When I was planning to drive down to Pondicherry from Bangalore for a holiday, I was really surprised to learn that there is actually very little useful information on the web. I found the information on the route, quality of roads, the correct distance of the destination and the places to see in around Pondicherry grossly incomplete and inadequate. Nevertheless, I did go for the trip and enjoyed it thoroughly. Though I saw most of the must see places in around Pondicherry, I lost lots of time in accomplishing it since the planning wasn’t very rational. So I am posting this so that if any body has similar intentions of going to places that I visited, they will have a good source of information to plan their iteinery.
1. Bangalore (BTM layout) to Pondicherry - 290 Kms
2. Pondicherry to Velankanni – 170 Kms
1. Bangalore to Pondicherry -
Bangalore – Hosur(30Kms) – Krishnagiri(48 Kms) – Mathur (25 Kms)– Utharangai(18 Kms) – Chengam(30Kms) – Thiruvannamalai(35 Kms) – Gingee(20Kms) -Tindivanam(65 Kms) – Pondicherry(37 Kms)
a. The road from Bangalore to Krishnagiri is excellent ( NH 7). For a short distance of about 5 kms from Krishnagiri to the NH 66 towards Thiruvannamalai you will have to pay a toll of Rs.25. From the toll booth at Krishnagiri go over the firs fly over and take the side road before the second fly over and turn left at the signal. If you drive for about a km you will see a huge board overhead pointing to right towards Thiruvannamalai.
b. Even though it’s a NH(66) , its only two lane and the initial 40 kms has lots of potholes. There are lots of cross roads till you reach Thiruvannamalai with out any boards showing directions and even if there is one it will be in chaste Tamil. So I suggest you to stop at each cross road and ask the locals.
c. Jay walking by both humans and animals is the norm on this road. Drive carefully and be generous in the use of the horn.
d. But over all the road to Pondicherry is quite alright. You can comfortably make around 60 kms an hour on an average. So the journey shouldn’t take you more than 5 hours.
2. Pondicherry to Velankanni –
Pondicherry – Cuddalore – Chidambaram – Sirkazhi – Karaikal – Nagore – Nagapattinam – Velanganni
a. Though the distance is only about 170 kms it will take you a little more than four hours because of the mindless and chaotic traffic on this road. The people who live in towns along the road don't seem to differentiate between the road and their front yards. You will see them taking casual walks all over the main road being totally oblivious to the speeding traffic.
b. Quality of the road is good. It’s a two lane road, but reasonably wide.
c. Better to eat breakfast at Pondicherry and pack something for the lunch also if you are hygeinic type.
d.Must see places on the way..
Chidambaram - Natarajar temple here is breathtaking, an unparalleled example of Chola architecture. This temple is being run by Deekshitars for the last 800 years or so and doesn't receive any endowments or contributions from the government. While you are there let your hearts cry for the neglected temple cars, each one a master piece by itself , a sheer poetry in wood, exposed to the onslaught of elements.
Nagore - It has one of the most popular muslim shrines of south India. People from all religions offer prayers here
Karaikal(Thirunallur)- Temple of Shanishwar. Many celebrities from all parts of India visit this temple
Velankanni- Church of Arokya Matha, a 500 year old church. An example of faith overpowering religion. You can sense those divine vibes all over this place. Atleast I did.
Where to stay?
We stayed at Hotel Jairam. Its right in the middle of the city, very close to the main shopping area, J N Street. Its a very reasonbly priced hotel with an excellent vegetarian restaurant. The staff are courteous and service is prompt. I would certainly suggest this place to all those who are looking for value for their money.