Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bangalore to Pondicherry in an Alto

[Please read this post as an addendum to my previous post: Give Time a Break: Pondicherry. That is a detailed one and more generic account of the trip, and has some photos as well.]

Driving to and fro was more fun than I had expected, even though I had to do it single-handedly the entire time. The other three people in the car knew as much driving as they knew swimming; they had not entered the water at any beach at Pondicherry, and I had to do that alone too. Anyways, a third of the way comprises of NH7, which is an extremely well-built highway with picturesque green hills on the sides, and is a part of the Golden Quadrilateral. The next two-thirds is NH66, a two-lane undivided road by the countryside, but the traffic is very less and we had to slow down a bit only when we passed certain villages. The following is the best route from Bangalore to Pondicherry.

View Larger Map

The entire stretch is 308 km, measuring from the MG Road-Brigade Road junction in Bangalore to MG Road-Nehru Street Junction at Pondicherry. This can be broken down into seven(eight, if you want to drive along the East Coast Road) segments:

Map IconStretchDistance (km)Surface/ TrafficTop SpeedRemarks
Bangalore-Hosur39Good/ Heavy80We started at 5:30 am to avoid all city traffic.
Hosur-Krishnagiri52Excellent/ Average130Very good divided highway. Can drive above 100 consistently.
Krishnagiri-Chengam77Good/ Average110NH66 starts, undivided, two-lane. Not much traffic though.
Chengam-Tiruvannamalai32Average/ Meager80Patched roads that make you downshift frequently.
Tiruvannamalai-Gingee40Good/ Meager90Passing through the crowded town Tiruvannamalai takes time.
Gingee-Tindivanam28Good/ Meager100The Gingee Fort on the way is a good stop if it is not very hot.
Tindivanam-Pondicherry40Good/ Heavy70Pay attention to the right turn, else you will enter the state highway.
Tindivanam-Marakkanam33Good/ Average50Single-laned SH134. Have to slow down for oncoming traffic.
Marakkanam-Pondicherry34Good/ Meager100Drive on the ECR, fields on one side, Bay of Bengal on other.

A third of the way comprises of NH7, which is an extremely well-built highway with picturesque green hills on the sides. I could consistently drive above 100 kmph on this highway after crossing Hosur, and touched a max of 130 in my Alto. The next two-thirds is NH66, a two-lane undivided road by the countryside, but the traffic is very less and we had to slow down a bit only when we passed certain very small villages.

At some stretches on NH66, you have patched roads, where you have to slow down a bit. Also, some farmers lay down haystack on the middle of the road to dry and crush by means of vehicles going over them. We also stopped at a very beautiful sunflower field by the side of NH66 near Chengam.

Tiruvannamalai is the largest town on the way. It has this Arunachaleswarar Temple, which is supposed to be quite a holy place. There is also a Ramana Maharishi Ashram, close to which is Hotel Auro Usha, where we had our breakfast on the way back. That was a very nice place, quite unexpected in a place like Tiruvannamalai. [Details about the restaurant in my next post: Eatouts in Pondicherry.]

Just 68 kms before Pondicherry is the Gingee Fort, a 9th century fort by the Chola dynasty. We got down to have some snaps, but did not climb up the fort because the sun was scorching hot and it looked like a high trek/climb. We could have done that on the return in the morning but Ashwin had to attend office. We stopped at a small Shiva temple instead, for 5 minutes or so.

We lost tracks at both the places you are liable to. First, after the Krishnagiri toll plaza, where you need to take a left from under the flyover. We had instead gone up the flyover, and 15 kms towards Salem. The second place was at Tindivanam, where you need to take a right from a roundabout atop a flyover, and remain on NH66. We instead went straight on SH134, which was a one-laned road with traffic from both sides. And the bitumen was thick enough, it was difficult to get down the road whenever a vehicle came from the opposite direction; a car and a bus could not parallely cross. After 33 kms of driving on this difficult stretch, we hit the East Coast Road at Markkanam, which was a pleasure to drive on with the Bay of Bengal on your left, and some fields (I thought it was paddy, don't know for sure) on the right. The second detour is highlighted in red in the above map.

The return drive was smooth and fast, and we did not get lost anywhere. It took us 7 hours (6 am to 1 pm), with only 5 hours of drive for 308 km, an hour of breakfast and another of various tea-breaks we had. An overall average of 60 was again higher than my expectations.

The drive was a very important and fun part of the trip. We enjoyed it, even without a music system; Pawan and Ashwin sang the entire way; and Chaitanya complained of all songs sounding the same. On the way back we had a fun game where Ashwin used to sing from the middle of a song and we had to guess the beginning. The drive was pleasant and comfortable, you could cruise at high speeds for a long time. I only wished I had a more powerful car.

Related posts:
         Give Time a Break: Pondicherry
         Eatouts in Pondicherry


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Roli said...

lovely post, as its fully detailed and we can get to know how much you enjoyed...

keep on enjoying and yes posting blogs too :)

ashes said...


Thanks for the info. I just visited siliconindia and found that to be an interesting portal. I'll sign up there as soon as I am done with writing this reply to you.

ashes said...


Thanks. I had wanted this to be a detailed one; this is the kind of blog I should have read before making the trip, but did not find one.

Ashutosh said...

Cheers to our car "The Great ALTO".... :)

Hope both of do upgrade to more powerful car somthing like Audi Q7..hehehee

Cuckoo said...

Puduchery is still on my list. It was supposed to happen this Feb but... :(

Loved your detailed description. Driving provides much fun as well as independence. Nahi ?

Photos are awesome. Is it from your camera ?
Where can we see some more pictures ? Are street names written in French as I heard ?

And you've become an expert driver now !!

ashes said...


Yes dude, like our names, our cars are also same. And don't worry, we will sure upgrade to something like Audi, but we'll maintain the same car.

ashes said...


Thanks. Yes, the photos are from my camera. There are more pictures on my previous post. There is a slideshow basically, but it takes you to my picasa album. For still more photos, visit my orkut profile. For even more, email me :)

Yes, the street names are in French...I wrote that in my previous post.

Cuckoo said...

I have already seen the slideshow, I don't have orkut, so I think the 3rd option is on the way. :)

Last post I read thrice, mujhe kahin nahi mila. Anyways, I had heard abt it & now you confirmed it.

sanjay said...

very well written description of journey, couldn't have been any better...btw give a try to Yahoo! India Maps ( they give very good driving direction (for both scooter and car)

Indigo said...

Good that you had an Alto and not a more powerful car. From your post it looks like you believe in testing the limits.

Alto's top is 135, Corsa's 170, Swift 175, Palio 180, Camry 190, Optra 200, Civic 210, Octavia 220, let alone the Mercs and the Porsches.

Alto has no safety measures at all, not even ABS, so you need to be careful. But the best part is, even if you screw up the mileage at 100+ speeds, you still get a higher mileage than many other cars at their normal speeds.

Cuckoo said...

Your post will appear on BB (blogbharti) tomorrow.

ashes said...


Okay...actually there is a larger album at picasa which I do not want to publish publicly.

Yeah I missed that :P I had planned to write about French street names; maybe I'll update it now.

ashes said...


Thanks dude. And thanks for the info about Yahoo! Maps too. I was a Google loyalist and never even bothered to look up Yahoo...they do have driving directions, though all of it is not very good.

ashes said...


Yeah, Alto has no safety measures which should be there at speeds over 100kmph. That is because it is a value-for-money car; increasing safety measures may prove costly, although I understand that driving fast without safety measures can prove costly too. :)

BTW, do I know you? You've been a regular on my blog off late.

Cuckoo said...

Ok, that's fine with me. :-)

You can delete this comment aft reading. I saw in reader your 3rd post. Seems you've deleted it. :-)


ashes said...


The third post is there now. I was just testing out with some HTML tables and images when I published it momentarily and your reader caught it. Anyways, it is there now, go have a read and let me know.

Amiya Shrivastava said...

Now that is what I call as a good trip.

I found this article to be the most informative of all those of yours I have read until now!

There is a place called Salem here in Oregon too..quite close to my place.

This travelogue was indeed well written and I'll definitely use it for my trip to Pondicherry from Bangalore.

And believe me driving is indeed fun!

ashes said...


Thanks. I am glad my post is considered useful by so many people.

That is one more thing I am surprised about US: they do not even have original names for cities. :) See here, and you shall find THIRTY-FIVE Salems in the US! Till now I had believed ten cities/towns in the USA named Delhi was too much!

Amiya Shrivastava said...

W-T-F...I didn't know the Delhi thing man..It's even mentioned that you should pronounce that as Del-High and not as Delee

Shyam Srinivas K said...

I like to introduce myself as Shyam, Webmaster of I am an IT professional who love my native city, Pondicherry. Over the years I have entertained and helped many visitors to our city. It's been fun. However, one common feedback I have received from many of them has been that there is a lack of structured information about Pondicherry on the web.

So I decided to create a website with all the information that we believe a visitor might want. I realized that as we have lived here for more than two decades and have entertained so many guests, over time I have come up with a list of places that people seem to like. So I threw in a personal touch and came up with a list of places that we think will make you return to our city, and hopefully to this website.

If you have a chance please visit

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amit kumar said...

It was a nice experince by reading this blog because we are planning to go to pondichery and this blog has given a good direction to go to pondichery and to enjoy the pondichery.
Thanks a lot for giving this information.

ashes said...


Thanks. It feels good to know someone found my efforts useful.

hai baji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hai Baji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Niraj Vyas said...


Sharing my 2 cents. I just came back from my road trip from Bangalore to Pondicherry. While going to Pondi it took me 9.5 hours (including 1 break). The driver took us through bang- hosur, krishnagiri, tiruvanamalai and then diverted to Kallakurichi through Ulunderpet to take the Salem road (apparently to cover the very bad road towards Tiruvanamali) and then to pondi. Never take this route. While coming back based on local recommendation we took the Pondi-Tindivanam - Vandavasi-Kanchipuram route which touched us to the Chennai- Bangalore highway. This way we completely avoided Tiruvanamali and it very poor state of roads (this may change in 2-5 years from now once the work is completed). once we touched the highway, we zipped though Vellore, Krishnagiri, Hosur , Electronic city (elevated expressway) back to the city in 7.5 hours (including 1 break).
PS: If you have good time at hand, you can get a good deal with SpiceJet which flies direct to Pondi, airport very close to the city.

anjali gupta said...

It's an experience in itself to go on a road trip and if the destination is Pondicherry, there's nothing to worry. One can also get to taste some of the most delicious bits of French cuisine here. Explore Pondicherry Tour Packages and select the one that meet you requirements.

Wingo Cabs said...

This is really a wonderful blog . I am glad to see this . Thanks for sharing your experience and photos with us.Keep posting like this.

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