This weekend was again a North-bound trip like the planned September first weekend. It was for Sri Sailam. I had booked the train Allepey Bokoro express. Incidentally what I observed with these trains is lot of passengers often waitlisted and general creep in general compartments and give a major problem for reserved passengers. Hope Indian Railways notices this.
The trip was little tricky to start. This weekend the train did not reach Chennai Central but took a detour from Perambur. So I had to travel to Perambur from Central to catch the train. I reached Ongole station quite early and then managed to get an auto to reach the bus stand by 4 AM. From there the five hour long bus to Srisailam started. When I reached Srisailam booked a room to take bath and finished darshan of the Lord. Then after lunch hired an auto for the darshan of small temples around. Then I halted the night at Srisailam. Next day morning after another darshan of the Lord, started from there to Ongole. From Ongole I caught the Howrah Chennai express at 10.45 to reach Chennai Central next day morning.
- Ongole bus stand has to improve a lot. The buses need to have boards in trilingual/bilingual instead of just Telugu. I had submitted a petition for the same to Government of Andhra Pradesh. Also this bus stand does not have water amenities and the shop keepers force you to buy water bottles.
- More number of services between Ongole and Srisailam are desirable.
This weekend was a trip to Rameshwaram. Though I had booked for Rameswaram alone at the last minute I had updated my itinerary to include Thiruppullani. So to reach Thiruppullani I got down at Ramanathapuram and moved to Ahobila Mutt cottage there. After the sea sankalpam and bath moved towards the temple for darshan. An interesting and a moving thing happened. Though the court could voice an end of relationship in July 2011, the sankalpams still upheld the relationships. 🙂
The temple was little crowdy and hence after darshan had some food with the priest home there. Had some rest in Ahobila Mutt and then toured around the market. There was a Desikan Sannidhi nearby and had darshan there also. Next day caught the first bus to Ramanathapuram at 5 AM and from there caught a bus to Rameswaram. It was a picturesque view of Pamban bridge as the bus zipped through the same. Once at Rameswaram completed the sea sankalpam/bath and dips in 22 wells of the temple. After changing clothes at Sringeri Mutt there, completed darshan in the temple. Towards evening started to railway station to get the Sethu Express back to TBM.
Going by the calendar I visited Kumbakonam Oppiliappan temple today by taking the train yesterday night from Tambaram. However on reaching the temple figured out that the Sravanam celebrations had got completed yesterday itself. It is because according to the almanac
September 14, 2016 – Wednesday
Time is from 10:24 AM on September 13 to 10:07 AM on September 14
So just worshipped the Lord and then took the bus from Kumbakonam to reach Chennai by night because for today’s pilgrimage it was not a weekend but I had taken a day off for the same. It wasn’t a setback though because anyway got an opportunity to have a darshan of the Lord.
This weekend I had a booking for Nagercoil. Initially the plan was to cover the temples in Nagercoil and Muppanthal Isakki Amman. Eventually Thiruvananthapuram got included in the itinerary. The train I booked was from Chennai Central; the weekly train from MAS to NCJ and in the evening. I was almost late for it and hence had to cover the distance from Park station to Chennai Central platform 6 in less than 5 minutes. No sooner did I enter my compartment and found my seat than the train started to steam out of the platform. Thanks to the Almighty for making it happen to catch the train in time.
This train, as a co-passenger commented seems to be taking a little longer route through KPD, Thirupathur etc compared to Ananthapuri Express so it reached NCJ by 12.30 PM. So I had some fresh ups in the waiting room of NCJ itself. Compared to other railway zones NCJ (and TVM zone) seems to be maintaining railway stations very well. After that I was trying to find out if some local cab could be booked to visit all neighborhood temples. A FastTrack taxi for four hours could help us out. The following temples we could visit in that time.
- Muppanthal Isakki
- Mandaikkadu Bhagavathi
- Suseenthram Temple
After completing all these temples it was around 7 PM. So I thought instead of halting in NCJ we would rather move to TVM. So we went to TVM and grabbed a hotel room for the night. The next day we completed Thiruvananthapuram temple and Attukkal Bhagavathi temple. Then towards evening we returned to TVM Central station. My ticket was actually from NCJ to TBM. So purchased a short ticket in the same train for TVM to NCJ. Interestingly the TTR never came along in that stretch. 🙂 I was an honest traveller and revenue generator for Indian Railways.
When the train halted at NCJ station had some quick milk from the store there and at TEN (Tirunelveli) junction purchased food for dinner. Then moved up to my berth to get some rest after a two days long hectic pilgrimage.
This whole month of September I have planned and booked for the following pilgrimages so that the usual evil effects of September which had been lasting from 2009 to 2015 would be a history. Here is my plan summary.
- WE 3,4 Panchanarasimha Kshetrams in Andhra Pradesh (Mattapalli, Vadapalli, Kethavaram, Mangalagiri and Vedadri) along with Kanakadurga Temple
- WE 10,11 Nagercoil Muppandal Isakki Amman and Thiruvananthapuram
- WE 17,18 Rameswaram and Thiruppullani
- WE 24, 25 Srisailam
The first weekend had a mild effect of September perhaps the last evil effect of September? The tickets were waitlisted on the train and one person who promised a EQ did not turn up in the last minute. Then I tried visiting CMBT for APSRTC bus but the buses were crowded too. So I planned to return back home but had a half-heart because when we start on a pilgrimage we should not abandon it. And when I was crossing the platforms I saw a bus to Thirunallar. So I thought I would take that bus and go to Thirunallar. You may be interested to read my earlier pilgrimage to this place here.
Saturday morning I reached Thirunallar. A lot of change in the town welcomed me. First the buses are parked quite far on saturdays and we need to walk a lot. The temple tank is pristine clear and sparkling with frequent mike announcements/reminders to public to keep it clean as it is a heavy investment from Government of Pondicherry and Karaikal District Administration along with the temple trust. The temple had beautiful queue complex modeled after Tirumala Tirupathi. After having a 15 minute walk through the queue complexes reached the sanctum sanctorum and worshipped Sri Shanidev. After completing the darshan of Lord Shiva and His consort in the temple, got off the temple. I got some prasadam also in the outer.
After a quick breakfast in the restaurant nearby started walk back to the bus stand. Now I got the Chennai bound bus going through ECR/Thiruvanmiyur. Though it is a little long route I chose it so that can have a good nap in the bus. I reached Thiruvanmiyur quite late in the evening and travelled to home to catch a night’s sleep.