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Old 24th April 2007, 14:58   #1
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Smile Travelogue : Destination anywhere along the East Coast !!

Whatta trip !!! I cant ever forget this trip.No planning or hotel bookings nothing at all, just let everything come its way and we traveled like never before. Every travel of mine has been planned well in advance and the hotel bookings made much before the day of travel.

It all started last Wednesday when I got a mail saying that I could take off for 2days.Damn work always takes the 1st place when it comes to such things.

I still remember the night when there was heavy showers in Bangalore (Wednesday night) and was driving back home.

My car was delivered the same day from RNS Motors after the 15k service. She sounded like a rufous nightingale and felt like a damsel in my hands on the roads.I was dying to take her for a long drive.

What more? No work for the next 2 days and Saturday Sunday weekly off’s.. Whooooaaahhh !!! Called my lady and said how about a drive to the east coast for the next 2 days? The answer was a yes and has always been a yes when it came to such things .

We ruled out the Karnataka coast was only coz we have planned for a trip along the coast line post july.

Next question which place on the east coast ? In unison the answer was Pondy.. Cheap beer and petrol

All set we packed our bags and over slept till about 6am.Me bad I was supposed to wake up 1st.Thursday being a weekday and we wanted to beat the early morning traffic on Hosur road , which incidentally dint happen.

Left Bangalore @ abt 7 am and as usual was stuck in the hosur road traffic. Crossed e-city phase 2 and from there on it was bliss on the GQ.
Since nothing was planned in advance we only got booking in a City Hotel in Pondy. Promenade has always been my pick but we were unlucky this time around!!

Let me get to the journey straight..

Route taken : Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Thiruvannamalai-Gingee-Thindivanam-Pondy ( 320 kms).

Please note there are 2 Reliance A1 plazas on either side of the GQ.
Am sure most of you guys are pretty much aware with this route.

Once you deviate from the GQ towards Thiruvannamalai the roads are good but one needs to watch out since there are umpteen number of villages by the SH. Do watch out for the TN buses also since their mode of driving is INVINCIBLE period !!
Some of the bus drivers drive as though the roads are a part of their ancestral property.

Pic taken enroute Thiruvannamalai

All along the drive is scenic and the only drawback is that there are no good hotels.
Our 1st stop for re-fuelling was Thiruvannamalai at the IOC petrol pump. I always fill up from this place since the quality of fuel sold is pretty good.
The IOC petrol pump is just before the railway crossing en-route Pondy.

As for the fairer sex traveling,the rest room is pretty good and nicely maintained.
Picked some mineral water and coke and headed towards to Pondy.

On reaching Gingee we decided this time around lets check the fort here. There are 2 forts here and serious advice, just in case somebody wants to scale them please carry enough water handy for the climb. Takes good 2 hrs to check both the forts.

The forts at Gingee

Reached pondy by about 5pm and had a wash and rested for a while. Headed to the Promenade beach along the famous French coastline and spent time there.

A house in the french quarter of Pondy..

Hit the bed early since we were too tired to even channel surf on the TV .

Day 2 :

No plans as yet as what we would be doing next .. Had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel and was sitting in the lounge. Decided on making Mahabs the destination for the day. Got ready and we hit ECR for the scenic drive to Mahabs.

Shore temple in Mahabs

Visited the shore temple and the beach there and lazed around the beach for sometime. Headed back to Pondy since we had planned for some shopping.
Enroute stopped at this new place called Hotel Mid-way on ECR and they serve pretty good food. Filled our bellies once again !!

Some pics along the scenic ECR

On our drive back things took a turn .. We saw a road side board which read Velankanni 178 kms. This got us thinking but then we were in no mood to do this drive since our plans was to return to Bangalore on Saturday.

Was a nice day at Mahabs and with the shopping our day was through.

Day 3 :

Hadnt packed our bags yet and then this weird thing came up.. Why not drive to Velankanni ? Had breakfast and packed some water and cookies for the drive.

Enquired with the hotels chauffeurs/drivers about the route and was given pin point directions and places to stop over.

Route taken : Pondy –Cuddalore-Chidambaram-Seargazhi(Sirkali) –Karaikkal-Nagoor-Nagapattinam-Velankanni (Distance : 180 kms / Highway : NH45a)

Chidambaram is a beautiful temple town and lots of pilgrims. The drive till Chidambaram was superb. About 10kms from Chidambaram the road narrows down into a 6 feet wide road. On either sides its paddy fields, was pain all through since , we did have to slow down for every single car which came in the opposite direction, leave alone buses and trucks.

Bad roads once again after crossing Nagapattinam. For about 5 kms there is virtually no roads towards Velankanni.

Reached Velankanni and checked out the church and the coastline. Spent about 2 hrs there and picked up some grub for the return journey.

Some pics of the church

Nagapattinam is still recovering from the wrath of the Tsunami. It’s a heart wrenching scene out there , lots of rehab centers and houses are being re-built as a part of the rehab program.Hoping things will happen soon and the folks are handed over their houses.

Pics of Nagapattinam

On the return journey we stopped over at Karaikkal to check out the port and the beach.
There is a road from the highway which heads straight to the beach. On the right hand side is a beautiful view of the port and the Indian Oil Corporation refinery(not too sure which oil refinery).

Spent about 30 mins there and headed back. Reached Pondy by abt 6 pm and the drive was un-eventful other than a few pot holes.

My advice for this route is “please watchout for the goats”. Looks like there are more goats along this route than humans .

Did a total of 400 kms of driving today and was way too tired. We dint let our spirits down, drove back to the Promenade and took a few more pics of the place before returning to the hotel.

Still no plans of returning to Bangalore because a couple of places more to be visited which we missed out. To name a few Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Chunnambar Water park in Cuddalore.

Was a long day and we hit the bed by about 10pm. Slept like log.

Day 4 :

Had breakfast and decided on doing these places on our next visit,it was 3 days since we left home and thought we did better get back home before folks back home think of dis-owning us.

My 2 cents on Pondicherry :
Have always been attracted by the French Culture and love the way the place has been designed and laid.

Notre Dame des Anges Chruch

Love those red caps these chaps use.

Some eat outs I would re-commend if any of you guys are food freaks( willing to try new stuff).

1 – Rendezvous (French cuisines)
2 – Le Club (French and Vietnamese cuisines)

As for shopping try Nehru and Mission streets some of the best places to do window shopping. I checked out this new place called Casablanca and was a haven of brands.

Last but not the least, off-late Pondy has some real nice looking wine shops with tons of brands. Just head in there and pick up what you like most , coz you wouldn’t be paying taxes on booze atleast.

Bangy boys sorry couldnt get back home by sunday morning to make it for the Nandi hills drive.
Thanks for your time reading through folks.
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Old 24th April 2007, 15:05   #2
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Wow grea trip & awesome pics rjstyles69. Seems like you really enjoyed the trip. Daym I want to go for a long drive on East coast
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Old 24th April 2007, 15:08   #3
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That's a wonderful trip log Riju. The photos are extremely well composed. I used to do unplanned trips, not recently though.

BTW, these goats, are they anything like the Donkeys in the movie Kabul Express?
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Old 24th April 2007, 15:10   #4
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Awesome photography!!!.and a very well written travelougue!.
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Old 24th April 2007, 15:12   #5
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Thanks guys.
"Donkeys in the movie Kabul Express " Samurai you said it.
Its something more like the cows on the beaches and roads between Mangalore and Murudeshwar.
Every now and then you run into them and left with no choice but slow down.
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Old 24th April 2007, 15:15   #6
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Great pics... Have you played around with the white balance/colors of the photos before posting.. looks too scenic.
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Old 24th April 2007, 15:17   #7
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Excellent report and awesome pics rjstyles69, Pondy has always attracted me not because of cheap liquor or petrol...simply i like the place....had been there twice once in a volvo and the first time in my bike (Mar2005)....Yet to do it in my car....
Will plan some trip like you did and enjoy the east coast sometime...
driving on ECR is still an unfulfilled dream...

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Old 24th April 2007, 15:19   #8
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A beautifully written travelogue. Sometimes these spur of the moment trips are more enjoyable then planned ones. The photos you have clicked are brilliant.
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Old 24th April 2007, 16:51   #9
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Beautiful (actually - fantastic) pictures and a great drive there !!!
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Old 24th April 2007, 17:19   #10
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fantastic pictures .. very colorful .
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Old 24th April 2007, 17:21   #11
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Some of the best pics i've seen! Great reporting too Rjstyles69. Now Pondy is beckoning me more than ever.
By the way; talking about cattle on the roads, nothing can beat the stretch between Arasikere and Tarikere on the NH.
Great trip again!
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Old 24th April 2007, 18:05   #12
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Originally Posted by rjstyles69 View Post
Whatta trip !!! I cant ever forget this trip.No planning or hotel bookings nothing at all, just let everything come its way and we traveled like never before. Every travel of mine has been planned well in advance and the hotel bookings made much before the day of travel......
Excellent photographs !! Unplanned trips, as I always say, bring lot of excitement. If you are courageous and ready to face any awkward situation which you may come across, you should go for it, it will be real fun. I am game for it always!!
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Old 24th April 2007, 18:07   #13
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That is an awesome travelogue ,also fantastic pics.On a few occasions I have zipped past pondy[usually when its dark] and never realized I had missed such a beautiful place.

As far as the Tsunami,well I happened to be at the heart of all of it at Vellankanni church,luckily although I escaped unscathed.

Last edited by rahul_intlad : 24th April 2007 at 18:24.
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Old 24th April 2007, 18:51   #14
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I have only word - AWESOME.

Kudos to your spirit and to that nice travelogue. Looking forward to more such adventures ....
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Old 24th April 2007, 19:12   #15
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Nice report and pics, rjstyles.

And yes, Pondy is one awesome place and not just for the cheap beer/petrol. Did you miss the Shani (Saturn) temple in Karaikkal and the Danish fort in Tharangambadi (Tranquebar) ?

BTW, you will might get blank stares if you ask for Danish fort, as locally it is called Dutch fort. Though in reality the Danes were there first and then sold out to the Brits. The ASI has done a good job restoring it.

Originally Posted by akroy
driving on ECR is still an unfulfilled dream...
I would rather you let it remain a dream. Too dangerous with crazy drivers overspeeding without knowing the limits of the road. To me, it is just an overhyped single-lane road, with some reflective lights on the tarmac. The Tambaram-Pondy road is the one to drive on.
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