I haven’t planned to go out during the Pongal holidays esp. to avoid the festival crowd, even though the government had forbidden people from visiting tourist places and beaches during the Pongal holidays to prevent the spreading of coronavirus. I went out on the Mattu Pongal day (Jan 15), and this day is usually crowded on ECR (east coast road), unlike the Kaanum Pongal (the next day), with a peak in-crowd, but the closer of tourist places left minimum vehicles on the road. Only the amusement parks were opened, with a fully loaded parking lot.
My brother said, let's go for a ride on ECR, and the idea of visiting the Kadalur check-Dam came on the way. I came to know about this dam from my cousin-sister, who checked the dam last year. And I wanted to check the dam then, but the pandemic made it impossible, and I learned later the recent rain had brought enough water to the dam to overflow.
It's always a dream to see water in the Palar river, which often looks dry, other than little pools of water. The Palar river rises in the Nandi hill of Karnataka and runs into Andhra Pradesh, and then into Tamil Nadu, for a length of 350 km before merged at the sea. The dam is about 75km from Chennai on the ECR, and there’s a signboard indicating the road to the dam (take left) before crossing the river.
The check-dam is built at the mouth of the river for about a km in length, and in between Vayalur-Kadalur village, where the river meets the sea. The road passes through the narrow streets of Vayalur village, ends at the north bank of the river, and then a mud road slides to the dam. When we went, there were already a dozen cars and bikes parked in front of the river, and many people were having fun by sliding through the spillway and taking bath at the river. Despite the slippery spillway and rocks around the dam, this seems to be a safe place to relax and enjoy the bath as a family.
It was noon when we arrived at the dam, and the sun was shining above our heads, so we could not get clear pictures of the place as there was too much sunlight. I even couldn't shoot the flock of pelicans taking flights above the dam site, and they should have come up fishing at the dam. The water stays up to and beyond the bridge of the ECR, which is something I have never seen before – the last flood I saw on the Palar river was in 1997. We quickly moved from there as the sun was quite sharp on us.
The dam is built in 2019 with funding from Kalpakkam Atomic Station and was opened by the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi K Palanisamy. And the best time to visit the dam is post-monsoon, the only time when the river sees some flow of water.