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A Trip to Adam’s Bridge


Pamban Island is the closest point to Sri Lanka in the Indian mainland. It is “connected” by Adam’s Bridge, a chain of shoals some 40km long and reputed to never be more than 1m deep.    It was at Rameswaram on Pamban Island that Lord Ram worshipped Siva on his return from Lanka where he had killed the demon king, Ravanna.    Most tourists who come here are Hindus as this is one of 4 modern holy sites which Hindus should visit in their lifetime in order to be released from the cycle of birth and death.

But there is much to interest the non-Hindu as well.

The island is joined to the mainland by the Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge from which magnificent views of the 105-year old Pamban Rail Bridge can be enjoyed. The bridge is more than 2km long with 140 spans and opens to allow the passage of boats and ferries. It was built in the early 20th century.  It is currently closed for some much-needed repairs.

At the eastern end of the bridge is a small but lively fishing settlement which is a haven from Brahminy Kites seeking easy pickings from the drying fish.


As well as its significance as pilgrimage site, the Ramanatha temple in Rameswaram is famous for its magnificent colonnaded Eastern corridor, 220m long.   It is also great for the bustle of pilgrims queuing up to be doused in a water from the 22 tanks and water sources (thirthas) in the temple.   Before you enter the temple take a walk along the shore where you will see the devotees taking their preliminary dip in the Bay of Bengal.

While in Rameswaram, a visit to Dhanushkodi is a must.   This is the remains of a once thriving town where the train connected with the ferry to Sri Lanka.  Tragically, the whole town was destroyed by a cyclone in 1964 which also washed away a train with 115 passengers.  The town was then abandoned but the ghostly remnants remain including houses, church and railway station.


Until recently, Dhanushkodi could only be reached by jeep across the sand but a road has now been built and the ruins are gradually being hidden by stands selling tourist goods.  One assumes that there must be a market for these among the coachloads of Indian tourists.  The drive out from Rameswaram is still worthwhile as the narrow strip of land offers views of the sandbanks with excellent birdlife including flamingos.

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The road takes you all the way to the most easterly point where some still defy the ban on swimming to take yet another dip in the Bay of Bengal.



Blue Guide to South India by George Michel


A village festival

One of our good friends, Sivakumar, lives with his wife Anita and daughter Lochana in the village of Karakorai in the Nilgiris. This village of 100 or so houses is inhabited by members of the Badaga tribal group, who have developed over the centuries from cattle herders to fruit and vegetable growers and more, being the most adaptable of the main tribal groups in the Nilgiris. Many of Siva’s village work at the Government Cordite Factory close by at Aruvankadu. This was established by the British in 1903 and is one of the oldest of 40 such factories in India – the Hills being preferred to the Plains due to the lower humidity.

Last Monday was the start of the festival at the Aranganathar Temple in Karakorai, and Siva kindly invited us to join him and his family at the celebrations. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganathan, an avatar of Vishnu. When we arrived at 5.30pm, the children’s recitation competition was just finishing (Lochana won second prize) and musical chairs was starting to the accompaniment of drums and rattles. Meanwhile, finishing touches were being made to Lord Ranganathan’s chariot.

Around 7pm as the full moon rose over Ghorka Hill opposite, the dancers got themselves keyed up – these were young men of the community – and with a burst of firecrackers the chariot was off on a circumambulation of the temple compound before being dragged up the hill to the first group of houses. The system is that the chariot makes a number of scheduled stops on convenient flat ground (which is rare in the Nilgiris) and the surrounding houses can then come and make a personal offering to the god.Image

The dancers led the way, followed by the temple musicians, then the priests and the chariot. Linked to the last by a sort of electrical umbilical cord was a very elderly generator on wheels being pushed by a number of men whom I judged to be quite a bit younger. All the time there was dancing, fireworks and general gaiety. People made house calls and gave and received traditional sweet pastries (rather like first-footing in Scotland, but with less whisky); all the men were in white dhotis (with sweaters on top, since we are at more than 1850 metres above sea level (6000 feet) and the evening temperature at this time of the year is around 15 degrees and dropping sharply) and the women wore traditional embroidered shawls over their saris.

We had a lovely time and were made really welcome. Thanks Siva.



Tailored Eco-Tours

February 9/10 2013

This is a “no moon” weekend and, as such, a very auspicious date. On Sunday, up in Allahabad, it is the main bathing day for the Maha Kumbh Mela and of course it is also Chinese New Year. I am sure this is not a coincidence. And on Saturday and Sunday quite a few large groups were gathered at the Sadaiyandy Temple down the road (more on that in another blog) together with the goats to be sacrificed and then stewed. But for us, last night and the previous two have been fabulous for star-gazing. There was no cloud cover at all, and, while we are not in an official “dark sky” area such as they have in Galloway in south-west Scotland, we have very little light pollution here.

I downloaded the star maps for our latitude and longitude for 9pm and 4am from an excellent free…

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Tailored Eco-Tours

We could be spending the winter in Britain where the weather is foul but where we have electricity 24 hours a day and TV at the press of a switch. Instead we have chosen to spend our time in Tamil Nadu. Tourists to India do make it to Tamil Nadu but usually only after they have done the golden triangle – of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – and have experienced the beaches of Goa and the Kerala backwaters.

But we’ve been fortunate. We lived in Tamil Nadu for nearly 6 years while I was working here, and have been coming back regularly for short or, in Phil’s case, longer visits in the 6 years since then. The magic we discovered in our very first visit has not worn off. This year for the first time I am able to spend 3 months here, based at the cottage which is owned…

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