12-Jan-2004 -- My father and I visited the confluence of 13N and 79E -- about 16 km WNW of my parents' home in the historic town of Vellore (home of a 500 yr old fort and a well-known hospital). As detailed maps of the area are hard to find (atleast on the internet), all I knew about the confluence was that it was a little north of the (east-west-oriented) Katpadi-Gudiyatham road.
Armed with an etrex GPS receiver, we headed west from Katpadi down this road in a little Fiat Uno.
For several kilometers past Katpadi, the GPS rapidly counted down the distance between us and 13N79E. Then, a little beyond the village of Latheri (with the GPS showing us to be 4km from 13N79E) we started moving further away from the confluence and therefore knew that we were near the closest point on the K-G road to 13N79E. So we took a u-turn and turned onto the first promising-looking road heading north --- a mud track broad enough for one vehicle. This track --- lined on both sides by rice fields, barren land or little houses --- soon meandered a little. Fortunately it proceeded in a north-westerly direction --- taking us all the way to within 200 m of the confluence, where we parked the car. I was very impressed with how cooperative this mud track was, and how easy it was to find the confluence. Just when I thought that the track was veering away from our intended direction, it turned back in the right direction or offered up a fork with a branch in the right direction.
Once the car was parked, we made our way on foot along the raised paths that bordered the rice fields. Along this footpath we met a few people who were, naturally, curious what we were doing on their land. Most of them accepted our one-sentence explanation of confluences, judged that we meant them no harm, and allowed us to pass through. But there were two worryingly inebriated gentlemen (at 4:30 in the afternoon!) who weren't as welcoming. The others told us to ignore them and continue on our way.
Using a slightly circuitous route the GPS finally led us to the front-yard of the house of Mr.Munirathna Udaiyaar. In the front-yard were many typical elements of rural life in this part of tamilnadu --- mounds of hay, a traditional kiln, and a cow being milked beside a large deep well. I gave Mr.Udaiyaar and his family (uncles and son) my best explanation of longitude, latitude and the DCP. They appeared to understand a lot of it and very kindly allowed us to take pictures and wander about their property trying to zero out the GPS. The GPS (with a 9m accuracy) indicated that the confluence lay at the spot of the brick kiln on the edge of the front-yard. While my father talked to them about farming and geography, I took the required photographs --- including a 360-degree panoramic view from the spot and a shot of the GPS. Mr.Udaiyaar's son brought out his geography textbook and showed us the page on latitude and longitude. They informed us that we were in the village of "Meilmayil" and gave us their address (to which i plan to send prints of the photographs).
After we were done, Mr.Udaiyaar's uncle led us back to the car by a more direct footpath than the one we got there on. We thanked him and headed back home. I was very pleased with my first confluence visit and the chance to witness aspects of rural life in tamilnadu that I don't often get to see. I've been fascinated by the project ever since I first saw it profiled on the BBC. I hope I get a chance to visit another undocumented confluence soon, but at the rate the southern-Indian confluence hunters are going, I expect that won't happen.