28-Feb-2004 -- After successfully reaching 12°N 76°E in Kodagu district, we started off towards 11N76E which lies near Kozhikode in the state of Kerala. My friend Cheng gave us directions on the route to this point. From Kutta, we headed towards Mananthvadi which is in Wynad district in Kerala.
Kerala is a picturesque land with breath-taking views of lush green undulating landscapes. Truly “God’s Own Country” as tourist brochures tell you. The big difference we saw, or rather felt, was that the roads were smooth and fast. It was a welcome change from the rough bone-rattling roads we navigated to get to Kutta earlier in the day.
We drove through Kalpetta and Vythri to reach Kozhikode. According to the maps, the confluence lay about 35 kilometers south-east of Kozhikode. We located National Highway #17 and found that it passes very close to where the confluence lay. We drove through the town of Ferokh and expected to take a turn right after a few kilometers at an intersection of this highway with another state highway. At one point, the highway turned a little to the right, but surprisingly, the GPS continued to point south into the town of Kottakkal. By now, we were less than a kilometer from the confluence. The GPS indicated that we were heading straight towards the confluence and the distance dropped rapidly. In a few seconds we suddenly realized that we had reached the confluence right on the road itself! The time was 1545 and the altitude recorded was 75 meters. We stopped and I walked back a few meters and the GPS indicated that the confluence was right in the middle of the road. I walked half-way across the road and stood on the median for a perfect reading, but I lost my nerve with traffic whizzing by on both sides. (I’ve found that, on average, the people in Kerala drive much faster than the rest of us!) So, I decided to get back to the side of the road and get my photographs from relative safety. This was a busy road right in the middle of town.
Most of the time, people who carry strange gadgets and seem to get excited staring at their display attract a fair amount of interest in any town in India. This town was no exception and to add to the intrigue, the confluence was right in front of the ATM machine of Federal Bank. The guard at the Bank was curious at first and became more suspicious when I pulled out my camera and began to shoot photographs in the cardinal directions. He must have had visions of some sophisticated criminals getting ready for a heist! We walked over and chatted with him to allay his fears and also asked him directions to Palakkad (a.k.a. Palghat) from where we would be able to drive to Coimbatore and stop for the night.
We found a small restaurant further up the road and stopped for a snack that passed off as a very late lunch. After the snack, we started off towards Perintalmanna and then on to Palakkad. Traffic was heavy from Palakkad towards Coimbatore and we lost a lot of time. We finally reached Coimbatore at 2030 hrs and found the spot where one of Jagan’s friends was waiting for us. We drove to our hotel and turned in for the night with a busy schedule the following day. We needed to start early to locate 11°N 77°E which seemed to be inside the city of Coimbatore and then head towards 11°N 78°E and 12°N 78°E before returning to Bangalore.
This confluence was very interesting. We’ve found confluences in all sorts of terrain before, but finding one inside a town and in the middle of a road was thrilling. It was also satisfying to reach the first confluence in the state of Kerala.
Note: Kottakkal is famous for health care centers specializing in Ayurvedic herbal medicines and treatment. There’s information about Kottakkal at http://kottakkal.freeservers.com/