Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Story of a ride to Alamparai fort

(A candid account of the ride on 25th morning to Alamparai Fort in Kadapakkam village near Cheyur in Tamilnadu as told my friend and co-rider, Jam. I am sure you're going to enjoy this lucid narrative. - Prasad)

A superposition of strokes of icy cirrus, splendid and dark heap of cumulus, and the rhythmic rhyme of bell from a nearby church marked the beginning of my Christmas day. The joyous cycle ride from my hostel to the Institute's main gate in cold and crisp air bring in some soothing experience that ended up with a cup of "hot" chips coffee. It was while having my coffee that I self-assessed my health condition - "Should I go for it?". Its only a couple of days back that I caught cold and I have been on medication which had drained all the energy that was left in my body.

"I still can stop all this", I told myself, "by calling Prasad and come up with an excuse". "Sorry yaar, my cycle tyre got punctured...I overslept and just got up...my brother is coming to meet me..."and so many such excuses came to my mind while I aimlessly browsed for an application on my mobile. "Why not I facebook one more time?, or I can check the weather forecast for today", thinking this I opened my application folder from the menu. Something odd caught my eye that time, ya... it was the application I downloaded previous night, but din't install and configure as I slept while the downloading was in progress. What is it? Nimbu or something? No...Nimbuzz. Is it from Google (because it has "buzz" on it)? No! It seems to be a chat application.

Well, its asking me for a tag line! What shall I type here? What's coming in my mind at this moment? Concentrate...Think hard...
I think my inner voice told "Let's do it"! Is this a tag line? Or is there a hidden message that tells me what I should decide upon that moment? Ok...here we go, "Hello Prasad! This is Jam, I just reached main gate. I'll catch bus to Tiruvanmiyur now. I'll call you once I reach the bus stand. Please guide me to reach your place from there on".

No...it's not about visiting my friend's place. Its a different thing. Its a thing that sounds like "motorcycle diaries" of Che. It was decided a week ago that me and my friend Prasad will go on a motorcycle drive in his Bullet to Alamparai Fort and the date was fixed to be on the Christmas day. I didn't ask Santa Claus for a gift, but little did I expect that time that there was indeed a gift awaiting for me to come and pick it up! My confused beginning soon started to evaporate like mist on grass in a sunlight and soon the enthu of the drive overwhelmed me completely. And thus we started our drive, from the periphery of Neelangarai, a drive that will last for a little less than 2 hours with a break in between for breakfast and tea. A drive that would take you to the road that is frequently traveled; the East Coast Road drive to Muttukad and Mahabalipuram; the road with a view of silvery reflection of the rising sun on the tropical waters in front of Nithyakalyana Perumal temple, the road that is used to frequent between Chennai and Pondicherry, the road which is simply used to exploit the pleasure of driving. It requires a different level of enthu to search and find a location such as Alamparai fort through the road that is less traveled by, and such is the enthu my friend Prasad posses, who had frequented to this fort a number of times in the past.

 The entrance

Once a magnificent fort, but now its nothing but ruins, Alamparai fort is located in a village called Kadapakkam, about 50km down south from Mamallapuram. The fort was used during war time and also as a port, thus I came to know from the numerous sources on the internet. When I heard the name for the first time, I thought its "Alam (banyan) + Parai (rocks)", meaning the fort with a banyan tree. We did spot some banyan tree rooted on the dilapidated walls which, once upon a time served as the walls of the fort.

Prasad (left) and myself (right) with Prasad's Bullet

Set in a typical village background, the village of Alamparai fort is a scenic beauty with lush greeneries on one side, and backwater fisheries on the other. The people here are found to be either at the fish market bargaining for the catch, or playing cards under a shady banyan tree. We reached the entrance of the fort, parked our Rajdoot in front of a modern day structure that housed a village family, asked them to take care of our helmets while we are on for the venturing. I should mention the hospitality of those village people here, for only they can not only agree to take care of our helmets, but also asked if we were coming on a long drive without having our lunch. In none of my world would I offer a stranger a meal and hospitality that we experienced!

 The ruined remains

After taking photos of the ruined fort from various positions, we went on a boating trip to the beach through the backwaters. The view of fort from the backwaters tell us how the fort would have looked like once upon a time. In fact, the highlight of this trip is the boat ride through the backwaters, which has got us two new friends, the boat drivers Ranjith and Kumaran, both localites who survives on fishing and taking the fort visitors on a boating trip.

A portion of ruined fort wall lying on backwaters

It's not the "road less travelled" thing, nor the fort or the backwaters, nor the hospitality shown by the village people, nor the drive on long stretches of the traffic less road on which you could not spot even a single bumpy drive or potholes, nor the scenic beauty on both sides of the drive that highlighted our trip, but a simple and extraordinary experience of having a siesta in a temple premises in some remote village located on the ECR road! The nap refreshed both of us and we both could feel the reborn much needed enthu in us that helped us to complete the trip. As my friend said, "If you aren't enthusiastic enough, you can't enjoy the ride".

Srinivasa Ramanujam aka Jam

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