bar Chennai, had no choice, but an Indian breakfast. It is a slight step into the unknown, pondering a menu that is meaningless and the day ahead consists of a long car drive and no knowledge of whether there are any toilet facilities during the drive, but luckily in the hotels where breakfast was included, it was just brought to us, and, I have to say, it was delicious in every place.
If you are going to travel in this area, you need to embrace the local food. There are few western options.
Travel necessities for S.India :
Dress: Respectful dress and loose, cool clothing for both men and women. To visit temples and to wander around towns, bare shoulders and short attire are not recommended. I travel in hot climates with a set of shift dresses, sleeveless and on the knee. I always carry large and lightweight cotton pashmina shawls that can be adapted for head and shoulder covering. This time I carried loose leggings to slip on under my dress, but I only used them twice. Possibly my age helped avert adverse comment!
Mosquito spray: I read up that it was advised to take some, but never used it and didn’t get any bites. Maybe it was the time of year…
Loo Roll: Not everywhere provides paper, spray jets are used more. A most useful item!
Sunscreen: Yes, it’s a fierce sun, with little shade. Bring a sunscreen…
Immodium: Do not forget to pack this necessary little pill.You will not regret the purchase if you do need to take it…
PS: We found a lot of shells, both for sale and along shorelines on beaches!!
Linking with Thursday Doors, hosted by Norm Frampton. Pop on over and check out some more doors by clicking the blue frog link on his post…