17-Jul-2004 -- We were planning this long confluence hunting trip for a while and it was great to finally get rolling! The plan to was to reach 6 confluences (4 in Tamil Nadu and 2 in Kerala) in three days. This time, apart from the regular team of Jagan and Nath, we had Nagaraj joining us on this trip. Nagaraj is an old friend and he is a geologist who had spent his career in Tamil Nadu.
Jagan and the rest of the team picked me up at 0625 on July 17th and we headed out south from Bangalore down to Hosur and then on to Krishnagiri. We stopped for a quick breakfast and moved out of Krishnagiri at 0805 after I found a shop to pick up a load of batteries for the GPS, camera and our two-way radios.
This confluence was about 330 kilometers from Bangalore and our schedule involved a lot of hard driving. Our route took us down to Dharmapuri (past one of the confluences we did on an earlier trip) and into the town of Salem. At Salem, we turned off the amazingly smooth National Highway #7 (NH7) towards the town of Attur. This was when we began to realize that our schedule for the day, which included reaching two more confluences after this one, was going to take a beating. The roads were heavily pot-holed and our average speed came down dramatically. The next town that we passed through was Perambulur. The roads got worse as we continued towards Ariyalur. From Ariyalur, we drove to Kilpaluvur and turned west as the GPS indicated that the confluence was in that direction. This road seemed to lead to the town of Lalgudi and then on to the temple town of Srirangam. With about 4.25 kilometers to go, the GPS started indicating that we would need to find a road leading left pretty quickly. As luck would have it, we found one within 200 meters and it was satisfying to see that the GPS indicated that we were heading straight towards the confluence. The road turned a bit, but always came back to the heading we needed to take. Was this point also going to wind up right on the road like 11N 76E? No, with about 400 meters to go, we turned off the paved road and drove down a narrow cart track to within 150 meters from the confluence.
We parked in the shade, picked up all our gear and walked to the point. We reached 11N79E at 1430 hrs and it was located between two fields. We recorded a height of 67 meters. Along with the usual gear, we were also carrying a new digital camera (a Sony DSC-P43) that we had bought exclusively for our confluence hunts! So, we took all the mandatory photographs with the new camera and also backed them up with the regular camera! By this time, we had a three people walking up to us. They were Muthuraman Gounder and a couple of others. They told us that we were about 1 kilometer from the village of Korathagudi. As always, these folks too were curious about our visit. The nearest we came to getting them to understand what we were doing was that we said we had come to the spot to record some satellite signals! (Most folks in India are familiar with the word “satellite” as all their entertainment comes from the numerous satellite channels that we have!). They were happy to see us and Nagaraj talked to them about their crops and asked them about their water situation. Water scarcity is casting a grim shadow on most agricultural activities in south India. Nagaraj had undertaken detailed surveys of ground-water resources in this part of the country and he was able to provide them some tips on how they could utilize and conserve the available water for their crops.
After wishing them all the best, we walked back to the car and found our way back to the road heading towards Lalgudi. I reset the GPS to track to the next point we intended to cover, 10N 79E. It was going to be a race against time even to get to this one, but I guess that added a bit more excitement to the whole affair!