To drive through Pamban Bridge was always in the mind for over few years which got materialized only during August 2014. There was a child like enthusiasm to drive in this bridge. Co-incidentally this was done on 15th August. There was little confusion which route to take either via Trichy - Pudukottai or via Madurai - Sivaganga. Google map helped me in deciding in the route
Duster with me, wifey and my son Route taken:
Chennai - Tambaram - Villupuram - Ulundurpet - Perambalur - Ariyalur - Trichy - 323 kms.
Trichy - Trichy Airport - Pudukottai - Karaikudi - Devakottai - Devikulam - Ramanathapuram - Mandapam - Rameshwaram - 233 kms
Thanks to the great souls who gave lot of information on the route, reviews about hotels to stay, about Rameshwaram, Dhansushkodi and whoever helped me with the direction during this trip. Important information about the route
Day 1 - 15Aug14
From Trichy towards Rameshwaram every town was bypassed using NH210 except Pudukottai and Devakottai where there was deviation in NH210 due to road widening work and have to get into the town at these two places.
The start was planned at 5am and as usual we left only at 6.15 am. Crossed Tambaram around 6.45pm and suddenly on Irumbuliyur bridge could see sea of vehicles moving towards Southern Tamilnadu. Prepared for the wait time at toll booths and to manoevure in between slow moving vehicles occupying every available lane
Stopped for an early breakfast at Sappida Vanga on the outskirts of Chennai. Going by the ad, this restaurant should take 20 mins after Tambaram however it took me 45 mins from Tambaram to reach this place which is bang on NH45 on the left side. Sea continued here too wherein sea of people waiting to have breakfast. As we embark on a journey to the 'seas' it mademe believe that I could find sea of vehicles on the road and sea of people in restaurant. The food was average and the service too average due to the crowd
Left the restaurant at 8am and got into the 'sea'. After crossing Tindivanam there was a sigh of relief as the traffic got thin and the wait time at toll booths were decreasing. Got to see some Gang o Bullet riders from Tindivanam till Senkuruchi Toll Plaza and they were many in number could be close to 50. Reached Trichy Central Bus stand around 11.45am and stopped at Sangeethas to have lunch. Do note there is a small deviation from NH45 towards Trichy Central Bus stand as the road after Railway overbridge has been closed and to take the route via Trichy Junction (Railway station). The deviation is only for a couple of additional kms however the traffic from Junction to Bus stand did test the patience due to long queue of buses. It took me almost 15mins to reach Sangeethas. Went to the BP fuel pump next to Sangeethas and filled diesel to the brim. Mileage from Chennai to Trichy was 15.1kmpl.
Started from Trichy at 12.40pm and took the same route back to rejoin NH45. Took a prompt right turn at the sign board indicating Rameshwaram. In another forum one of the guy mentioned that it is a 4 lane road upto Devikulam and further upto Rameshwaram it is only a 2 lane. Was looking for a 4 lane and could find only the dividers and the four lane marking whenever there is intersection in NH210. Told to my wife that we could get a 4 lane after few kms and even after travelling for almost 15kms we could not find any 4 lanes. Got anxious on the route taken. Stopped at one place and asked a person about the route to Rameshwaram. He told me that this is a bypass and does not go into any towns and if you take this road it will directly take you into Rameshwaram easily. However he could not understand about 4 lanes and 2 lanes and told this is the road to take. Had a thin ray of hope that we will find 4 lanes however it did not materialize till I reach Rameshwaram.
[JUSTIFY]Suddenly got a toll plaza just before Pudukottai and paid Rs.25/-, asked the lady in the toll booth about 4 lane. She also could not understand what I was asking. Soon came the deviation to get into Pudukottai town. The roads were not good and were having potholes on and off. Mapmy India ZX350 promptly took me back to NH210 which is marked as NH533. Then came another toll plaza near Karaikudi and paid another Rs.25/-. This time did not ask anyone as it is very clear that there are no 4 lanes as the traffic was very thin in this by pass. Definitely this road was not having the minimum no. of passenger vehicles to have a 4 lane.
To clarify Trichy to Rameshwaram via NH210 is a two lane road without any dividers and till Devakottai the roads are wide to accommodate two heavy vehicles. The tarmac is excellent and it deteriorates when you get only into the towns due to deviations.
Post Devakottai deviation got back into NH210 and within few kms could find the road condition has deteriorated drastically where there was only craters for few hundred meters. Asked the driver of the oncoming vehicle about the road condition and he said this is only for a shorter distance and after that roads are good. There was a sigh of relief. My wife told me that this few hundred meters makes up for the purchase of Duster. Wow what a thinking!. As the driver told things started changing from worse to good and further better. However the width of the roads have reduced a bit and finding it difficult to overtake two wheelers if I could see any oncoming vehicle. Do note that there are lot of cattle on this road from Devakottai to Devikulam and hence could not accelerate beyond 80kmph. Finally NH210 aka NH533 takes a right to join East Coast Road. After 10kms in ECR navigator told me to take a left however took a straight as I was taking only straight all along from Trichy. Stopped the vehicle after 100 meters and checked with a tea shop guy who told that I can drive further straight however it will take me into Ramanathapuram town. He told me to take a U turn to go back and take a right which is a newly laid bypass which will take me to Mandapam. Conveyed thanks and took a U turn, this was indeed a great advise. The roads were excellent and wide enough. The traffic is on the higher side compared to my drive for the last 2.5 - 3 hours. After few kms you get a junction where you need to take a left to go towards Rameshwaram. Right will take you towards Ramanathapuram. Inquisitiveness started to increase after taking a left that I am going to drive on Pamban bridge, hurray!. The distance is still almost 40kms.
Few Pics post taking a left at ECR enroute Mandapam Important place to stop once you pay your toll for Pamban Bridge
Was stopped at the Toll before Pamban bridge wherein Rs.60/- was collected. Immediately after paying the toll within few hundred meters, we could find the sea on right which is next to the road. Crossed the road and drove towards the Banks and parked the vehicle. Fantastic view where Duster is parked just in front of the sea. Took some snaps and moved from Thangachi Madam.
The dream is going to become a reality in few seconds. Got into the Pamban bridge and what a view of sea on both the sides. There are many places in India which has not been explored to a greater extent and some people get mesmerized only looking at foreign locations. This is a great feeling of Incredible India.
Crossed Pamban bridge and drove for few kms and again we were stopped suddenly on the middle of the road to pay toll as we enter Rameshwaram Municipality limits. Paid Rs.50/- and the receipt was promptly kept under ticket holder and not with other toll receipts. This safe custody was a blessing in disguise for me next day. Hotel booking was done at Brindavan Residency which is near beach and Agnitheertham. Also walkable to Ramanathaswamy temple. The traffic cop refused to allow as vehicles cannot go beyond further. However have read the hotel reviews and one of the noble guy mentioned that we need to explain the cops that we have our booking at Brindavan Residency to allow the vehicle. The traffic cop asked for any booking voucher and explained him everything in email and whether he is interested to have a look that. He said not required and removed the divider for the vehicle to proceed further. Reached Rameshwaram at 5pm.
Brindavan Residency is a budget hotel and the rooms are very small. Due to the extended weekend, the rooms were full and we were allotted a AC triple bed. Had done my booking almost 20 days before for an AC double bed. There is no restaurant attached to the hotel and one has to go near the temple to find a restaurant. The tariff was economical so as the facilities in the hotel. They make up the room size in terms of excellent service and free wi-fi. Really not happy with the rooms and the facilities as it was disappointing. Moreover the car park is in front of the hotel on the road however they have a CCTV to monitor.
Video on the Pamban bridge. Due to high no. of vehicles behind me, did not stop on the bridge that day
. Drive on the Pamban bridge - YouTube
The Jeep ride to Dhanushkodi was checked with hotel and they arranged for a vehicle to be picked up next morning at 6.30am. Unfortunately after boarding the jeep, we returned back to the hotel within few minutes. This made all of us sad. Why did we return back ?
To be continued......