India on the Road

From Dharmapuri to Kochi

Hogenakkal Waterfalls
Hogenakkal Waterfalls
4 AUG 2016
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Route: Dharmapuri – Salem – Bhavani – Avanashi – Thirumalayampalayam – Pallakad – Marathakkara – Kochi.
Distance: 414 Kms.
Driving Time: 8.5 Hours.

Dharmapuri

Dharmapuri is situated in the North Western part of Tamil Nadu and is surrounded by the districts of Tiruvannamalai Villupuram on the east, to the south by Salem District on the North by Krishnagiri District and by river Kaveri on the west. Dharmapuri happens to be a major horticultural zone of Tamil Nadu. Mango is the main horticulture crop and nearly one-third area of Dharmapuri is under mango cultivation and accounts for nearly one-half of the mango yield in the state. The inhabitants of Dharmapuri and its surrounding areas consist of Kapus, Lingayaths, Okkaligas, Baliya Chetties, Oddars and Scheduled Castes like Holeyas and Madigas who lead a fascinating lifestyle. Certain communities like the Sali Chetties are engaged in weaving.

What to See:
Theerthamalai, Adhiyamankottam, Subramanya Siva Memorial –Papparapatti, Sir Thomas Munro Pillar at Dharmapuri.

Where to Eat:
Sri Madhesware Hotel, New Dharamapuri Lodge.

What to Buy:
Mangoes and handicraft items.

Salem

From Dharmapuri continue on NH-7 to Salem, which is located at a distance of 68 Kms. via Kadayampatti, Omalur and Karuppur. The city of Salem is ideally situated in the north-central part of Tamil Nadu and is entirely surrounded by undulating hills. There is the impressive Nagarmalai hills to the north, the awesome Jarugmalai to the south, the Kanjamalai hills to the west and the Godumalai hills to the east. The city serves as a layover/stopover point for visitors on their way to the popular tourist destination of Yercaud. The area comprising the Fort is located on the old part of Salem city and is worth visiting.

What to See:
Anna Park, Mariamman temples, Kottai Perumal Koil, the Sugavaneshwarar temple, Hanuman Ashram, Oothumalai hills, Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, ISKCON temple, Lord Narasimha temple, Jami Masjid, Meltheru and Keeltheru mosques, Infant Jesus Church.

Where to Stay:
Hotel Salem Castle (Tel: 0427-2448702), Hotel Cenneys Gateway (2353900), Juha Regency Hotel (2441444), Hotel Leela Palace (2447707), Hotel New Tamil Nadu (2313066), Hotel Ganesh Mahal (2332820), Hotel Maruthi (2465970), Hotel RK (2447499), National Hotel (2353900).

Where to Eat:
Adyar Anandha Bhavan, Selvi Mess, Hotel Lakshmi, Mayura Veg Restaurant, Saravana Grand Style Hotel, Little China.

What to Buy:
When it comes to shopping, the city of Salem offers immense variety and some of the popular shopping neighborhoods are Saradha College Road and Omalur Road. Salem is renowned for silver anklets, mango pulp, Sandalwood products, cotton sarees, bed sheets, towels, silk sarees and dhotis.

Bhavani

Leaving behind the cityscapes of Salem, continue your drive along the NH-47 to Bhavani, which is located at a distance of 59 Kms. via Sankari, Padaiveedu and Kumarapalayam. The quaint town of Bhavani is a municipal town in the district of Erode in Tamil Nadu. Bhavani town is a peninsular island and is strategically located at the point of confluence of rivers Kauveri and Bhavani with Akash Ganga. Bhavani is popularly referred to as the “Triveni Sangamam” of southern India. The town of Bhavani has carved a niche for itself carpet manufacturing business and a vast majority of the exqauisitely designed carpets are exported to the affluent European countries. The Stanley Reservoir that has been shaped by the Mettur Dam is located in close proximity to Bhavani town.

What to See:
Sangameswarar Temple, Vedagirieswarar Temple at Oorachikottai.

Where to Eat:
Sri Saravana Bhavan and Bharath Café, both located on Main Road offer delectable vegetarian fare while the Mani Restaurant, also on Main Road offers exclusive non-veg dishes.

Avinashi

From Bhavani continue driving on NH - 47 to Avanashi, which is located at a distance of 61 Kms. and cross Suriyampalayam, Pallapalayam, Perundurai and Vijaypuri. Avanashi is a small town located in the Tirupur district of Tamil Nadu.One of the town’s major attraction is the magnificent Shiva temple built by Sundarapandiya and the very word “Avinashi” means one which can’t be destroyed. In the days of yore Avinashi used to be an integral part of Coimbatore district. It was only recently (2009) that Avinashi was added to the district of Tirupur. It is a major stopover point Chennai and Cochin bound visitors. In fact Avinashi is the gateway to Coimbatore. One can see numerous textile mills in and around Avinashi. These textile mills work on behalf of the various apparel manufacturing companies in Tirupur.

What to See:
Avinashi Lingeshwarar Temple, Stone Sculptures, Karunaiyaaththaal temple, Ambal’s sanctum.

Where to Eat:
Avanashi being a small town in Tamil Nadu, there are no up-market hotels or restaurants. However there are innumerable decent roadside eating joints that offer fresh South Indian delicacies.

What to Buy:
Traditional jewelry items and textile fabrics.

Notes on Thirumalayampalayam:
Continue to drive on the Avinashi Road via Karumathampatti, Irugur, Pallapalayam, Vellalur, Madukkarai and Ettimadai, all the way to Thirumalayampalayam, which is located at a distance of 54 Kms. It is a Panchayat town in the district of Coimbatore district. Visitors on their way to Pallakad, Marathakkara and Kochi make a brief halt here and have snacks and refreshments in the town’s roadside eating joints. It is wise to check one’s vehicle here – the engine, fuel, tyres etc…

Pallakad

From Thirumalayampalayam continue to drive on NH-47 to Pallakad, which is located at a distance of 32 Kms. Pallakad is strategically located on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the foothills of the impressive Western Ghat mountain range. Nature has been kind to Pallakad and here visitors can savor the harmonious integration of the mountains and lush green forest. There are numerous mountain streams and rivulets that only adds to the charm of Pallakad. The impregnable Pallakad Fort, which dates back to 1766 in the heart of the city, was built by Hyder Ali. It was captured by the British East India army in the year 1790 and renovated this magnificent fort. Temples abound in Pallakad and the Kalpathi Shiva Temple in particular is worth visiting.

What to See:
Pallakad Fort, Music College, Kalpathi Shiva Temple, Chandranath Swami Jain Temple.

Where to Stay:
Hotel Indraprastha, Walayer Motel, Hotel Fort Palace, Hotel Devaprabha, Hotel Hilux, Hotel Rajdhani, Hotel Chanakya.

Where to Eat:
It is advisable to have meals at the in-house restaurants of prominent hotels like Hotel Indraprastha, Walayer Motel, Hotel Fort Palace, Hotel Devaprabha, Hotel Hilux, Hotel Rajdhani, Hotel Chanakya etc… Most of them are multi cuisine restaurants and one has enough varieties of dishes to choose from.

What to Buy:
Traditional jewelry and spices.

Marathakkara

From Pallakad as you drive along the NH – 47, after covering a distance of 64 Kms., the quaint town of Marathakkara welcomes you. The town of Marathakkara is located in Kerala’s Thrissur district. The shimmering river Thrikkur meanders its way through much of the town. The town is replete with numerous tile factories.

What to See:
Thrikkur Rock Cave Temple, Kalari Temple, Kanakassery Siva Temple, the Roman Catholic Church, Marathakkara Kalari.

Where to Eat:
The district of Thrissur is renowned for its fishing industry. With a long coastline that stretches to almost 54 Kms. it is not surprising to know that a majority of the residents of Thrissur district are involved in fisheries. Delicious Fish curry and rice are available in some of the traditional Kerala restaurants along Marathakkara’s Main Road.

What to Buy:
Bell metal works, traditional jewelry, jams, squashes, syrups and marmalades.

Kochi

On the last leg of your journey from Marathakkara to Kochi, which is a brisk 76 Kms drive, proceed along the NH 47 and cross Pethukkad and Koratty. Kochi by the way is one of India’s most interesting cities. From the oldest church in India to the winding streets dotted with old Portuguese villas and from the quintessential Chinese fishing nets to the Jewish synagogue, Kochi is indeed fascinating. Fort Kochi is one of India’s largest ports and on any given day the misty silhouettes of huge merchant ships can be seen anchored in the ocean off the point of Fort Kochi waiting their turn for a berth in the docks of Ernakulam or Willingdon Island. Kochi is a harmonious amalgam of medieval Portugal, Dutch and an English country village somehow grafted onto a tropical Malabar Coast.

What to See:
Fort Kochi, St.Francis Church, Chinese Fishing Nets, Mattencherry Palace, The Jewish Synagogue, Gundu Island.

Where to Stay:
Taj Malabar, Taj Residency, Hotel Sea Gull, Hotel Metropolitan, Hotel Embassy, Paulson Park Hotel, Hotel Mayur, Bharat Hotel, Hotel Woodlands, Hotel Hakoba, Hotel Blue Diamond, Maple Tourist Home, Hotel Hilltop Resorts, Hotel Rajmahal, Hotel Castle Rock.

Where to Eat:
Many restaurants are scattered around the modern city. The M.G.Road and Canon Shed Road are very popular for their fine restaurants. Some of Kochi’s best restaurants are – Bimbi Fast Food, Indian Coffee House, Bharat Coffee House, Ceylon Bakehouse, Moloy Restaurant, Chinese Garden, Sea Lord, Sam’s Chinese Restaurant, Regency Restaurant, Jaya Café, Hotel Swaghata.

What to Buy:
Kerala spices and traditional jewelry.