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Old 24th September 2006, 11:03   #1
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Tour objective:

  1. Badly needed outing for the family

  2. Getting the blessings of Lord Shiva@Chdmbrm

  3. Scenic drive through some of the best routes close to Chennai

  4. Wanted to test my new set of tyres
Route and Distance

Chennai - Pondy Via ECR - 160kms
Pondy - Chidambaram Via Cuddalore - 58kms

Mode of transport

2001 HONDA CITY 1.5EXI - FULLY STOCK but for recent tyre upgrade to 195/55 R-15, Yokohama AVS- ES100

The journey

Chennai - Pondy leg

Starting of at a leisurly 10.30 a.m on a saturday, i got on to ECR and the route to Pondy is among the best drives one can get off Chennai. For the un initiated - ECR or EAST COAST Road is a very well laid, well lit, well marked Toll road (Rs 47 for pondy return )from Chennai to Pondy and saves atleast half hour on the other often used route via Tindivanam (Rs 25 for pondy return-not very sure ).The ECR is a simple single lane road but with very less heavy vehicle traffic. Only a few state transport buses take this route. Almost no trucks take this route probably because of the higher toll as well as the highly curvaceous nature of this route which i guess truckers are not very comfortable with. In fact this route is fairly curvaceous to the point of being risky at many points for the over enthusiatic car drivers also. All though i did not try any overly aggressive cornering moves, the new tyres fairly held up well. But very frankly i did not see a substantial jump in grip levels from the stock tyres. (someone can add in why this is so)

Key things to watch out

Nice view of the beach and the Bay of Bengal all along on ur left side when ur headed towards Pondy
Some where into 50-60 kms from Chennai there is a huge salt making set up on ur right side where u can see huge mounts of pure white raw salt piled up contrasting with the dark chocolate brown mud surrounding it ( see photo )
In case u have had ur b'fast at chennai , there is no need to halt anywhere, otherwise there are 2 options a) a decent veg hotel at kalpakkam junction ( dont remember the name ) b) Mid way restaurant ( literally mid way between chennai and pondy )
Just have enough fuel for the trip to reach Pondy bcos , petrol ( normal unleaded) is a whole Rs5 per litre cheaper there !!!

Pondy - Chidambram leg

Once u reach Pondy, you have 2 options. there is a kind of bypass to the main town which is a very confusing route and not too worth it ( i tried it one way). if ur travelling on weekends, u might as well drive through the town. u need to take the cuddalore route which is around 25 kms from Pondy. this route is fairly crowded ( in comparison to the ECR where u would have spent your last 2 hrs on !!) but nevertheless its much better than most roads one comes across in these parts. once u reach cuddalore, u just drive straight through the smalling town and u reach a big circle. here u can keep proceeding straight on to chidambaram.

Key things to watch out

the route is hardly scenic, so just watch out for those TVS 50s on ur left and the truckers on ur right !
dont forget to tank up at Pondy bcos Cuddalore is in TAMIL NADU !
a decent veg hotel is present at the circle mentioned above
Once ur out of Cuddalore, its a very good scenic route to Chidambaram dotted with lush green paddy fields on both sides and some amazing roads ( all though not very well lit like ECR ) lined up by large banyan, neem trees etc. ( chek out the photos ). the Cuddalore chidambaram leg should take you an hour and half depending on how many halts you make to put your camera to use.

Places to see in Chidambaram and things to note

Chidambaram is primarily a heritage/religous/pilgrimage kind of city having many temples in and around. the main temple is that of Lord Shiva which is obviously a must see.the speciality of this temple is that it is among the handful of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva where he is potrayed in the "NATARAJA" pose rather than the conventional "LINGA". sad thing to note is that these ancient architectural wonders/religious places are VERY POORLY maintained thanks to succesive goverments "secular" policies ( dont want to comment further in this forum ) . hence you would find even the pujaris ( who dont get paid ) out to make a quick buck by mentioning various pujas/vazhipadu ( religious formalities ) that you can do here and. at the end of the day, these places are part of our heritage so it does not matter if you end up overspending some money here. Chidambaram has very few good family hotels ( i came across actually just one !! by the name HOTEL SHARADARAM). its a decent place with a/c rooms available for around Rs700 and bang opposite the bus stand.

around 40 kms from Chidambaram is another historical land mark - POOMPUHAR - the very famous port city of the ertswhile Cheras/Cholas. its also famous for its prominence in the Tamil epic - SILAPATHIGARAM featuring timeless characters like Kannagi and Kovalan. Poompuhar now is merely a ghost of its past self. there are just a few hamlets that dott this locaiton and u end up in a beach next to which is Kannagi's monument which is a must see for ppl who have a literary inclination. for a nominal entry fee of Rs5 u can go in and see period musical instruments, clothing etc and also the entire epic of SILAPATHIGARAM etched in stone. enroute to POOMPUHAR, around 20 kms from Chidambaram is VAITHEERWARAR temple. the presiding deity , Lord VAITHEERWARAR (literally means " the one who heals/cures " ) is known for his healing powers and its mandatory u have a customary dip of ur feet in the temple pond. here again, the same story of pathetic maintenace plays over and leaves a very bitter feeling in your heart for all these ancient monuments that go unattended whereas governments waste tax payers money to dole out FREE TV sets for the supposedly poor !!!

another must see spot is PITCHAVARAM which is about 15kms from chidabaram. its a detour u need to take before u enter chidambram town from cuddalore. PITCHAVARAM is among the most "healthiest" mangrove forests in the world !! its a sight u just should not miss. the 15 kms can take u upto half hour to cover bcos road is very bad and narrow. Once u reach PITCHAVARAM you would realise the slow progress and bad roads was well worth the price to pay for the beautiful scenery. u have boating options where u can go through natural and man made waterways that run across the length and breadth of the mangrove forests.(see photos ) We were told that a lot of medical research by German, Indian scientists is going here and they have found that a lot of these mangrove varieties have medicinal properties

The Drive back

this was dedicated to all the spots where we could not stop on the way to take snaps. there are just too many beautiful locales to go berserk with your camera. People with professional photographic equipment will have a lot of interesting spots to cover. The Honda as always was at its reliable best with absolutely no problems throughout the trip. Fuel efficiency on the highways was a decent 15kmpl with driving mostly at 100kmph with a/c on most of time.

links to various photos shown above

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Old 25th September 2006, 18:28   #2
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Nice one. Man I searched in anticipation that you would have posed the pics of your ride, but.............................. U disappointed me
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Old 26th September 2006, 11:49   #3
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not very great pics. but will post some good ones shortly

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Old 29th January 2011, 11:01   #4
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Arrow Re: Chennai - Pondy- Chidambaram Trip with photos


Could you please update the Road Condition from Pondy -Cuddalore - Chidambram. As i suspect that the recent rain destroyed it.

I am Planning to have a trip from chennai to omampuliyur. I wanted to take the route of Chennai - Pondy -Cuddalore - Chidambram - omampuliyur.

I know that Chennai - Pondy is awesome route how about the route NH45A between Pondy -Cuddalore - Chidambram. As i suspect the recent rain destroyed it!!!!
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