Chola kings and Nilgiri tracks
Shravya, Ankitha and me were ready for a non stop travel experience and the 3 of us started the journey from Chennai. Booking and reaching to the bus stop in the last minute is an epic story in itself. In the end, we ended up boarding an AC bus on a non-AC ticket. If I didn’t know Shravya and Ankitha were chatting all night long, I would have complained that the bus has a noisy engine.
We reached Kumbakonam in the wee hrs and headed to find a place to freshen up. And ended up finding a palace.
After taking half hr to get ready in the candle light (yes, the palace has no power), we headed to Gangaikonda cholapuram. It took us around 45 mins to reach there. It was built by Rajendra Chola (son of Raja Raja Chola) in 11th century after his victory in northern India and I found it interesting that the temple had large walls like a fort. Apparently, we were the only tourists there and there wasn’t anybody inside the temple either, save the few gardeners who kept the surrounds lush green. After spending a while and enjoying the day light, we decided to go back to Kumbhakonam for our next Destination, Airavateshwara Temple. In the meanwhile I managed to spread the song in my head to Ankitha – “Dham gutku gutku…”.
We went back to Kumbhakonam and ate delicious idlys and chutney before leaving for Dharasuram, which is 5 km from there. The sun was already at its best. I felt for the first time what an apple goes through inside an oven. It was easily the hottest day of my life. We finally reached Airavateshwara temple after walking half a mile under the hot sun. Some water melon and palmyra fruits kept us alive. The temple is as huge as the Gangaikonda Temple, but with more tourists this time. We also found a free guide who tried to explain everything that was already evident in the gallery. After some fun time walking around the temple and some photoshots, we were asked to leave as the temple is closed from 1 pm to 4 pm. Next stop – Brihadeeshwaralayam.
We Took a bus to Tanjavur(Tanjore) and got down right infront of the Brihadeeshwaralayam. Feeling weak we decided to have some food and relax for a while. Some AC restaurant would be just perfect, as we tried to hunt down one, we realized that there were quite a few AC restaurants,sans AC because of the 10 hrs power cut, thanks to the power crisis in Tamil Nadu. We finished our brief lunch and headed to Brihadeeshwaralayam. Now that’s a huge temple. It has a grand entrance and a real elephant to welcome people. Built by Raja Raja chola himself, this is the oldest and themost magnificent of all 3 temples that we saw. There were a lot of tourists there and also a large queue for darshanam. Have spent a lot of time, we sat in the grass and that’s when my quote of the day has come – “ants, deep down in my pants” after some laughter – satisfied – we headed to the railway station to catch our tanjore-coimbatore train.
Both Shravya and Ankitha dozed off while I refreshed with a 2 hr nap Reaching Coimbatore as early as 1 AM didn’t help much in finding a place to freshen up. But after amusing ourselves with the experiences we had, we finally got a place to refresh. We took the 5 am train to Mettulapalayam, the base station for Coonoor, Ooty. By the time we reached and stunned with the morning hues on the Nilgiri mountains, we were late enough to catch the 7:30 train. The next train was at 9:00 AM. We spent the time in enjoying the cool weather after coming from the hottest place on earth – Kumbhakonam.
The ticket taking process was a bit tedious. We need to stand in a queue to take a token which is issued only after the train of 7:30 AM is left. With that we need to buy the tickets which has another queue. And then comes the final queue to occupy the seats for the unreserved compartment of the mountain train. Thanks to Ankitha, we were smart to get the left side seats, and enjoyed the forests, valley views and an interesting train experience ( it travels at 18 kmph, aprox). The journey was fun with Ankitha and Shravya added more pictures in their cameras. And we sang “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from Dilse.. Heard the song was pictured on these same tracks?!.
As we reached the Coonoor station, the 2 girls got even more naughty irating the train staff there. Quote of the day ” Ye bhi koi chadne ki jaga hai???” yells a frustrated officer running towards us, while I managed to escape looking at the sky trying to count the stars in the day time. We spent some time in Coonoor by having food in a restaurant and doing a little shopping of buying homemade chocolates and nilgiri tea. The return journey over bus was some kind of experience with everybody dozing of while the bus takes the ghat road with hairpin turns. Our Go-Unesco Journey almost ended but we used the time before catching the bus to ride a giant wheel, screaming our lungs out and eat at Adyar Anand bhavan near the Townbus stand at Coimbatore.
From Chennai to Kumbhakonam, Tanjore to Coimbatore, mettupalayam to Coonoor, and Coimbatore to Chennai… Overall, it was a wonderful experience travelling non-stop over the weekend and thanks to Ankita and Shravya for making it a memorable one.https://www.gounesco.com/heritage/proof/23096573885-chola-kings-nilgiri-tracks/https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/15093300/9.jpghttps://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/15093300/9-150x150.jpgUncategorizedChola,gounesco,heritage,india,Nilgiri,prashanth,Tamil Nadu,temple,travel,world heritage travel