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Old 13th July 2010, 19:20   #16
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Default Day 1 - Pondicherry Beach

We take the Pallavaram Ring Road Road. There is a toll of Rs 17 before we enter the OMR. Once on the OMR we head towards the ECR Link Road and finally get on the ECR. From here its one straight road all the way to Pondy. A one way toll to Pondy costs Rs 47.

I did a bit of research both on the forum and outside regarding the two routes to Pondy from Chennai – The ECR and the Tindivanam route. I heard that the ECR was very picturesque so I decided to take that route though it was a two laned road as opposed to the four laned Tindivanam route. I had heard about bad accidents on this road, especially about vehicle losing control on curves. I decided to take it easy for two reasons – This was unchartered territory and had my family along with me. I maintained a steady 70-90 along this stretch. IIRC, there are two very dangerous curves along this route, both of which are indicated by a board. Ignoring that warning could cost your dear. Both the curves, IMO, are very badly designed and its best to keep 40-50 along that stretch.


Wifey had prepared breakfast for us, so we had that instead of going to Midway - the only restaurant I could remember seeing on this route. We take a half an hour break for breakfast along the way and reach Pondy at 9:45 AM. We head straight for the beach. As there is no traffic restriction on the beach road during this time, we could take the car in and parked it bang opposite the Gandhi statue.

This post also contains the first pictures of this trip – The Gandhi statue and Ritzy taking a break in Pondy.
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Old 14th July 2010, 11:22   #17
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Default Day 1 - Beach & Bharati Park

We spend some time at the beach. The Ajanta hotel and the guest house of the Aurobindo Ashram are located on the beach road. A walkway was being constructed in front of the beach while we where visiting the beach. Once this process is complete, it will give a much better look to the beach.

From the beach we head to the Bharati Park. The park is circular in shape and there is a road going all around it. From this circular road, there are various exits that take you to beach road, Aurobindo ashram, the Rendevous restaurant etc. The park is a must visit place. It is maintained pretty well and is a good place to spend some time with your family. There are some slides and swings to keep children busy as well. The areas around beach road and Bharati Park was very well maintained. The buildings are all desgined in traditional French architecture.

From the park we head to Aurobindo Ashram. The Ashram is not far from the park.There is not much to see at the ashram. We complete the ashram tour in under ten minutes.

Pictures from the beach and Bharati Park follow.
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A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc611.jpg  

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Old 14th July 2010, 11:46   #18
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^^ Dear Longhorn, please excuse me for saying this... This is purely my personal opinion. The first picture, with face blacked out, I don't really understand what value does the picture has to be posted here? I suggest (Again purely personal suggestion only) not to post those pictures at all. It looks really odd to me.

Last edited by RajaTaurus : 14th July 2010 at 11:49.
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Old 14th July 2010, 12:49   #19
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Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
^^ Dear Longhorn, please excuse me for saying this... This is purely my personal opinion. The first picture, with face blacked out, I don't really understand what value does the picture has to be posted here? I suggest (Again purely personal suggestion only) not to post those pictures at all. It looks really odd to me.
+1 to that. If you are not comfortable sharing family members photo, please share only the snaps without them.
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Old 14th July 2010, 13:44   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
^^ Dear Longhorn, please excuse me for saying this... This is purely my personal opinion. The first picture, with face blacked out, I don't really understand what value does the picture has to be posted here? I suggest (Again purely personal suggestion only) not to post those pictures at all. It looks really odd to me.
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+1 to that. If you are not comfortable sharing family members photo, please share only the snaps without them.
Agreed. No more blacked out photos from now on.
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Old 14th July 2010, 13:58   #21
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A walkway was being constructed in front of the beach while we where visiting the beach. Once this process is complete, it will give a much better look to the beach.

The buildings are all desgined in traditional French architecture.

From the park we head to Aurobindo Ashram. The Ashram is not far from the park.There is not much to see at the ashram. We complete the ashram tour in under ten minutes.
AFAIK, there was walkway / promenade along the beach, right from the point where the road curves in from the railway station right up to the distillery end. What happened to it? And, the major roads towards the beach were named 'boulevard' (think that is french for walkway)....

sure are! Huge ceilings and large windows!

Aurobindo Ashram is for the spiritually inclined, to be frank.

Did you visit Auroville? Matru Mandir is a terrific piece of architecture!
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Old 14th July 2010, 14:08   #22
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Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post
AFAIK, there was walkway / promenade along the beach, right from the point where the road curves in from the railway station right up to the distillery end. What happened to it? And, the major roads towards the beach were named 'boulevard' (think that is french for walkway)....

sure are! Huge ceilings and large windows!

Aurobindo Ashram is for the spiritually inclined, to be frank.

Did you visit Auroville? Matru Mandir is a terrific piece of architecture!
When I was at the beach, the work of laying stone slabs like a walkway was in progress. Hence I assumed it was being done for the first time. Maybe they were relaying it for beautification purpose. It surely looked good. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the Mantri Mandir/Auroville.
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Old 14th July 2010, 14:33   #23
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Nice travelogue, longhorn. And yes, Pondy is a fun destination within easy reach of Chennai. Have done this Pondy-Karaikkal-Velankanni trip many times since my Dad used to work at Karaikkal before he retired.

Did you visit the Danish fort (locals call it Dutch fort though) at Tranquebar (Tarangambadi) ? Till I came across this fort, I was of the idea that only Brits/Portuguese/French had made it to our shores. Was news to me that the Danes were also here - don't remember reading about them in school history books either.

P.S.: Can relate with your FIL's worry about tapioca, since my Dad too is into a bit of post-retirement farming (tapioca, plantains, veggies etc) and his response would have been similar.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 14th July 2010 at 14:52.
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Old 14th July 2010, 14:48   #24
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Nice travelogue, longhorn. And yes, Pondy is a fun destination within easy reach of Chennai. Have done this Pondy-Karaikkal-Velankanni trip many times since my Dad used to work at Karaikkal before he retired.

Did you visit the Danish fort (locals call it Dutch fort though) at Tranquebar (Tarangambadi) ? Till I came across this fort, I was of the idea that only Brits/Portuguese/French had made it to our shores. Was news to me that the Danes were also here - don't remember reading about them in school history books either.

P.S.: Can relate with your FIL's worry about tapioca, since my Dad too is into a bit of farming (tapioca, plantains, veggies etc) and his response would have been similar.
Thank you for the compliments. No I could not visit the Dutch Fort although I saw the route board for the deviation to it just outside Karaikal, mainly because it was already 6:15 PM by the time i reached there and did not think it would be wise to go there at that time. Was thinking of going there on return if time permits, but unfortunately that did not happen too.
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Old 14th July 2010, 15:18   #25
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Default Day 1 - Lunch & Shopping

From the ashram we head westward towards the shopping areas. Most of the items are overpriced and can be bought for much less in Chennai. These guys are out there to wring tourists and make a quick buck. By the time we complete the tour of the shopping area, its half past one. We go back to the car and head to the much hyped (on the forum) Rendezvous restaurant for lunch.

We decided to go there due to the good reviews mentioned by other bhpians. That decision turned out to be a mistake. We reach the restaurant and order porottas and chilli chicken for lunch. The food was off the mark in terms of both quality and quantity. We get much better quality and quantity in Chennai at around 40% lesser rates that what you pay here.

For experiencing Pondicherry at its best, its better that you park your car and explore the place on foot. Most of this place is very neat and clean. The architecture and atmosphere of this place makes you feel that you are somewhere else. Fortunately for us, the sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds. Hence we did not feel too tired inspite of walking around a bit.
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Old 14th July 2010, 16:02   #26
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Default Day 1 - Sacred Heart Church

Post lunch we head to Sacred Heart Church. The church is located opposite to the Pondicherry railway station. Vehicles are not allowed to enter in from the front. We park outside and go to the church. The architecture is very magnificient and unlike anything we see nowadays.

Pictures of the church follow.
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A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc632.jpg  

A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc633.jpg  

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Old 14th July 2010, 17:06   #27
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Default Day 1 - Botanical Garden

From the church we head to the Botanical Garden. It seems the garden was once a beautiful place, but is now in a state of neglect. It is a treat for nature lovers, otherwise you can give it a pass. We are allowed to park inside the garden premises after tipping the watchman. We go for a walk through the garden. The garden was established in 1826. There are some very old trees here. The 5th picture in this set shows bats hanging down from a tree.

There is an aquarium inside the park. Many varieties of fish including imported ones could be seen here. Unfortunately we did not take the camera inside the aquarium as I felt it would not be worth it, after seeing the state of affairs at the park. That turned out to be a wrong move. This is our last point of visit in Pondicherry. It’s 3 PM as we say goodbye to Pondicherry and head out from here to Karaikal.

Pictures of the Botanical Garden follow.
Attached Thumbnails
A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc638.jpg  

A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc634.jpg  

A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc635.jpg  

A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc636.jpg  

A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc637.jpg  

A LongHorn™ Travelogue - Weekend getaway to Pondicherry, Karaikal and Velankanni.-dsc640.jpg  


Last edited by longhorn : 14th July 2010 at 17:09.
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Old 14th July 2010, 17:55   #28
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Default Day 1 - Pondy to Karaikal

We head to the nearest bunk and fill petrol for 1000 bucks. Petrol is a good 6.25 rupees cheaper here when compared to Chennai. It’s 3:15 PM as we head out to Karaikal. The distance from Pondicherry to Karaikal is slightly lesser than that from Chennai to Pondicherry. So I calculate a driving time of around 2.5 hours. That was not to be. The traffic on ECR was less and the road was in comparatively good shape so we could make it in good time from Chennai to Pondicherry inspite of taking it easy.

The road from Pondicherry to Karaikal (NH45A) is a different story. For starters its not as wide as the ECR. The tarring is also so so in some places. Moreover in towns you have to be extra careful as most of the people lack road sense. Just before you enter Chidambaram city, there is a byepass on your right. The construction is almost complete, but for the last 1 km. There was no indication, so we head straight into the city. Just as we get out of the city, we meet the other end of the byepass. Taking the byepass can save you a good 15 – 20 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

Once you cross Sirkazhi and 18 kms before Karaikal, the road becomes so narrow for a good 10 kilometres that you have to get off the road to give way to oncoming traffic. This stretch really got on my nerves. We finally reach relative’s place at Karaikal at 6:45 PM with the odo reading 296 kms.

Once we exchange pleasantries, we immediately get into hog mode. Aunty’s cutlets were very tasty. We gobbled it up in no time. After this we get into chat mode. We make some plans for the next day’s trip to Velankanni. We finish dinner and finally hit the bed late into the night. We are all tired after the long journey and immediately doze off.
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Old 15th July 2010, 00:57   #29
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Did you go to Auroville?
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Old 15th July 2010, 10:09   #30
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No we didn't. I did some checks on the forum and came to know that we have to book tickets at least a day in advance. Since that was not done, and mainly due to time constraints, we did not go to Auroville.
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