Here’s how you can pack in some local food and action when not cheering the TNPL boys .
Bird-watching at the Kamarajar Sagar Dam or selfies with a fibre glass replica of a T-Rex at the Government Museum—you will be surprised at what you can discover in Dindigul and Tirunelveli. Nineteen out of the 31 matches of the TNPL are scheduled in these two venues, giving you enough time to explore these cities. “The tournament will make a huge difference to how cricket is seen in these regions,” insists N Jagadeesan of Dindigul Dragons. What to do once the sporting action stops? Read on for answers.
Halwa belly, anyone?
If you want to go beyond the Irrutukadai halwa (available at the one shop that is located near the Nellaiappar temple), then head to Shanti Sweets. Here, halwa is made in a more mechanised manner with updated technologies, unlike at the Irrutukadai where the owner himself makes it. “The only other person who knows the recipe of the original Irrutukadai halwa is the owner’s sister,” says Rakesh Ragunathan of Puliyogare Travels. If you are looking for variety, try the panakarkandu ladoo and karupatti halwa at Janaki Ram Hotel. Details: 0462 2322398
Most of the appalams available in your nearby shops and on websites come from Kallidaikurichi, a small town by the bank of the Thamiraparani river. The industry there is over 200 years old, with the hub located in Perumal Sannadhai Street. The appalams owe their distinctive taste to the water from the river, and used to be exported to Europe and the Middle East. Details: indyaconnects.com
At Melapalayam, the locals and caterers prepare marindhu choru and thakkadi (broken rice shaped into balls and cooked in mutton salna). At the famous Border Kadai, located on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, the parottas and nattu kozhi chicken roast have many takers. It has a branch in Chennai, in T Nagar. Details: 9786619432; 30205557
Over 60 km away from Tirunelveli is Manjolai Hills— a near-pristine hill station situated above the Manimuthar Dam. Christened poor man’s Ooty, the place is laced with waterfalls, lush greenery, vast tea and coffee estates and a host of trekking, golfing and exploration opportunities. Nalamukku, its dense forests and wildlife and the view from the watch tower at Kuthiraivetti are worth the detour.]
If gushing cold water isn’t your cup of tea, don’t lose heart. Courtallam—also known as the spa of the south—has much more than just its waterfalls. At the 37-boat-fleet strong Boat House, thirty minutes of pedal boating in the quiet waters of the lake here is sure to help you unwind. Details: 25333444
If you are looking for a good place to stay, Paloma Rao has one in mind. Currently managing her debut role as a cricket anchor for TNPL with aplomb, she gives Heritage Madurai, where she is put up, a big thumbs up. “Located an hour from the venue in Dindigul, it is full of greenery (especially a 200-year-old banyan tree) and its rooms have a rustic vibe,” she says. On Star Vijay. Details: 0452 2385455
Stone with a view
Head to Dindigul Fort and make for a boulder-like stone. An Archeological Survey of India certified site, you can climb on top of it to get an aerial view of nearby hills and towns. There is a small temple on top. Legend has it that the main idol is not inside, but hidden underneath the site by the British. Details: asi.nic.in
Kozhi Nadar is famous for their nattu kozhi settu parotta, a dish prepared by soaking parotta pieces in a chicken gravy. There is also the curry idli, consisting of idlis made like upma and tossed into a masala. For hot jalebis head to Sri Jilebi Krishnaiyer Sweets.
Details: 0451 2425985
How about stocking up on some delicious bananas for the match? Head to Sirumalai, 25 kilometres from Dindigul, known for the popular Sirumala pazham. The fruit, with a thick and fibrous skin, will not only satiate your hunger, but keep you in
good health thanks to its medicinal properties.
The Sungudi saris, whose legacy goes back to the era of the Sourashtrians, are defined by their bandini print and zari border on cotton, all done by hand. At the Chinnalapatti village, this industry provides jobs to more than 10,000 people, with the garments travelling to places like Sri Lanka and South Africa. `400 onwards.
Catch the spray
Cool off before a heated evening of cricket with a visit to the many waterfalls around the city, like Kumbakkarai. Also, the 27-feet fall at Kutladampatti is a popular choice among tourists. Known as a spot for meditation, it is surrounded by mango farms and peacocks, courtesy the Ramanagiri Ashram.
If it’s biryani you seek, Ragunathan urges you to think beyond Venu Biryani. “Ponram is another restaurant where you get good biryani,” he shares. The 43-year-old chain prepares the dish with seeraga samba rice, with the mutton sourced from goats reared by themselves. Cooked over firewood, the biryani is made using home-made masalas. Details: 0451 2441003
The 150-year-old St Joseph’s Church was built by the British with two stall steeples constructed to form a cross when viewed aerially. It has beautiful stained glass panes that amaze architecture enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
Text: Karan Pillai and Lavanya Lakshminarayanan