February 17th, 2009
It all started about 6 days ago, when Arvindh (my Kalari buddy) sent a message asking whether we can visit Alamparai Fort on the ECR on 15th Feb. Paramesh and myself were excited to hear about this idea. Driving on ECR is always fun. Imagine starting the day as early as 4 AM. That would be fun! So, on 15th Feb, the three of us, Arvindh, Paramesh and myself met on the awesome Old Mahabalipuram Road (now known as Rajiv Gandhi Salai or the IT Highway). We started the ride at about 6 AM. It was still dark, considering the fact that it was winter. We drove until Sholinganallur and took the left turn to enter ECR. The whole of IT Highway was flawless, wide and very smooth. It had some advantages:
- No unwary speed breakers.
- Lanes were marked clearly.
- Bright lighting and sign boards to show the way.
All this meant that our ride would be very safe and enjoyable if we followed them & we did! Barren lands were covered by soft white mist & passing through them sent a chill through us.
Soon after, we crossed into ECR and drove consistently at 90 kmph. The Sun appeared and graced us with his generous morning rays. We caught a few of them on our imperfect cameras and headed to Mahabalipuram for a well-deserved breakfast. After breakfast, it was a continuous 1 hour drive for about 50 kms to Alamparai Fort. On ECR, to your left, you will see a sign board like this:
Take the immediate left after this sign board and keep driving on until you see another direction sign board on a black board. We went ROTFL after seeing that
This road ends at the fort & to the left is a beautiful beach. There are lots of fishing boats here. Most parts of the beach is busy in mornings and slowly the population dwindles as the day winds on. By now, our Sun was shining brightly over the horizon. The sand was pure “white” in colour.
History says that this fort was built by the Mughals during the 17th century. More details about the history can be had from the snap below.
Most parts of the fort got washed during the 2004 Tsunami. What remains here now is just a fraction of what it used to be before. Local folks said that almost all of the fort got buried in the sands during the tsunami. Inside the fort, there is only an old Islamic Dargah, leaving a reminder of the once famous and majestic Fort. Weeds were growing in many places. During nights, I guess the whole scene will present a eerie sight
Part of the perimeter of the Fort
Broken Watch Tower
Sandy path that leads to the beach
Aali – A locals’ favourite dish of the snail variety
We also crossed a few superb lily ponds on the way to the Fort & took some snaps.
Here’s me & Paramesh. Oh! Boy, I’m so smart
That’s Arvindh & myself.
Following is by far the best part of the whole morning. We talked to a few fishermen here & they said they would take us for a ride in the deep sea. They warned us to be cautious on the boat because it obviously doesn’t have any railings etc. It was a small fishing boat & the smell of freshly caught fish was wafting through the air. They had just emptied the nets & put them back on the boat for the next ride into the sea. Few other guys who came to the beach also joined us. A rope was tied around the plate on the side of the motor of the boat. Then four of us pulled it together. The motor came to life. My heart started throbbing with excitement. I’m sure Arvindh must have had the same feeling because he was all smiles. Paramesh for some crazy reason didn’t join the boat ride.
There were lots of small islands of sand on the sea. It was like, “land-sea-land-sea-land-full sea”. Hope you get the idea. The boat chugged along the curves of the small islands and before long we were on the edge of the land, looking into the big blue sea . Words can’t do justice to the excitement we were experiencing. Adrenalin was in full flow.
As we were talking and making fun of each other, a huge wave started making its way towards our small boat. The wave was high enough that we couldn’t see the waters behind the wave! This was the moment we were waiting for. The fisherman eased the boat on to the wave. The boat’s angle was now about 30 degrees to the water level. Within seconds, the wave lifted the boat very easily! as if it were playing with us … and then it dropped us on the water. For some unknown seconds we were flying . The boat landed with a huge THUD!!! on the water and made a HUGE!!! splash, salty water sprinkling on us.
This repeated for about 7 more times. The waves were making us dance to its tunes & boy … we did dance! Totally in love with Mother Nature. Then the waves eased and the sea became calm. The fisherman told us that deep seas doesn’t have much waves & they are usually calm. The water was crystal clear but very salty. One of the accompanying dudes tied a rope to his hand and jumped in the water … IN THE BIG SEA. Then the boat started moving slowly, pulling him along the water. If only I had anticipated this ride, I would have got some spare dress & jumped in too.
After about 45 minutes, we turned back to the land, negotiating the waves again as we were approaching the land. This was one of the best moments of my life until now. I just cannot forget it! Nor can Arvindh. Here are some snaps for you to relish.
The fisherman who drove the boat
Me – sitting on boat’s edge
Arvindh – posing on boat’s edge
Both of us
Fish – dissected – Front View
Fish – dissected – Side View
The Ride Back
We reached Mahabalipuram in about 45 minutes. From there we took ECR until Kelambakkam and then drove to Chennai on the awesome IT Highway a.k.a Old Mahabalipuram Road a.k.a Rajiv Gandhi Salai. Paramesh is coming up with a guest post about the OMR and some driving lessons. I will put that up in a few days here. We reached Chennai by 2 PM.
All in all, this was an awesome half a day spent very well! Loved it!