Sathanur Dam is about 30 km from Tiruvannamalai, and is another place rarely visited by Westerners. When Carol’s son, Brody, was visiting from the USA we took our motor scooters and went on an outing to the dam. We did not know what to expect. We had heard of a crocodile park there, and wanted to see for ourselves.
Here is a bit about the dam, from OmArunanachala web site.
The trip started with a nice drive through the Tamil Nadu countryside, rice fields, hills in the background, typical surroundings around here.
The drive goes through several villages, some very small.
Motoring on our scooters, here is Carol, with her hat held on by a scarf.
The drive passes flooded rice fields being readied for the next planting. Each field grows three rice crops a year. When they came here, the British called this the most fertile farm land they had ever seen.
Sometimes there are graveyards in the fields. There are both Christian and Moslem communities here, and both bury their dead, rather than cremation as is typical with Hindus.
Finally we get into the park. There is a small fee to enter.
Immediately we start to notice statues that look western. Notice the boots on this lady holding a torch.
Not all statues are western, though. Near the entrance is a children’s park, lined with more familiar Indian images. Here is someone (Krishna?) under a Naga (snake good) with five heads.
And an elephant slide.
Next we motor past the dam.
This is a massive dam, with water flowing down the spillway.
We arrive at what seems to be a central hub of the park. Here there are well laid out gardens and ponds, with statuary everywhere.
Soon we see signs for the Crocodile Farm.
We then come to the entrance. Here we have to park the scooters and walk through the gate.
We trek down a pretty path.
We stopped when we saw a man doing something by a bridge over a small creek.
It turns out that he was fishing, catching them with his hands. In about 30 seconds, he came up with two good-sized fish!
Attractive trees line the path. There was a group of baby monkeys playing in these trees. I could not get a good photo of them.
We enter though one more gate.
We had to pay yet one more fee to visit the crocs. Don’t be concerned though about the cost. It costs 50 paise each, about 2 cents, US.
The signs say that there are three different kind of crocodiles here. We could not tell the difference.
I had to break a rule for the next photos. They said, “No cameras.” I think they did not want the flashes to bother the crocs. I tried my best not to bother them, but I wanted these photos. So I took them surreptitiously.
Walking into the area, you see a number of pens, each with many crocodiles and each with a water tank for the crocs to swim and lounge in. There were many, many crocodiles, mostly just laying in the sun. Many had their jaws wide open. There was no available prey, so I think maybe this was for cooling.
The croc ponds have ramps for each entry into the water.
Life is not always easy for the crocs, though. We saw many with some kind of damage, I guess from interaction with other crocs. Notice the big gash on the back of this one in the photo below.
After the croc walk, we went back into the park. We wanted to see the lake.
First we walked back through the park, wondering at the fantasy images. I guess they are an Indian’s idea of English lore.
Here is a castle with a tower.
There is a swimming pool.
Our rickshaw driver, Rajan, told us of a time when, as a boy, he and ten friends rode their bikes all the way here. And spent two hours in the swimming pool. At that time, this was the nearest swimming pool to Tiruvannamalai.
We were surprised to see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They sure are pink!
As is usual here, there are many brightly painted colors.
Also brightly colored clothes on Indian visitors.
I am not sure of the story here, ‘The Lady and the Tiger?’
Brody stands on stairs. Usually there is water flowing down both sides. Not today.
We kept driving the scooters until we got to the dam face.
The dam lets water out into the original stream bed. If you look closely you can see two men fishing in the stream in the center of the picture.
The lake was big and pretty.
Other than the ocean, this is the biggest expanse of water I have seen since we left the US.
If this was in the US, there would be fishing boats and maybe water skiers. This lake is still and quiet, unbothered by all that.
Now back into the park.
Here is another fantasy English fortress.
This is a typical Indian family visiting the park.
I notice the different style of travel. This family of four is on one motor bike. The three of us each have our own cycle.
Here is an angel, comforting stone children.
This must be St. George and the Dragon.
We stopped in the park at a drink stand for refreshments. Western products abound here. I have heard about the reach of Frito-Lay. We have seen Lays chips everywhere we have traveled so far in India.
We drove from the stand, leaving the park.
On the way out, there is this serene pond, with paddle boats moving through the water.
After we left the park, we had heard that there was one ‘Hotel’ (Indian for ‘restaurant’) in the town. This is it.
It does not look as nice as this photo makes it out to be.
The food was good though. There was even a bar! When we entered, the restauranteur was convinced we had come for a beer, even though, in our best Tamil, we ordered thali meals.
And although we were a bit concerned, we did not get sick from the food at the ‘Hotel.’ It was about the most ‘authentic’ place at which we have eaten.
While we were eating, a traveling children’s clothing sales person came by. The owner’s daughter tried on a new outfit.
Driving back through the Indian countryside we passed by several herds of goats with their goatherds.
At about 10 km from Tiruvannamalai we can see Arunachala.
Five km from Tiruvannamalai, Arunachala looms on the horizon. This feels like home to us now.