This is the stuff, fun breaks are made of! The trip was planned impromptu and was executed nicely.
Anshu (my wife) wanted a break very badly. She had just returned from a gruelling 2 month project trip from the UK. Really it was all work and no play and most certainly it had made her a dull girl. So we decided to go to chennai – which happens to be a nearby city. And we booked the tickets. (We booked train tickets online and without any glitches — would you believe it???). I must say that the Indian railways has finally come of age. They have realized that the customer needs to be treated with a little dignity. And this service of the e-ticket was simply amazing. Now one can book-print the ticket from the convinience of one’s computer, whether at home or at work. And just go and board the train. Amazing … considering it is Indian Railways!!
Ok Now the trip. The journey from Bangalore to Chennai was a 5 hour stint on shatabdi — and once again mother of all surprises, train starts sharp as scheduled and reaches exactly after 5 hours. This time we decided to go to the station on the bike – which eventually did not turn out the way we expected.. but more on that later… We reached the station, parked the bike and boarded the train.
Chennai was hot as usual. Infact this reminds me of a very beautiful description of chennai (i like to call it madras) by R.K. Narayan in his popular book, “The Bachelor of Arts” – ‘Madras is hot for ten months, and for two months, it is hotter’.
Inspite of the humidity, Anshu was really very excited because it was the first time ever, that she was going to see the sea beach. And I was excited because it was a really long time since we went out together on a vacation. Our planned stopover was at my Mama’s place – which incidentally happens to be very close to the beach (Elliot Beach). And from there we had plans of using one day for Chennai Darshan and second day for going to Mahabalipuram (or Mahabs as the newage kids like to call it).
So thursday was only taking rest and visiting the local beach in the evening. And also there were plans of going to see Rang de Basanti (The latest movie by aamir khan) at night – but that sort of did not work out. So we did not go to the movie.
This day was a real flop show, I dont mind saying. We were all excited about the grandiose plans that we made that we will first go see the movie and then go to Snake park and another good place called Valluvar Kottam. And finally return back home after some beaching :-). But destiny had other plans….
We started the car and were moving on the ECR (East Coast Road – amazing road stretch for a scenic drive), when the car clutch plates (which were already dying) gave in and the vehicle stalled – in the middle of nowhere!! Now that was a show stopper (as we IT guys call it).
We tried calling up for help but to no avail. Since there was nothing better to do, we had some coconut water.
And we were not keen on leaving the car on the side of the road and proceeding to see the movie.. So eventually we ended up spending 2 full hours cooped up in side a Santro, before the Service station guys reached us and towed away the car for repairs. We finally reached Mayajaal (a multiplex – but not even a patch when compared to PVR. The toilets here are really stinky – bad maintenance is the least that one can say!) to see the movie.
The movie was a “special screening” in the true sense of the word. Funny that in a 200 seater auditorium there were a total of 12 people including the four of us :p to see this movie. Probably because it was already the 5th week after release and moreover this was Madras – a non-hindi speaking location. But still it is tremendous that a movie is hosted for the 5th week. That too in a place like Chennai. Way to go!!! I think the movie was good but the first 40-45 minutes were really boring. I couldnt get a hang on what the director actually wanted to convey by the medium of these college kids. It is definitely feel good patriotism, sugar coated to suit the thinking and conventions of the current generation. A good effort but certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
Post movie, we had nothing much to do, but to go back to some more beaching near home. That, we did in right earnest. The day ended with a heavy chinese dinner with another cousin of ours.
This was much more enjoyable than the previous day – where all our well laid out plans just went down the drain!
Now there was no car so hired an AC Qualis. It was a good drive on the ECR but then out of the blue, unexpected rains again tried to play spoil sport. But we were all gritty and determined to make the most of this day, as it was the last day of vacation.
We reached Mahabalipuram and visited as many spots as we could. But we could not go near the ocean as it began to rain heavily!!
Our first stopover at Mahabs was the 5 rathas, temples carved out of single monolith rocks. Amazing sculptures. It makes me wonder as to how much talent all these ancient people possesed!! These are to be seen to be believed. The place was promptly utilized for some excellent family and individual pictures. All pics can be viewed by going to the photo album mentioned at the bottom of this writeup. The place definitely has some good places for a shoot.
Our next stop was just a few meters away from the 5 rathas, it was a hilltop temple. This was again real nice because as earlier, this was also done from a monolithic rock. The carvings were really amazing. And the view of the ocean from the top was simply mind blowing.
And the most interesting part of all this was amonkey which was nicely perched on a treetop and was eating 50-50 biscuits, which it had recently snatched from one of the school kids visiting the place.LOL!!!
Sad that out of the 5 sea shore temples at Mahabalipuram, only 1 is left now, the rest have been eaten by the sea. They just went down, in the last couple of years. The govt and the ASI is making concerted efforts to salvage the one that is left by building artificial fencing and rock walls so that the sea does not reach it.
We did not go near the beach at Mahabs due to the sudden downpour. We decided to stop by for lunch. And discuss further course of action, just in case the rains did not stop. I was a little worried because I was very keen on taking Anshu to the crocodile bank, which falls on the way back, on ECR. It is nice little park, where various varieties of Crocs are housed. Some very ferocious ones, may I add. And there is also a baby croc which is available for taking photos. I mean the caretaker will give it in your hand and you can hold it for clicking some pics and then return it. The baby is really harmless – but I was in no mood to verify the same :p.
The park also has a venom extraction display where poison is extracted from snakes and supplied to the government hospital for creating anti snakebite serum. This is a must see place on the ECR. Ofcourse, if go-karting is your do, then there is a good joint on the ECR – although i did not visit it this time due to lack of time. The day finally came to an end after crocodile bank. Although there was a lot more that could have been done, yet time and weather prevented us from expoliting the vacation to the fullest. But then no regrets, becoz whatever we did, was full of fun and we enjoyed every bit of it – fully refreshed, we boarded the Sunday Morning shatabdi and reached bangalore at 11:00 am.
Now for the anti-climax– I took out my bike and it wouldnt start – investigation revealed that I had a dead battery! Holy Shmucks – a bullet with a dead battery is just dead weight because it just would’nt start. So I sent anshu home and dragged the bike to a nearby mech. shop. The chotu of the shop was really enthusiastic about opening up the bike and came running with an array of spanners. I must have really ruined his day, when I did not allow him to do any such operation on my bike. Thanks to the bike maintenace course that I am undergoing, I knew exactly what needs to be done (ofcourse after a brief discussion with my guru). But I just realized that had it been some novice, then this bachcha would have made a nice bakra out of him and made some good money.
Now we requested some guy who had a kinetic honda to lend his battery. The solution for such a situation (assuming that battery is the problem diagnosed) is that connect a spare battery in parallel to the bike;s battery terminals so that you are able to start the bike. Once the bike is started, it will charge the dead battery while riding. So I finally managed to start the bike andreach home.. That was my moment of truth being a bulleteer, i may add here.
Some of the good stuff to do on the ECR is as under:
- Mayajaal – Movie Multiplex
- Bowling Alley – this is inside Mayajaal and you need to buy movie tickets to be able to go in.
- Crocodile Bank
- MGM – Amusement park
- Long list of hotels and resorts for the foodie and people who just want to chillax!
Check out the photos at the below yahoo photo album…