Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The second day began with a breakfast at Hotel Chitra in Marthandam. The journey for the day was planned to be from Marthandam to Thumba, located north of Thiruvananthapuram. Thumba houses the Indian Space Research Organisation, where my friend, Debadatta was then doing a yeoman service to the Nation. The highway runs across the River Thamaraparani and the view from the bridge can be seen in the picture above. The state of Tamil Nadu ends in a place called Kaliakkavilai, a small town which extends into the state of Kerala. Just after the border, the name of the town changes to Kaliakavila, removing the ‘i’ from its name, and it was some education about the difference in two languages. It wasn’t really a challenge to manage the whole trip with my limited linguistic skills!
After reaching Parassala, I took a deviation from the highway towards south to reach Poovar. The road was exactly on the border of the two states and parts of Tamil Nadu was alternating with parts of Kerala. Poovar is renowned for its backwaters and offers some sceneic views.
The road then leads to Vizhinjam where a port is likely to come up soon. The city limits of Trivandrum starts here and Kovalam was the first place on the road. The road leading to the beach looked more beautiful than the beach. It was a gentle uphill and the view from top of the hill was not to be missed.
The beach was quite small and I could not understand the reasons for its popularity. It wasn’t worthy to spend lot of time there and I wished to continue further. The climb back would have been extremely difficult but luckily, there was a staircase on the other end of the beach which leads to the Trivandrum Road. I walked through the beach to the other end and took the road to Trivandrum from there.
It was the day of Pongala, to be precise Attukal Pongala festival at Thiruvananthapuram. The festival is celebrated by Women folk and was marked by preparing Pongal – A South Indian dish, on a large scale. The streets of the city was supposedly filled with people preparing and distributing Pongal. Debadatta informed me that the women are heading for some kind of record for producing the dish on a large scale. They indeed found a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records later. He suggested me to avoid entering the city as the roads would be crowded and blocked for the traffic. I was riding on the bye-pass road and even they were filled with people preparing Pongal. There were plenty of volunteers distributing water melons and other snacks to the women to beat the heat. Had Deb not been waiting for me with his lunch, I would have opted for a free lunch here! Milton Friedman certainly needs to have second thoughts on his statement “There ain’t nothing called a free lunch,” !
I crossed the Trivandrum Airport, Kochuveli station and finally reached Thumba. The staff quarters was very peaceful and a secured area. Thanks to Deb, I could get an access to the place and stay with him. He received me by offering me a wonderful lunch and I could spend the rest of the day taking a good rest. In the evening, we hit the beach nearby to enjoy the sunset. It was a very peaceful beach with less crowd as well as dirt. The day ended on a tasty dinner at a nearby Dhaba. A big thanks to Deb for his excellent hospitality!
Mathandam – Kaliyakavillai – Parassala – Poovar – Vilinjam – Kovalam – Trivandrum – Veli – Thumba
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10 years Later
Deb has since moved to his home town to take up teaching position at IIT – Bubhaneshwar as Assistant professor in School of Earth, Ocean, and Climate Sciences. Vizhinjam port is still under construction and Pongala festival keeps making news every year!