I am sure many of you who have watched the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara have had the thought of going on a long road trip once in your lifetime. Fortunately for me, I have had that experience a long time back, to be precise 15 years back(2003) much before the movie popularized the concept of a road trip. Back then this was just another long drive and it is only now that I realize that it was actually a landmark in my traveling life.
It all started right after I finished my last examination in college where I was completing my Batchelor’s degree. There was a gap between the last examination which I still remember were Economics and the result date. I still hadn’t figured out what to do after graduation thus was completely relaxed.
Once upon a time visiting Dhanushkodi was like an adventure of the seas but now that has all gone thanks to the paved road from Rameswaram Town right till the tip of the lands’ end. When I had originally planned to visit Dhanushkodi only 4X4 vintage jeeps or minivans were being used to ferry tourists from Rameswaram and you basically had two options, either to book the entire vehicle all to yourself or wait for the vehicle to fill up with other passengers. These vehicles will then take you to Dhanushkodi Beach and wait for you to enjoy the natural beauty before returning.
The journey was scary as often the vehicles will actually be travelling for miles in knee-deep sea water and often the tyres would get stuck. All these vehicles will be having an assistant whose main job would have been to lay wooden planks under the tyres to create traction. Since no regular vehicles were allowed these jeep and minivan owners had a virtual monopoly.
I had been planning a Rameswaram trip for nearly three years and every time it got finalized something or the other creeping up. Either it was a train timing mismatch or the whole vacation itself got diverted to another direction. After all visiting one of the southernmost part of mainland India has its own challenges due to its extreme south location along with limited train connectivity from the rest of India.
Rameswaram has been an important tourist spot due to its religious significance and as the name suggests it’s all to do with Lord Ram after all this is the place from which Ram Setu was built by the Vanar Sena to mainland Lanka (Sri Lanka). Thus Rameswaram is a very important pilgrimage town and this town has quite a few temples which are strategically built according to the journey of Ram marching along with the army towards the kingdom ruled by Ravana.
This trip was one of the most memorable trip of my life possible for three reasons one it was the last time I went along with my parents for a vacation in my adult life and secondly my sister also managed to join us along with her husband and my three year old nephew and finally our first stop was Bangalore (Bengaluru) which was once where me and my sister grew up and were returning after ten long years.
This was possibly the last classic middle-class family vacation that I could remember. We took the train from Howrah to Bangalore and were booked in three-tier non-air-conditioned coaches. Along with our luggage, we had a basket full of food enough to last two full days. The journey started with a sumptuous lunch on the train which included rice and prawns cooked in coconut curry. I had the side lower berth so could relax with a perfect eye level view from the window.
We were travelling as a family to Rameswaram and did not get a direct train thus had to stop over at Madurai. I had been to Madurai in the year 2002 but a lot had changed since then. Moreover, I was not a blogger then thus my approach towards the city was very different. So I had one full day in the city so had to utilize it to the maximum.
For a luck, I managed to book a hotel (Hotel Rani Mangammal Residencies) in the city which was located bang opposite to the Madurai Railway Station gate thus no running behind auto drivers no bargaining. Just took the luggage straight to the hotel and the rates were extremely economical considering the strategic location and the room type. Later on, however, I learnt that the hotel was operated by Madurai Municipal Corporation which was another shocker considering its beautiful ambience and maintenance. The manager at the front desk was extremely helpful and guided me to the list of important places that I could visit within a day with some comfort and enough time at each location to enjoy the beauty.
Over the years of travelling across India and abroad I have often felt the urge to set off on my own instead of a booked private car or public transport. I have seen many unknown and unheard of places just by travelling alone. This desire always lets me think out of the box whenever travelling with my family also and surprisingly they have also started liking the idea of going for a long drive on a motorbike where I drive and my wife becomes the navigator with GPS in hand. I’m chronicling my road trip adventure for CEAT Tyres in association with BlogAdda.