Writeup by Sylvia Nelson:
I registered for this tour on a whim like I’ve done on my previous CTC outings. And I must say I was not disappointed to say the least. Early to bed, early to rise- was my mantra for the day and there we were- a decently sized group at Koyambedu in the early hours of June 28th.
The first stop was the Puzhal Lake. The lifeline of Chennai was at minimal capacity, quite a worrying sign for a parched city and a wake-up call to all residents about this precious natural resource.
Our second stop was at the Thamaraipakkam Lingam temple en route the farm, possibly built in the more recent times. It displayed modern architecture but old traditions kept intact in the main sanctum. We were informed that when shlokas are chanted, it echoed inside the massive structure. Photography is prohibited inside the complex, so after a brief stop here, the group moved on. An interesting display was a water tank with a pot inside. The saying goes- the one who is able to throw a coin into the pot will be granted his/her wish.
The group then headed for a pitstop at a tiny roadside eatout. Breakfast included super-hot dosas, idlis, vada-curry, korma, chicken gravy and omelettes. We ate till our hearts content and after a hot cuppa, bikes and cars got onto the road breezing through the highway and countryside until we reached a farm in Thiruvallur district. The sun by now was fully up and the temperature had begun to soar. Yet the group moved on unfazed, perhaps the vastness of the open farmlands and the greenery around simply camouflaged the heat.
The Jasmine (Jasminum) or Kannagamaram (Crossandra) farm was an instant hit with the group. Soon everyone got busy clicking pictures and some even tried their hand at Bollywood style poses in the midst of flower beds.
The farm owners were a kind lot who provided us with water and enough ‘nungus’ (Asian palm fruit) fresh from the trees for all. I was taken aback at the hospitality by these simple village folks. Then came the turn of the water pump set being turned on and everyone had fun drenching themselves in the cool water. It was a great way to escape the soaring heat and was also a fun element at the same time.
We were on the road soon after and was I simply lucky to be driven around in a lovely couple’s car.
And how could we not have stopped by a roadside ‘koozhl’ stall (local porridge made of fermented rice and ragi). I must add the ‘moru molagai’ that came along was the best I’ve ever had.
Before heading back to Chennai, our last stop was at the Shivanandhiswarar temple where we rested a bit to cool off from the unbearable heat. Some offered prayers while others went around the temple clicking pictures. It was here we met a 105 year old temple priest, who was still up on his feet and going about his daily routine. He came around to see us and gave his blessing. Hot pongal was distributed soon after and we devoured our mini-lunch.
As we wound up for the day by the temple pool, all of us agreed to a day well spent and someone rightly mentioned and I quote- There are 3 aspects to any trip:
Photography + a lot of Fun
is how we sum our trip to the Red Hills and farms close to the Andhra/TN border.
- Sylvia Nelson