South of Velankanni, the East Coast Road rambles through some very interesting countryside. The first rains of the northeast monsoon had dampened the sandy soil. Thorn scrub and Mimosa trees formed a matted cloak over the landscape. It wasn’t cool but it wasn’t warm either. It was great weather for the east coast.
Prawn hatcheries and salt pans littered this landscape. The smell of aquaculture clung to the air. For a long time that morning we passed no vehicles. Then, a bus — sparsely occupied — grunted past us. Then a few more cars. At one point we stopped, stepped out into the balmy muggy morning and sniffed the thick, saline air. A pair of Jacobin Cuckoos called, joined by a hoopoe and large grey babblers. These were birds of the scrublands.
A short distance ahead lay Vedaranyam. As with many places on this coast, this was the scene of a great salt satyagraha that echoed to Mahatma Gandhi’s great march to Dandi, Gujarat in 1930. The beach, when we reached it, was patrolled by scores of little shorebirds – sand plovers, mostly. On the beige and grey landscape the only colour offered was, tragically, by some washed-up clothing. Beach litter. Not pretty.
Where’s Point Calimere, you ask, and you get fuzzy answers. Kodiakkarai, its Tamil name, is on the signboards you must follow. And so we did. Enjoy these photos from my Great East Coast Road Drive for Yahoo India in August 2013.
Thanks to Ramki Sreenivasan for pointing me to this fine film on this little kingdom by the sea by Shekar Dattatri and narrated by my dear old friend David Pascall.
Here’s an old tweet from Point Calimere.
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