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Old 24th May 2015, 23:48   #1
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Smile Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India

Introduction:

Thanks to Labour Day on Friday, it was a long weekend. This allowed us to plan a small trip from Kolkata (where we live) to South India for a family reunion.

This travelogue will consist of the main events from the trip that includes travelling to the places around the cities we visited. Some details that may not be of general interest will be fast-forwarded.

1st May - Landed in Bangalore. Visited Nandi Hills in the evening.
2nd May - Left for Karaikal at night.
3rd May - Went to Puducherry from Karaikal, mid-day.
4th May - Back to Karaikal in the evening. Left to Chennai at night.
5th May - The day at Chennai and Mahabalipuram . Flight to Kolkata at night.

Members:

In Bangalore - Parents, Uncle, Aunt, cousin brother, cousin sister and me
Karaikal/Puducherry - Parents, cousin brother and me.
Chennai - Parents and me.

Vehicles:

Zoomcar's Mahindra XUV 500 in Bangalore
Brother's Honda Jazz in Karaikal/Puducherry
Zoomcar's Honda City in Chennai

Planning:

The motive of the trip was to get together with my Uncle and family. Mainly to meet my cousin sister working in Bangalore and my cousin brother, studying/practicing ophthalmology in Karaikal.

DAY - 1 - 01/05/2015

Flying to Bangalore
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We (Mum, Dad and Me) landed in Bangalore at 8:50 AM and our Zoomcar booking time was due to begin at 9:15 AM. This was our first experience with Zoomcar and I was very excited about the whole family going around together. Being a 7 seater the XUV500 was our perfect ride. I was also thrilled to be in this city considering the amount of time I had spent there (4 Years of college life). As it was an extended weekend, there was a huge booking at Zoomcar, the driver on duty for the airport pickup was overloaded. (Zoomcar provides an Airport pickup/drop facility in Bangalore wherein a driver is provided between the airport and the Zoomcar garage which is 8 Kms from the airport). After some manual Check-up and introduction the car was mine.

The beautiful beast - Approaching the airport
Ride number 1 - XUV500
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We finally got the car at 10:10 AM. Late by a huge margin but seeing the pressure of the single driver managing stuff at the airport pickup we let it be.

I loved the drive of the XUV, one of my favourite SUVs around.

My college comes on the way to the city from the airport, with a minor detour of 5 Kms. We decided to take the detour and have a look at my College, BMS Institute of Technology. Refreshed memories from four years back, felt very nostalgic seeing the places we used to hang out and the small bakery we spent most of our time at. The owner of the bakery outside college treated us to coffee and tasty dosas. We moved to Whitefield thereafter, where we had our accommodation at Ginger Hotel.

A few pictures of the Campus - mainly the play area
Too much dashboard reflection
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The bakery
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We met my uncle and family at the hotel (They had checked-in the previous day). After freshening up we were off for lunch at Smoke House Deli, Indranagar.

The Team
L>R Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Sister, Dad, Mum and Me
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The Food - Lucky I got this one, we got involved in eating too soon
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Instead of seeing the sunrise at Nandi Hills the next day (originally planned), we planned to go there directly after the late lunch and see the sunset.

We made it to Nandi Hills just in time. The breeze was not much but I liked being there after years. I have many memories there with friends. This was our usual college getaway destination. (I hear you Bangaloreans saying "Ditto" ) My family had been here for the first time. They really liked the place. I was surprised seeing the changes brought in compared to my previous visit.

Nandi Hills
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One thing I loved during the descent was the cornering lights of the XUV. My brother was driving then so I could appreciate the way the cornering lights functioned. I had never seen them in operation before.

We had snacks on the way and were back at the Hotel to relax after a few stops and meeting with relatives.

DAY 2 - 02/05/2015

Not much travelling today. The morning was spent lazing around followed by a visit to Phoenix Mall, then lunch at Cooper Chimney. Visited my cousin sister's work campus and boarded a late evening Volvo bus to Karaikal.

The mighty ride to Karaikal
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DAY 3 - 03/05/2015

Reached Karaikal at around 7 AM. Went to my cousin Iktej's Quarter and relaxed a little while my parents had tea. Freshened up and went to my brother's hospital. Had breakfast at the hospital canteen. We saw the campus (Vinayaka Missions Medical College & Hospital) and were off to Puducherry (Pondi) soon after that. We visited Danish Fort, Tharangambadi on the way. (Tharangambadi is a coastal town 24 km south of Chidambaram. Interestingly this little town was an important Danish settlement. The remarkably intact Danesh Fort, which overlooks the sea was built in 1620.) A place very hot at this time but was one of the places
to be seen during the trip. Soothing beach, compared to the beaches people from Kolkata usually get to see. We entered the fort as well, a small fee of about Rs. 5 for that. There was nothing much to see except a few ancient items from the Danish time. Porcelien Utensils, coins, sheets of ancient writings, glassware etc were among the items preserved to display.

A pic from Vinayaka Missions Medical College & Hospital
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Ride number 2 - Bro's Honda Jazz
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Off to Pondi
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At Danish Fort beach
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The Fort
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My cousin bro with the Fort in the back drop
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The beach
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We stopped on the way for coffee and then at Adyar Anandha Bhavan (A2B) for a late lunch. We had booked the Lotus Service Apartment and checked in once we reached Puducherry which was late in the afternoon. We got a flat with 2 bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a spacious living room cum kitchen. There were two split ACs. All in all a very comfortable place to be in. We ventured out in the evening to walk by the beach. Nice place to sit around with a huge crowd gathered and walking/jogging by the beach. It was humid and not very cool. We did some shopping at the handcraft shops by the beach side.

Lunch at A2B - the Meal!
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The apartment
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To be continued...

Last edited by navsjab : 30th May 2015 at 21:40.
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Old 25th May 2015, 06:03   #2
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Default re: Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India

Ah!!!Karaikal. Went there for a solo ride (from bangalore via pondi) back in 2010. Back then the town was recovering from the the Tsunami disaster. How's it now? Do share some pics of the beach area.

A couple of snaps from back then:

Point where river meets the sea



Way to the beach

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Old 30th May 2015, 17:01   #3
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Pics from pondi beach in the evening
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We then had dinner at a small place named Delhi Kitchen near Athiti hotel as we were late and most of the places were closed. Tasty homelike food. Butter Chicken, Shredded Chicken, Rotis and Naans. Retired for the day soon after dinner as we had plans of waking up early to visit Paradise Beach.

DAY 4 - 04/05/2015
We got up, not very early and were off to paradise beach after the complimentary breakfast which consisted of idlis, vada, masala dosa, pongal and coffee.

The paradise experience was great. Having heard so much from so many friends who had been there it was a place to visit. Beaultiful beach, and well maintained by the government. Changing rooms, toilets and showers in the beach were a nice thing to see. There were small huts made by the beach side to keep your belongings.

Speed boat ride to paradise beach
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At the Beach
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We went back to the Lotus guest house as we were nearing check out time. Took a quick shower had headed to Cafe Xtasi for lunch. Lovely place, highly recommended. Freshly baked pizzas with an option of the 63 cms (jumbo) pizza. We ordered 2 mediums and one pasta. All chicken based. Delicious!

Cafe Xtasi
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Started our way back to Karaikal making a small stop for coffee.

The drive back starts
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Spotted a fellow BHPian on our way back
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Saw Karaikal town, freshened up at Iktej's Quarter and went to have dinner at Maurya's. I could not believe that I would get such lovely North Indian food at Karaikal. My brother looked out for the best eatery joints around so we were lucky to have a great dinner.

The sea side view of Karaikal
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Believe it or not, some Lungi shopping at Karaikal. Mum also wanted the traditional flowers for her hair
Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India-img_7547.jpg

We had a cup of coffee and headed for our 11:45 PM bus to Chennai.

Discussions over coffee, before saying good bye to my cousin
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DAY 5 - 05/05/2015

We reached Chennai at around 5 AM and headed to Porur which was the pickup point for our booked Honda City (Zoomcar). The officer-in-charge was almost done with the manual checks by the time we reached. He made us familiar with the contents of the car (papers, mobile for navigation, torch, jack, wrench etc). Maybe since he knew we used a Zoomcar earlier he finished the handover formality quickly.

Ride number 3 - New Honda City
Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India-20150505_062416.jpg

We drove to my friend's place in south Chennai, had breakfast and discussed about places we could see around Chennai. In my list was
>Yelagiri - discarded as it was too far for a day's trip.
>Mahabalipuram - Mainly temples there, so was not very enthusiastic about it.
>Pulicat lake - Seeing a few threads on TBHP I was looking forward to visiting Pulicat lake.

After the discussion with my friend and suggestions from fellow BHPians Samrat and Samba, the day before, we planned to visit Mahabalipuram. Even though my friend was turning me against the idea due to the heat at that time we decided to go there mainly to check out Radisson's Temple Bay Hotel and have a snack at The Wharf.

The drive on East Coast Road (ECR) was lovely. Though the road is under construction and the road narrows out at places, the drive was smooth. It was the first time I drove the New Honda City, and boy! I could not believe that it was a Diesel powered vehicle! It delivered power when required and quite a lot of it!

We stopped by at small beaches on the way as my friend suggested and went on to finally stop at Temple Bay.

Small beaches on the way to Mahabalipuram
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An easy do on the ECR with a powerful i-DTEC
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Road View
Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India-20150505_115318_001.jpg

To be continued...

Last edited by navsjab : 30th May 2015 at 21:51.
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Old 30th May 2015, 17:45   #4
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The Hotel was really beautiful. It was lunch time and since we had been told to be back for lunch by my friend, we requested the restaurant manager if it was okay to have a light snack instead of the obvious lunch. We ordered for Lobster soup and Chicken Hawa Mahal. They were delicious, really delicious, the pictures will prove it!

Entry to Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay
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The Wharf (the restaurant of the above mentioned hotel)
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The Delicious snack
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The huge cutlery
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The hotel swimming pool in the back drop
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The hotel lobby
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We got out soon to do a quick run through of places worth visiting in Mahabalipuram. Each place we entered had a parking/entry fee. Starting with Mahabalipuram itself, local authority charges a fee of 40 bucks for tourism maintenance.

We got off the car to check out The Shore Temple. It was too hot and given the amount we had to walk, we gave up the idea and drove through the small town of Mahabalipurm, saw the Sthala Sayana Perumal Temple, Krishnas Butter Ball etc from the car and got back to ECR to finally reach my friend's place.

Another BHPian spotted
Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India-20150505_141752.jpg

We had a late lunch there and decided to drop off the Zoomcar so that we could head to the Airport early.

We were well on time at the airport and were soon back to Kolkata.

A short yet very eventful trip. Enjoyed the services of Zoomcar hell loads. Kudos to the well established services. Being new in the country I am sure they would be enthusiastic about it now. I hope this spark stays in them and people using the cars respect the car enough so that it is a pleasurable experience for the next user.

Last edited by navsjab : 30th May 2015 at 21:56.
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Old 30th May 2015, 23:08   #5
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Default re: Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

You had a good round of places to visit. That whole region cries for much more. The places, the cuisine and of course the inviting roads!

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Old 30th May 2015, 23:16   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoumenD View Post
Ah!!!Karaikal. Went there for a solo ride (from bangalore via pondi) back in 2010. Back then the town was recovering from the the Tsunami disaster. How's it now? Do share some pics of the beach area.
Nice pictures there Soumen. I have uploaded just one from the Karaikal seashore. The town has recovered a lot. The way to the beach has changed. There is a nice walk way along the road now. Also the main town area looks fully recovered as to how much I noticed
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Old 1st June 2015, 13:40   #7
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Default Re: Five Days, Four Cities and Three Cars - A trip to South India

@navsjab

Nice write up there!

Seems your experience with zoomcar was quite smooth. If you don't mind me asking, can you provide more details regarding the number of hours you had booked the XUV500 and how much did you pay in total for it? Unfortunately, zoomcar hasn't started service in South Mumbai but might start soon. Waiting to get my hands on the XUV500 for family getaways.
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Old 1st June 2015, 17:17   #8
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An easy do on the ECR with a powerful i-DTEC
Attachment 1376614

[[/quote]

Well, I guess you were lucky not be caught at those speeds on the ECR. They have a speed limit of 40kph to 50kph on the ECR and you have cops with speed guns on that stretch. My wife who is from Chennai was caught once while overtaking a car and she was doing 70kph.

On a different note even I and my family had been on a two week road trip last week from Mumbai doing Bangalore-Kodai-Chennai and back and we stayed at the Temple Bay at the end of our trip. Its an amazing resort and as you mentioned the food served is great too

Last edited by SnS_12 : 1st June 2015 at 17:18.
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Old 1st June 2015, 17:18   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
@navsjab

Nice write up there!

Seems your experience with zoomcar was quite smooth. If you don't mind me asking, can you provide more details regarding the number of hours you had booked the XUV500 and how much did you pay in total for it? Unfortunately, zoomcar hasn't started service in South Mumbai but might start soon. Waiting to get my hands on the XUV500 for family getaways.
Thanks S2. Yup, I did enjoy the Zoomcar service.

I had booked the XUV from 9:15 am on 1st May to 10:15 PM, the next day. This came to 37 hours allowing me a usage of 370 KMs. I was charged 7,770 for the same with a security deposit of 5k. The deposit was refunded to me few days after the booking completion date.

Zoomcar is growing pretty fast, they opened in Hyderabad few weeks back. I am sure you will get to experience it very soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnS_12 View Post

Well, I guess you were lucky not be caught at those speeds on the ECR. They have a speed limit of 40kph to 50kph on the ECR and you have cops with speed guns on that stretch. My wife who is from Chennai was caught once while overtaking a car and she was doing 70kph.
Oh, I was not aware of this, could it be for particular scretches? I mean where the roads were narrowed out for constuction. My friend who resides in Chennai did not mention of a speed limit of that kind on ECR so I was following Zoomcar's speed limit.

Last edited by navsjab : 1st June 2015 at 17:27.
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Old 1st June 2015, 18:07   #10
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Oh, I was not aware of this, could it be for particular scretches? I mean where the roads were narrowed out for constuction. My friend who resides in Chennai did not mention of a speed limit of that kind on ECR so I was following Zoomcar's speed limit.
Well, you have speed limit boards on both sides of the road at most places, but after you cross the toll section you won't find them unit you reach a populated area.

So there could be certain sections where there are no sign boards, but then if its not your lucky day and you miss one, you could be pulled over by the cops.

Also, that stretch of road is known for many accidents.
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Old 1st June 2015, 18:48   #11
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Well, you have speed limit boards on both sides of the road at most places, but after you cross the toll section you won't find them unit you reach a populated area.

So there could be certain sections where there are no sign boards, but then if its not your lucky day and you miss one, you could be pulled over by the cops.

Also, that stretch of road is known for many accidents.
Thanks for the information Sns. I do know the ECR to be an accident prone road. I guess you are jumping to the conclusion that speed meant reckless driving? I hope not

In retrospect I believe it was due to the number of diversions on the road that made me miss the sign board.

Anyway, this will definitely help me on my future visit to Chennai. Thanks for pointing it out. I am happy to have got the knowledge this way atleast instead of the cops.
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Old 1st June 2015, 19:24   #12
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A short and crisp write up with some good set of photographs !! Especially the snaps of the mouth watering food seems delicious and inviting.

The best past is that you got your hands on a number of rides in that short span of 4 days. A good getaway family vacation I Suppose.

Keep posting !!
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Old 2nd June 2015, 11:06   #13
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A beautiful short and crisp writeup. You may try Le Cafe on the beach road at Pondy the next time. Its a cool place on the shores to have a lazy time. Food however, may not be great. For those food lovers wanting to have some Vietnamese, good small joints are available on MG road!
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Old 2nd June 2015, 11:27   #14
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Hey Navtej,

Happy to see you and our college pics in teambhp. Keep them coming.

Last edited by ampere : 2nd June 2015 at 11:31.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 18:03   #15
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Originally Posted by LoneRidder View Post
A beautiful short and crisp writeup. You may try Le Cafe on the beach road at Pondy the next time. Its a cool place on the shores to have a lazy time. Food however, may not be great. For those food lovers wanting to have some Vietnamese, good small joints are available on MG road!
Thanks LoneRidder. We did actually have a look at Le Cafe and thought of sitting there for a while. However, since we had other things in mind, we let that go and planned for a good meal later. May try it the next time around

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Hey Navtej,

Happy to see you and our college pics in teambhp. Keep them coming.
Hey Vikas, nice seeing you too on TBHP. What a way to cross paths!
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