Bangalore - Tirupati - Mamallapuram - PondicherryBangalore - Tirupati - Mamallapuram - PondicherryTotal No of days - 7-8Dated - June 2016
Behind the wheel & ContributorVinod Kumar...know more about me
Banglore - Tirupati Road trip log Tirupati - Mamallapuram Road trip log Mamallapuram - Pondicherry Road trip log Pondicherry - Bangalore Road trip log
Roadtrip Bengaluru - Tirupati - Mamallapuram - Pondicherry
The Tirupati trip can be read here - road-trip-tirupati-balaji
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram as it was earlier called is around 60kms from Chennai, on the coast of Bay of Bengal. The drive from Tirupati to this beautiful place was a breeze, took us nearly 4 hrs. It was once an ancient historic town and a bustling seaport, but doesn’t seem so today. Around 1pm we reach, Raddison blu which is a beautiful location to chill just by the beach. The rooms have beautiful beach views. The resort is just on the beach, and has a entry but the sea is rough so its not advised to get down. There are two swimming pools in the hotel, a walk around the place itself is quite refreshing.
Kumbhakonam Degree Coffee
After some rest, in the eve we visit the rock cut monuments and the Shore temple. The Pallava king Narasimhavarman was the patron behind these rock cut sculptures. The Arjuna's penance is the world's largest bas relief panel here. Arjuna is said to have meditated to Lord Shiva here. The sculpture of the family of monkeys, Krishna's butter ball, Krishna mandapam, Adivaraha cave temple etc are some other sculptures here. An old man (Sorry! forgot his name) joined us as a guide and he kept narrating the importance as well as the sculptures before us. We enjoyed the sunset at the Shore temple before returning back. The Shore temple is the signature of Mahabalipuram, at times the waves sweep right into the temple. There were 7 temples here, but all lost during 2005 Tsunami just one remains. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Parvati and their sons Vinayaka and Kartikeya.
From Mamallapuram our next stop was Pondicherry. We took the ECR road to Pondicherry and reached within 3 hrs, roads are good and drive is all through the sea coast....Club Mahindra at Pondicherry was a good place to relax.
Its a rustic finish, with basic rooms in thick canopy of plants. One can walk down to the beach. Beaches are neat and clean, but the waves are rough. Hence it was advised to stay within safe limits. Kids had a good time in the pool. In the eve we leave for sightseeing, we visit the Nehru market pick up some handloom products of Co-optex Tamil Nadu, how to miss the Hide factory store!!! Got a few products at a good 50% margin. We then visit the pearl grey white Aurobindo ashram, a heavenly, calm, serene, positive abode containing the remains of the philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and his spiritual partner The Mother. Only a part of the complex is open to the public, the visit was solemn, total pindrop silence, on entry mobiles are to be switched off and no footwear. No offerings can be made here. A good collection of books and cards to pick.Only on darshan days Mothers and Aurobindo's rooms are open and visitors allowed.
Aurobindo ashram organises a Pondicherry tour from 8am to 2pm. You can also contact them for permission to see the Ananda Rangapillai's heritage building who was once the chief dubash of French India.
The entire city is oblong in shape to pursue, the best streets to explore are in the Beach road, French quarters. The buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries are seen on the beach road. The Town hall, war memorial, lighthouse, selva residence, French consulate etc can be seen in this stretch. Le cafe was once a customs house, and Statue of Mahatma Gnadhi with 8 granite pillars are the other landmarks here.The Museum and Library didn't excite much, so we left it out. We drive to the beach road in the eve or the so called promenade, its crowded, we walked from one end to the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the other end. Walking by the French War memorial, it was warm, humid and were sweating profusely, so we decided to wind up for the evening and head back. Enroute our cabbie takes us through the french colony, we walk down to see the beauty of the buildings, clean roads, beautiful well kept colourful homes, and tasty restaurants.
Auroville is 28 kms away from our hotel, so we had to miss it out. It was open in 1968, The matri mandi which was conceived by Alfassa as "a symbol of the Divine's answer to man's aspiration for perfection".
We were actually in short of days to explore more.....as the list extended more we had to miss out.
Scuba diving - by Temple Adventures in the Veeramunivar street, there are courses and certifications available too. A two day programme gives a brief introduction to scuba diving and you can have a dip in the sea with trained guides. There are various levels to the course ranging between 4 days to advanced ones.
Rue Dumas is the oldest street in the area where the first French settlers lived. The biggest church here, The Cathredal falls in the commercial street, which is said to have been rebuilt in 1791.
Tamil Quarter - A peep into the history of Pondi can be felt in the Tamil quater, where ther are still some old traditional houses, and the mansion of Ananda Rangapillai.
All more to be planned in our next trip...back to Bangalore.