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Old 3rd January 2018, 16:47   #1
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Default 2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram

This is my first travelogue here. So, any suggestions/advise for improvement are very much welcome and highly appreciated. It’s a long travelogue, since I’ve packed in my experiences, thoughts as well instead of just jotting down the route / stay details. Hope you all like enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed traveling / writing about it.

Quick Summary
Vehicle: Hyndai Elite i20 (2016 model)
Roundtrip Distance: 751 kms
Passengers: 4 (I, wife & our 2 kids).
Date: 29 Dec – 02 Jan
Fun: Unlimited.


Background:
In 2016, I and wife decided to welcome new year from a new place instead of just sulking in our apartment at Bangalore, ogling at the new year celebrations of others. With two kids in tow, if not planned well, family trips can end up as a tiring ordeal of micromanagement instead of enjoyment. But we decided to brave it and dive in, and not use it as an excuse any more.

I had a couple of conditions:
1. It had to be a place where we can drive to. I hate traveling in flights/buses/trains since the sheer amount of luggage required to travel with kids can become daunting to lug around. With a car, it’s much easier to travel since you can just pack whatever you want in the boot and get going.
2. It had to be a relaxing trip and not really a sightseeing one, since it’s not pragmatic to expect kids to travel through the day moving from one point to another.

Not to be left behind, Wife added her own set of conditions:
1. It had to be a beach venue since her and the kids love the sands and the sea and December is the best time to visit beaches in India.
2. It had to be at least a 3N trip, since 2N doesn’t do justice for a relaxed vacation.

With the above four conditions in place, we started scouting for locations.
Last year we had initially zeroed in on Mahabalipuram which met all our conditions, but later shifted the venue to Pondicherry instead, since most of the good resorts were booked out. For 2017 New Year’s Eve trip, the discussion and search started much earlier - sometime in October itself hoping to cash in on some early bird offers. We finally zeroed in on Mahabalipuram since we could not go in 2016 and it still met all our conditions.

Planning:
After some research on TripAdvisor, we selected Chariot Beach Resort, since I liked the fact that it had a private beach within walking distance - ideal for just jumping into the sea anytime you feel like it. Also, the resort has a deluxe sea view room with two twin beds, which was well suited for a family of four (Couple with two kids). The price was a little on the higher end and spending 3N in that resort seemed quite expensive. So, the option was to either change the resort (which I did not want to) or reduce the no of days, which the wife was not willing to.

When checking the route, we noticed how it went via Vellore and Kanchipuram, and since there was not much of a detour to visit these places, we decided to include them in the itinerary too. Wife was also excited about the thought of buying silk saris in Kanchipuram  I was excited to see the Sripuram Golden Temple in Vellore and the Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram, since I had not seen them before. It seemed to be a good combination of enjoyment and spirituality to welcome the new year.

So, the final itinerary looked like this:
29 Dec: Bangalore to Vellore (Halt 1N)
30 Dec: Vellore to Mahabalipuram (Halt 2N)
01 Jan: Mahabalipuram to Kanchipuram(Halt 1N)
02 Jan: Kanchipuram to Bangalore

Booking:
I always use MakeMyTrip app, unless the hotel/flight is not available in it. I can use my accumulated points and the service so far has been pretty much satisfactory (more on this later). I booked GRT hotels – GRT Regency sameera in vellore and GRT Regency in Kanchipuram for 29th and 01st respectively. They had decent ratings and GRT seemed to be a well-known brand and was recommended by a colleague as well. For Mahabalipuram, as planned, I booked the Deluxe sea view room in Chariot Beach Resort with complimentary breakfast. I decided not to include the lunch & dinner in the package, since we wanted to try out some new food on the spot, instead of the fixed menu on the buffet (more on this later).

Preparation:
With booking completed, we started waiting for the D-Day to arrive. In fact, my wife was more interested in it since she was on a hectic schedule at office and was really looking forward to a break. I packed light, to compensate for the heavier packing required of the family. Traveling with children needs special items like extra clothes, snacks, toys, nappies, medicines etc, which makes your travel much easier and stress free. Being a thorough planner, I used another app - Wunderlist to make a checklist of items to buy/pack lest we forget something.

I setup the routes on Google maps for each leg of the travel (with planned pit stops for meals) and added the corresponding shortcuts to my mobile’s home screen to ensure that I don’t have to fiddle with them after sitting in the car. The routes were downloaded for offline navigation as well to handle patchy internet connection in between (thanks Google for these suggestions). Even with all the check listing and planning, there were some surprises at the last moment, which we somehow managed to handle.

I made a quick dash to the nearest HP petrol bunk and filled the tank, checked for air pressure the previous night. Finally, with everything tucked into two cabin suitcases and a wildcraft backpack, I placed the suitcases in the car the previous night around 10 PM. Heaving a sigh of relief, I decided to catch a comedy movie on Netflix to soothe my fraying nerves (I’m always stressed out the night before a long drive). This was a wise decision, since I slept almost as soon as I hit the bed around midnight.

29th December - Vellore
Our plan was to initially start from Bangalore around 6 AM to ensure that our kids sleep for most of the journey. But I somehow convinced my wife to start later as the checking time was around 12 PM at GRT, Vellore, and it did not make sense to travel until Vellore and wait in the lobby if the room wasn’t ready yet. We finally started around 7:45 AM.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-blrtovellore..jpg
Route from Bangalore to Vellore

The traffic was not that dense since we left a day before the long weekend and I was able to cross the initial toll booths quite fast despite starting late. The road to Vellore is an amazing six lane highway on par with roads I’ve seen abroad.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-boards_slowdown.jpeg
I saw these boards at most junctions/intersections/crossings which forced vehicles to slow down, since they were placed in two of the three lanes (intended to avoid accidents?).

I kept my speed at Manageable levels, giving me ample room to slowdown and brake when needed. We stopped at Sri Krishna Inn for breakfast / refreshments. This is a decent restaurant with ample parking space and clean restrooms. Food was great too. It was quite crowded, but we managed to get a table quickly thanks to a couple who finished just as we arrived. We had masala dosas, pooris and a cup of coffee. Overall, we liked the breakfast here.

Recharged with sufficient food in our bellies, we set forth to Vellore, not taking any more breaks. There was quite a lot of truck traffic around Hosur, but apart from that, the trip was uneventful. Reached around 12 noon at GRT, Vellore and being right next to the highway, it was not that difficult to find (again thanks to Google Maps).

The hotel provided valet parking, and I gladly handed over my car key. The room was quite spacious with a king size bed, big enough to accommodate all the four of us.

After refreshing with a hot shower, we choose to opt for lunch buffet, which I realized later was quite expensive (around 750 per head for adults and 450 for kid). Grudgingly I signed the bill, and decided to venture out. We inquired with the receptionist and she said that the day was “Vaikunta Ekadashi” and the Golden Temple might be crowded. She suggested to take the special darshan tickets. I requested her to book a cab for us since I did not feel like traveling in the city traffic (I get enough of that in Bangalore here).

The decision proved both wise and unwise. Wise, as the driver told that the actual route to the temple had some bridge work going on and he would take us through a short cut. Not knowing this would’ve wasted a lot of our time on roads had we driven ourselves. Unwise, as the Vellore city roads were quite good, the traffic was not that bad either and for one more minor incident, which I mention below.

Anyway, we first visited the Jalakandeshwar Temple in Vellore Fort. The temple is a sight to behold with large wooden doors and exquisite carvings. We had darshan of Lord Shiva, took some snaps and came out.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-jalakandeshwar_1.jpeg
Photo of the tower of the Jalakandeshwar temple. Notice the intricate carvings.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-jalakandeshwar_2.jpeg
Photo of some of the pillars. I was astonished with the details in the carvings.

Around 5:20, we started for the Sripuram Golden Temple of Godess Laxmi. Wife was happy that we had chosen an auspicious day – Vaikunta Ekadashi for visiting Laxmi temple. I don’t have much pictures of the Golden Temple, since you need to surrender both your phone and camera before you enter the temple premises. We took a seva arathi ticket (cost is 500 per adult, kids free). It allowed us through a shortcut, and after around 5-10 mins of walk, it led us directly to the main temple and we were seated just a few feet from the main sanctum where Laxmi’s idol is situated.

Many arathis were performed, and we got to see the entire ritual up close, being seated. I was told that normal darshan would require a walk of upto 3 kms or so before you reach the sanctum, with only a quick glimpse of the Godess Laxmi. So, all in all, I felt it was a pretty good decision to go for the seva arathi tickets. Note that, there was one more ticket for Rs 300, but we did not go for it, as one person near the counter recommended to take the seva arathi instead as the other option required more waiting time (to attend to another pooja) before the darshan.
We left the temple after the arathi, which lasted for around 30 minutes. The temple looks gorgeous at night and I felt it was a good decision to visit it at night time instead of day.

After we got out and collected our phones/cameras, I was waiting for the cab in the parking lot, and by accident stumbled on a sharp concrete block, injuring the big toe of my right foot. The pain was intense and my toe was bleeding profusely. I clenched my teeth and managed to hide my pain through the journey back to the hotel. At the hotel, I requested for a first aid kit and dressed up my wound, but the pain was still substantial. Spent the night grimacing in pain, worried on how to drive the next day to Mahabalipuram.

30th December - Mahabalipuram
The next day, since the pain had not subsided completely, wife suggested to book a driver to take us to Mahabalipuram. I scoffed at the thought of allowing a third person to drive my car, while I sit in the passenger seat. I decided to man up and drive myself. I put on a bandage, wore a short instead of jeans and we decided to go ahead. I reasoned that since all I had to do was manage the accelerator/brake, which did not require applying much pressure (compared to what you would apply on your toe normally while walking), it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Ultimately it proved to be a wise decision and I did not face much issues due to the injury while driving to Mahabalipuram.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-velloretocbr.jpg
Vellore to Chariot Beach Resort route

The journey until Kanchipuram was quite good. Around 30-40 kms before Kanchipuram, the six lane became four lane and the quality of the roads were uneven – from very good to mediocre at some places. After Kanchipuram, Google Maps decided to take us on a local town tour and took us through many of the smaller towns.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-localtownsnap.jpg
I had to wade through thick traffic on narrow lanes brimming with cycles, two wheelers and local buses.

It took us close to three hours to reach Mahabalipuram from Vellore. Of the total three hours, I think, close to two hours were spent covering around 70 kms from Kanchipuram to Mahabalipuram. I was taking mental notes on how even the smaller towns in India are plagued with heavy traffic these days. Back when I was a kid, in the small towns I grew in, traffic was a concern only in big cities.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-badroads.jpg
Bad roads on way to Mahabalipuram, they existed only for short stretches though.

In Mahabalipuram, just before entering the resort, there’s a narrow bridge leading to it. Caused us quite a jam, since two buses were caught on opposite directions on it. We waited for a few moments for the buses to pass. Then came another surprise, we had to pay a toll of Rs 40, just to cross a 100 meters bridge, which was so narrow in the first place. Anyway, I just paid the toll and moved ahead to the Chariot Beach Resort, which was just a km away.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-cbr_resort1.jpg
Inside the resort, right after the lobby. Now, that's what I call a retreat !

Upon entering the hotel, we were greeted with some cool drink and a guy unloaded our luggage into the lobby. As I spoke to the receptionist, I received my second major shock of the trip (the first being the injury to my toe) – I had to shell out around Rs 5000 per head for adults and 2500 for kid as part of a mandatory contribution to new year party. The extra bill came around to Rs 12,500 (the second kid was not charged due to younger age). I was flabbergasted at this sudden addition of expenses, and argued with the staff saying there was no such mention in MMT app, while booking. I was assuming this was covered in the costs, since the last time I booked at similar time in Pondicherry, the new year dinner was included in the package.

He requested for the booking voucher, which I handed to him. He went through it and said that the new year party costs are not included in the package, but since it was not clearly mentioned in the voucher that it was mandatory (it was mentioned somewhere in fine print), he would keep it optional for me, although he recommended that I take it. I said I’ll think about it and took the keys to my room.
NOTE TO SELF: BE WARY OF THE DISCOUNTED RATES MENTIONED IN APPS & ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT!

The room was very spacious with two large beds as described in the photos. It had floor to ceiling windows with a clear view of the swimming pool (although the booking said sea view room, I saw more of the swimming pool than the sea). Overall, I was very much satisfied with the cleanliness and general look of the room.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-cbr_room1.jpg
Photo of the room we booked. Notice the two double beds and the large windows. Was quite comfortable for a family of four.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-cbr_room2.jpg
View outside the room. Makes up for a pretty picture, although the sea was too far to view!

We had lunch at the restaurant in the resort. The a-la-carte menu was crammed with Non-vegetarian food, and being veggies, we were slightly disappointed. We asked for any other restaurant inside the resort, and were told that there’s one more on the beach, but it serves mainly seafood. We finally ordered some rotis and a paneer curry along with some soup/starters. Food was quite tasty, but the service was damn slow, and it took them close to thirty minutes to get the first item. I secretly wished I had opted for the lunch/dinner package as it seemed to have better veg options and we could’ve saved valuable time (the slow service extended to the next day as well).

After lunch, the family jumped into the beach, while I rested on the beach chairs on the shore. I did not dare venture into salt water, with my toe still hurting.

There was a battery car available as well to drive people to/from resort to beach (even though it’s a 5-min walk). But, we decided to walk to the beach just to check out the surroundings. I was surprised to see that not many guests were at the beach and the beachside resturant was practically empty.

There were some activities like darts, fish the bottle etc, targeted at kids in the evening time and the kids had some fun here. We decided to have the coffee along with some fries in the evening. The Coffee was not that good as I prefer my coffee strong and piping hot with thick aroma of ground coffee powder, and it was just warm and very light. There was nothing much to do after that, so we went back to the room, spent some time lazing around, had another overpriced dinner and called it a night.

31st December - New Year’s Eve, Mahabalipuram
The next day, we were treated to a lavish breakfast spread replete with both Indian and Western breakfast items. I relished the buffet after feeling cheated with the scarce veg options in the a-la-carte menu on the previous day. Had our tummies full and decided to first go to the beach. The beach was still empty when we went, a handful of people joined in after some time and left back early.

I jumped into the water, unable to resist the temptation of the waves any longer. My toe was still healing and the salt water caused the pain to come in bursts, making me wince every time the strong waves hit my toe. I decided to bear it and not let it spoil the entire vacation, and continued to play in the beach. Having played enough, we decided to go back for lunch.

On the way back, I saw that the swimming pool in the resort was crowded and I was amused to see people enjoying the artificial pool instead of the natural sea. I could not get my head around on why would anyone choose to book a resort with a private beach and spend all the time in the pool instead!

During lunch, I casually asked the waiter about the arrangements for the party and about the availability of dinner. And then came the third big shock – There’ll be no other dinner other than the one at the new year party, which was touted to be a lavish 64 course meal. I cursed myself for not reading the fine print now, since the option was to either pay for the party or go out of the resort and have dinner elsewhere. After some discussion with wife, we decided to go for the party, since we had come to celebrate the new year after all, and I didn’t like the prospect of having dinner outside the resort.

I paid the bill unwillingly and grabbed the three tickets. I was determined to make the best of it and the 64 course menu.

The new year party was indeed quite good and lasted from around 8 until 11. They had arranged for a professional MC and there were enough song/dance numbers from some various troupes to keep us entertained and the family had lot of fun. Also, the lavish 64 course menu, true to its name was lavish indeed. But as murphy’s law would have it, I hardly had like 7-8 items, before losing interest in it.

There was a DJ night planned as well where the stage was open for anyone to dance, in which most people partook in. We could not hang around until the mid-night fireworks since the kids were exhausted from all the dancing. We went back home around 11:15 PM with the Bollywood numbers still blasting in our ears.

All in all, the food was great and the event was well organized with seats conveniently placed for everyone to enjoy.

After watching fireworks from our room, I and wife wished each other new year, and dozed off.

01st January: Kanchipuram
We started the new year by dipping in the resort’s gigantic swimming pool, which we had ignored until then. If I had to pick the second-best feature of the resort after the private beach, it has to be the pool. Check the photos above to get an idea of the size.

It’s massive and would perhaps fit people from all ages, although I mainly tried the low height region fit for kids/toddlers. It was already sunny around 8, and we had playulf fun in the pool for some time, before we went to breakfast. Breakfast was as great as the day before, and we relished it slowly, taking our time.

Overall, I would say it’s a good resort and despite the extra expenses incurred, I felt we had an enjoyable time in the New Year’s Eve, and I felt the visit was worth it. The highlights were the courteous and polite staff, spacious rooms, excellent view from the room, private beach and the swimming pool. Lowlights were the slow service and scarce vegetarian options for a-la-carte.
We checked out of the resort around 10:30 AM and left for Kanchipuram. Google again took us through some small towns, but I felt, we covered the return journey to Kanchipuram mostly on SH. I can’t be sure, but I felt the return journey took us a shorter time.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-cbrtogrtkanchipuram.jpg
Route from Chariot Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram to GRT Regency Kanchipuram.

The GRT hotel in Kanchipuram is situated right in the middle of a busy street housing a lot of silk sari shops. The hotel had valet parking, so parking was not a hassle. The room was a little smaller (Sorry, no pictures taken) with a normal queen size/double bed. Since it was just for a night, we decided to adjust.

We refreshed, had quick lunch in the restaurant at the hotel. It was moderately priced (by this time, I was used to the pricing of in-hotel restaurants), and quite yummy. We inquired about the temples at the reception and we were told that there’re four major temples in Kanchipuram:
1. Kamakshi Amman Temple
2. Varadaraja Perumal Temple
3. Ekambaranath Temple
4. Kailasanathar Temple

All the temples were within 10 mins drive from the hotel. He suggested to visit 1,3 & 4 today and keep 2 for the next day as it was in the other direction. We inquired about the temple timings of Kamakshi Amman Temple and were told it would be open from 4 – 8 PM. We were told to go around 3:30 PM since it was New Year’s Day and it was expected to be crowded.

It was still a good two hours to 3:30 and we decided to shop for silk saris in that time. We went to the first shop recommended by the receptionist and to my surprise, my wife completed her entire shopping in just 1-1.5 hours. We went back to the hotel, changed and got ready to visit the Meenakshi Amman temple first.

We hired an auto to take us to any of the three temples, with the Kamakshi Amman Temple being the first. He charged us Rs 450, I felt it was a fair price as he would’ve to wait in case the temple was crowded. As the auto driver waded through the narrow lanes and entered the area of the temple, I was glad I did not get my car. Forget parking, there was hardly any space to walk, with people crowding the front gate. I spoke with the security guard and he asked me to come back after an hour, since abhishekam was going on.

We decided to go to Ekambarnath instead of waiting there. On the way to Ekambarnath, we saw the long queue of people already lined for the Kamakshi Amman Temple darshan and were wondering if it would be possible to visit it that day.

Ekambarnath temple has an amazing architecture and I was extremely impressed with the huge door, the tall tower and the gigantic pillars inside. Temple premises and crowd management could’ve been better though.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-ekambarnath_temple_2.jpeg
Ekambarnath Temple Tower

Next we visited Kailasanathar temple. This seems to be a very ancient temple and the main sanctum was locked. We took some snaps around the premises. The temple was well maintained with a park in the front.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-kailasanathar_temple.jpeg
Front photo of Kailsanathar temple

Next, we went to Kamakshi Amman temple again to try our luck, but were disappointed when one guy waiting said that it would take at least 2-3 hours for the Darshan considering the queue. The auto driver said the same and suggested to visit the temple next day in the morning around 6 AM when the crowd would be thinner.

We told him to take us to Varadarajara Perumal temple instead. The deity idol in this temple seemed to be placed in the front of the temple, in preparation for a chariot ride (?). Anyway, the temple was good, but again the maintenance of the premises left much to be desired. There were lot of mosquitoes inside and I found it quite difficult to wait around.

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Photo of Varadaraja Perumal Temple. Photo was taken by mobile cam at night, hence not clear.

Finally, we asked the auto to drive us back to the hotel. The hotel manager on duty, inquired about our darshan. We told him on how we came back disappointed, not being able to get Darshan of Kanchi Kamakshi. He quickly spoke with a friend over the phone and to our surprise (a good one this time), told us that the temple would be open the entire night since it’s a full moon day and there was a special pooja planned in the night. He asked me to call him back again around 10 PM and he would let us know if it’s feasible to visit the temple at that time.

We called up around 9:30 PM and he confirmed that the temple was not crowded. Overjoyed, we started for the temple again. But this time, we could not find an auto, and considering there was hardly any parking available to drive ourselves, we were worried. The hotel driver suggested that he would take us in our car to the temple, drop us there and would get back the car to the hotel. After our darshan, we can call him, and he would come back, pick us up and drive us back to the hotel.

It felt as if all our anxieties and worries about visiting the temple were resolved with divine intervention. We went to the temple, and were happy to see that the front door was now open. The Darshan took us hardly 5 mins. We roamed around the temple premises for some time and later called back the hotel driver and headed back to the hotel.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-kamakshi_amman_temple_night.jpeg
Kamakshi Amman temple at night.

Happy and content about getting the Darshan on an auspicious day, we went to sleep.

02 January – Journey back to Bangalore
We had the complimentary breakfast, which was a decent enough spread. I thanked the manager on duty again for suggesting us to visit at night, and left the hotel around 9:45. All in all, we were extremely delighted at the helpful nature of the GRT hotel staff in Kanchipuram. Much appreciated (if any of them are reading it ).

Bought some sweets at Krishna sweets in Kanchipuram and started the drive back home to Bangalore. The drive back was uneventful and we stopped at a IO petrol bunk for refuelling. I wanted to spend IOC points from my Citibank credit card. But the guy said that the POS terminal did not accept Citibank points and only the ones in the city are programmed for that. I made a note of this for future reference.
We stopped at this restaurant called ‘Adith Bhavan’ somewhere near Vellore/Krishnagiri for lunch.

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-adithbhavan_1.jpg
Adith Bhavan

This was a decent restaurant with ample parking space, a kid’s play area, a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop and a nice AC dining hall. We had some rotis , aloo paranthas and curry. The food was good enough, and we started towards home after helping ourselves to a couple of scoops of Baskin Robbins ice cream

The trip back was uneventful and by around 4:30 PM, I was at home.

Overall, I would say it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve had in recent times. It was a perfect combination of relaxation and spirituality on the eve of New Year.

If you have come this far, thanks for reading and have a joyous new year 2018.

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 3rd January 2018 at 19:36. Reason: Smileys = 2 per post. Thanks.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 19:36   #2
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 4th January 2018, 12:49   #3
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Default Re: 2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram

An awesome read throughout!

Thanks for sharing the details and routes of travel.

Quote:
NOTE TO SELF: BE WARY OF THE DISCOUNTED RATES MENTIONED IN APPS & ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT!
The booking experience with MMT seems to be something which everyone should be on a lookout for during the festive times. I always use Goibibo for hotel and any other bookings. Though now they both have merged, I just prefer Goibibo because of a bad experience with MMT. Although I did receive a refund from MMT for a cancelled booking when the hotel refused to refund. This was after a series of emails. But then again, I had also forgotten to read the fineprint and hotel policies.

Most hotels do have that policy of a special dinner for New year's eve and the normal restaurant is closed. Though glad that it worked out well for you guys.

Coming back to the whole trip, it is wonderful to see a different approach for the New Year's rather than going with the conventional ways of partying.

Also, the details about the places were fun to read.

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This is my first travelogue here. So, any suggestions/advise for improvement are very much welcome and highly appreciated.
Keep travelling, keep posting.
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Old 4th January 2018, 15:38   #4
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Default Re: 2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram

Happy new year to you and your family Vint! An amazing travelogue throughout! I have wanted to travel to Mahabalipuram since a long time, and your travelogue just made me eager to take those plans to fruition

The temples that you visited look amazing. Aren't there temples and rock sculptures on the beach in Mahabalipuram? Did you visit them? I read that it is a UNESCO world heritage site!

Also, your experience with hotels charging exorbitant rates on new-years is very true. It is a common practice nowadays for all hotels to organize some or the other party on new years eve, and charge through the roof! Also, normally, I have found that restaurants within hotels and resorts are always overpriced. It helps if you do a little groundwork beforehand and identify the well-known restaurants in any town that are frequented by the locals! You always get the best possible local food at reasonable rates! You can always settle for the restaurant in your hotel for a relaxed meal at night or if you are tired (just my two cents).

When it comes to booking hotels, I normally use the booking.com website/app, though I do use makemytrip for flight bookings. I have found their service for flight tickets to be very good . Another trick I use nowadays is to search for good places on these websites and then contact the hotels individually. Most of the times I get a better deal than the booking websites!

Looking forward to your next travelogue
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Old 4th January 2018, 18:53   #5
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Default Re: 2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram

We (family of 4 + few friends) stayed at the same resort a fortnight before you visited. We left on a Sat morning from Bangalore and returned Sunday late noon.

We loved the resort, it was serene and the weather was surprisingly pleasant, however the beach is not safe for young ones as the incline is steep and currents were strong. We also managed to visit few of the heritage sites around.

The new year package is a must in all resorts down south from what I have seen, surprised this was not highlighted while booking.

We woke up to catch the sunrise, sharing few drone pics of the resort and the surroundings, courtesy a fellow bhpian. In one of the pic, you can spot me and my elder son by the beach.
Attached Thumbnails
2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-img20171217wa0018.jpg  

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-img20171217wa0013.jpg  

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-img20171217wa0016.jpg  

2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram-img20171217wa0015.jpg  


Last edited by zebo : 4th January 2018 at 18:59.
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Old 8th January 2018, 19:16   #6
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Default Re: 2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram

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Originally Posted by Omkar View Post
An awesome read throughout!

Thanks for sharing the details and routes of travel.



The booking experience with MMT seems to be something which everyone should be on a lookout for during the festive times. I always use Goibibo for hotel and any other bookings. Though now they both have merged, I just prefer Goibibo because of a bad experience with MMT. Although I did receive a refund from MMT for a cancelled booking when the hotel refused to refund. This was after a series of emails. But then again, I had also forgotten to read the fineprint and hotel policies.

Most hotels do have that policy of a special dinner for New year's eve and the normal restaurant is closed. Though glad that it worked out well for you guys.

Coming back to the whole trip, it is wonderful to see a different approach for the New Year's rather than going with the conventional ways of partying.

Also, the details about the places were fun to read.


Keep travelling, keep posting.
Thanks a lot for the encouraging words. I'll check out goibibo next.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdiSolEn View Post
Happy new year to you and your family Vint! An amazing travelogue throughout! I have wanted to travel to Mahabalipuram since a long time, and your travelogue just made me eager to take those plans to fruition

The temples that you visited look amazing. Aren't there temples and rock sculptures on the beach in Mahabalipuram? Did you visit them? I read that it is a UNESCO world heritage site!
Thanks buddy. There was a five ratha temple just a few blocks from the resort. I think the name - 'Chariot Beach Resort' is due to the fact that it's very near to the temple. Although I had plans of visiting it, somehow we missed visiting it. I think there might be other temples as well in the town, but we didn't go anywhere outside of the resort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zebo View Post
We (family of 4 + few friends) stayed at the same resort a fortnight before you visited. We left on a Sat morning from Bangalore and returned Sunday late noon.

We loved the resort, it was serene and the weather was surprisingly pleasant, however the beach is not safe for young ones as the incline is steep and currents were strong. We also managed to visit few of the heritage sites around.

The new year package is a must in all resorts down south from what I have seen, surprised this was not highlighted while booking.

We woke up to catch the sunrise, sharing few drone pics of the resort and the surroundings, courtesy a fellow bhpian. In one of the pic, you can spot me and my elder son by the beach.
Superb snaps. My wife went for a beach walk at sunrise and told me there were quite a few people at that time. We just played on the outer rim of the sea and didn't go beyond ankle depth , so there was not much issue of incline / currents. I felt the beach was quite muddy though !

Also, there was not much of beach life like volleyball or any vendor selling coconuts, umbrellas etc when I went. How was your experience ? Should think twice about beach resorts next time, as it tends to get boring after a while without any activity !
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Old 11th January 2018, 08:38   #7
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Default Re: 2017 year-ending family trip : Bangalore to Vellore, Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram

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Originally Posted by vint View Post

Superb snaps. My wife went for a beach walk at sunrise and told me there were quite a few people at that time. We just played on the outer rim of the sea and didn't go beyond ankle depth , so there was not much issue of incline / currents. I felt the beach was quite muddy though !

Also, there was not much of beach life like volleyball or any vendor selling coconuts, umbrellas etc when I went. How was your experience ? Should think twice about beach resorts next time, as it tends to get boring after a while without any activity !
We wanted a less crowded beach and this was perfect, the beach side of the resort had a volleyball court which was filled with people when we arrived. But there were no beach activities or vendors as such, not even locals or fishing folks.

We did not see a single soul in the water either, probably due to the steep incline and currents. The other side of Mahabs towards Chennai seems more commercialized and crowded.
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