Picharavam Mangroves and a Labrador.
Pichavaram is a tiny little village known for the mangroves there. Mangroves are the coastal trees, that grow in saline water. Due to the salinity in the water they develop special type of roots that breath. These roots grow upwards - ie, towards the sky against the gravity. India has several places where you can see Mangroves. Subdarbans being biggest and most famous. Picharavam is also one of those places, located just below Pondicherry, on the east coast of India. Once you go there, if you are unlucky, you will meet the absolutely unintelligent parking attendant they have. Then you can take 15 minutes to park and another 20 minutes to get the car out when you are leaving - in an empty parking lot!!
There is a well-established boating centre. They have 2 types of boats. Motor boats and Manual Rowing boats. Motor boat [ naturally] takes you farther away in the river, But I thought it will make too much sound and they might even blast music and people might simply dance [ As my previous experience with Karnataka!] , I took the rowing boat. And certainly, it was a very good decision.
Once you buy the ticket, they will give you a life jacket, which, in many instances, somehow is already wet! So you look for a dry one. Then you look for the one which has the clips working, because in many jackets the clips are broken ! Although I imagine it won't in really matter - especially if you know how to swim and if you have taken a rowing boat; because the water there is hardly waist deep.
The duration of the trip is supposed to be 1 hour. This must be quite a popular place, as there were many, many boats, continuously filling up with groups of tourists. I am sure in the era of BC [ Before Corona] there would be a longer queue considering I had gone there on a week day! As the luck goes, somehow, I was the only person in my boat. I was pleasantly happy. But also, As the luck goes, my boatsman couldn’t speak a word of anything but Tamil. So, as the luck goes, there was not much conversation and the entire travel was nicely peaceful. As soon as I started, I regretted not carrying my flutes with me.
Getting inside a big and wide river in a row boat is always a special experience. As soon as you go away even by about 50 feet, the entire surrounding sound drops, and further you go the only sound you hear is the sound of peddles hitting the water! Swoosh Swoosh….It is a very different type of silence.
Within 10-15 minutes the guy rowed me inside the mangrove jungle and then simply parked the boat somewhere. There were some other boats already parked there. Under the shade of larger mangroves, It was quite peaceful there. People in groups were having fun between themselves. Most groups were entertaining themselves by taking selfies and pictures and singing some songs, which I could hear feebly as they were quite away from our boat.
Most interesting boat for me, was the one with a family that had their lovely Labrador with them in the boat. They all looked so happy - the dog looked confused though. Nevertheless they were enjoying a lot. They even posed for me when they saw me clicking their pictures. Once I was back, I waited for that family with the idea I will offer them the pics, but then I got very hungry and remembered I had to deal with that absolutely dumb parking attendant, So I left. But that visual of the family and the dog in the boat is going to remain in my memory for a while for sure!! Summerising, I can say, there is nothing spectacular there to say, but in general it’s a nice experience. I wouldn't have felt bad had I missed it.
1] Carry some drinking water as it may get hot in the high sun time.
2] Spend some time in looking a jacket that fits you, isn't wet, and the one with functional clips.