We had been planning a good family trip from a long time since Chinmay went away to Bangalore and I had been out of the country for nearly 5 months and just came back two weeks ago.
As such I was on leave and planned a visit to Madurai- Kodaikanal and Palani and back to Chennai via Madurai.
As per plans and bookings done , we left on the evening of 31st May by flight( Jet Konnect) from Chennai to Madurai.
It is a small craft and a 75 mins flight. This was Shyamala and Sanmathi's first flight experience and they were really thrilled and enjoyed the novelty.
We reached Madurai and a Tavera vehicle which stayed with us throughout the next 3 days picked us up at the airport and escorted to Hotel Saratha Rajans (www.hotelsaratharajans.com.com/)
After the usual bustle that accompanies even a 100 rupee special ticket and temple's hot interiors ( why no blowers even, let alone AC?),we still had very good darshan of Devi and swami and left for Kodaikanal in Tavera by 10 am.
We had some pit stops and 'pic'-stops enroute the lovely uphill ride as weather cooled down considerably and were able to roll down the windows and enjoy the cool breeze waft around us.It made such a difference after the 'HOT' Madurai. We visited the famous waterfalls on the way ( Liril?) twice, once each way.
We reached Kodaikanal by 2 pm and checked into a small pretty hotel on the Main road called Apple Valley, which the owner proudly calls it as a Resort..That is 'resorting' to over-ambitiousness!!...(http://applevalley.in/)
Went to near by Hotel Astoria which is a pretty good veg south Indian restaurant for snacks and lunch. .
Then ...We had a pleasant boat ride on the Lake in the falling evening light, after a 30-min wait and we could see the rush had diminished on this last Sunday before the schools start (for others...My daughter's school starts next week!).
There is a small lovely veggie restaurant called "Rasoi" next to Hotel Astoria
This 2 women + 1 man eatery is run by a Gujju madam and we were treated to some hot aloo parathas and very tasty veggie dishes...
Check it out next time > Rasoi !
Next day morning started at 8.15 am and we went in our 4x4 van to see Pine forest, Pillar rocks, Bryant park, Coakers walk and such beautiful visiting spots , normal on the tourist route.
We had lunch at the newly found Rasoi, and had Gujarati and Punjabi thali. Quality is again good but more quantity means more price!
We also managed to visit small but very lovely shrine called Kurunji andavar ( Murugan) temple in Kodai as well as Sathya sai mandir called "Sai shruthi" near the lake, where we prayed and also sang a few bhajans ourselves to an absolutely empty hall!( afternoon 3.30 pm).
The evening was enveloped in thick mist and it rained a bit later in the night but not too heavily, and thankfully not disrupting any program of ours! Temp range on both days was around 16 to 28 deg C...
We took many scenic pics on these 2 day/ nights in Kodai and I have uploaded some of them on my facebook page as well as some here:
Onward we went to Palani leaving Kodai by 8.15 am next morning. The journey, in today's lexicon is AWESOME!
Thick mist laden hills, lush greenery and chilly air on the road made it a pleasant climb-down to Palani mount.
The waiting at cable car queue at Palani temple below kills you . It was very hot and shockingly so after Kodai we had just left.
After reaching the palani temple above by 12 noon (waiting 45 mins? below) we were told temple closed at 12 noon and we had to wait one more hour for the shrine to open. More waiting after buying 50 bucks spl tickets!
To ward off all our fatigue, we had a Beautiful darshan of Dandayudhapani and we had some archanai and such normal activities completed, paying off an archak (many archaks keep jostling you there!) ( You pray and they prey???).
Another disappointment was we had to wait almost 1.5 hours for cable car service to resume as they promptly closed the service at 1 pm. This is as tragic as it is ridiculous leaving us all hot and sweaty up on the hills till 2.45 pm..
And yeah, Palani hill (1068 ft ele.) is no Kodai kanal(6998 ft elevation) in temperature!
We of course made use of this time by having tasty 'puliyogarai and sweet pongal prasadam', drank water and refreshed ourselves in the mean time!
We could not have good lunch anywhere in Palani as it was 3.30 pm by the time cable car took us down the hills. The ride up and down is also a very welcome sight and worth doing too!...There is some crazy 15 rupee and 50 rupee separate ticket lines there for the same cable cars, which I could never figure out why, but took the safe 50 buck line anyway. I don't know if it made any difference in the end.
Apart from the superb deity and his blessings( our kula daiavam/ mane devaru is subramanya...But actually Kukke subramanya, anyway!), I daresay Palani was not one of the best pilgrimage spots I have visited as they waste nearly 2 to 3 hours of yours in the day time by these interruptions and waiting period! I learnt later there is a parallel "cable train" service which our driver informed us as a better one... AFTER we came down!..Huh!
We left for Madurai straight and reached the same Hotel and spent a relaxing night and checked out for airport by 10 am next day after having a good sumptuous breakfast there.
Chinmay had to leave by a bus back to Bangalore to resume his duties.
Our Tavera Driver for the last 3 days, Mr Vetri dropped us off and he had served us well.
Our plane left Madurai at 12.30 and reached at 1.15 pm at Chennai and we were home by 2.30 pm.
That about sums up a memorable trip for the four of us..
Thanks for your patience in reading this through!