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India: Ajanta Ellora, Alibaug, Bhandardhara with Ajanta and Ellora, Diveagar, Ganpatipule, Kodaikanal with Madurai & Rameshwaram, Koyna Nagar, Panchmarhi, Raigadh

Kodaikanal with Madurai & Rameshwaram, India
by Vishal Tomar, India

Best time to visit:
The months of September to January are good time to visit. I was there in mid September and was welcomed by breathtaking landscapes and pleasant weather.

My itinerary:
Day 1: Landed at Coimbatore airport at 10 am. Drive to Kodaikanal is around 5 hours. Reached Kodai International Hotel at 6 pm. Evening free.
Day 2: Local sightseeing commenced at 10 in the morning. Over by 3 pm. Took a nap and headed out for Kodai lake sunset. Followed by some shopping and dinner.
Day 3: Started early at 8.30 am. Headed out for Madurai. It’s a 150 km drive. Reached there by noon and left by 3pm. Then I went to Rameshwaram which is another 130 km drive. Reached by 6 pm. Darshan (prayer at the temple) and retired for the day.
Photo 02 Day 4: Wake up at 5 am for the darshan. All done by 5:45 am. Headed out for the sunrise, and back by 7 am. Thereafter started for Dhanushkodi at 10 am. Was back by 2pm. Reached Kodaikanal late in the night.
Day 5: Left at 10 am for Coimbatore airport. If time permits, can visit Murugan temple on the way. Flight at 6 pm back to Mumbai.

Things to do:
It is a small time place not very populated. The markets are sparse and town sleeps early in the night. This place is rich with scenic beauty. The blue mist and the valleys can rejuvenate any soul that comes to witness it. It is a photographer’s delight.

There are lots of typical ‘sight seeing’ points which show you the valley from various angles. I would suggest you visit all of them. The local tour operators in Kodai provides the day long tour for as low as Rs 100 per head. The ‘suicide point’ and a little ‘Murugan temple’ can be skipped. I would strongly recommend watching sunset at the Kodai lake. On a clear evening try to take a walk at the ‘Croaker’s walk’ to get the bird’s eye view of the city at night.

Photo 07 Kodai is famous for its homemade chocolates, eucalyptus oils, herbal tea and ayurvedic medicines etc. The place called ‘chocolate factory’ is the best place to buy chocolates. Though expensive at Rs 600/kg compared to half the price in other shops, but worth it. I would recommend vegetarian food. Foodies vying for non vegetarian south Indian delicacies may be disappointed. Hotel ‘Estonia’ in the market is a good place to dine.

This place is famous for its twin temples that are around 5000 years old. Though photography is prohibited in most of these places but sneaking a few shots of this amazing monument in Indian civilization before the guard catches you are well worth it. Besides, there is a palace in Madurai and an accompanying museum. Worth a watch, as they let you photograph them freely and are certainly worth a visit. Besides, I did not find anything more to be done here. I could finish all this in a matter of three hours or so.

This is another gem of a place. To start with, the Indira Gandhi bridge is a must watch. If you reach around 5 pm you can capture a brilliant sunset. Also, if you are lucky a train will be crossing the ocean in front of your eyes on the railway bridge in the evening which is a must see spectacle. Once you have made it to Rameshwaram around 6 pm or so, don’t relax, finish the darshan in the evening itself. The crowd is less, you may be able to catch the evening puja (even photograph it) and finish all this in no time. Then, after some piping hot South Indian food, it would be best to retire for the day and gear up for an early start next morning.

Photo 06 It’s a good idea to wake up at 5 in the morning and catch the special darshanam / snanam at the temple. I would recommend not to go for the ‘22- kund snanam’ for its unhygienic conditions. The same applies before you plan to take a dip in the Indian Ocean. It’s very filthy. Once finished with the darshan, all photographers can catch the sunrise on the seashore which is just a 2 minute walk from the East gate of the temple.

This is a place which is nearest to Srilanka by water. Once at this place, Srilanka is merely 10 km as the crow flies. From Rameshwaram, it takes an hour to drive in a specially hired 4x4 Jeep. Costs can be split by waiting for more people to pool in. It comes to Rs 200 per head. This place is a definitely must watch. On your way you may be stopped for viewing a dilapidated chapel and a temple that can be missed.

Kodaikanal with Madurai & Rameshwaram Image Gallery Photo viewer Photo viewer

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