The Planning ...
It had always in my dream to drive on the ECR upto Pondicherry since the day I bought my first car. I had been to pondicherry once some two years back. It is not only because of the place, it is the road which lured me again to visit that place again by my car.
I was in Taipei when I planned the trip with my mother over phone. She already knew about my intention of driving the car all the way. Subham, a friend of mine, also wanted to join us for the trip. He too was excited to take his new Alto on the NH4 and ECR.
We also added Mahabalipuram in our destination list and extended our vacation by one more day. We decided to start on saturday early morning from Bangalore and reach Pondy by noon. Everything went according to our plan and we managed to book the accomodations after little dilemma and troubles.
The plan was like this:
Day 1 (Saturday): We will leave from Bangalore on saturday early morning at around 6 Am. We will need 7 Hours to reach Pondy including breaks in between. 2 Night stay at Puducherry.
Day 2 (Sunday): Visit Auroville Matri Mandir early morning. Then the Boating @ Chunnambar and Beaches in the afternoon
Day 3 (Monday): Leave Pondicherry in the early morning to reach Mahabalipuram before lunch. Followed by Sight seeing @ Mamallapuram / Mahabalipuram. 1 Night stay at Mahabalipuram.
Day 4 (Tuesday): Leave Mahabalipuram in the early morning and reach Bangalore before Dinner time, via Kanchipuram and Krishnagiri following NH4.
We managed to book our guest rooms for 2 nights at Anandha Inn (URL:http://www.anandhainn.com/) in Pondicherry and 1 night at Hotel Tamilnadu Resorts on Beach Road of East Coast Road near Mahabalipuram.
The Road Trip ...
As per the plan we started on Saturday early morning by 6:30AM (late by 30 mins). By then city roads have already started getting busier. I filled up some gas in my vehicle and headed towards Hosur. It took almost an hour to reach Silk Board junction on Hosur Road because of increasing city traffics. The traffic became easy after Electronics City and in no time we crossed Attibele and Hosur.
It was around 8:15 when we decided to take a tea break at the A1 Plaza adjacent to Relience Oil Station on the NH4. We took some light food items with Tea/Coffee and continued our journey towards Krishnagiri.
The road NH4 (National Highway 4) is just like a dream. It is a part of Golden Quadrilateral project (4 Roads to connect Metro Cities and major towns). I could easily drive at 100Km/h speed without any hitches. We reached Krishnagiri and took a left turn towards Chennai. On the Krishnagiri - Chennai Road, after going about 3 Kms we had to take a right turn towards Pondicherry.
Till this part of our journey the road is very good. But the road from Chengam to Thiruvannamalai is like hell. I was struggling to maintain average speed of 20 in those roads. The roads are totally out of shape and have numerous pot holes. This contributed some 30 minutes delay in our journey to reach Pondicherry.
The road from Thiruvannamalai to Pondicherry is proper but doesn't have any road/lane dividers. So one has to be very cautious while driving through these roads. On our way, we met many unattended cattle herds that made us wait standstill on the road for sometime.
Finally, following the printouts from Google Map and asking localites, we reached Pondicherry by 2:30 PM. We were hungry and quickly checked in to Ananda inn. The hotel is centrally located and not very far away from the Beach road of Pondy. We managed to freshen up fast and our lunch in one of the hotel restaurants.
In the evening we visited Beach Road and the nearby temples. The walk along the less crowded streets near the Arabindo Ashram, with french style residential buildings all around, is really enjoyable. One will get a different feeling walking through those streets (Rue De).
This was my second visit to Pondicherry and I liked the fact that nothing had changed much from my last visit, except the marine drive has been extended towards the Sea. The weather was perfect - not to hot and not to sultry.
We thought of taking the Pondicherry Tourism Bus to visit Auroville Ashram and other places around the city. But later we decided to take our own car to have more command over the time that we spend in visiting those places.
After enjoying the complimentary breakfast in our hotel we hit the road towards Auroville. It is 11 Kms from the main city towards chennai. The road is narrow but enjoyable. You get to see so many mangroves and mango orchards on either side of the road. As we approached the Auroville the road condition became worser .. until we reached Auroville.
Auroville is really nice as it is. But this time also we missed to see the inner chamber of Matri Mandir (Meditation Dome) as it was under construction. After taking some snaps and buying few souvenirs we moved on our way to Chinnambar Resort.
After reaching there we came to know about a nice beach which can be approached only after a boat ride from the same resort. We decided to go for the beach tour. I had not been to this beach before. It worth all our money and effort. The beach is very nice and well maintained. Most importantly, the beach is a private beach restricting access to public. The clean beach was good enough to lure us to take a dip into the sea waters for sometime. We were almost lost in sea bathing until re realised that we are all very hungry and we have crossed past the lunch time. We hurriedly came back to the resort (taking the ferrying boats) and finally to the pondy city. We were lucky enough to find a restaurant (Vegetarian though) just next to our hotel.
After lunch we headed towards Sri Aurobindo's Ashram and Marine Drive. The leisure stroll by the sea shore was quite relishing. We witnessed the sun set and evening and returned to our hotel for resting. We also visited the Manakula Vinayagar Temple on our way back to the hotel.
More to come : Mahabalipuram, Shore Temples, Butter Ball, Kanchipuram (Silk Sarees), Wild Rain on Highway... keep watching this space.