18-Jul-2004 -- We started off from Madurai and headed south on NH7 towards the town of Kovilpatti. At Kovilpatti, we turned east towards the town of Ettaiyapuram. This was the birthplace of Bharathiyar, one of Tamil literature's most famous poets. From Ettaiyapuram, we turned south and headed towards the town of Kurukkuchalai. When we reached the town of Eppodumvenran, the GPS indicated that the confluence was to the right.
We found a road on the map that led to Kadambur and Kayattar and we asked directions to get to that road. Once we were on that road, we closed in on the confluence quite quickly. With about a kilometer to go, we turned off the road and drove up a mud road towards a village. We passed through the village and found a track that seemed to lead in the direction of the confluence. The going got slow as we encountered thorny scrub and the soil was porous and soft. Finally, with about 500 meters to go, Jagan decided to park the car and we would have to cover the rest of the distance on foot.
It was 1500 hrs and very hot. Jagan opted to remain with the car and Nath, Nagaraj and I headed out towards 09N 78E. The gray soil was difficult to walk on as your foot tended to sink in. We carefully avoided the thorny scrub and made our way to the point. We reached 09N 78E at 1515 hrs. We recorded an altitude of 60 meters. This was barren, desolate land that would have passed off as the lunar surface if not for a few palms that dotted the area. It was extremely windy too. We took all the mandatory photographs as quickly as possible and backtracked to the car and relative comfort of its air-conditioning.
We had completed our revised plan of reaching three confluences today. We thought we would now head west towards 09N 77E that lay between the towns of Shenkottai and Punalur. We again had a situation where we would have to race against time to reach this one today. But first, we had to get back to the regular road that headed to Kadambur and Kayattar and then onward to Tirunelveli.