The Trichy trip

When an ex-colleague said she was getting married in Trichy, it was an opportunity to revisit the place, where I had studied 13 years back (13 years - boy, I *am* old). Train tickets from Bangalore are hard to come by - too many IT guys from Trichy in Bangalore, I guess. Tickets for 17th Feb was booked on 1st Dec, by Gayathri, another colleague of mine.

We discovered that this train (Mysore - Mayiladuthurai) stopped at a station called Karmelaram, off Sarjapur Rd. I had never heard of this station until my colleague. Googling led us to believe it was about 6 km from our office. It made sense to board from here than beat the traffic during peak hours to Cantt or Cifty. But there was a hitch. Our tickets were booked from City. What if TTE found us missing and allotted our seats to others? So, my colleague got her husband, Praveen to board from City.

The auto guy charged us Rs.30/- "over the meter" to take us to the Station. (Bangalore autos have become as bad as Chennai - the whole experience of taking an auto sucks now). The Station was more like 10 km from our office than 7km - perhaps the driver took a longer route. Anyway, the Station is pretty small, poorly lit, has just one platform - at a very low level. Luckily, we found a few posters stating that our train did stop here till March 31, 2010. There were hardly any people in the Station.

Imagine our shock, when Praveen called us up to say, the TTE was in the train and he was saying the train does not stop in Karmelaram. We asked the Station Master who had some unprintable words to say about TTEs in general. He asserted that the train will stop, no matter what happens.

It did stop and we got in. The TTE appeared very sheepish to see us and said that never in his 3 year stint in this area that he knew about this. (This raises questions about his "stint").

4.05 AM on 17th morning and we were in Trichy Jn. We decided to walk to the nearby Bus Stand to check if there were buses to Srirangam at this time of the day. Unsurprisingly, there was - in fact, there were more than one.

Bus ride in Trichy is an interesting experience. There are private and government buses plying on the same route. They compete to take passengers. Most private buses have music blaring at the maximum volume. When I was studying, it used to be cassettes - now I found it replaced with FM. Otherwise, things are pretty unchanged.

Ticket prices are still ridiculously low. Rs.4/- was the ticket price from Trichy Jn to Srirangam, which would have cost us at least Rs.10/- in Bangalore. Off went the bus, pausing for a while in the famous Market to pick up loads.

At last we were before the massive gopuram of Srirangam. After asking a few people, we figured out the Kalyana Mandapam. Since it was a late muhurtham, we virtually ended up waking up the marriage party.

We were ready by 7 and since breakfast had commenced, we figured that we might as well enjoy it. On full stomach, we had darshan of Lord Ranganatha, after taking the Rs.20/- "ticket darshan". Unfortunately, Thayyar Sannithi was closed till 9.30.

The walk to the temple and back revealed the agraharams in the area - children, sporting "namams" getting ready to go to school, the entrance to all homes sporting "kolam"...

It was getting warmer, even though the time was around 8.30 AM. We were back in the marriage hall and enjoyed the marriage festivities.

We hung around the hall till 3 PM, having dinner, as well as a siesta, amidst power cut.

We then took the bus, which dropped us at Mambalasalai (if I remember right), wherefrom we boarded the Samayapuram bus. This was a crowded ride, with the old and rickety bus struggling to ascend the steep sections of the road.

Thanks to the "special darshan" (which comes courtesy Rs.25/- per head), we had a wonderful and long darshan of Mariyamman. This had taken much less time than what we planned and hence we could squeeze in a visit to Thiruvanaikoil as well. This is as big a temple as Srirangam, though not as popular.

The final visit was to Rock Fort, which we ascended fairly rapidly. There were plenty of foreigners in Trichy.

Dinner was at the usual Vasanth Bhavan (since the neighbouring "The Great Raghunath's A/c was being serviced). We were in good time to catch the return train back.