It has been a really long time since I visited some places for the sole purpose of touring. So it all started when I got the idea of visiting Tirupati during summer vacations. Since it had been 3 years while I had been residing in Hyderabad, so Tirupati seemed to be a place to at least pay one visit. I promptly informed home and mother seem to be willing to visit with me. Later the whole tour was expanded again and again to include 5 places. I had no qualms to visit 5 most famous religious places in India. I was more than happy to being able to go to new places and it would be a wonderful getaway from the college. So the places we decided to visit were Sai Baba temple at Shirdi, Tirupati Balaji, Rameswaram, Kanya Kumari and Madurai.
I was to do all the planning and my thought was that starting from Delhi , I would like to end my journey at Hyderabad with mother proceeding back to Delhi. So our itinerary was roughly like this Delhi to Shirdi , Shirdi to Rameswaram, Rameswaram to Madurai, Madurai to Kanya Kumari and back to Madurai, Madurai to Tirupati and then from Tirupati to finally Hyderabad for me and Delhi for mother.
Now it was a challenge to plan this tour in a fashion ensuring that we have sufficient time to visit and stay each place and also it was not a good idea to be spending a lot of time at each place which will result in it becoming boring if we have just pass away our time. First I tried to find what all places we have to got to see at each location and decide how much time to devote to each location. After that it was time to decide how to reach each location. My philosophy was that Shirdi to Rameswaram was the longest leg and it was best to get a train between these places. Luckily there is a direct train Okha-Rameswaram Express between these places. So I scheduled the whole tour centered around this train.
So initial plan was like this
Leave Delhi on 19th afternoon and reach Manmad on 20th morning. From Manmad reaching Shirdi will take around 2 hours. The Okha-Rameswaram Express starts from Manmad on 22th morning so we will be having around one and half day at Shirdi. We will reach Manmad in the night of 21st itself for catching train early next morning. Then we will reach Rameswaram on 22th evening and I planned 4 days to totally spend in total at Rameswaram and Madurai and then catch the train from Madurai to Tirupati on 28th evening. Reach Tirupati on 29th morning. Going to Tirumala will take max 2-3 hrs and hopefully we will have darshan in the same afternoon-evening and will return to railway station in night to catch train to Delhi on 29th morning.
Later I realized that Rameswaram does not have so much to offer and decided to include Kanya-Kumari in our itinerary.
Later events did not turn out as expected as we did not get reservation in train from Manmad to Rameswaram, so after a lot of planning again I decided to take Mumbai-Chennai Train from Pune on 20th evening(after reaching Pune from Shirdi by bus- 5 hrs) and then a connecting train from Chennai to Rameswaram on 21st evening. Plus points we will be arriving in Rameswaram 12 hrs earlier. Negatives , will be changing trains ,bus etc and most importantly schedule became quite tight. We got delayed in any one of the things and we will miss the next connecting travel.
All set and done for the departure from Delhi.
On the oversight this was the first journey I was planning and I wanted to be prepared exhaustively to the point that it became a pain :). I checked WikiMapia of each city we were to visit, checked the locations of bus stands , railway stations which we might need to travel to. Went through lot of travel related documents of these places. I even thought I would calculate how many pairs of clothes I would need !! and how much minimum luggage would be required. In my grand scheme of things I thought I would go to Delhi and buy a Hand book of Tamil and Telugu to help me talking to people at these. I have already mentioned that I found how much time would it take to reach from one location to another and tried to keep some spare time for each journey. I also decided i will take some pairs of spare dry cells for my Digicam , so that I never run out of juice while I am clicking. I had also packed my swimming costume for the Ocean swim I was so much looking forward to at Rameswaram.