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Aloha 27th January 2010 17:32

Road Trip (Bangalore - Pondicherry - Bangalore)
 
6 Attachment(s)
Hello All

This is a quick travelogue on a trip to Pondicherry (from Bangalore) that we undertook last weekend.

We started at 0830 h on Sunday from Bangalore for Pondicherry in an Innova. Fortunately – there wasn’t any traffic jam as we exited the city and this was also my first drive over the newly inaugurated ‘elevated road’ from the Silk Board junction to Electronic City … this is a dream …. About 9 kms , two lanes and we skipped all potential bottlenecks on the way.

The NH7 is an example of what a good highway should be like. Drove at a cautious speed and it was a pleasant ride all the way till the Toll Gate (no rush again).

We stopped for breakfast (yep – left at 8:30 without eating [FONT=Wingdings][FONT=Wingdings]J[/FONT][/FONT] ) at Sri Krishna Bhavan. I would recommend this stop highly – this is adjacent to an HP petrol bunk and the area also has a Café Coffee Day. The rest rooms are clean. Overall – a good place to stop, eat good food, tank up and continue the journey. The only flip side is that one reaches this point pretty fast (took us an hour from Hosur Road to hit this point and unless (like us) you have skipped b’fast … there really is no need to stop so fast.

We took the turn to Pondicherry at Krishnagiri (a left from NH7 and a right one kilometer down the road onto NH 66) – from here, the road is average – single lane both ways, no dividers and a lot of patch work to cover potholes. The average driving speed drops significantly all the way through to Pondicherry. Additionally – there’s isn’t any good place (at least none that I could see) where we could have stopped for a break. The drive took us through beautiful, unspoilt countryside (it was nice to see clean water bodies close to Gingee with flocks of birds resting … ). We didn’t stop at the fort – it was a pretty majestic site though and I am sure the view from the top would be fantastic.

Tindivanam is a town about 45 kms short of Pondicherry. From here – the highway is being widened to a 4 lane road. It required careful driving since at places there is a sudden change in the level of the road which gives a hard bump to the car if you don’t spot it in time. Also – there are a few diversions (owing to the road construction) so be careful not to go at a very high speed , especially if you are driving at night.

We hit Pondicherry at 3 pm and went straight to the hotel. Pondicherry is a lovely, quaint town and a good place to walk (without risking limb or life). We did the usual touristy things (Auroville, Beach Road, and Shopping) and ate at a few recommended restaurants. These were disappointing (expensive, very average food). The smaller joints near the Beach Road dished out much better stuff.

It took us the same time (6.5 hours) to get back from Pondicherry to Bangalore. It helped that we drove back on the 26th of Jan and there was again no traffic as we entered Bangalore. I missed driving on the elevated road since apparently its only one way (from Hosur Road side to Elec city) …


Safe travels …

benbsb29 27th January 2010 21:53

Pondy sure brings back some good memories for us, specially since this was the place we visited for a small break when my wife was expecting. It surely didnt disappoint.

Is this all to your travelogue, or more coming up?

Aloha 27th January 2010 22:15

hi Benbsb29

It was a pleasant stay for sure - and i intend going back for a longer duration to soak it in fully. I dont have much more to pen down about Pondy ... it just was really nice to take this break. You should make a trip again to see if the place has changed a lot from the last time you we there ... some places do hold a lot of warm memories.

sdp1975 27th January 2010 22:31

Aloha , how are the road conditions in Tiruvannamalai ? I visited TVM over the weekend and the road was dug up almost everywhere close to the temple.

thegame 27th January 2010 23:43

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aloha (Post 1702182)

I missed driving on the elevated road since apparently its only one way (from Hosur Road side to Elec city) …


Its not a one way. You need to take the road inbetween the service road and main road near the EC Phase I entrance to climb on to the elevated road.

Aloha 28th January 2010 08:10

Quote:

Aloha , how are the road conditions in Tiruvannamalai ? I visited TVM over the weekend and the road was dug up almost everywhere close to the temple.
Hi sdp1975 - road conditions were not very good - i think we had to take a detour in Tiruvannamalai owing to road repairs ...

bsdbsd 2nd November 2010 15:51

Hello All,

This is a quick travelogue on a trip to Pondicherry (from Bangalore) that we undertook Oct 30 to Nov 1st. I don’t travel frequently. Some of you may be used to the road conditions and the town conditions. So, please bear with me if my observations are out-of-touch-with-reality. And forgive me if you notice any grammatical/semantic/syntactic mistakes…this was written in a hurry.

Supporting equipment: My trusted Santro AT, iPhone Sygic GPS.

Passengers: Myself, Wife + 2 Kids (8,3)

Onward

We started at 5:00AM and headed straight to Electronics City Elevated Expressway. For a few mins I thought I was driving in a foreign country (take your pick)…but I was quickly brought back to my country of origin – 6 mins flat to EC.

Then began the drive to Krishnagiri. Lots of cyclists were on the stretch – not the general cyclists, but very well equipped cyclists…probably on a tournament. I wonder about their motivation and energy levels.

One Swift and Verna crossed us at high speeds (may be at 130-150+ kmph)…and I had a bad feeling about that. Sure enough, the Verna was consumed in a white smoke a few Kilometers down the road. The whole road was covered with metal burning smoke and acrid smell with visibility reduced to Zero. Not sure what had happened, but the car had suffered a severe breakdown. The traffic was blocked until the smoke was cleared (2-3 mins). As nothing had happened to the occupants (but shaken and stirred), I left the place for my onward journey. Did not stop at Krishna Bhavan for breakfast, but filled up the tank anyway (HP).

After Krishnagiri, the road to Tiruvannamalai began. GPS guided me to the road after a few turns here and there. About the signage, entry and exits…less said the better.

The Krishnagiri-Tiruvannamalai road (until after this town) is decidedly bad. It’s astounding that in this age and time, roads like this exist. This “Highway” contains potholes of all sizes and shapes, vanishing section of roads, mini lakes, craters, gorges and suffers from layered erosion of tar. In Tiruvannamalai, the road simply disappeared – we were presented with a 100 meter section of 4x4 off-road challenge. Somehow I emerged on the other side of the road. It was raining throughout from Krishnagiri till here…did not help the matters either. I expect someone from NHAI to explain this atrocity unleashed upon us. National Shame.:Frustrati

Things always get worse before they get better. The road to Gingee and Tindivanam were in a far better shape. The ones with likes of Innova / ‘C’ segment cars can maintain a respectable average speed. The rocks of Gingee make a breathtaking sight. Need to study more about unique geography.

One thing is that these so called national highways become a part of towns they pass through – This makes you lose your way, and the sensation of highway travel. People are the saving grace in all situations. They help you to no end.

The road to Puducherry from here (Tindivanam) was an extremely well done 4 laned highway (what a contrast). Reached Zest@Big Beach by 1PM. Total travel time was 8 hrs. I am sure many of you can do this in 4-5 hrs – which I feel is the correct time.

Puduchery:

Since we spent most of our time in the Zest resort, I am not qualified to comment on what the town offers to a tourist. We visited Botanical Gardens, Casablanca and Kalki (shopping), and the Beach Promenade. Driving in town is strongly discouraged. Walking is the best way to discover the town. Markets are lively. People walk right in the middle of the road and you need to go on your knees to give you some way if you are driving a car. Same thing with cyclists. Seems like a pleasant town – until the heat gets you…

Return Journey:

Given the Krishnagiri-T’Malai road experience, I thought of taking a different route. Some folks suggested Gingee-Arani-Vellore-Blore. I always wanted to do ECR and decided to visit Mahabalipuram before heading back.
Did some research (on team-bhp of course), and I had Puduchery-MPuram-Chengalpattu-Kanjeevaram-Vellore-Bangalore route in my hands. Started at 10:00AM after a leisurely breakfast and hit ECR. A board proudly proclaimed that it’s a ‘scenic beach roadway’. I could see the coast only a couple of times. For all you care, we could have been 100kms from the coast given the intervening vegetation. Reached MPuram at 12:00PM. Visited all the mandatory attractions – A very nice place I must say (until the heat gets you ).
Started at 2PM to Kanjeevaram and reached by 4PM. Wow! This town is unbelievable. One should see and feel the heat, dust, chaos and the insane amount of activities that are going on…A spat between two private bus drivers went on for 15 mins choking traffic on either lanes right in the heart of the town. The temples are very impressive. Due to paucity of time, Saree shopping was cut short to only 30 mins. All said and done, this is going to be my next destination.

I boarded GQ a few kms after Kanjeevaram and it started raining heavily. By 6:00PM, it was as dark as 10PM. It rained ferociously at some sections, and there was no letup until I reached home by 10:00PM. The toll-booth before entering Bangalore (inside Karnataka) leaves you wondering about the appropriateness of the whole exercise, in addition to undergoing varied levels of hardships inflicted upon you. Someone should initiate a change in the way business is being conducted…oh well…

Notes:

#1: Do not speed. It helps none. Mr/Mrs. <insert a celebrity name here> will not be waiting with a trophy and a prize for you for reaching your destination a few mins earlier (even then it’s not worth it). Do not wait for a bad experience to happen before you cultivate better driving habits.

#2: There are lots of toll roads around. All roads seems to be tolled – for good or bad. Allocate at least 300-500 Rs for the same (Depending on your route). Carry loose cash. Dark forces will ensure that your lane is always the slowest lane – so just sail along patiently.

#3: Carry a reliable GPS, in your car and in your mind. Sygic MapmyIndia and PD Maps are great if you have an iPhone. Nokia is more accurate, but map quality is questionable. Cannot comment on other hardware (Android / Windows).

#4: National highways are not what they are supposed to be. Factor in 15-30 mins extra for all the towns the highway passes through, unless they have a bypass (Bye-pass as per NHAI board writers). State highways are avoidable, but sometimes they are far better than national highways. There was little wilderness throughout the trip. You will always be passing through some town or settlements. It’s depressing. Not sure if this is peculiar to TN. Also, all NH’s come equipped with entertaining, cryptic messages to keep the co-passengers occupied during boring sections of journey. Next time, I will try to post pictures of them.

#5: Internet connectivity: Always on Internet is preferred. I did a lot of planning and routing using my iPad (tethered to iPhone). Very useful when you need information NOW (that’s stating the obvious). Team-bhp is an invaluable resource.

Thank you for patiently reading my post (or rather rants).

rk_sans 2nd November 2010 16:18

@bsdbsd,
That's a neat, short and sweet review. Any pics. How is "Zest Resort" ? More info and pics of it please.

bsdbsd 2nd November 2010 17:15

Thanks for responding. I am just back yday and yet to download pictures. Tomorrow by this time I will upload a few pics. Zest is great for kids, and one should stay there for minimum 4 nights.

chikkars 2nd November 2010 17:43

Quote:

Originally Posted by bsdbsd (Post 2127136)
Notes:

#1: Do not speed. It helps none. Mr/Mrs. <insert a celebrity name here> will not be waiting with a trophy and a prize for you for reaching your destination a few mins earlier (even then it’s not worth it). Do not wait for a bad experience to happen before you cultivate better driving habits.

Short and crisp review. Liked your writing style!!! I should make a note of the above point. agree: Always in a hurry to reach the destination sooner than the previous time.

Are you able to post some pics from the trip?

subs 2nd November 2010 18:15

Hi all

I have been reading that Krishnagiri - Tiruvannamalai roads are bad while going to Pondicherry. Please suggest me alternative routes with good roads without too much of a diversion.

Subs

rk_sans 2nd November 2010 18:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by bsdbsd (Post 2127269)
Thanks for responding. I am just back yday and yet to download pictures. Tomorrow by this time I will upload a few pics. Zest is great for kids, and one should stay there for minimum 4 nights.

Interesting, why 4 nights ? what so special or can you give more info.

hondadude 2nd November 2010 18:56

Quote:

Originally Posted by subs (Post 2127368)
Hi all

I have been reading that Krishnagiri - Tiruvannamalai roads are bad while going to Pondicherry. Please suggest me alternative routes with good roads without too much of a diversion.

Subs

Bangalore-Kanchipuram-Chengalpettu-Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry is a good alternate. bsdbsd took this route on his way back. I remember reading this recommendation on another Pondy travelogue.

bsdbsd 2nd November 2010 22:12

Quote:

Originally Posted by subs (Post 2127368)
Hi all

I have been reading that Krishnagiri - Tiruvannamalai roads are bad while going to Pondicherry. Please suggest me alternative routes with good roads without too much of a diversion.

Subs

Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Vellore-Arani-Gingee-Tindivanam-Puduchery. People who drove down this road last Saturday have vouched for 60-70kms avg speed on this stretch.

bsdbsd 2nd November 2010 22:14

Quote:

Originally Posted by hondadude (Post 2127419)
Bangalore-Kanchipuram-Chengalpettu-Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry is a good alternate. bsdbsd took this route on his way back. I remember reading this recommendation on another Pondy travelogue.

This route is only for folks who would want to visit Mahabalipuram on the way back to Bangalore. Otherwise please proceed to Gingee-Arani-Vellore-Bangalore.


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