Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A tour on Yercaud from Chennai

It was around 5:30 Hrs IST morning on 22-Jan-2011. We started off to Yercaud from Chennai on our Ford Figo. Myself, my brother Anand and my colleague Senthilraj had already planned for this trip a week before 22-Jan-2011.

Actually it started after one of my collegemate called me over mobile to invite me for his brother's marriage. The reception and the marriage are at Salem on 23-Jan-2011 and 24-Jan-2011 respectively. I decided to attend the reception since the reception fell on sunday. Since Yercaud is just few kilometers (~ 26 Kms) from Salem, I decided to have this opportunity to visit Yercaud. So I made a plan such that I shall start to Yercaud a day (22-Jan-2011, a saturday) before the reception. Tour Yercaud till 23-Jan-2011 afternoon. Get down to Salem. Attend the reception in the evening. Start back to Chennai. When I conveyed this plan to my brother and my colleague, they happily joined me for this tour without a second thought.

We took the route of Villupuram, Ulundurpet, Kallakkurichi, Attur and Salem to Yercaud. After a drive of two hours and thirty minutes, we took breakfast at the hotel Annamalai which is on the bypass of Villupuram.

We were happy to find this hotel as the food was good. And I would recommend this hotel.

When we reached Ulundurpet, we had to get down from NH45 (Chennai - Tiruchi four lane road) towards right. This turn is at around 184 Kms from Tambaram. This stretch of road was very good (four lane road).

From Ulundurpet its a straight road to Salem via Kallakkurichi and Attur. Since the construction work for laying the four lane road is under progress, we had to make many diversions. One should be very carefull while driving this stretch, as careless drive could damage your car/vehicle. This stretch of road between Ulunderpet and Salem is 136 Kms in distance. We took more than 4 hours because of the bad condition of the road. It is around 12:30 Hrs when we reached Salem.

Yercaud is around 26 Kms from Salem. Out of which 21 Kms is on the hill. We were thrilled as this was the first time we drive ourselves a car on hill. We stopped the car inbetween to take some snaps.

It was around 13:30 Hrs IST, when we reached Yercaud. By that time, it was lunch time. We decided to have the lunch before booking room for our stay that day. After a brief search, we settled at Hotel Selvam. The food was ok. But the cleanliness was at its worst.

Actually we got into this hotel only after the recommendation of a guy on road while we were searching for a hotel. I won't recommend this hotel to anyone.

We decided to book the room for our stay. Since we don't know about lodges at Yercaud and don't want to waste time in finding rooms, we decided Hotel Tamil Nadu (Undertaken by Govt. of Tamil Nadu) as the safe bet.

Hotel Tamil Nadu is near the lake and it can be found as you enter into Yercaud. We took a deluxe room with an extra bed. The total cost for the deluxe room was Rs. 935 per day. The cost included the charge for the extra bed. And this is the offseason rate.

The rooms were offered on 24 Hrs basis. That is for example, for us the check-in date and time was 22-Jan-2011 and 14:30 Hrs IST. And the check-out date and time was 23-Jan-2011 and 14:30 Hrs IST. Also we were offered free breakfast for two persons for that amount.

After spending some time in the room, we started to visit places in-and-around Yaercaud. The first place was the world's biggest Shri Chakra Maha Meru Temple.

This temple is around 8 Kms from the Tamil Nadu Hotel.

From there, we started to Shervaroyan temple. On the way to Shervaroyan Temple, there is a view point (~4 Kms). You could get a good view of the nature.

We reached the Shervaroyan temple after a ~4 Kms drive from the view point.

We got into the temple where no photographs are allowed. The temple is a cave as one has to bend himself to get into the cave. You can see the statues representing god Shervaroyan and goddess Cauvery. There was a lady priest explaining that the goddess was responsible for the water on this mountain as there was no water on this mountain before that. Also she said that the cave stretches upto the origin of river cauvery.

It was around 17:30 Hrs evening. We decided to go finish off the boating by that day itself. So we started back to Hotel Tamil Nadu. The Hotel Tamil Nadu is around 7 Kms from Shervaroyan Temple. We parked our car at Hotel Tamil Nadu. And we started walking to the boat house which is few steps away from the hotel.

We were charged Rs 100 for a 30 minutes peddle boating. It was around 18:30 Hrs by the time we finished boating. We had a nice walk around the lake. It should be around 3 Kms. After that walk, we decided to take rest and we were back to the hotel. Had a good dinner and a sound sleep.

The next day (23-Jan-2011), we started off our tour by 9:30 Hrs IST. We started from Anna Park. Anna park is located few steps away from the Hotel Tamil Nadu. We were charged Rs. 40 as entry fee. Rs. 10 per person and Rs 10 for camera.

After spending some brief time over Anna park we went to the lake view garden.

Lake view garden is a part of Anna park which is opposite to it. The entry ticket we bought for Anna park covered the entry to Lake view garden also. So no extra bucks for the entry to Lake view garden.

From Lake view garden we started to Pagoda point. Pagoda point is a view point from which you get to see the beauty of the nature.

Pagoda point is around 8 Kms from the Hotel Tamil Nadu. No entry fee for pagoda point.

After pagoda point, we covered ladies seat, gents seat and childrens seat which are all view points. We travelled around 8 Kms from Pagoda point to reach these view points. All these three points are very near to each other such that one can cover all these three points by walk.

At ladies seat we can enjoy the nature using the telescope and binoculars.

We were charged Rs. 5 per person for using the same. From ladies seat, you can see the hairpin bends on the road to yercaud from salem.

Nothing much to add on Gents seat and Childrens seat. Both are also view points.

At Childrens seat we were charged Rs 10 per person and Rs 10 per camera. No entry fee for ladies seat and gents seat.

Rose garden is also located there. But we weren't interested to get into it as that was not the season time for it. So we bypassed the same.

From the view points (ladies seat, gents seat and childrens seat), we started towards Yercaud Fish Exhibition. We travelled ~4 Kms for the same. Also the fish exhibition is located very near (only few steps) to Hotel Tamil Nadu. And the entry fee for fish exhibition was Rs 5 per person.

Inside the fish exhibition, we saw fish varities such as white shark, black shark, tiger oscar, prana, and many other varities.

Opposite to the fish exhibition is the deer park.

The entry fee for the deer park was Rs 10 per person and Rs 10 per camera.

At deer park we saw deers, rabbits, and some few birds. Nothing that special. It was around 13:00 Hrs IST. We decided to pack-off ourselves to start our journey towards Chennai.

We went back to the hotel, settled things and started our journey towards Chennai by 13:30 Hrs IST. It was around 14:30 Hrs IST when we were in Salem. We had our lunch at a hotel named Rasikas.

The lunch was ok.

As decided earlier, we made a short presence at the reception of my friend's brother's marriage at Salem. And started towards Chennai.

We were on the same track - Salem, Attur, Kallakkurichi, Ulundurpet and Villupuram to Chennai. It was around 20:00 Hrs when we were on bypass road of Villupuram. We had dinner at the same hotel Annamalai (in which we had our breakfast on the day before). We reached Chennai around 10:00 Hrs IST.

The total distance our ford figo travelled for this tour is 792 Kms. Mileage was around 18 Kms per litre. We had filled the diesel tank when we started our tour from Chennai. And that was very much sufficient for the whole trip.

Distance metrics

The distance metrics mentioned below are based on my car's (ford figo) odometer.
  • Chennai (Tambaram) to Salem = 320 Kms
  • Salem to Yercaud       = 26 Kms
Note: The exact hill travel is 21 Kms.

For distance metrics on places to visit in and around Yercaud check the picture below:

The above distance is metric is from the hotel Tamil Nadu which is at the entrance of Yercaud.

  • From Chennai (Tambaram) get on the NH45 road towards Trichi. After ~184 Kms travel, take right at Ulundurpet. It is the Ulundurpet-Salem NH68 road. The distance between Ulundurpet and Salem is ~136 Kms.
  • From Salem get on the Yercaud road. (for this you can get directions from locals).
  • The directions to visit places in-and-around Yercaud check below map.

Note: The distance in Kms I have mentioned are based on the odometer of my car (ford figo). Actual figure may vary.

Points to take care
  1. The NH68 road for Ulundurpet to Salem is under construction. Four-lane road construction is under progress. So drive with extra car as you expect unexpected diversions. And the road that diverts from one lane to other lane is worst. If not proper care is taken, the car may get damaged. Though this stretch is ~136 Kms, it took 4 Hrs for us to travel. Whereas we took only 2 Hrs for the Chennai (Tambaram) to ulundurpet stretch which is ~184 Kms.
  2. There is other route from Chennai to Salem which is via Sriperumbudur, Vellore, Ambur, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri. This route add extra 35 to 40 Kms. But worth taking this route as the road is very good (four-lane road). For now (till the four-lane road construction on Ulundurpet to Salem route gets over), I would recommend this route.
  3. The hill road to Yercaud is very good. But follow the principles for a hill drive. No need to panic about the hair-pin bends. You will get ample space at hair-pin bends.

  1. Toll for the NH45 road in-between Chennai (Tambaram) to Ulundurpet. There were four tolls at distance 32 Km, 84 Km, 133 Km and 173 Km from Chennai towards Ulundurpet. The toll fees were Rs. 20, Rs. 20, Rs. 56 and Rs. 35 respectively for our ford figo.
  2. We were charged Rs. 15 as entry fee at Yercaud.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Know how blessed you are!

Do you want to know how blessed you are? Just sit an hour at the reception of a hospital!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Donated Platelets

Two days back (on 01-March-2011), I was in Apollo speciality hospital donating platelets. Father of one of my colleagues was affected with blood cancer. And he was in need of platelets for his treatment. Myself along with two other colleagues volunteered to donate the platelets.

Till then I was not aware of this platelet donation. The thing I knew was, platelets are something in blood that prevents us from bleeding by making the blood to clot. Also I haven't done blood donation before. And this was my first time. So little bit nervous on to know how things are going to happen.

So what are platelets?

Platelets are tiny cells found in our blood. Our blood is made up of the following:
  1. Red blood cells (RBC)
    •  helps to transport oxygen to various parts of our body
  2. White blood cells (WBC)
    •  helps to fight against infections
  3. Platelets
    •  helps blood to clot which prevents bleeding
  4. Plasma
    •  a yellow liquid that contains proteins and coagulation factors

Who needs platelets?

Patients who's platelet count is below 20,000/cu.mm of blood with clinical evidence of bleeding needs platelets.

How platelet is collected from a donor?

I shall say how platelets were collected from my blood. This may give a clear picture.

I was connected to a machine. It was just by a pin-prick into one of my forearm veins. This machine took my blood, separated and collected platelets from my blood, and finally sent back the blood (blood minus platelets, i.e. RBC+WBC+plasma) into my body.

I experienced that the entire procedure is safe. There is no risk at all. This is because they use a sterile, plastic, disposable, single use set for each donor. The blood travels only through the disposable tubing set and it never touches the machine at any time. So that it is sure that the blood would never come into contact with the previous donor's blood.

The entire procedure took around 78 minutes for me to donate the platelets of 200 ml. Before collecting the platelets from me, the hospital conducted the tests on my blood for the following:
  1. Hepatitis B
  2. Hepatitis C
  3. HIV
  4. VDRL

The tests for above were conducted on a day (28-Feb-2011) before I donated the blood. On clearing these tests, I was asked to come for donating the blood on the next day morning. I was asked by them to have a good breakfast before I come to hospital for donating the platelets.

After the donation of platelets, I felt happy about me for I could help someone on need.

If you wish to donate platelets you can contact - 24347288 - Apollo Speciality Hospital Blood Bank, No. 320, Anna Salai, Nandanam, Chennai - 600 0035.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Know your bills

Last Sunday we were to Sathyam Cinemas, Chennai for PAYANAM movie. During the interval of the movie, we bought some snacks from the snack bar inside the Sathyam Cinemas.

There it is odd to see people not asking for the bill for the snacks they purchased. The people order for the snacks, the staff over there says some amount for the snacks ordered and the people didn't mind to lash out the currency from their wallet.

When my turn came, I asked for the bill. The staff over there replied that the machine that provides bills is out of order. I couldn't leave that point for this reason and asked for the handwritten bill. By the time, the people standing behind me in the queue were not comfortable with what I am doing. I understand them but I didn't want to give away my rights. Yes, I am the boss of the money I spend. I should know the reason and I have the rights for the same.

If everyone asks for the bill, will the machine be out of order for a long time? But people never mind about that.

The other scenario on the same day. That evening we went to the food court at Ascendas IT park, Taramani, Chennai. By the time when I parked the car in the parking lot, a man with a bag approached me for the parking charge. He asked me Rs. 10 as parking charge. And now again I asked for the bill. He said it will take time as he has to get the token from a machine that is located few steps away. I said him that I shall pay when I return back from the food court and I asked him to collect the token by then.

When I returned he gave me a bill for Rs 10. I could clearly see a banner in the parking area explaining that the parking charge is Rs 5 per hour. I returned well within an hour. But the bill said that I was charged for 2 hours. I asked for the reason. And now he started bluffing. I said him that it's not a matter of Rs 5 or Rs 1000. It's the matter of knowing the reason I spend my money.

I could see other people parking the car paying the amount this guy asked for. My brother who was with me by the time said to me that people may fear, for this guy could damage the car if the asked amount is not given. And my brother was right. When I was walking back to my car, this guy whispers to the other guy (who assist him in collecting the parking charge) that what if we put a scratch on the car (for which I have to spend more money than Rs. 10).

But my concern how long we will pay for our fear. We easily educate people like these guys that they can cash-in the fear of other fellow people. We start from here - bribe for our well-being. Here Rs 10 won't matter for most. But we will start crying blaming the government for not policing such things when it grows big. Who should be blamed? (Or) Who is the culprit?

Bottom-line: Purchasing goods without bills is equivalent to having black money.