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the Degree Confluence Project
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India : Tamil Nādu

2.6 km (1.6 miles) SW of Chettippattu, Tamil Nādu, India
Approx. altitude: 34 m (111 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 13°S 100°W

Accuracy: 10 m (32 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: The confluence point being staked #3: Mr Lakshminarayan with the GPS at the confluence point #4: View east from confluence point #5: View west from confluence point #6: Enhanced photo of the GPS screen (The error varied around the zeros)

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  13°N 80°E  

#1: View south from confluence point

(visited by Dave Whiteley, Jacqui Whiteley, Debbie Miller and Sarah Chandra)

14-Aug-2001 -- We, that is my Wife, Jacqui, our friends Debbie Miller and Sarah Chandra, and myself, Dave Whiteley have visited and photographed the location North 13 degrees and East 80 degrees. This point is a distance south of the road between Chennai (the new name for Madras) and Sriperumbudur, beyond Poonamalee, and about 6km from Sriperumbudur.

Jacqui, Debbie and I were on holiday in India, and our stay in Chennai had been organised by Sarah. Before starting out trip we saw a GPS receiver for sale very cheaply, and we had bought it with the Degree Confluence project in mind. We discussed the project with Sarah, she was interested, and so, on the afternoon of Tuesday 14th August 2001, we set off along the Poonamalee road from Chennai in a hired Ambassador taxi. This is a major road, and is much used by the heavy trucks and buses that rule the Indian roads. It is flanked on both sides for most of its length by businesses serving this traffic; tea and food stalls, tyre and mechanical repair shops and many buildings painted with brightly coloured advertisements. All however is often covered on a generous layer of Indian dust.

Beyond Poonamalee we started using the GPS receiver to monitor our position. The countryside became more open and scrubby, and with it being the monsoon season there were many boggy or flooded areas. As we neared the confluence point it became clear that it was to the left (south) of the road so we searched for a turn off in that direction. There were few turnings, but one appeared in the right place, so we turned off.

Our driver did not speak fluent English, so I had to direct him through Sarah. I do not know if Sarah had explained what we were doing. Still, he was very patient while I directed him in wrong direction a few times. Eventually we found the nearest place to the confluence point. Between us and it was a tall block built wall. I tried to see over the wall, and to photograph the confluence point from outside the wall. All I could see was scrub, a roadway, a car park, and a concrete mixer.

I was ready to give up. The wall clearly indicated that intruders were not wanted. Sarah however had other ideas. She directed the driver to go back to the main road, and to find the entrance gate to the compound. There she got out of the car, and started talking to the security staff on the gate, asking to speak to the Head of Public Relations. Our car was blocking the gateway, so we moved to one side. After a few minutes the gate opened, and Sarah waved to our driver to enter the compound.

We were directed to the main offices, in through the imposing front doors of the Hyundai Car Factory Offices, up the polished stone staircase, past the uniformed guard, in to the huge open plan office, and to the screened off area with the huge table and desk. I tried to maintain a dignified appearance, however this was hampered by my clothes. I am not slim. I live in northern England, an area not noted for warm weather. India is hot. When in India I wear cool Indian clothes, typically a Kurta pajama. This consists of a lightweight long loose collarless shirt, and thin loose trousers held up with a tie string. I find that, because of my shape, if the tiestring is too tight it is most uncomfortable when sitting for long periods in a car. My tie string was now too loose, and I tried to maintain dignity while holding my trousers up.

We were introduced to the desk's occupant, Senior General Manager Human Re sources, Mr G.S. Ramesh, and to Mr C.S. Lakshminarayan, the Senior Manager of Utilities and Services. As I now understand it, we got through the gates because, when Mr Lakshminarayan was at school in Coimbatore, his geography teacher had told them that their school was at the crossing point of 11 degrees north and 77 degrees east. This had started one student's facination with Longitude and Latitude. This person just happened to be at Mr Ramesh's desk when the security staff rang to report the strange visitors. Mr Lakshminarayan knew what these strange foreigners were talking about.

A young man wearing a brown uniform and white gloves brought in a tray of cold drinks in crystal glasses, while we explaind the GPS reciever to Mr Ramesh.

We were then taken back out to the front of the offices, and driven in two of the companies cars to the area I had identified from outside the walls. Using the GPS we set off to find the Confluence point. We passed racks of neatly stacked timber. All packing cases to the site were dismantled, and the timber re-used. We were told that all office furniture was made from such recycled timber. Beyond these stacks was unused land, with a few piles of sawdust or other dumped waste. I gave the GPS to Mr Lakshminarayan. After all, this was his territory. He eventually found the confluence point. The GPS did not give a steady reading. We had bushes on two sides, and several people standing nearby which cannot have improved radio reception, however the readings oscilated evenly on both sides of 13 degrees 00.000 minutes north and 80 degrees 00.000 minutes east.

Because of the language problem, and the cooperation we had recieved I did not feel able to request that all people leave the point for a bare photo. I do however have a photo (#1) of the point without any of the team on it.

I tried to take photos of the GPS display, (probably making reception even worse) to record all the zeros. The best I managed was one digit off. Mr Lakshminarayan told some workmen to mark the point with a wooden stake. He told us that he planned to replace the stake the next day with a concrete marker and a plaque. This would then be used for surveying purposes for future factory development. I took other photographs. Debbie and Jacqui took more photos of me taking photos.

We then left the confluence point, took more photos outside the main offices, got back into our taxi, and drove back to Chennai. Later that evening we boarded an overnight sleeper train. The next morning we were on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, probably one of the world's most impressive railway journeys, but that is a different story.

Many thanks to all those who helped, and to those who started the Degree Confluence project; without you we would have missed a great experience.


 All pictures
#1: View south from confluence point
#2: The confluence point being staked
#3: Mr Lakshminarayan with the GPS at the confluence point
#4: View east from confluence point
#5: View west from confluence point
#6: Enhanced photo of the GPS screen (The error varied around the zeros)
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
  Notes
Within the premises of a large automobile factory. Special admittance will be requested to visit this Confluence.