13th October to 15th October, 2016.
The drive from Rameswaram to Kanyakumari felt like the last leg of our journey. In reality, we still had to drive home from Kanyakumari. But somehow, that did not count. Kanyakumari is barely an hour from Kerala, and any place in Kerala is more or less home. So we were ‘almost’ home. We drove through salt fields, and some very flat roads towards Kanyakumari from Rameswaram.
When starting off from Rameswaram, Jehan at Kathadi had suggested we stop over at a village called Manapad. A quick Wikipedia lesson told us that Manapad is a tiny fishing village with a few very big churches. St. Francis Xavier lived here, and one of the churches here is said to house a relic which was part of the true cross. It is said that in 1853, a part of the actual cross from Jerusalem was brought here. Every year in September, pilgrims from all over gather in this tiny village to worship this relic. In addition, it was said that the village has a great number of old Portuguese mansions. All in all, it is not the kind of place one should just drive by.
We were so glad we stopped at Manapad. This beautiful little fishing town reminds you of an Enid Blyton novel. The sand dunes leading to the beach are visible from afar. Huge churches dominate the skyline. The tree lined streets are frequented by a flock of peacocks. There are giant crosses on top of a hill, and we were told there are caves nearby (we did not get to see it though). We walked around the village, admiring the truly humongous churches and beautiful houses. Sadly, many of these houses are now in ruins, as many families have moved to Sri Lanka. However, tourism is slowly starting to revive this place, and Manapad now has a surfing resort of its own. This tiny town has some of the best surfs in the world.
By sunset we made our way to the Church of St. Francis. This church is on top of a hill, that slopes towards the ocean. We could have spent hours there, watching the sunset paint the sea red. But soon it became dark, and we had to make it all the way to Kanyakumari.
Driving through Kanyakumari always makes you wonder why you came there in the first place. Every street is crowded, and every vacant bit of land has a construction project coming up. However, all these doubts disappear once you watch the panorama from one of these tall buildings. Hills on one side, ocean as far as the eye can see. We watched a sunset and a couple of sunrises from this amazing place. At night, we wandered the street markets snacking on chana, and admiring the Thiruvalluvar statue. Thriveni sangaman is beautiful in the light of a full moon.
All too soon, it was time to leave. Leaving the National Highway behind, we took village roads. After all, it is all about the road less taken. We drove by ponds covered in lotus blooms and palm groves, through the hilly forests of Ambasamudram to join the NH 744 at Tenkasi and drove towards home, Kollam. 65 days from when we started, we were back in Kerala.
Ending with a couple of photos from the day we started. 65 days on the road(We started on 12th August but the day one of our blog starts on 13th August. We got back home on 15th October 2016). 11,500 kilometers across 17 States and 2 Union territories.