18-Jul-2004 -- According to our maps, this confluence was located near the town of Karaikudi. After we successfully reached 11N 79E, we drove through the town of Lalgudi and Srirangam towards Tiruchirapalli (Trichy, for short). We had not had lunch, but we debated whether we had time to stop for a bite or just dig into our resources of biscuits and other stuff in the car and continue. Hunger won out and we stopped at a roadside café for a snack and coffee.
We then headed towards Trichy and asked for directions towards the town of Pudukottai. From Pudukottai, we drove south-eat towards the town of Arantangi. Roads were mediocre, but Jagan gave us a demonstration of precision, high-speed driving in order to reach the confluence before sunset! Pretty exhilarating stuff! The GPS indicated that we were on the right path and we continued towards the town of Avadaiyarkoil. We were about 15 kilometers away and as we continued past Avadaiyarkoil, the GPS counted down to 7.5 kilometers and we needed to turn to the right. This time, our luck ran out and we were unable to find a road that would take us towards the point. But Jagan spotted a cart track heading that way and we turned on to it. We started encountering patches of sand on the track and at one point, a couple of kids told us that the track petered out a little further ahead. We were still about 5 kilometers from the confluence. With sunset in about 25 minutes, we decided to give it a shot anyway. Finally, we reached sand dunes with no track in sight. Jagan decided we could see if our SUV could ford the sand! And it did, with a lot of wheel-spin! This did not help our cause much as it was getting dark and there was no real path that would traverse 5 kilometers to the spot. We decided to back-track and probably leave this one incomplete for the next visit. We came back to Avadaiyarkoil and asked for the shortest route to Karaikudi, where we intended to spend the night.
We started discussing a trip later to complete this confluence and a visit to Rameshwaram. We had turned onto a narrow, smooth road and I glanced at the GPS; it was counting down rapidly towards 10N79E! This was a surprise for all of us and revived our determination to try and reach this one if all went well. However, we would have to do it at dawn tomorrow. We stopped at a tiny village and asked a gentleman if we were on the correct route towards Karikudi. All of us could speak Tamil; the local language here, but this person, a bit inebriated, thought he should use his knowledge of English to help us. He pointed ahead and confidently told us to go “straight forward”! So we went “straight forward” till we reached a t-junction where we found a signboard that indicated that turning right would take us to Karaikudi. All the while the GPS was counting down and a few minutes later it swung to the left and indicated a distance of 1.8 kilometers. We found a road going that was almost immediately and marked a waypoint on the GPS that would help us to get back next morning. We finally reached Karaikudi at about 2100 hrs and quickly found a decent hotel to stay the night. The plan was to move out at 0530 next morning and move towards 10N79E and reach it at about 0615 (sunrise was at 0600).
We started of at 0545 hrs and made our way back to the waypoint we marked and turned onto that road. We stopped for a coffee in the village of Embal and moved on. The GPS counted down rapidly till we were about 500 meters from the point. We decided to go a little further and see if we could get closer. We found a road going off left towards a temple and checked it out. Unfortunately, the distance to the point did not come down and we also had to traverse a marsh from there. So, we went back to the earlier location and parked.
It was an easy walk on the “bunds” that separate fields and we reached 10N79E at 0715 hrs. We took the mandatory photographs and Nagaraj found a farmer working in an adjacent field. His name was Adaikan and he told us that the nearest village was called Chittakur. We recorded an altitude of 26 meters.
We headed backed to the car and then made our way back to Karaikudi for a delicious breakfast. Our next confluence was 10N 78E which was located a few kilometers North of the city of Madurai. I had called my friend Jaikanth in Madurai and he told us that the roads form Karaikudi were quite good. We checked out of the hotel and set out towards Madurai.
We had successfully reach two of six planned confluences. We were behind schedule and we would need to try and reach two more confluences today.