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Dzire coastal trail:Essence of Tamil Nadu

Dzire coastal trail:Essence of Tamil Nadu
Maruti Suzuki (Sponsored) Maruti Suzuki (Sponsored) Wednesday 22 November 2017, 20:00 PM

As the waiter served a mound of steaming rice with fragrant crab curry, I viewed it with mixed feelings. I could already feel the rivulets of sweat running down my brow after gorging on the chilli prawns. But the aroma emanating from the crab curry was too heavenly to ignore. So I gave in to the inevitable and dug into the rice and the spicy crab curry. My eyes teared up, partly from the heat of the curry. But I’d like to think it was also from the sheer joy of experiencing this crab curry. That was only the beginning. By the end of the meal, which included seven different types of meat, I had begun to sweat in pores that even I didn’t know existed. Is that how heaven is supposed to be – some kind of sweet agony? Was I really in heaven?

Well, almost. I was in Tamil Nadu, right next to the God's own country. We were on the Dzire Coastal Trail, the epic relay marathon, driving the (you guessed it right) all new Maruti Suzuki Dzire. We began our trail from Dhanushkodi on the morning of 12 November, which happened to be a Sunday. Dhanushkodi is the point from where the controversial Adam’s bridge or Rama’s bridge is supposed to begin, stretching all the way to Sri Lanka. It is the small marshy tip of Rameshwaram, an island off Tamil Nadu, which is connected to the mainland by Pamban Bridge. From Dhanushkodi, it is a mere 30km ride by sea to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.

But our trip was confined to Tamil Nadu’s coast only and our course had already been charted out by fellow driver and Chennai boy, Venkat, who had taken charge. After enjoying a glorious sunrise by the beach, something that we west coast people crave for, we set out to look for the next best thing - food. The Chettiyar community from the Madras province are traders. Originally from the coast, they moved inland in search of better prospects and being meat eaters, their meat spread expanded to include the local game. So we headed to Karaikudi in the Chettinad heartland. The Friends restaurant there is a typical small town eatery with absolutely no frills. But they serve authentic Chettinad cuisine, which included the crab curry and chilli prawns that I had raved about earlier.

If you are in Tamil Nadu, a visit to a temple must always be on the cards and Venkat had chosen the Airateshwara temple in Kumbakonam. Built by the Chola dynasty in the 12th century, the temple still stands strong today and is being cared for by UNESCO as a heritage site. It is a perfect representation of our architectural heritage and genius. At that point, we had covered over 300 kms and we still had nearly a hundred more to GO. We were tired but our man Venkat had another trick up his sleeve - Kumbakonam's 'degree' coffee. We loved it so much that our baggage went heavier by a kilo at the least.

Back on the road, the Dzire had been our silent warrior. With its fancy looks, it certainly grabbed some eyeballs and we enjoyed being at the centre of attention too. Rural roads in India need no introduction, but the ones we encountered in Tamil Nadu were much better. Not that it would have mattered because we would have been just as comfortable in the car, but only a tad slower. And of course the LED headlamps that lit up the entire road after sundown made sure our drive to Cuddalore was a cakewalk.

Cuddalore is a small fishing town just south of Pondicherry. Because it isn't that famous, the Silver beach is clean and serene. We wouldn't have had missed the sunrise by the beach for anything and the cold winter breeze made it divine. We had made the late evening dash to Cuddalore, thinking that Puducherry might still be far. But it turned out to be less than 50 kms away and we were there in no time at all. After our breakfast of coffee and croissants, we set out to explore Pondy. The French heritage has been carefully preserved with the roads still retaining their French names.

It was very interesting to see how the traditional French culture has blended with local Tamil roots to create this unique setting. The colourful buildings painted in pastel and the little cafés around the corners added to the vibe.

Finally, we settled down for a quiet dinner by the lovely promenade, soaking in the balmy evening air of Pondicherry. And the lovely Italian food at Sicily’s summed up our entire trip. Goodbyes are indeed sad because I had to part with the Maruti Suzuki Dzire as it went further on the coastal trail. But it has left me with memories of drool-worthy food and beautiful locales that I will cherish for years and certainly the desire to get back on the road again.

Words: Omkar Thakur

Photos: Kaustubh Gandhi


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