Bike trip to Palani from Palakkad

If you want to avoid the crowds, choose a weekday and start early. By early, I mean that you want to get there by 8-9 o’ clock. Around noon, the nada will be closed for an hour. So, try to get the hilltop much ahead of it.

From Palakkad, Pazhani is over a 100 kilometers. You take the Palakkad-Pollachi road and go via Pollachi & Udumalapettai to Pazhani.

Once there, you go to the right of the main entrance for the free parking area. I don’t know if there is a separate parking space for two-wheelers but if you want to park it there chain your vehicle to a post. Otherwise, some nuts will box your vehicle in. I found that my vehicle had been moved behind a post & the nuts had parked two SUVs on either-side with no space to reverse. I have good upper-body strength and lifted the bike by its wheels one-by-one in about two minutes. Initially, it looked like I was stuck there for good. So, beware!

On the left of the main entrance is a free storage for footwear. Remember to get the numbered token.

Also on the left is a shed for tonsuring the head. You need to buy a ticket from the guard before sitting before the barber. Nearby, there is a bathing area (Rs.20). You should have brought a towel and a spare set of clothing. Also maybe a cup, Dettol and plastic bag for wet clothes.

In summer, it is better to climb the hill after a meal. I thought I would take my lunch after darshan and to my dismay found myself feeling woozy midway. On previous trips, I went up with no breaks. This time, my vision grew dark around three-fourth of the way and I decided to take breaks, even as female casual labour around me were transporting heavy headloads.

At the hilltop, I bought a prasadam ladoo and became re-energized. I also bought prasadam puliyokarai, which I ate after darshan. It was as good as perumal-koil puliyokarai.

My darshan was delayed by the closing of the nada. The crowd was heavy and grew heavier by the hour. Finally, after several hours in the serpentine queue I had a good darshan of Dandayudhapani in all his glory.

The stone-paved area around the temple and the steps going down becomes very very hot at noon. I decided to take the rope car on the way down but queue area was way too crowded. I took my lunch at the hilltop restaurant and went downhill by foot.

On the way back, I stopped for some palmyra fruit some distance from the Kerala border. The guy asked me if I wanted neera. My previous experience with this drink (at Chennai Mount Road Khadi Kraft) was with mixed feelings… or rather mixed tastes. I did not have great expectations and accepted one glass. But, there was no glass! He made a palmyra leaf bowl instead and disemboweled a palmyra fruit into it. Then, he poured some neera into the bowl.

Neera is the clear sap harvested from a cut made in the palm flower. It is non-alcoholic. (It becomes fermented (alcoholic) naturally to form toddy.) I have had neera before from a Khadi store and it was only mildly sweet. It also had a raw aftertaste. This was different probably because of the lack of preservatives or the presence of additives to prevent fermentation. The water from inside the palm fruit (analogous to coconut water) seems to have overwhelmed everything and oversweetens the serving. Both TN & Kerala governments are now promoting the sales of neera.

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Update: I have tried the neera drink several times at this place and each time it tastes a bit different. So, my guess is that the Khadi Kraft product did not have any additives or chemicals.

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