How to plan a Pleasure and Spiritual trip to Tamil Nadu-2
This is the second article in the series of articles, that would help any reader plan a trip to several tourist spots and to the magnificent temples that are there in various parts of the State of Tamil Nadu. In this article, we will discuss plans to Tirunelveli and the surrounding areas.
Introduction In the first article, we discussed how to see Madurai, Kodaikanal, and Palani, with Dindigul as the base from where one can see all the tourist spots and the temples as well. If there is someone who is always spiritually minded, there is so much to see in the form of temples, everywhere in Tamil Nadu.
Tirunelveli is a middle-class town, heavily dependent on agriculture. It is situated at a distance of around 200 kilometers from Madurai, the third-largest city in Tamil Nadu. This town is a major trading center for at least twenty big towns near it and it is always well known for its colleges, as it houses the famous St. Xavier's College, a leading college that contributes to the education of thousands of graduates from this part of the country and State. Tirunelveli also has a State University called the Manonmaniyam Sundaranar University.
Coming back to tourism, a tourist can easily plan a trip of five days, by staying in Tirunelveli and going to the neighboring places. There are two major waterfalls within a two-hour distance from here. Hence, we will discuss a) How to reach the Courtralam water falls b) How to reach the Agastiyar Falls c) How to reach Papanasam d) How to enjoy nature in and around Tirunelveli and e) How to visit Tiruchendur Murugan temple.
How to reach the Courtralam waterfalls It is so easy to reach the Courtralam waterfalls near Tirunelveli. It is just around one hour and forty-five minutes by bus. There are many buses to reach here. One can also go to the nearest towns like Tenkasi and then go to Courtralam. However, it should be noted that the falls are often closed to the public during the month of October and November when the heavy rains start descending on this place and the neighboring places. Hence, the first week of September and the months of January and February are ideal to visit Kutralam. It is a real thrill to have a bath in the falls and enjoy nature. One can easily spend around one full hour here.
How to reach the Agastiyar Falls This is another waterfall that is famous and it is situated on the Tirunelveli-to-Shengottah road. There are so many buses to this place as well. One can enjoy the lovely nature in and around the place.
How to reach Papanasam One should take a bus to this town, some one hour by bus from Tirunelveli. This is a lovely town with wonderful greenery around, and one can also visit the nearby lovely town of Tenkasi.
An interesting bit of information- This town became famous when a town with the same name became a film with Kamal Hassan as the hero. The Malayalam version of this movie was done by Mammotty.
How to enjoy nature in and around Tirunelveli It should be mentioned that Tirunelveli is well connected to many cities and villages around it and to the rest of Tamil Nadu as well. There is the superfast Nellai express from Chennai, and another superfast day express train from Tiruchirapalli. Every ten minutes, there are express buses from Madurai. There are also private buses that ply from Madurai and other towns like Virudunagar.
The real beauty is in the villages. One has to just make some inquiries from locals about nearby villages. The villages will have superb fields and nature at its best. One can also buy fresh vegetables here. One can also try to live in one such village for one day, provided the locals are ready to take on guests to stay in their village. Most villages also have small eateries where the best of food which is naturally prepared through mud pots and firewood, is served. Spending one full day in such a village will greatly enhance the meaning of a nice trip.
How to visit Tiruchendur Murugan temple This temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga. Apart from the temple, there is nothing to see at Tiruchendur, but if one is so keen, the glass bangles sold in the many shops near the temple are famous and are available at very cheap rates.
The temple will normally be open in the mornings and reportedly closes for a short while in the afternoon. Hence, it is fine to take an early morning bus at around 6 a.m. to Tiruchendur and then visit the temple. There are many small eateries and hotels near the temple serving vegetarian food. It is quite possible to find good restaurants as well. In the surrounding village of Arumananeri, which is just a few kilometers from Tirunelveli and on the Tirunelveli to Tuticorin route, one can find traditionally cooked vegetarian food being served. One has to make inquiries to understand what is available and at what place. Most of the people out here understand English.
Tips to enjoy the trip Food: There is this famous dish called "aappam" in and around Tirunelveli. This is similar to the dosa, but it is not a fried item. It has almost nil oil in it. In the villages, one can ask some families to prepare what is called "Koottan Choru", which is a fabulous dish, made out of a mix of several vegetables and spices. The rice blends well with the vegetables. Some hotels near Courtralam also serve this food. One should make inquiries at Courtralam to understand the hotels where this dish is available. The 'Tirunelveli Halwa' is also something that any tourist should buy and taste. It should be noted that the best is called "iruttu kadai halwa" and the locals will guide anyone to this spot.
Stay: As far as accommodation is concerned, it is possible to book decent accommodation in advance and the hotels near the railway station also has good lodges.
Travelling around: Never ever ask any tout and please do not talk to strangers. There are some undesirable elements who try to exploit the tourists. Of course, the majority of the people are quite good people, who mean to be very hospitable.
Expenses: One needs just around fifteen thousand rupees for a four-day trip. One can always go by local buses and save money. The taxis reportedly charge Rs.14 per kilometer and a generous driver allowance that goes up to Rs.1000 per day. Such high costs can be avoided.
Conclusion As already mentioned, since Tamil Nadu has a very good bus transport which connects most places, it is extremely easy and very cheap for any tourist to move around. Tirunelveli and the surroundings are just two of the wonderful places to visit.