Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last week we visited Triuvannamalai [TAM]. We were on a large family re-union outing to yelagiri, which was a day trip. W other folks returned home end of day, we decided to stay back at yelagiri and look around some places close to yelagiri. We stayed at my wife's uncles Farm house yelagiri for the night . a perfectly fine gentleman, who has settled down here after some interesting working years in Africa. he currently runs a education and anganwadi NGO head quartered in jolar pettai at the foot of the yelagiri hills. His Farm of 4 acres grows frutis and roses for the bangalore market. we had a wonderful dinner and breakfast conjured by mami.

Next day morning we decided that it was time to visit some temples and that TAM would be the place to go to. Its a shaiva kshetram and the giri pradakshanam is renowned. Also there is the Ramana Ashram. The drive from yelagiri to TAM is 90 Km most of it on NH 209 going from Bangalore to Puducheri [ thats pondicherry]. the road is a good old NH with 2 lanes, not in its prime. A lot of good stretches of road with sudden surprises around the corners, a couple of pot holes were big enough to bathe a hippo! The driver needs to be careful and not speed and thereby result in some serious suspension chassis damage.

We left yelagiri @ 10:30 having visited a nice little amman [ kali / mariamman] kovil in yelagiri and reached the TAM shivan kovil @ 12:45 just before close time. The shivan kovil is colossal, close to the size of a small layout / locality. We parked the car at the wrong entrance and had the fortune to walk around the temple in the afternoon sun. Tamil nadu is a hot place. Even in the extreme of december, the heat on the roads got to a feet and both of us had feet boils. Inside the temple, we had a elephant dekko for our daughter and had a good darshan of shiva and parvathi thanks to a local priest. my wife and I exchanged garlands in the sanniddhi of parvathi amman and this my wife will cherish for long. It was like a second wedding for her.

We had lunch at Arunai ananta a self claimed 3 star hotel. Food was awesome and i guess the high quality is due to the large numbers of tourists from big cities and outside india also a decent expat population at the ramana ashram. One would not taste such good food even in a place like bangalore! We saw many such restaurants on our way. I would recommend Ananta for the first timer before one gets experimenting. [a peacock perched up a tree at the ramana ashram]

the post prandial visit to ramana ashram was emotional. reading ramanas stories sribed on the walls lent a drop of tear unto our eyes. In the ashram one can the samadhis of ramana, his mother, his lieutenants and the crow, cow and dog that lived with him. there is also the cave where he lived up on the arunachala hill We did not go there due to paucity of time. We visited the book store picked some interesting books and then headed home at 16:00 [ the samadhis of the 3 beloved animals to ramana]

The drive took 3 hours and by 19:30 we were back home.

The giri pradakshanam was given a miss, we initially thought that we would atleast do it by car but gave up the idea not sure the distance. I plan to visit TAM once more to do a cycle giri pradakshanam. the giri pradakshanam on each day of the week has a special significance, and i would be blessed if i can make it possible for a whole week of pradakshanams on a bike. thats my new year resolution for now.

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Last week a whole bunch of our family went to yelagiri hills, off the chennai bangalore expressway about 170 Km from bangalore.

yelagiri hills is a nice little picnic spot ducked a bit away from jolarpettai [ a big junction on the rail route between bangalore and chennai and is a neat 21 km of steep Ghat section which any driver would love to negotiate both ways. [ a picture of valley from a hairpin bend along the ghat called "avvayar valaivu". Interestingly all hairpins along the road have been given names by Tamil nadu tourism]

Reaching yelagiri is easy its about 3 hours drive from bangalore, counting from infosys on hosur road. We chose yelagiri for the trip as there were people joining from both chennai and bangalore. WE started out from bangalore @ 7:00 ish and stopped from breakfast @ adyar Anand Bhavan [A2B] near krishnagiri [65 Km from bangalore] There a lot of breakfast joints in Hosur, but we chose this place for its reputation and that it was away from the din of hosur. How wrong we were. A whole lot of other blr-eans also had chosen this watering hole and given that it was christmas that whole lot was a real whole lot. A2B was like a fish market and had winding queues for everything from the biling counter to the collection point. We were a gang of 25 people and it took us a whole 2 hours to down a couple of idlis dosa and coffee each. This put us all back by about 2 hours and on the road again, we crossed krishnagiri and then had to take a right turn off the expressway just before vaniyambadi. There are 2 tolls that sets u back a little in time and in the pocket. After the wonderful ghat climb, looking at aggressive monkeys on the way [ one is warned not to get too cosy with these guys especially with food in ones belonging]. We reached yelagiri by 12:00.

yelagiri has nothing more than some parks and boat club options, its a good place to chill out [ do nothing] for a couple of days as a family or small group. One can visualize it as a place to spend some time in serenity and peace away from the din and pollution of the big city. As a large group, the group defines entertainment. We had some good time at the boat club, downing some vodka and food with the general chitter chatter. Would like to add here that liqour flows low in yelagiri so it makes sense to carry some from home, especially the bangalore folks [ chennai junta only have TASMAC with limited options]

We also played some football, frisbee and it was evening time and time to return home. while the others went homewards, we stayed back to spend a night with one of our relatives who had strategically settled here. We also planned to use this opportunity to visit some nearble kshetra's like thiru-annamalai.

I would sum up yelagiri as a great picnic spot especially if its a large group that can enjoy by itself. provides a great climate that ensures one remains fresh throughout the day. if planned well one can make this a day trip thanks to the wonderful road upto Vaniyambadi [150KM ] and then the beautiful ghat section climb to the hill top.

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