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Old 2nd May 2018, 13:03   #1
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Default Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

With the onset of School holidays it was again time for the family Summer trip.

Our Idea since last couple of years has been to stay for a week at one place and experience life like the locals live.

Since we have been to the Himalayas last year (Mukteshwar) and the Jungles (Kanha) we decided to change the scenery and visit a coastal location. Another reason for not opting for the mountains is both my kids get motion sick on the winding roads and we didn't want to put them through the ordeal again this year.

The only two choices we could think of was Goa and Pondicherry. We visit Goa on an average twice every year and still can't get enough of it. But 7 days in Goa with kids seemed a lot for a place we visit often.

Now we had never been to a beach on the East coast of India and we thought it would be a good idea to visit Pondicherry.

Some details of the trip:

Dates: 22nd April to 1st May 2018

Stay: Casa Arma villa on Serenity beach Tamil Nadu (Airbnb)

Agenda: Surfing and relax on the beach

Ride: Isuzu V-cross

Total Drive: 3090 Kms return trip

No of Drivers: One just me

The plan was for Wife and kids to fly to Chennai on 23rd April from where I picked them up and on the return fly back from Chennai on 30th April. I could have flown to Chennai too and booked a self drive car but the itch to drive cross country in a V-cross is irresistible.

The entire trip was planned and booked in the month of February 2018 since it difficult to get booking during the holiday season.

Important Packing List:

All original papers and ID proofs
Tool Kit
Swiss Army Knife
Torch
First Aid Kit
DSLR
Caps and Sunglasses
Sunscreen (Very Handy)
Complete List of grocery to sustain us for 7 days (This was the largest and heaviest bag)
Full list of meds for the kids
Beach / Swim wear
Beach toys for the kids (This was the 2nd largest bag)
Mosquito Repellant

A teaser Pic:

V-cross parked right on the beach in front of our Villa

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-img_7142.jpg

Cont: Day 1 and Day 2 Drive to Pondicherry....
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Old 2nd May 2018, 14:48   #2
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Default Day 1 : Drive to Krishnagiri

Day 1.

The plan on day one was simple drive, drive and keep driving. I had planned on reaching Krishnagiri which as per Google maps is 1088 kms from where I start.

I had booked a hotel at Krishnagiri Alps Residency for the night stay.

The idea was to reach Krishnagiri on day 1 and start again early morning on day 2 to pick up the family from Chennai airport by 12 PM and reach Pondicherry by evening.

The luggage was loaded and locked on the previous day to save time in the morning. The tank was topped up and tire pressure checked along with a quick look on all fluid levels. The brake pads were changed a week before when the service center also did a quick check on everything and cleaned the air filter.

Luggage

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-luggage.jpg

I started at 4 am and reached Krishnagiri at around 8 pm after getting lost in Bangalore on exiting from the NICE road. Google map had a mind of its own and took me towards the city in order to make a U-turn towards Krishnagiri.

Starting Meters

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-start-elapsed-time.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-start-odo.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-start-distance-avg-speed.jpg

The drive from Mumbai to Pune was easy where I took my first break. From Pune to Kohlapur is good up to Satara but post Satara the highway becomes 2 lane (4- lane divided) with a lot of bike traffic. This part is difficult since trucks drive in the fast lane and bikers in the left lane. Overtaking becomes really difficult and dangerous.

From Kohlapur to Tumakuru the highway is good except for the Hubli bypass which is single lane and some road widening work between Hubli and Devangere.

It was after Tumakuru my nightmare started. It all started with a thunderstorm followed by long queues at toll booth for entering Bangalore. It continued to rain from Tumakuru till I exited the NICE road.

Driving on NICE road was an experience in itself. People were driving all over the road including the shoulder lane on the left and the shoulder lane on the right. Cars and bikes were parked on the road taking selfies. To top it all the fuel reserve light came on just as I entered the NICE road and the next 40 odd kms till I exited NICE road my BP had probably shot up. There is no fuel station on NICE road which I was not aware of.

Driving logs.

The log gets broken every time I take a break of more than 5 mins. The blue dots are short stops like toll booth


Mumbai - Pune

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-mumbai-pune-map.jpg

Pune - Kohlapur

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-pune-kohlapur-map.jpg

Kohlapur - Belgaum

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-kohlapur-belgam-map.jpg

Belgaum - Chitradurga

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-belgaum-chitradurga-map.jpg

Chitradurga - Tumakuru

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-chitradurga-tumkur.jpg

Tumakuru - Krishnagiri

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-tumkur-krishnagiri-map.jpg

Day 1 end meter readings

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-end-average.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-end-distance-avg-speed.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-end-elapsed-time.jpg

Note: The meter reading was taken on next day morning just before starting for Chennai.



It was just after 8 pm when I checked in the hotel, ordered some food in the room,Freshed up, watched some IPL and called it a day.

The after effects of such a long drive, you sleep like a baby.



Cont: Day 2 Krishnagiri to Pondicherry.....
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Old 2nd May 2018, 15:32   #3
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Default Day 2: Krishnagiri - Chennai - Pondicherry

After a good nights sleep and superb breakfast at the hotel I was ready for the second leg of my journey. The plan was to reach Chennai by 11 am in order to pick up family at 11.45 am. I had planned on leaving at 7 am but the breakfast took a lot more time than expected and ended up leaving at 7.30 am.

However I did manage to reach the airport at 11.30 am. The drive from Krishnagiri to Chennai via Vellore is superb with good wide roads. There are police barricades placed at a lot of junctions on the Highway which took me by surprise for the first time but got used to it later on.

I entered the Chennai Aiport and parked in the open parking lot under the hot Chennai sun. The entry to the parking lot is confusing with signs showing turns that are actually not there. I had to wait at the airport since flight was delayed by 10 mins but since there was no check-in luggage we were able to leave Chennai airport by 12.15 PM.

From Chennai to Pondicherry we decided to take East Coast Road (ECR). Its a very beautiful scenic drive and I would suggest this road over the alternative route that goes through Tindivanam. We reached our Villa at 4 PM where our host was waiting for us for an easy check-in. There are lot of restaurants on route which serves good food.

About the Villa

The Villa is a 2 BHK house along with a sitting area on the roof which is covered with bamboo and hay structure (Shack). Its a old fishing house converted to a Airbnb property by its new owner who is a French national. It was exactly what the owner described it to be except for inconvenience of frequent power cuts. The name Casa Arma means house of weapons.

Sadly I forgot to take logs off my phone for this Journey and the logs are saved for only 48 hrs.

Some pics from day 2.

Parking at Krishnagiri Alps hotel

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-parking-krishnagiri-2.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-parking-krishnagiri-3.jpg

Access towards the beach Villa

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-beach-drive.jpg

The beach

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-beach-1.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-beach-2.jpg

The view from the Shack on the roof of the Villa

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-terrace-shack-view.jpg

This is the view we had paid for and it lived up to our expectation. I did end up spending a lot of time on the Hammock. There is a nice Sofa seating along with the Hammock which makes the roof shack a good place to spend hours on a stretch.

Cont: Day 3 to 8....
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Old 2nd May 2018, 17:04   #4
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Default Day 3 to Day 8: Stay at Pondicherry

These were the days where we implemented our plan of staying like the locals and enjoy the beach. I am not going to describe every individual day but just going to list down my experiences.

Serenity Beach

As told by a local fishermen. This is originally a fishing village and still is one. But after the big Tsunami a lot of houses were destroyed and fishermen moved more inside towards the village. This made way for commercial/tourism development on the beach. These activities in turn gave business opportunity to local fishermen who either sold their houses or converted them to guest house. Most of the houses found on Airbnb on this beach are reworked fishermen houses. The beach itself is clean but not as clean as Goa beaches. Last year there were 14 deaths on this beach due to drowning but still there is not a single life guard on the beach. The problem is most of the people in the water are intoxicated.

During the weekdays the beach was nice and peaceful but over the weekend it got really busy and noisy. There are a few Cafes on the beach such as Theevu Plage (Good fusion food), What up Cafe (Good burgers and Sandwiches) and a few other small kitchens serving food. For Non-veg eaters there is a native family which servers Fish from a small hut which was always busy right next to Whats up cafe.

Whats up cafe

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-whats-up-cafe.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-what-up-cafe-menu.jpg

V-cross Parked at the house

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-parked-front-villa.jpg

Parking view from the roof

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-parking-view-terrace.jpg

Another V-cross spotted over the weekend

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-another-vcorss.jpg

Rocky shore (Man madel)

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-waves-hitting-rocks.jpg

Fishing Boat

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-fishing-boad.jpg


Surfing

Me and My wife both enrolled for 5 day Private surfing lessons. There are two surf schools at the beach Kallialay Surf School and Serenity Surf house. We selected Kallialay since it was right outside our house. Must say a very professionally run school full five stars for that.

This was our first experience surfing or even touching a surf board. The lessons were scheduled at 10am everyday and looked easy from outside. But once it started we realized how physically demanding surfing is. By the end of the second day my Wife called it quits since it got too physical for her. Also it didn't help that both of us got stung by a jelly fish on the second day.

About the jelly fish sting, I suddenly felt something wrapped around my toe and a deep sensation of pain which felt like some one had set my foot on fire. Me and my wife got stung on the same day same time. It took a lot of vinegar to calm the stinging sensation. The first time we panicked but the surf school was prepared with vinegar and CPR equipment just in case. I got stung again on my 4th lesson but this time I did not even react and continued surfing.

I must say surfing is a very addictive sport and you just don't want to stop till your muscles give up. My entire body was sore by the end of the training and had to go for a Aurvedic Massage therapy to relax. Oh I did manage to stand up on the surf board from the end of the 2nd session onwards.

Surf School Board

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-surf-school-.jpg

Surfing Pics

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-surfing-1.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-surfing-2.jpg

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-surfing-3.jpg




Pondicherry Rock Beach and White town.

The rock beach is a long stretch of shore line just like Carter Road or Marine drive in Mumbai. There are a few monuments there which didn't interest us much. We spent an evening here sipping on coffee at the Le cafe which also serves some good food.

A drive through White town (Difficult in V-cross due to narrow lanes) is good enough to view the heritage buildings. A rooftop restaurant by the name of Bay of Buddha at the Promenade hotel is good if you like oriental food overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Also there is a nice Mexican Restaurant Margarita where we had lunch once.

There nothing much to do in Pondicherry otherwise.

I clicked a few pics here but it was getting dark and kids had started throwing tantrums. All these pics were taken in a hurry.

Rock Beach

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-rock-beach.jpg

Dr.Ambedkar Monument

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-dr-ambedkar-monument.jpg

Light House

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-light-house.jpg




AuroVille

Auroville is the place which is a must visit if you are in Pondicherry. Its more of a french locality where most of the business are owned by French. We visited the MatriMandir and did some shopping there. Its a nice place but the heat got to us we could not spend a lot of time there.

We had a couple of meals at Tanto Pizzeria which also delivers at Serenity beach. Another restaurant we like is Bread and Chocolate cafe which serves some nice sour dough bread sandwiches and vegan food. Also breakfast at Auroville bakery is not to be missed.

Matri Mandir

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-golden-globe.jpg

Parking at Auroville

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-auroville-parking.jpg

Huge Banyan Tree

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-auroville-banyan-tree.jpg





Experience


Overall the entire experience to stay at Pondicherry for a week was worth it. We were initially disappointed since we expected the place to be like Goa but as the days went we realized that its a totally different place in a nice way. The locals there especially the grocery store and cafe owners at serenity beach started recognizing me from 2nd day onwards and it was good to have a conversation with them on my morning walk.

The kids had a great time too enjoying the beach every morning and evening. They did miss the TV (Our villa had no TV) but it was good to be disconnected for a while. They made full use of their beach toys.

Boys Toys

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-boys-toys.jpg



After spending most of my Life in Mumbai (West coast) where watching the sunset is normal it was a different experience watching the sunrise and moonrise. It felt weird in a way.

Moon Rise (DSLR)

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-moon-rise-dslr.png

Moon Rise by iPhone

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-moon-rise-iphone.jpg



Thats the wrap up of my stay at Pondicherry.

Cont: Drive Back....
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Old 2nd May 2018, 17:50   #5
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Default Day 9 and 10: Drive back

It was sad that our Vacation was coming to an end. But I still had my drive back to look forward to.

The plan on the 9th day 30th April was to reach Chennai by 11 am for a 1.30 pm flight. Drop the family wait for them to clear security and continue towards Devangere where I had booked a hotel for over night stay.

We had breakfast, loaded the luggage in the car and left Serenity beach at 8 am. We took the same ECR scenic route back and reached Chennai Aiport well before 11 am. I dropped the family off and waited at a near by petrol pump taking the opportunity to tank up and bio break.

The fuel attended there tried to fool me for 300 rupees saying she had initially filled 300 rupees by mistake and then restarted for a tank up. I stuck to my version that I was shown Zero meter only once and I am not paying 300 extra. The modus of operandi was they start talking to distract you at 300 but I knew of such scams. After a stern tone in my voice they gave up.

Once I got a call from airport I started towards Devangere. I reached Krishnagiri at 2.30 PM where I had Lunch at the same hotel I had stayed on my way back. After that luckily I did not encounter much traffic in Bangalore and reached Devangere at 8:15 pm. I was stopped on NICE road at a road block where they were checking for Cash due to elections which cost me 15 odd minutes. Not knowing the local language does not help either. Had a quick dinner and called it a day.

Driving Logs : Pondicherry - Chennai - Devangere

Pondicherry to Chennai

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-pondicherry-chennai.jpg

Chennai to Krishnagiri

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-chennai-krishnagiri.jpg

Krishnagiri to TumKur

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-krishnagiri-tumkur.jpg

Tumkur to Devangere

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-tumkur-devang.jpg

Hotel Room

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-hotel-room.jpg



Day 10: Drive back Devangere to Mumbai

Woke up early and left the hotel at 6 am. Google maps showed a drive of 12 hours and was spot on. As soon as I got on the highway I was again stopped at a check post and the same process of checking for cash was repeated. But this time it was not the local police but the CRPF who knew hindi and were very polite.

Rest of the drive was routine with a lot of car and bike traffic from Kohlapur onwards due to 1st of May being a public holiday.

Stopped for breakfast before Hubli at a Cafe Coffee Day and at Pune for Lunch at Kamat. Finally reached Mumbai at 5.30 pm exhausted but content.

Parked at Cafe Coffee Day

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-breakfast-ccd.jpg



Driving Logs

Devangere to Hubli

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-dev-hubli.jpg

Hubli to Kohlapur

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-hubli-kohlapur.jpg

Kohlapur to Pune

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-kohlapur-pune.jpg

Pune to Mumbai

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-pune-mumbai.jpg


Final Meter Readings

Odometer

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-end-odo.jpg

Total Drive time just over 2 days

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-end-time.jpg

Average

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-end-average.jpg

Total Distance and Average Speed

Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross-distance-avg-speed-end.jpg



Thats all I have to share feel free to ask any questions or queries. I have not summarized each day travel distance and time as a list since driving logs are self explanatory.
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Old 2nd May 2018, 19:21   #6
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Default re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Mod note: Thread moved to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 3rd May 2018, 09:29   #7
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Default re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Dear tazmaan,

Nice travelogue there and lovely pictures.

Can you please tell me which app you have used to take those screenshots.
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Old 3rd May 2018, 10:50   #8
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Nice travalogue tazmaan. Pondicherry is one place where you can still see the influence of colonization in India, perhaps more than in Goa. Wonderful decision to drive down all the way in your V Cross.
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Old 3rd May 2018, 14:14   #9
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Quote:
Originally Posted by N4Nikunj View Post
Dear tazmaan,

Nice travelogue there and lovely pictures.

Can you please tell me which app you have used to take those screenshots.
Thank you! Its and app called Life360. It helps your loved ones track your location which is useful when you are traveling alone.
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Old 3rd May 2018, 15:39   #10
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

A brilliant travelogue with beautiful pictures, tazmaan!
I really enjoyed reading your travelogue, living in a villa the way you did mustíve been an experience. Pondicherry is known for its calm, not so crowded beaches and colonial era surroundings, and I am glad it didnít disappoint you.
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Old 5th May 2018, 09:37   #11
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Great travelogue Tazmaan, will be useful for a traveller beating down the same path. We considered exactly the same route but had to call off our trip due to hospitalization of a family member.

Incidentally we returned from Goa 1st May, probably saw and lost you at the toll before Khed Shivapur around 1330?
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Old 5th May 2018, 11:47   #12
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Quote:
Originally Posted by VivOverland View Post
Great travelogue Tazmaan, will be useful for a traveller beating down the same path. We considered exactly the same route but had to call off our trip due to hospitalization of a family member.

Incidentally we returned from Goa 1st May, probably saw and lost you at the toll before Khed Shivapur around 1330?
Thank you. Sorry to hear you had to change your plans, Maybe next time!!

Yes I guess I must have been nearby at that time.

I remember a sudden swell in private cars specially Mumbai registered from Goa Phata onwards before Kolhapur. There were a lots of Mumbai cars at Mcdonalds Kolhapur too where I had stopped for coffee break. Being a long weekend lots of people must have driven to Goa!!
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Old 6th May 2018, 07:06   #13
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Nice ride and cross country drive. We were at Pondicherry last year and took surfing lessons at Kallialay. Very professionally run by the two brothers Juan and Samai. Felt nice to see photos of the very same beach. Whats app cafe was our place to kill time waiting for the instructors. Safe and secluded beach and perfect for surfing lessons for novices. Never thought I could surf but could manage to standup a few seconds towards the end.

Thanks for the detailed writeup and bringing back all those memories.

Rgds
Ashish
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Old 6th May 2018, 09:10   #14
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

The ECR route is scenic, but the Tindivanam route is the best and safest. And from the Airport, it will be the shortest.
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Old 8th May 2018, 10:45   #15
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Default Re: Mumbai - Pondicherry Road Trip in an Isuzu V-Cross

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashishpotdar View Post
Very professionally run by the two brothers Juan and Samai. Felt nice to see photos of the very same beach.

Thanks for the detailed writeup and bringing back all those memories.

Rgds
Ashish
Thank you. Yes Surfing was indeed the highlight of our trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
The ECR route is scenic, but the Tindivanam route is the best and safest. And from the Airport, it will be the shortest.
When I started from Chennai airport Google maps showed ECR as the fastest route by 15 mins. I wanted to do the scenic route anyways so decided to take it.

You are correct regarding the safety party with a lot of people either tailgating you or overtaking head-on pushing you to the very edge of the road.

On my return journey I left early in the morning and there was hardly any traffic on ECR which was fun to drive on.
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