21-Apr-2004 -- 12 deg. North Latitude and 79 deg. East Longitude
Visited by Barbara and K.N. Parthasarathy
Wednesday, 21 April 2004
We went to Chennai (Madras) for a family wedding and decided to go confluence hunting. Our goal was the intersection of 12 N and 79 E. The Mapquest map at the confluence.org website for this site showed that the place was slightly northwest of Tirukkoyilur. As the crow flies, Tirukkoyilur, is about 160 km south west of Chennai. We hired a taxi and a driver for 6:00 am on the 21st of April. The day time high temperature is about 100 deg F at this time of the year. So we decided to get a taxi with good air-conditioning.
The taxi, driven by Mr. Venkatesan, arrived and we left the hotel around 6 am, thinking we would arrive at the confluence no later than noon. From Chennai we drove south on the National Highway (NH) 45. We reached Chengalpattu around 7:25 am. We took the Chengalpattu by-pass and stopped by a roadside hut to eat breakfast. The place was near the Mathuranthakam lake. A group of 4 monkeys gathered around as we finished our breakfast.
We then continued on NH 45 towards Tindivanam. We reached Tindivanam at 9:30 am. Just north of Tindivanam, we turned right on to NH 66 to go to Tiruvannamalai, about 68 km away. Our plan was to go there and take the road south towards Tirukkoyilur. On the map it looked like it was a better way to go. At 10:05 we stopped at the town of Gingee for about 10 minutes. We talked to one of the local farmers and he told us that there were brothers of the Konar family that built three forts; one at Gingee and two nearby.
We then continued westward and reached a village along the way where we saw a road going south towards Tirukkoyilur, about 45 km away. That turned out to be a mistake. The road was bad in a lot of places and we didn’t reach Tirukkoyilur until noon. It had taken us 90 minutes to go 45 kms. We thought we could reach the confluence probably in an hour and so we decided to postpone lunch. We got a couple of bottles of water and three packets of cookies.
The Mapquest map did not give much detail beyond this point. From here on we relied on the GPS readings to figure out which way to go. We reached the town of Manaloorpettai around 2 pm. From there we traveled to the north bank of a dry river bed. Our GPS readings told us we were at 12 deg North latitude and 79:10 deg East. We stayed on the road hoping it would head west. It started veering further north. The road was so bad it took us nearly 15 minutes to go about 2 km. By this time we were debating whether to continue or abandon the quest and write it up as an incomplete attempt. Our previous attempt in January 2003 to reach the 12 deg North and 77 deg East confluence had ended as an incomplete attempt.
We decided to double back and try the south side of the river. We took the first right turn after crossing the river and tried different roads until we reached a spot about 300 yards from the confluence. We decided to walk across the fields to reach the intersection point. We reached the spot and took pictures of the GPS reading and surroundings. It was after 3 pm. The place was unremarkable except for a small boulder jutting out of the ground. A few curious villagers saw us get out of the car and started walking toward us at the confluence point. The confluence is in the village of Vada-ma-mandhur in the Villupuram district. Tirukkoyilur was about 30 km away. We had turned the GPS unit on soon after we left Chennai and the reading showed that we had traveled about 210 km. We left the confluence spot and reached the nearest main road by 4:15 pm. We decided to stop and eat. More villagers gathered around the car. My wife, Barbara, gave one of the ladies the packet of cookies. The lady immediately asked one of the men there to climb a coconut tree and get us three tender coconuts. We drank the milk from the coconuts and thanked the villagers for their hospitality.
We then headed east and reached Villupuram at 7 pm. We stopped and had dinner there and drove to Pondicherry, a coastal town. It was originally settled by the French and we had initially planned on reaching there in the middle of the afternoon and seeing the town. Unfortunately, by the time we reached Pondicherry it was after 9 pm and we made a brief stop at the beach. We plan to see Pondicherry on our next trip.
We then got on the East Coast Highway and headed north towards Chennai. Our driver, Venkatesan, who had been driving since 5:50 am, was so tired that we stopped a couple of times for tea breaks. We reached the hotel at 12:30 am. It had taken us more than 18 hours, but we finally did it!