Wolf Riders: Pulicat Lake, Tamil Nadu

One successful trip the Sunday prior and ’twas time for another. This time in the opposite direction towards Sriharikota, more specifically to Pulicat Lake. I planned this more as a trial run, since there are 2 main attractions – the lake and the bird sanctuary. October-March is the season for bird migration, so this was going to be a dry run. Besides, I was getting a tad bored of heading south from Chennai on East Coast Road (ECR) or Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR).

One more shore shot.

And the so I came up with the master plan as usual…

The Master Plan

Meet 05:15 hr at Sangeetha Restaurant in Gandhinagar, Adyar.
Depart 05:30 hr.
Arrive 07:00 hr at Pulicat town.
Breakfast 07:00 hr – 08:00 hr somewhere in Pulicat town.
At Pulicat Lake Spend 2 – 4 hours at the lake and surrounding areas.
Return Leave Pulicat at 12:00 hr.
Arrive 13:30 hr in Adyar.

Start per plan, then deviate

I picked up Michelle and was back at Gandhinagar and she switched over to DC’s motorcycle. We left according to plan, except that there were a couple of more folks joining us on the way. The next meeting point was the at the Gandhi statue by Marina beach. And wouldn’t you know it, they weren’t there. Michelle was starting to get hungry and since there was a restaurant nearby, we figured it would be best alter the plan and use the time to grab breakfast before heading out of Chennai.

Divya and DB came in Divya’s car and met us at Saravana Bhavan on Radhakrishnan Salai and we dug into the food. Service was a bit slow and it was 7:15 am by the time we were able to get out of the restaurant. I’d provided turn-by-turn directions via Google Maps, so it could be used on any smartphone with GPS. We were to take this route. But we got separated along the way and with the others missing a couple of turns, I ended up at Pulicat around 8:45 am and it took them another half hour to get there. I’d talked to one of the boatmen and negotiated the “standard” rate of INR 1000 to take us for a ride on Pulicat Lake.

Make plans to change plans

Then when the rest of folks got there, they wanted to go sit on the beach, which wasn’t really reachable w/o a boat. Looked like no one had bothered to read links I’d sent. Trip reports and recommendations were primarily about 2 points of interest – the lake and the bird sanctuary. Talking about it doesn’t convince people, so it was best to show them. So, we took off, away from the boat jetty towards the other end of town near the southern tip of the lake. The lighthouse could be seen from the bridge used to cross over the narrow southern end. So, at the behest of Divya we rode to the lighthouse only to learn that visitors were allowed only between 3 pm and 5 pm. So, that was out. An enterprising (euphemistically speaking, that is) chap accosted us along the way and we signed up to have him take us for a boat ride.

And that’s how we spent the majority of time at Pulicat Lake. On a boat, just going around the southern bit. It was pretty good fun, though a couple of folks found it to be a tad hot, since it was 10 am by the time we started that.

Taking off from the not-jetty

It took some time to get the boat out of the docking area and into the lake proper. We were on our way soon enough and I managed some decent pix despite the heavy vibration from the boat motor and the somewhat choppy waters. I have to admit, while the focusing of the EOS-M is slow, the Canon EF 18-135 lens has very good image stabilization. The two together make for a decent, if slightly bulky, combination. It’s no where as compact as the M-mount 18-55 kit lens, but the additional 4.5x zoom makes it totally worth it. I’m going to try using this setup on future local trips and save the 5Dm2 for more exotic locales like Ladakh. Maybe I take the EOS-M as a backup body on such trips.

Once we were on the lake proper, we sat in the boat, enjoyed the ride and took in the sights. I managed a few photos of the shoreline and the few other boats that were in the lake. Mostly, it was pix of the others that I was taking, though.

The beach strip

About 45 minutes later, we landed at the beach strip where Pulicat Lake met the sea. Over a sand dune and we were at the sea shore.

Notify The Blue Cross: Crab torture

Our boatman was a bit enthusiastic and while we were lolling about on the beach, he dug up a crab. Of course, Michelle and Divya had to take turns holding on to the crab and torturing it. I’ll just let the pix speak for themselves, shall I?

And soon it was time to leave the beach. We made a momentary stop on a strip of land where some birds had landed en route to wherever it was they were headed. And we were back on shore by around 11:30 am.

Pulicat Town

The others decided to head back to Chennai for lunch. I decided I needed some alone time, which was the original purpose of the trip. So, once the others left, I headed into the town. I rode down the road where the Interpretation Center was, only to find it closed. I decided to ride further down and ended up at a dead end near a temple. Round the corner from said temple, a bunch of kids were playing Kabaddi. Quite the enthusiastic bunch, they were too.

On my way back from the Kabaddi crowd, I stopped by the Dutch Cemetary, which was double locked, not that I was particularly interested in going in. So, I just took some pictures from the outside, before grabbing a snack on my way out of Pulicat.

The route back in one word: Painful

A couple of people, including the boatman, recommended going back via Ennore. The claim was that save for a short 2.5 mile stretch where the road was not smooth, the rest of the way was great and I’d be back in Chennai considerably faster that going via any of the other 3 routes. So, I figured I’d try this “recommended” route.

Only to realize that the bastard had lied. The road leading out of Pulicat was paved and not at all smooth, so I figured that’s what he was talking about. Oh, nay nay. That was the “smooth” part. About 2 miles later, the paved road ended. What lay before me was a dirt track with tons of potholes filled with water. This wasn’t a rough road, it was more like an obstacle course in pothole avoidance. I figured I’d come this far, I could handle 2.5 miles of dirt track. Except, it wasn’t 2.5 miles. It was 5 miles. At the end of that stretch, my shoulders and upper back were sore. I had to stop a few times to adjust my pants which were riding up my crotch and cutting of blood supply to my family jewels. It was abysmal. While the scenery was beautiful enough for me to stop and take a few pix, I was tired of being uncomfortable and once I hit paved roads, I was trying to just get home and be done with the ride. It was 2:30 pm when I got home. I’d left Pulicat at 1:00 pm. While it was technically faster than the route we took coming into Pulicat, it was so uncomfortable, that I’d tell everyone to avoid that route like the plague.

I was in so much pain at the end of this ordeal (and I’m not exaggerating), I skipped lunch and just hit the sack for a few hours.

2 thoughts on “Wolf Riders: Pulicat Lake, Tamil Nadu”

    1. It was *not* a pleasant experience. I really rue listening to that boatman. I’m gonna punch him in the nuts if I see him on my next trip to Pulicat Lake.

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