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Old 21st July 2008, 18:44   #1
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Default Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry

Bangalore – Pondicherry (via NH7/NH66) (321 km)
Pondicherry – Bangalore (via ECR/SH58/NH46/NH7) (426 km)

Members: ROYs in ALTO LXi

This trip was more of a preparation/training trip for the infant and the new parents and was planned sometime back but due to some engagements in the weekends delayed the proceedings for a month. Then suddenly on Thursday (17th July) we decided lets do it. We called up hotels/resorts and all were booked or overpriced beyond our budget. My favourite Banyan Beach Resort is closed; St. James only had a suite available. Kailash, Ashok, Ajantha Sea View and Dune were beyond my budget.

Finally got a nice guest house near Auroville called GAIA’s Garden with a nice AC cottage with kitchen but only drawback is no food available and it is not near the beach.

Anyway the purpose of this trip was more of a long drive with the baby rather than roaming around there. I had already been to Pondi twice before (once by bike and another by PTC Volvo). This was the first occasion that my car will take the road to Pondi.

Preparetion with infant: It was a while since last 2-3 months that I was thinking how can I drive with such a small kid as I generally do nonstop, high speed driving and how to provide adequate safety. We bought a car seat and fixed the baby in it and did some trial runs on outer ring road with some heavy brakings and high speed cornering. Everything looked fine and I was more confident now.

A day before it took my wife half-day to packup the kid’s stuff and took 15min to pack our stuffs. Medicines, nappys, hot water, cold water, food, milk and the list went on.

Day 1 (19th Jul, 2008): Bangalore – Sarjapur - Hosur – Krishnagiri – Uttangarai – Chengam – Thiruvannamalai – Gingee - Tindivanam – Pondi

Alarm rings at 3:30AM. Wife gets up to prepare some parathas for breakfast as we knew there are no proper facilities for food on NH66. I get up at 4AM and find its pouring in Bangalore. After the remaining packings and the regular shower we load the car by 5:20AM and start the journey at 5:30AM.

Since the kid was sleeping, wife decided to not to use the car seat and fixed the baby with the carrybag around her waist and fixed herself with seat belt. It was also a safe bet when the baby is sleeping.

Sarjapur/SH35 route: At 5:30AM sharp, I set the tripmeter to 0 and started the journey. It was drizzling outside. We crossed DRDO phase II and hit the ORR and slowly reached Bellandur signal and took left and came out at TOTAL MALL on Sarjapur Road. I didn’t push the car and was driving in 60-70kmph range.

Sarjapur - Attibele (SH35)
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4079.jpg

This was the first time I will be taking this route as Hosur Road till Attibele is under construction mode. Taking Hosur Road can be a pain anytime now. This route turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Another 15km on Sarjapur Road we reach Sarjapur circle, it is marked right for Attibele and straight for ChikkaTirupati(13km) and Devanahalli(67km). My Tripmeter reads 26km.

We took the right turn onto SH35. It was a beautiful 2 laned road and another 9km we reached Attibele junction took left and in 2 km went passed Karnataka border check post. With such leisurely drive we were in Hosur in 1 hour and which I thought was fast and we could not have done that on Hosur Road via Electronic City. It is actually a great route for people coming form North and East Bangalore and even for HSR layout and Koramangala residents as well.

Once passed Hosur flyover (which was in repairing mode and not in good shape now) the GQ becomes a dream and my speed starting to hover at 120kmph. I overtook a Zen Estilo and he got personal and started racing with me. A car like Estilo with stock tyres could not take those curves on the Hosur – Krishnagiri stretch which I was taking at 120-130kmph and finally gave up the chase. I must admit that the Michelins in my car do perform very well in rain and corners.

It was by 7:15AM and trip reading 72km, when we reached A2B (BPCL Ghar outlet). I did not tankup the car from Bangalore which I always used to do in the previous trips. With the steep fuel price rise I lost my obsession for Shell/Reliance and hence planned to tank up with cheaper fuel in TN and BPCL COCO Ghar outlet was the best point for a refill. We tanked up the car at the Ghar outlet.

Baby was awake so my wife used the stop to change the nappys and refresh the kid. Also we fed the kid there and fixed him on the baby seat. All this took about 40min when we took off again at 8AM.

A2B (BPCL Ghar) @ 28km from Hosur flyover
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4082.jpg

Baby on the baby seat
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4084.jpg

Within no time we were at the Krishnagiri Toll plaza after which we took left for Chennai. Within one km of left turn there is right turn for Pondicherry. This is NH66. It is a beautiful highway surrounded by huge tamarind trees through the border. We were playing hide and seek with the sun through the trees. Of late, I heard about the road being potholed till Chengam so I kept the speed at 60kmph and was searching for potholes. To my surprise all the potholes have been patched up and drive was consistent. Still I feel 60-70kmph speed till Chengam is ideal as there are steep curves and some villages near the highway. Higher speeds can be fatal here.

The kid was also enjoying the drive. In about an hours time we finally got stuck at the Samalpatti Railway crossing. The railgate opened after 15min and immediately after Uttangarai we found that the road was heavily potholed but the good sign was the patchwork was on. It was only about a km of potholed road we reached better roads and our speeds too increased. I could easily do 90-100kmph from Chengam onwards till Thiruvannamalai.

I thought of taking a breakfast break at Chengam but decided against it as in another hour we need to stop to feed the baby. More stoppages can delay our arrival to Pondi by lunch. Instead my wife fed me and herself with some nice parathas along with sabji and haluwa which she packed from home. Meanwhile I was doing 100kmph on the beautiful stretch before temple town.

Passing Thiruvannamalai: We reached Thiruvannamalai at 10:30AM. I kept left on the highway till we reach the huge shiva temple in the right side. Once we cross that temple the road is blocked (it is made oneway), we immediately turn left. Actually there is a U turn from road to the highway to Pondi but I took the first right and hit the main road immediately.

After about a km we stopped under a tree for about 5min. It was food time for the kid so my wife moved in the rear seat with the baby. Once the navigator seat is stretched forward fully there is enough space in the back to prepare food and feed the kid. By the time it was very hot and it was better to be in AC environs of the car. So I decided to start the journey.

Break@Thiruvannamalai
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4083com.jpg

After feeding the baby, both mother and the kid was fast asleep in the rear and I was enjoying the drive with better roads and lesser traffic.
We passed Gingee fort in no time and reached Tindivanam by noon. Took the Tindivanam flyover where NH45 from Chennai meets NH66 at the top of the polo-mint shaped flyover.

Dont know when this was clicked
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4088.jpg

4 laning constructions: After the flyover we saw that the 4 laning of Tindivanam – Pondi section is in full swing and the beautiful trees which I encountered in my 2005 bike trip are all gone. Somewhere before Panchavati Hanuman temple the lanes drift to the left probably bypassing Pondi and hitting somewhere in ECR.

It was not a problem for to negotiate the roads to hit ECR. At about 1:15PM we reached out cottage on the Auroville road. Tripmeter read 321km. Although the cottage was nice but lack of food availability was a big let down. We were tired to go out for lunch so decided to lunch on the cakes, snacks and took some rest.

Cottage inside GAIA's Garden
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4090com.jpg

At 5PM, we decided to check out the beach. We drove down to ECR and went to a nice beach (behind Soorya beach Resort). Spend the evening there until it was sunset. After sunset we drove down to beach road and had nice walk along the road and we drove to the other end as well. The atmosphere was really very good and it was fun enjoying the evening breeze on beach road.

During this time we decided to cut short our trip and return the next day. Reason was it was very hot and as planned we wanted to cover Chunnambar Island the next day. With a 6 month old kid in this heat I thought it would not be advisable to do it now. May be sometime later.
We had a nice dinner at Soorya Beach Resort before returning back to Cottage by 10PM.

Day 2 (20th Jul, 2008): Pondi – Mahabalipuram – Chengalpattu – Kanchipuram – Ranipet - Vellore – Krishnagiri - Bangalore

After a very nice sleep we woke up at 6AM, packed our belongings, prepared the kid and after a nice shower started from cottage by 8AM. Immediately we took the ECR (East Coast Road) towards Mahabalipuram.
Soon realized to tank up the car in Pondi so entered into an IndianOil outlet next to Pondi Engineering Collage and did a tank full. Fuel cost Rs48 at Pondi, a good Rs10 more than Bangalore. Car only consumed 15litres and returned a good 18+kmpl from A2B till now with full AC and 80-110kmph speeds.

ECR experience: This was the first time I was driving on SH49 (popularly known as ECR) and must say it was truly a great experience. It reminded me of another such 2 laned road, the SH61 (Putalapattu – Tirupati - Naidupet). I was consistently doing 110kmph but I must also add that some of the curves are quite steep and negotiating those in lesser speeds is advisable. They also charged me Rs35 till Mahabalipuram.

Some pics at ECR and neighbouring salt fields
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4094.jpg

Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4097.jpg

Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4091.jpg

Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4096.jpg

We broke off for breakfast at Midway restaurant at about 9:20AM. Although the ambience was ok and their chutneys and ghee roast was fine but the ottapam and chai was poor. Overall the restaurant was much overpriced. We paid Rs110. (chais(Rs30) + Ottapam(Rs35) + GheeDosa (Rs40) + Tax). I expected better taste at that price. It was nowhere compared to the beautiful Kamat chains in Karnataka.

Pic @ Midway Restaurant
Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Pondicherry-100_4092.jpg

It was a big stopover sometime went freshening up the baby. We start again at 10AM and this time wife took the rear seat with the baby. I was speeding very fast and enjoying my maiden ECR drive. It was very hot to say and we were sweating even in the restaurant. Just after taking the above pic, I get a call from fellow BHPian Tirthankar that he is coming to Bangalore on Monday and will be in my house for dinner. I told, "Excellent, come over, BTW, tirthankar has changed job to Bangalore and he is soon to be my neighbour as he would be shifting in my apartment"

It was 10:30AM when we turned left from ECR near Kalpakkam Township and entered SH58 towards Chengalpattu. This was a nice highway too but with small villages enroute the drive was getting slower. Somehow I managed to reach Chengalpattu by 11PM and took the Kanchipuram route. NH45 passes by Chengalpattu as a flyover at one corner of the town.

Chengalpattu to Kanchipuram was a very fast drive. With lesser traffic and better roads I was consistently doing 100-110kmph and reached Kanchipuram outskirts by 11:30PM. I did about 40km in about 30min.

Stuck at Kanchipuram: I knew there was a left turn to hit Vellore road onto GQ from Kanchi but don’t know somehow I missed it and upon asking locals they directed me a wrong road which leads to the GQ on the Chennai side. I lost a good 45min in this jugglery. During all this circus, my wife sleeping in the rear woke up and saw all the silk houses in the main road. When she saw it is Kanchipuram. She started jumping “Kanchipuram Silk”. Let us go to one shop and check out sarees. Somehow I managed to divert her attention and quickly went passed the main road giving excuses like it is very hot outside and kid might get cranky. Thank God, atleast 5K saved. But I thought it is worth going there to buy some silk sarees. May be next time I will do a nice research and go to right shop to buy the stuffs.

I went past Kanchipuram Railway station and in another 4-5km hit the GQ. Not only I lost some kms but in all this process I lost a good one hour.

It was 12:30Pm when I hit GQ at Kanchipuram BP. Car started to hit 120-130kmph and also I got an S-Class doing similar speeds and kept on following it. This helped me make up the lost time and did about 95km in the next hour. Vellore and Ranipet passed in no time.

Tamil Nadu was baking outside as we were passing Vellore. Lesser traffic also helped maintain the speeds. In no time we passed 2 toll booths and were nearing Vaniyambadi. At Vaniyambadi I had to stop to fill some water from the watertank in the boot. I have been driving nonstop from ECR till now.

Qualis at 140: I was doing 120kmph after the Vellore BP. Suddenly I see this Qualis overtaking me. I was amazed the way it took off. I am sure it was doing atleast 140kmph speeds with 5-6 people inside. It was surprising to me as I never expected Qualis to attain those speeds.

I had to stop after Krishnagiri Toll booth for baby change over session. I calculated the distance was amazed that I covered 210km in 2hr 15min which also included 3 minor stopovers at Toll booths and a 5min break to fill water. Thanks for the amazing GQ we could cover such distance so fast.

After that the drive was regular and we reached Attibele by 3:20PM. Took a right turn and reached home in another one hour. Total tripmeter read 426 km.

About the Car: We covered 765km in 2 days and the car returned 18+ kmpl approx. (need to check the exact mileage after a tankfull here) with about 90%AC usage.

Signing Off
Abhijit Kumar Roy
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Old 21st July 2008, 18:56   #2
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As usual great writeup, Mr Travelogue King. Wish you years of great roadtrips with your family.

- Jag
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Old 21st July 2008, 19:12   #3
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Hmm, Abhi, so you are back on our highways, nice to know we guys can get first hand information about roads and destinations again. Baby looks cute, nicely written and documented as usual.
regards,
Hari.
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Old 21st July 2008, 19:23   #4
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Good travelogue and trip. ECR is a boon. But i always felt weary whenever i drove on it. I don't have that feeling driving anywhere else. Well, qualis at 140? May be Zak zipping past.
Trithankar, shifting to blore? now he will start his trips to delhi, culcutta, shimla, etc from Blore.
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Old 21st July 2008, 19:31   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
As usual great writeup, Mr Travelogue King.
- Jag
True. Another great thread Abhi! Guys like you really set the bar too high for newbies like me.

Bangs-Pondi seems to be another good weekend getaway! Though I think I'll prefer to do it with a bunch of booze-guzzling buddies than with my family!

Your comments regarding travel with your baby were very enlightening since I have a 6 month old daughter. I think I'll go buy a baby seat as well before my next trip.
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Old 21st July 2008, 19:51   #6
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As always, its a pleasure reading your travelogues Abhijit. Nice pics. From the pics, seems like baby roy is getting used to long drives very well. I am amazed how well you prepare for your long drives.

And in between, you covered 210 km in 2.15 hours ? Thats great - your darling Alto is like "made for each other" for you .
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Old 21st July 2008, 19:58   #7
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Nice writeup. I was waiting for a travelogue from you for long now I think this is the first after your Kolkatta trip right? Or did I miss something in the middle?
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Old 21st July 2008, 20:21   #8
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Nice one, guess after a long time and you also manged to cover the mahabalipuram- chengalpattu- Vellore route, which I missed during my pondi trip.

Guess the baby is getting used to the drives now and hope your wife doesnt see the smart part of you in this travelogue otherwise the shopping list could double
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Old 21st July 2008, 20:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
As usual great writeup, Mr Travelogue King. Wish you years of great roadtrips with your family.
- Jag
Thanks Jaguar

Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeSkywalker
Hmm, Abhi, so you are back on our highways, nice to know we guys can get first hand information about roads and destinations again. Baby looks cute, nicely written and documented as usual.
Thanks Hari. Eagerly waiting for your Tirthahalli travelogue

Quote:
Originally Posted by kutlee
Good travelogue and trip. ECR is a boon. But i always felt weary whenever i drove on it. I don't have that feeling driving anywhere else. Well, qualis at 140? May be Zak zipping past.
Thanks kutlee. Probably Zak can answer it. It was a first experience for me of a qualis taking off like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BomBatt
As always, its a pleasure reading your travelogues Abhijit.
Thanks BomBatt

Quote:
Originally Posted by MudMover
True. Another great thread Abhi! Guys like you really set the bar too high for newbies like me.
Thanks MudMover. There is no bar in TBHP dude. Just take some time off and pen down your experience after a drive. Simple !!
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Old 21st July 2008, 20:32   #10
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I just love your Travelogues. Nice narration and beautiful photography.
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Old 21st July 2008, 20:33   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
Nice writeup. I was waiting for a travelogue from you for long now I think this is the first after your Kolkatta trip right? Or did I miss something in the middle?
Thanks mjothi.

I must tell you that you have missed quite a few of my travelogues if you think this is the next travelogue after Kolkata. FYI the list is below:

1) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...alore-goa.html (Travelogue: Bangalore to Goa)

2) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...bangalore.html (Weekend Travelogue: Bangalore - Lepakshi - Bangalore)

3) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ty-mysore.html (Weekend Travelogue: Ooty-Mysore)

4) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-bandipur.html (Weekend Travelogue: A night in Bandipur)

5) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...revisited.html (Weekend Travelogue: Coorg Revisited !!)

6) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ganchukki.html (Weekend Travelogue: Sangam, Ranganathithu, Gaganchukki)

Did I miss out anything? dont know

Abhi
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Old 21st July 2008, 21:20   #12
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Oops. My negligance. I have read all these Travelogues. I just noticed the initial date of Kolkata trip.
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Old 21st July 2008, 22:08   #13
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Quote:
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Taking Hosur Road can be a pain anytime now. This route turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Once passed Hosur flyover (which was in repairing mode and not in good shape now) the GQ becomes a dream and my speed starting to hover at 120kmph.
Please tell me you're being polite. Hosur Road is downright dangerous at the moment.

The flyover at Hosur (South bound) has improved slightly compared to one month ago - there are now markings on the right lane indicating construction. North bound remains the same - no marking and an uneven right lane similar to riding a bucking horse.

We missed each other - I was driving down to Madras via Hosur on Saturday morning with a 5:45 am start. Dumb question - shouldn't the child seat be facing the rear?

Last edited by hrag : 21st July 2008 at 22:11.
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Old 21st July 2008, 22:31   #14
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And so the Roys are back again on highways, and that too so soon along with baby. Nice travelogue and good pics. Baby Roy looks same like you.
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Old 21st July 2008, 22:51   #15
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Great report and pictures.
You look like a frequent long distance driver.

The small information about cars keep the thread interesting.
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