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Old 15th September 2009, 14:24   #91
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Originally Posted by misquitas View Post
Hi there,

I've just returned from an exciting and memorable trip to Pondi. I'm documenting my travelogue, so give me a few days.
GPA, many thanks for all your help. I'm sorry I could not meet you in person as we bypassed Bangalore and we were not anywhere near Yeshwantpur.
Hi Melvyn,

Good to know you enjoyed your trip. Sorry that I missed your call last evening. Was in a rather long meeting. Will connect with you either this evening or tomorrow.

Looking forward to your travelogue as well.

As for me, I have another BLR--Pondy--BLR dash planned for Sept 26.

Cheers,
gpa
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Old 15th September 2009, 16:15   #92
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Hey Akroy, i have read all your travelogues posted on the forum, What happened to your travel companion, your Alto? Please do something get her moving and please travel more and keep posting more, Keep up the good spirit of traveling
Alto is healthy and fine but its companion (thats me) is not with her at the moment. She is in Bangalore and her companion is in USA.

Abhi
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Old 16th September 2009, 23:48   #93
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Default Yet another trip report

Here goes yet another Blr-Pondicherry travelogue!

Routes taken:
Blr – Pondy stuck to the well traveled road suggested by most: Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri- Uttangarai - Chengam-Tiruvannamalai-Gingee-Tindivanam-Pondicherry

Pondy-Blr: Pondy – Mahabalipuram – Chengalpattu – Kanchipuram - Vellore – Krishnagiri - Bangalore

Total distance traveled (door to door): 814kms

Car and Fuel: me, my wife and our good old Indica DLS.
HP regular: I tanked up only 20lts in Blr, knowing well that fuel is cheaper in Pondy. There was still ~4-5lts to get to the reserve mark by the time we reached Pondy. Distance was 332kms, with AC in full use from the time we took the turn to Pondy from the GQ.

Return: I tanked up to the brim and had used up just about 2/3rds of the fuel with full time AC use! Distance 482 kms. I still haven’t reached the reserve mark with the trip meter reading at 586kms! I seem to have got a mileage of easily between 19-20kmpl.



So, as planned we took off on Sep 5th at about 7am – initial plan was to start by 6 am, but as it happens more than often with me, ended up an hour late. To make up for the lost time, I took the Nice road from Mysore road (I stay in Vijaynagar) to reach Electronic city.

The road is excellent all the way till Bannerghatta, where a deviation comes up and after a brief struggle, managed to get back on the Nice road – the toll was Rs. 45 from Mysore road till Bannerghatta (expensive!) and another Rs14 from Bannerghatta to Hosur road (which joins close to Electronic city).

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It was hard for me to make out the amount of changes taking place all along Hosur road, cos I guess it was almost after a year I was traveling on this road again!

After a smooth drive on NICE and Hosur road, got stuck at a junction after the Electronic city – I am not sure of what place it was (Attibele?). After close to half an hour the traffic cleared up and also managed to increase speed by following a Corolla!

From there on, getting to Hosur and then to Krishnagiri was a breeze and in no time we hit the turn towards Pondicherry from the GQ.

I kept a speed of 70-80kmph for the first few kms after getting off from the GQ and also need to mention that though the road is excellent, one must keep an eye open for bad patches. Had to do away with my sun-glasses, cos the road is completely tree lined and it does get a bit difficult to spot bad patches with the shadow of the trees.

Surprisingly, there was not much traffic, though it was a Saturday! And the drive was really enjoyable – with my fav music playing along with my chatter box wife

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Some home packed snacks server us good, as we kept crossing town after town and started to feel hungry only when we were nearing Tiruvannamalai. I felt it was also a good time to take a break from continuous 4 hrs driving. We managed to find a decent looking restaurant close to the where we had to take the route towards Gingee.

Forty minutes later we were back on the road and hit Gingee just past noon

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Stopped only to take a couple of pictures and headed towards Tindivanam. At Tindivanam needed to ask some locals to get to the Pondicherry road – four-laning is still going on in this stretch and with no milestones.

We reached the Rajiv Gandhi statue by around 1.20pm and in about 10 minutes found our way to the Ginger hotel (first time I tried it).Total time taken to reach was about 6.5hrs with a 40 minute break.


The next two days were spent relaxing, strolling by the beach front, visit to the Ashram, Chunnambar backwaters etc. Pics from all over below:

Just before dusk
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Bright side of the moon

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At the Asian House, quite a nice place to dine!
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Enroute to Auroville

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On Monday, after visiting Auroville, headed towards Mahabalipuram. ‘twas my first drive on the ECR and I thoroughly loved it! The 85kms from the toll was covered in just a little over an hour, but it also meant that we reached Mahabalipuram in the peak afternoon – the place was simmering.

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We spent barely about 20 minutes at the temple ruins and rushed back to the car and then to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Spent a relaxed hour having lunch and finally took off by around 3pm. The route mentioned by AK Roy came in very handy, but it was only by 5pm that we hit the GQ at Kanchipuram – thanks largely due to crawling through Kanchi traffic for well over 45 minutes! Once on the GQ we got to the Krishnagiri junction by around 7pm, stopped for a tea break and finally reached Electronic city by around 9.15pm (evening traffic is really still a pain in Hosur limits!). We got home by 10.30pm, had a quick dinner and crashed.

Best part of this stretch: constant speed of 95-100kmph, stress free driving!

Second most unforgettable sight was while we were negotiating the massive flyover at Vellore, while on the up-ramp there was still daylight, I mean in the sense that there was plenty of clear visible light. But, halfway up the flyover, which curves gently to the right, we were welcomed by a huge spell of rain. It was almost blinding rain, totally unexpected but most welcomed, cos I was aching to drive in the rains in this trip! The temperature indicator too immediately dropped a coupla notches

Overall, a very relaxing and pleasant trip. This was my second trip and surely not the last!

Happy driving – take care, Bhpians!
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Old 17th September 2009, 09:30   #94
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Originally Posted by royalcruiser View Post

Return: I tanked up to the brim and had used up just about 2/3rds of the fuel with full time AC use! Distance 482 kms. I still haven’t reached the reserve mark with the trip meter reading at 586kms! I seem to have got a mileage of easily between 19-20kmpl.
Glad to know you had a pleasant trip! Did you fill up at the Ashram fuel station? It is highly recommended by the locals and I found the fuel to be excellent. What was the price of Diesel at Pondy?
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Old 17th September 2009, 10:34   #95
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Nice travelogue royalcruiser.

Good to know you enjoyed the drive. I'm planning a similar trip to Mahabalipuram when I visit pondy this time so your post will come in handy.

Regards,
gpa

@Gansan: OT, but nice to see you've rid yourself of the arithmetic calculation below your nick!
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Old 17th September 2009, 10:52   #96
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Gansan: OT, but nice to see you've rid yourself of the arithmetic calculation below your nick!
Ah, yes! It went off a few weeks ago. I see you got rid of one too!
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Old 17th September 2009, 11:11   #97
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Guys, am planning for a trip beginning of Oct with my wifey.
After looking at the pics of Vagamon from sj_koova, I was very keen on visiting that place. But my wife wants to visit Pondi this time.
I am planning to leave early on 2nd Oct and got 4 days in hand. 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th.
Though I have done lot of long trip, this is the first time I would be visiting Pondi.
Please advice good place to stay. Beach resort should do with a average price.
Also, please highlight some must visit places in and around Pondi.
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Old 17th September 2009, 13:32   #98
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Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
Glad to know you had a pleasant trip! Did you fill up at the Ashram fuel station? It is highly recommended by the locals and I found the fuel to be excellent. What was the price of Diesel at Pondy?
Nope, I looked around near the ashram, but couldnt find it. Finally tanked up at the HP station next to the Ashram guest house.

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Originally Posted by gpa View Post
Nice travelogue royalcruiser.

Good to know you enjoyed the drive. I'm planning a similar trip to Mahabalipuram when I visit pondy this time so your post will come in handy.

Regards,
gpa

@Gansan: OT, but nice to see you've rid yourself of the arithmetic calculation below your nick!
thanks! only ensure u carry an umbrella or something to protect urself from the sun

Quote:
Originally Posted by rabnawaz_b View Post
Guys, am planning for a trip beginning of Oct with my wifey.
After looking at the pics of Vagamon from sj_koova, I was very keen on visiting that place. But my wife wants to visit Pondi this time.
I am planning to leave early on 2nd Oct and got 4 days in hand. 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th.
Though I have done lot of long trip, this is the first time I would be visiting Pondi.
Please advice good place to stay. Beach resort should do with a average price.
Also, please highlight some must visit places in and around Pondi.
there are some resorts I saw on the way to Mahabalipuram on ECR - didnt check them out though. these resorts that you can find on the net as well - best would be to book the ashram guest house, which is anyway by the beach front!
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Old 17th September 2009, 14:57   #99
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Default GOA-PONDICHERRY-GOA = 1 driver + 2 days + 3 weathers + 4 languages + 5 states

GOA-PONDICHERRY-GOA = 1 driver + 2 days + 3 weathers + 4 languages + 5 states

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THE PURPOSE:

The thought of a long drive across India has always excited me but somehow, I never had the occasion to undertake such a trip. I’m no car geek and I know precious little about car engines, but that has not diluted my passion for driving cars. We were planning a trip to Bombay in October, but decided to put it off for the moment in view of the swine flu scare.

Then comes a rare stroke of luck. My niece secures a Goa government scholarship to pursue her 5-year course at the Rajiv Gandhi veterinary college in Pondicherry and she has to travel to Pondicherry along with her luggage. She and her father initially plan to travel either by bus or train, but I jump on the opportunity and offer to take them in my Alto LXI car. The offer was immediately accepted as the best (practical and economical) option. She had to reach her college by September 8 and so, we decide to undertake a 2-day trip from Goa to Pondicherry on September 6-7.

THE PREPARATIONS:

3/9/09: I go to the Chowgule Maruti Service station at Panjim to get a basic check-up for the Alto LXI car. A service advisor inspects the fluid levels (engine oil, brake oil, wiper water, and coolant). After certifying that the car had the necessary fluids, he advises me to get the battery checked at a battery service centre. A quick stop to the battery service centre and the car battery is filled with a little distilled water, before it too is certified to be OK.

The next stop is to get a Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate. I don’t want to be fined by any transport authority along the way for insufficient documents. Hence, I get all my documents (car registration book, insurance papers, car manual, PUC certificate and of course, my driving licence) in order. I also install a cigarette light cum power socket (Rs 200) to enable me charge my mobile phone, if required, during the journey.

4/9/09: I download Google Maps on my Nokia 61i phone so that I can refer to the route if required. Many thanks to GPA, akroy and other for the advice regarding Bangalore and Pondicherry. My brother-in-law has already bought road maps of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, to use them more frequently along the way. I study the maps to memorise the major towns along the way. I also check up the internet for hotels at Tumkur (Karnataka) and Hosur (Tamil Nadu) for an overnight halt.

5/9/09: The car gets a quick wash and I drop my wife and our 2-year-old daughter to my mother-in-law’s house in Margao (33 kms south of Panjim), where they will spend the week there while I’m undertaking the trip. I return to Panjim and pack my bags. I also check my mobile connection (Airtel) to confirm the roaming rates within the different states during our journey. I shortlist some MP3 CDs for music along our long journey. I check the tyre pressure at a roadside stall before making a quick trip to my native village of Aldona (18 kms north east of Panjim) to collect a large suitcase (which fits in the dicky) and other bags of my niece and brother-in-law. I return to Panjim in the evening and top up the tank with normal petrol (17435 odo reading). I then set the trip-meter on the Alto to ‘000.0’, before proceeding to work (I’m a journalist and my job is in the evenings). I return by 11.30 pm, ready for a short nap for the D-day. My odometer (odo) reads 17,461 kms and this will be taken as the reference point for my journey.

THE JOURNEY:

6/9/09, 05.40 AM: PORVORIM [17461 odo – 0 kms]: The alarm rings at 4.45 am, but I’m awake before that, simply because of the excitement of the long trip ahead. After the formalities in the bathroom, I’m ready to embark on my historic journey. After a brief prayer, our house is shut and my Alto LXI car is set in motion.

6/9/09, 06:10, ALDONA [17479 odo – 18 kms]: I make a quick detour to my native village to pick up my brother-in-law and his daughter. We add some more bags in one part of the rear seat, leaving a little over one-third of the rear seat to my niece. After the customary farewell, we set off on our maiden journey.

6/9/09, 07:11, SAWANTWADI [17527 odo – 48 kms]: We don’t stop at Sawantwadi (Maharashtra) and we move ahead. Traveling along the Amboli ghat during this time of the year provides the motorist with numerous roadside waterfalls and a scenic panoramic view. Maintaining road discipline is paramount, if you want to safely negotiate oncoming vehicles (especially trucks).

6/9/09, 08:20 AM, AMBOLI [17557 odo – 30 kms]: We stop for snacks and tea (Rs 150) at Hotel Vithal Kamat, which is at a short distance from the temple at Amboli. Good and clean toilets, in case you need to answer nature’s call without doing it in nature. We encounter rains for some time. The road to Belgaum is decent, neither excellent nor a dirt track. The top layer of the road is chipped off thereby retarding our speed at many places. Here was nothing much for us to see and so we did not bother to stop en route to Belgaum.

6/9/09, 10:12, BELGAUM [17623 odo – 66 kms]: We arrive at the famous ‘Rani Chennamma’ circle in Belgaum (Karnataka), from where we proceed towards the Pune-Bangalore expressway. We get on the expressway and we are treated to an excellent road, scenic view (miles of greenery on both sides of the highway) and cool climate. This is easily the most enjoyable part of our journey so far and my brother-in-law gets his camera to work. I’m normally a sedate driver by most standards with my average speed touching 70 kms, but this beautiful road tempts me to step up the pace and I’m hovering around the 80-100 kmph mark. I could easily have broken the 100-kmph mark, but I was a bit apprehensive of encountering a tyre puncture at high speeds.

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During our journey so far, we haven’t switched on the AC. I remembered some (like GPA) suggesting that fuel economy could increase with the AC on (and windows up) at speeds over 80 kmph. However, we had decided that we wanted to enjoy every aspect of our journey and this included the different weather patterns. So we simply roll down our windows and allow the loud gush of cool breeze into the Alto cabin. The wind drag may have lowered our fuel efficiency to some extent, but then, the cool wind was truly enjoyable (except that it ruffled my hair while my brother-in-law was unscathed as he has shaved his hair). Our loud voices to overcome the gushing breeze (we can hardly hear each other with the winds entering the cabin), the music in the car (don’t ask me why the music was on, especially when we could barely hear our own voices at high speeds), and the blaring horns of other vehicles certainly presented an interesting cacophony of sorts.
Along the way, we notice some gigantic statues in the nude and we suspect (we could be wrong though) that they are some Jain statues. We click a few snaps and proceed ahead, before arriving at our first toll plaza, where we pay Rs 30 to pass through.

6/9/09, 11:12, DHARWAD [17695 odo – 72 kms]: We have covered the last 72 kms in one hour, a record of sorts for my little 800 cc, 3-cylinder Alto, which has performed remarkably so far. We stop at the second toll plaza and pay Rs 31 to proceed further. The roads are just as good as the earlier stretch and I am now getting used to the 80-100 kmph drive.

6/9/09, 11:32, HUBLI [17716 odo – 21 kms]: Another lovely stretch of the highway. Brother-in-law continues clicking snaps, while niece takes a nap.

6/9/09, 11:42, TOLL 3 HUBLI [17724 odo – 8 kms]: This toll plaza is free, provided you produce the bill of the earlier toll plaza. We were grateful that we had kept our previous bill intact and had not chucked it in our waste bag. We now decide to keep all our bills safely in the diary, which my niece uses to scribble the various readings (time, place, distance, etc) of our journey.

6/9/09, 12:10, LUNCH BREAK: Since my niece has packed some sandwiches, we stop near a roadside restaurant somewhere after Hubli. We munch the sandwiches, while my brother-in-law visits a nearby stall. Since this is our first break in over 160 kms (we last stopped at Amboli) I get a chance to get out of the car, stretch my legs and walk a few paces.

6/9/09, 12:37, BANKAPUR [17775 odo – 51 kms]: We stop by the fourth toll plaza and pay Rs 40 to proceed ahead. After a few kilometers, the superb expressway is now replaced by a number of diversions, many of them patchy stretches, simply because the remaining part of the expressway is under construction. We can see many flyovers under construction and we cheerfully accept these detours as an inevitable step in the construction of another lovely stretch of the expressway in the near future. The Alto moves slower now, with many gear changes with clutch and break operations in tandem.

6/9/09, 14:30, DAWANGARE [17865 odo – 90 kms]: The condition of the expressway is the same, with many diversions and speed breaks. If we completed the Belgaum-Bankapur (152 kms) stretch in a little over 2 hours, the stretch from Bankapur to Dawangare had us crawling to complete 90 kms in the next 2 hours.

6/9/09, 15:30, COFFEE BREAK: We stop for coffee (Rs 35) at a roadside restaurant. Again, this break gives me an opportunity to stretch my legs and move my bottom after a gap of nearly 3-and-half hours.

6/9/09, 16:15, CHITRADURGA [17925 odo – 60 kms]: We are overjoyed to return to the beautiful stretch of the expressway. The drive is made even more enjoyable by the lovely sight of scores of massive windmills perched on virtually every hill in the area. We make a few quick stops to click some of the windmills, the Chitradurga fort, and some unusual hills, which have massive boulders placed on each other. The numerous beautiful hills certainly justified the name of the town – Chitra-durga.

6/9/09, 16:46, HIRIYUR [17954 odo – 29 kms]: We enter the fifth toll plaza and pay Rs 35 to move further down south. The road along this stretch is superb as well and I resist the temptation to exceed 100 kmph. The Alto has performed well so far and there are minimal gear changes, except when a moron driving a truck at 30 kmph tries to overtake another truck cruising at 25 kmph. The frequent movement of trucks on the wrong side of the road can be annoying and when you are moving in a tiny car like the Alto, the truckers give a damn to your repeated honking (or blinking of lights if you are traveling at night). The only way to overcome this traffic indiscipline is to overtake on the wrong side of the road. So, we cut from right to left of the road, honk 3-4 times and if the road is clear ahead, we simply zip past the stupid trucker from the left side of the road. No point in swearing at him – he wouldn’t understand English or Konkani anyway and we don’t understand Kannada or Tamil either (nearly all trucks originate from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu).

6/9/09, 17:40, K J HALLI [18023 odo – 69 kms]: We pass by toll plaza 6 and pay Rs 40. Since Chitradurga, we have covered considerable distance in quick time. The last 98 kms has taken us a little under 90 minutes. The fuel gauge of the 35-litre tank has dipped considerably (we have covered 562 kms so far) but it is far from the danger mark and I estimate that we can travel ahead for about 100 kms or so. But since I’m not too familiar with the roads and the distance between the main cities (where petrol pumps are located), I decide to fill some fuel at the next main city, Tumkur, which is about 70 kms before Bangalore. On a personal note, it has been a record of sorts for me, as I have completed 12 hours on road with the Alto.

6/9/09, 18:08, TUMKUR [18052 odo – 29 kms]: We stop by the Indian Oil petrol bunk on the left of the highway just near the Tata Motors showroom. I fill 19.79 litres of normal petrol worth Rs 1000 (at 50.53 per litre), which should be enough to reach Pondicherry. I’m careful not to fill the tank to its brim as I’m aware (thanks to GPA) that fuel prices in Pondicherry at the lowest and I want to fill maximum fuel in Pondicherry. The fuel gauge rises to the three-quarter level. Our initial plan was to stop for the night at Tumkur (I had short-listed Hotel Nanjundeshwara) and proceed to Pondicherry on Monday (September 7). We also had planned to bypass Bangalore and proceed to Hosur (a town in Tamil Nadu about 40 kms south of Bangalore) by taking the State Highway 207 at Dobbaspatte, a few kilometers away from Tumkur. But having reached Tumkur by 6 pm, we were sure that we could reach Hosur before 10 pm, thereby cutting short our journey to Pondicherry on day 2. We, however, decided to stop for tea at Tumkur, as the daylight was coming to a close.

6/9/09, 18:30, TEA BREAK: We stop at a roadside restaurantfor tea and snacks (Rs 70) and enquire with the hotel owner regarding the best route to Hosur. To our pleasant surprise, he informs us that there is an excellent bypass called “Nice Road” some 30-40 kms away from Tumkur, which will take us straight to Hosur. We thank him for the advice and proceed ahead.

6/9/09, 19:00, NEELMANGALA [18065 odo – 13 kms]: This is the seventh toll plaza (Rs 23) of our journey and there is nothing much to see as it is quite dark by now. We enquire about the “Nice road” and we are told it is further down the route.

6/9/09, 19:30, MAGDI [18096 – 31 kms]: This toll plaza 8 is free provided you show your previous toll receipt.

6/9/09, 19:58, TUMKUR-HOSUR BYPASS [18109 odo – 13 kms]: We finally spot the Tumkur-hosur bypass and we have to take a detour to the left and approach a flyover. The road is excellent.

6/9/09, 20:00, TOLL 9 – TUMKUR-HOSUR [18111 odo – 2 kms]: We pay Rs 63 at this toll plaza and I speed up as I’m a bit concerned that we may reach Hosur later than expected.

6/9/09, 20:43, TOLL 10 – BANARGHATA ROAD [18150 odo – 39 kms]: This is our last toll plaza (Rs 15) for the day and I’m relieved that Hosur is not too far away. The road is great along this stretch as well and so, the Alto begins to gallop away.

6/9/09, 21:15, HOSUR [18175 odo – 25 kms]: We finally reach Hosur, a major town in Tamil Nadu. We have, so far, traveled 714 kms for over 15 hours and we have no intention to proceed further for the day. We decide to check in at a decent hotel in Hosur for the night. Prior to our journey, I had checked out for hotels in Hosur on the Internet and I happened to find ‘Victoria Hotel’. I had noted down the contact details and on our arrival at Hosur, I called up the hotel, only to find out that we were barely 100 metres from the hotel.
We check in and book a double room plus an extra mattress (Rs 720). We are told that hot water facilities are only available in the mornings. It is quite cold (by our standards) and we are desperate for a hot bath. The hotel staff is very co-operative and a room boy brings us three buckets of hot water, while we order for dinner. I’m pleased that I have successfully driven for 700-odd kms. I have enjoyed every bit of the drive so far and I’m looking forward to the second leg of our journey on Day 2. We make phone calls (I have done this at every break along the way) to family and friends to update them on our journey. We retire for the night shortly after dinner and since we have covered a major part of our journey, we have no plans to leave for Pondicherry at the crack of dawn. We make plans to leave by 8 am on Monday.

7/9/09, 07:30, TEA: We decide to try out coffee (Rs 5) at a stall adjacent to Victoria Hotel. What impresses us is that the tea stall owner uses a single container to boil water, boil milk and use the hot water to clean the cup. He deftly pours the coffee from one cup to another from a considerable height without even looking at the two cups. I click a few photos and a video clip of this man’s amazing skills.

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7/9/09, 08:20, HOSUR [18176 odo]: We checkout at Victoria Hotel and we plan the common route (Hosur-Krishnagiri-Chengam-Tiruvannamalai-Gingee-Tindivanam-Pondicherry) to Pondicherry. We are pleasantly surprised that Pondicherry is only about 250 kms from Hosur. The road is excellent and the view on both sides of the road is breathtaking. Our cameras go click-click with every passing panoramic view.

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The lovely roads at Krishnagiri.

7/9/09, 09:08, KRISHNAGIRI [18222 odo – 46 kms]: We encounter toll plaza 11 (Rs 25) of our journey. We have to take a different road to proceed to Pondicherry and we are a bit confused regarding the diversion at Krishnagiri. We enquire with some locals and we are directed to the road leading to Chengam. Though the NH-66 is a two-lane road, the road was quite smooth and we could easily do about 70-80 kmph without much fuss.

7/9/09, 09:45, KANNANDHALI [18251 odo – 29 kms]: We stop for snacks at a roadside 'UMERA HOTAL' [yes, that's the way it is spelt] opposite the Indian Bank. The lady makes excellent dosas for Rs 10 apiece. Unfortunately, she has run out of tea and we proceed further. Along the route we have to wait at the Samalpatti railway crossing for about 10 minutes.

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The 'Umera Hotal' at Kannandhali.

7/9/09, 11:36, CHENGAM [18305 odo – 54 kms]: We make brief stops to click a few photos along the way. The moderate traffic along the route does not enable us to increase our speed along the two-lane road and the Alto hovers around the 70-80 kmph mark.

Vehicles frequently sighted with the odd luggage.
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7/9/09, 12:11, TIRUVANNAMALAI [18336 odo – 31 kms]: This town has a number of temples on both sides of the road, as well as some unusual brightly-coloured graves. We stop outside one rather large temple complex (don’t know the name of this complex) and click some photos of one massive temple, while we buy some cold water bottles. It’s getting quite warm by now, but as mentioned earlier, it’s a strict No-AC for us. We are back on the road and proceeding towards Tindivanam.

Along the way, we notice the impressive Gingee fort, which stretches across various hills over a considerable distance. We stop to admire just how this massive fort was constructed atop the hill, a perilous exercise for the labourers at the time. A portion of the wall has been knocked down to make way for the road. After clicking a few snaps of the fort, we proceed ahead.

A view of the Gingee fort
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7/9/09, 14:05, TINDIVANAM [18404 odo – 68 kms]: Nothing much to see in this town and so we zip ahead, hoping to reach Pondicherry as soon as possible. After having traveled for over 940 kms so far, the sight of signboards indicating that Pondicherry is barely 30-odd kms away excites us.

7/9/09, 14:58, PONDICHERRY [18440 – 36 kms]: Hurray, we finally arrive at Pondicherry.
There is no border check post indicating the entry into a union territory and the only landmark is a large gateway-like structure that states ‘Puducherry’. A blast of hot breeze greets us at the erstwhile French colony.

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The 'Gateway' of Puducherry.

We meet my brother-in-law’s friend (a Goan who is employed in Pondicherry) and we stop at a restaurant for a delayed lunch. We then proceed to our friend's house, where we spend the next two days there.
It has been an incredible journey so far, having completed 976 kms over two days (22 hours on road), besides encountering three climates – Amboli (rain), Hosur (cold) and Pondicherry (heat) – four languages (Konkani, Marathi, Kannada and Tamil) and five states (Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry). It is an achievement for me, having driven for nearly 1,000 kms, without considerable fatigue. The Alto performed brilliantly, without a single problem along the way.

I rest for about 2 hours, before we proceed to the town at about 6.30 pm to purchase a trunk, mattress and other stuff for my niece at the busy Nehru Street.

8/9/09, 09:30 [18457 odo]: We first fill petrol at the Indian Oil Petrol bunk. I top up the tank with 27.28 litres of normal petrol worth Rs 1159.67 (at Rs 42.51 per litre). Besides the cheap price of fuel in Pondicherry, I’m also interested in checking the fuel economy of the Alto during our trip so far. While we traveled 979 kms from Porvorim to Pondicherry via Belgaum, I had logged 1022 kms since I had topped the petrol tank at Porvorim. The Alto had sipped 47.07 litres of normal petrol to travel 1022 kms, returning a satisfying mileage of 21.71 kmpl.

We almost missed out the points between the initials!
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8/9/09: We go to my niece’s college in the morning to complete some formalities and later visit the Panchavati Hanuman temple about 6 kms from Pondicherry. A four-storeyed statue of Lord Hanuman, carved out of a single rock, is reportedly the largest of its kind in the country. Photography is prohibited inside the temple, so no snaps of the gigantic statue.

9/9/09: We go shopping at Nehru Street and I purchase souvenirs for some friends. We return to my niece’s college in the evening for some more formalities.My brother-in-law’s friend takes me to Auroville, a world famous spiritual centre about 12 kms north of Pondicherry. I was keen to visit the ‘Matri Mandir’ (mother temple), but we were not allowed inside the premises as some work was in progress. We click some photos of the impressive ‘golden ball’ temple from a distance and the huge banyan tree at Auroville. Later in the evening, we spend some time at the beach, close to the Gandhi memorial and the old lighthouse.

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The Gandhi Samadhi at Pondicherry.

10/9/09: Being used to the sunset in Goa, we are keen to witness the sunrise along Pondicherry’s coast. We go to the beachfront a little after 6 am, but we miss the rising sun on the horizon by a few minutes. Nevertheless, we click some snaps of the beautiful sunrise and we get ready to drop our niece to her college. We take all her luggage and offload it at her hostel and we spend some time with her, before she and other freshers are taken to a classroom for a welcome session. Having completed out task of reaching my niece safely to her college, it is now time to return to Goa. We decide to top up the fuel tank so that we can benefit from cheaper fuel in Pondicherry, as well as check the Alto’s fuel economy during her return drive. I fill 5.88 litres of normal petrol worth Rs 250 (at Rs 42.51 per litre), check the tyre pressure and we are all set to go. We bid farewell to our friend, who along with his family have been very warm and hospitable during our stay with them.

10/9/09, 11:21, PONDICHERRY [18549 odo]: I can’t believe that we have completed 109 kms in Pondicherry since our arrival three days earlier. I reset the trip-meter on the Alto to ‘000.0’ at the famous ‘Puducherry’ gateway and we set off.

10/9/09, 12:36, GINGEE [18613 odo – 64 kms]: Having clicked snaps of Gingee fort during our earlier journey, there’s no reason to waste any time stopping for more snaps and we simply move on. But we can’t help admiring the age-old fort from a different angle as we pass by the ruins.

10/9/09, 13:10, TIRUVANNAMALAI [18649 odo – 36 kms]: We return to the town of lovely Hindu temples and we decide to stop for lunch. We have lunch (Rs 140) at the ‘Auro Usha Hotel’ and after about 40 minutes, we are back in our Alto.

10/9/09, 15:00, UTHANGARAI [18713 odo – 64 kms]: We seem to be covering more ground in quicker time than our earlier drive to Pondicherry and we suspect it has something to do with the light traffic along the route.

10/9/09, 15:50, KRISHNAGIRI [18761 odo – 48 kms]: We’re glad to return to the lovely expressway at Krishnagiri, which has been completed in quick time. It had taken us a little under 6 hours to travel from Krishnagiri to Pondicherry, while our Pondicherry-Krishnagiri drive has been completed in 4-and-half hours, that too, with a 40-minute break for lunch. At Krishnagiri, we pass by the toll plaza (Rs 25).

10/9/09, 16.35, HOSUR [18810 odo – 49 kms]: The drive to Hosur has certainly been quick. We had initially planned to stop over at Tumkur for the night, but given our quick pace, we feel confident of reaching Chitradurga by night. We stop for a coffee break at a roadside restaurant at Hosur, before deciding to get on the ‘Nice Road’ to Tumkur. Then, disaster strikes. We seem to have missed the ‘Nice Road’ and end up on another road leading to Tumkur, what some locals call the C-Ring road. This road is alien to us, but the main concern lies in the numerous traffic lights and endless traffic jams along this busy road. We groan in helplessness as we crawl ahead. We notice some huge buildings (AOL building and a number of massive furniture showrooms) and a cable-stayed bridge (very similar, though larger in size, to a cable-stayed bridge in my native village of Aldona) along the way. We click a few snaps while we’re stuck at the traffic signals.

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One of the many buildings in Bangalore.

Left with little option, we decide to put on some music when I suddenly realize that we could listen to Radio Indigo, a music channel that we also enjoy here in Goa. A long railway-signal stop and scores of traffic signals destroys all our hopes of reaching Chitradurga by night. We now hope to reach Tumkur instead.

10/9/09, 20:48, TUMKUR [18933 – 123 kms]: We meet the familiar expressway somewhere along the route and we finally reach Tumkur. Whatever time we saved during our Pondicherry-Hosur drive was lost during our Hosur-Tumkur drive, which took us a painstaking 4 hours to cover 123 kms. Chitradurga is about 130 kms away and we have no intention to reach there by midnight. We decide to check in at the roadside Krishna Lodge (Rs 450 for a double room). We have dinner (Rs 150) at a nearby restaurant. We decide to set out early next morning so that we can reach Goa latest by 5 pm. There is a reason for this: I have to attend the birthday of a cousin’s daughter at 9 pm and I’m keen to get to Goa as soon as possible. We retire for the night as early as possible.

11/9/09, TUMKUR [18937 odo]: We get up at 3.30 and decide to set off by 4 am. Traffic is light and the road is great. We zip past ongoing trucks and only stop at the toll plazas in K J Halli [Rs 40, 04:59, 18977 odo] and Guilalu [Rs 35, 05:49, 19045 odo]. Believe it or not, Radio Indigo’s signal is still clear despite being nearly 200 kilometers from Bangalore. We enjoy some Hindu devotional music (we may be Christians but the lovely sounds of contemporary Hindu devotional music between 5 am and 7 am appeals to us a great deal). We curse ourselves for having missed out on Radio Indigo during our earlier journey to Pondicherry (we could easily have listened to Radio Indigo right from Chitradurga to Krishnagiri).
The familiar sight of the massive windmills greets us as we approach Chitradurga. Dawn is also setting in and the windmills look even more impressive with the first rays of the rising sun. We stop to click some snaps of this lovely sight. As we cross the hills to approach the town, the Radio Indigo signal finally fades away and we are back to our CD music.

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The lovely windmills lined up on all hills around Chitradurga.

11/9/09, 6:26, CHITRADURGA [19069 odo – 132 kms]: We enter the familiar sight of the scenic town and decide to fill petrol at a roadside petrol bunk. We fill 15.72 litres of ordinary petrol worth Rs 800 (at Rs 50.90 per litre), which, we feel, is enough to see our Alto through to Goa. By the way, the Alto has performed so well, that we almost seem to be taking her for granted. I begin to feel a bit uneasy a little after Chitradurga and I need to urgently answer nature’s call in nature, or by the roadside to be precise. When you gotta do it, you gotta do it. We had anticipated such a situation before commencing our journey and we had filled up a 2-litre bottle just for the purpose. So, we stop by the roadside in the middle of nowhere and I complete the task as fast as I can. Within minutes, we are back on the road proceeding towards Harihar.

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Some overloaded vehicles along the way.

11/9/09, 7:55, HARIHAR [19146 odo – 77 kms]: We decide to stop for tea and snacks (Rs 50) at a roadside restaurant ‘Hotel Highway Palace’. Going by our pace so far, we estimate that we can reach Belgaum by noon. We continue our journey and only stop at the toll plazas in Bankapur [Rs 40, 09:51, 19223 odo], Hubli [Rs 31, 10:35, 19275 odo], Dharwad [toll free, 11:00, 19303 odo] and Bagewadi [Rs 30, 11:40, 19353 odo]. We are glad to reach Bankapur, as this stretch of road is among the best and we can reach Belgaum in quick time.
I have maintained a constant speed of 80-100 on clear roads and the temptation to exceed the 100 kmph mark is irresistible. I finally get this opportunity along a straight stretch between Bagewadi and Belgaum and I manage to get to the 120 kmph mark for a few seconds and ask my brother-in-law to click a snap of the speedometer. I quickly get back to my 90-kmph speed, which I’m comfortable at, since there’s no point in taking dangerous risks or doing anything stupid.

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A lovely stretch near Belgaum.

11/9/09, 11:54, BELGAUM [19369 odo]: We manage to reach Belgaum by noon and we are informed that there is a bandh in Belgaum. The police advise us to take some unfamiliar detours, but we manage to get into the heart of the city, where we intend to stop for an early lunch. My favourite restaurant in Belgaum is ‘Niyaaz’ (opposite Belgaum bus stand), which serves lovely biryani dishes at reasonable rates. After our lunch (Rs 140), we proceed towards Amboli.

11/9/09, 14:23, AMBOLI [19442 odo, 73 kms]: There is a heavy haze in Amboli and visibility is reduced to a few metres, posing a further challenge in the Ghat area. Our headlights are on and we negotiate oncoming traffic with caution. We decide to stop for tea at the popular Amboli waterfall by the roadside. While sipping hot tea, we can’t imagine how people enjoy getting wet in the freezing cold waterfall.

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The haze at Amboli.

11/9/09, 15:18, SAWANTWADI [19472 odo, 30 kms]: We zip past Sawantwadi and we arrive shortly at the familiar Goa border. After having been on the move since the last five days, it’s always comforting to return to one’s home state, to see the “GA” number plates on vehicles, the distinct Goan signboards, etc.

11/9/09, 16:11, MAPUSA [19516 odo, 44 kms]: We arrive at Mapusa, the closest town to my native village of Aldona. We get off the highway and proceed to Aldona, where I drop my brother-in-law and visit the nearby salon for a haircut and a welcome head massage. The fuel indicator is quite low, but I’m sure I can reach my residence in Porvorim with the available fuel in the car. After a short stop in Aldona, I proceed to Porvorim.

11/9/09, PORVORIM [19538 odo, 22 kms]: I stop at the petrol bunk in Porvorim and top up the petrol tank with 30.7 litres of petrol. A quick calculation reveals the fuel efficiency of our return journey: we traveled 989 kms from Pondicherry to Goa and the Alto sipped in 46.42 litres, generating an equally satisfying fuel economy of 21.31 kmpl. The AC was not used throughout the journey, except for a short while during a hot afternoon in Pondicherry.
The overall fuel economy is as follows:
Total distance: 2103 kms
Total fuel used: 99.37 litres
Total fuel economy: 21.16 kmpl

I’m finally at home, mighty proud of my six-day journey and I’m waiting to tell relatives friends about the trip. My Alto was outstanding all through the trip and excelled in every possible way. She faithfully bore the bumps on the unexpected speed-breakers and potholes and never got exhausted during a long stretch. The Alto is nearing 20,000 kms and will be due for a well-deserved service.

THE CONCLUSION:

The Goa-Pondicherry-Goa trip over 6 days taught me an important lesson – the journey is as important as the destination. A flight will take you from Point A to Point B with little or no view of terra firma, while a train or a bus journey restricts your freedom to stop at various places during your trip. A journey by one’s own car (or a hired vehicle) can provide you with a priceless glimpse of life in our great country. This 2000-km trip gave me an opportunity to learn about:

* Geography: The towns, routes and landmarks along the different states, miles and miles of the lush green fields and beautiful natural scenery, etc.
* Culture: The varies life-styles, different cuisines, languages, the sight of overloaded trucks, jeeps and rickshaws, farmers attending to their fields and livestock, children walking barefoot on hot asphalt roads, the friendly locals ever-willing to give us directions, etc.
* Religion: The various temples, churches, mosques and other religious sites, the religious harmony at various places, the Auroville spiritual centre near Pondicherry, etc.
* History: The different forts, the French influence at Pondicherry, etc.

Our trip has been so successful that I’m already planning another long trip (Goa-Kanyakumari-Pondicherry-Goa) with my family sometime next year.

Melvyn
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Old 17th September 2009, 15:12   #100
gpa
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Originally Posted by misquitas View Post
GOA-PONDICHERRY-GOA = 1 driver + 2 days + 3 weathers + 4 languages + 5 states

Our trip has been so successful that I’m already planning another long trip (Goa-Kanyakumari-Pondicherry-Goa) with my family sometime next year.
Congrats Melvyn!!

Nice to read your travelogue and some beautiful pics too. Good to know that you completed you drive safe and sound and the Alto took everything in her stride.

Apologies, as I have still not returned your call. Work has gotten the better of me since the past 10 days, but I will call you and catch up soon.

Am also planning a drive up to Goa sometime in November so need some inputs on that.

Regards,
Pritish

Edit: Shouldn't you title read 4 states + 1 Union Territory as Pondy is a UT

Last edited by gpa : 17th September 2009 at 15:16.
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Old 17th September 2009, 15:23   #101
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Fantastic drive Melvyn!

Now you have made me dream of a Chennai - Goa drive in my Alto!
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Old 17th September 2009, 15:51   #102
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Attachment 193137
One of the many buildings in Bangalore.

Melvyn
That is the new Bagmane World Technology Center building in ORR (Dodanekundi village). If you are on this road around morning / evening peak hours, the traffic is generally slow.
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Old 17th September 2009, 16:16   #103
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Hey Melvyn,

Thats a wonderful narration and nice pics.

Abhi
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Old 17th September 2009, 17:58   #104
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That is the new Bagmane World Technology Center building in ORR (Dodanekundi village). If you are on this road around morning / evening peak hours, the traffic is generally slow.
Thanks for the info. We were new to this stretch of the road and hence, we simply didn't know where we were. We, however, kept looking for the signboards that referred us to Tumkur. Some of the buildings though are very impressive along this route. It's a pity though that we reached there in the evening during the peak rush hour.

Melvyn
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Old 17th September 2009, 18:06   #105
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Congrats Melvyn!!

Nice to read your travelogue and some beautiful pics too. Good to know that you completed you drive safe and sound and the Alto took everything in her stride.

Am also planning a drive up to Goa sometime in November so need some inputs on that.

Edit: Shouldn't you title read 4 states + 1 Union Territory as Pondy is a UT
To be honest, the cameras did not do justice to the beautiful scenery viewed with the naked eye. Second, many of the snaps were clicked from behind the windscreen, hence the pictures looked a bit dull.

Let me know when you are coming to Goa and I'll give you all the required details.

Yes, it's true that we technically passed by 4 states + 1 UT, but since I wanted the "1+2+3+4+5" phrase in my title, I took the liberty of merging these five distinct territories.
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