Bangalore to Pondicherry, Chettinad, Madurai & Rameshwaram is a lovely road trip covering the core of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. These drives, cover not more than 300 KMs in a day. The plan is to cover for a week extendable for another two days. It also provide you an option to just plan for as many number of days you wish to.
The good thing about this circuit is that all the places are closeby giving one an opportunity to explore the French architecture and Auroville in Pondicherry, the UNESCO Heritage sites of great Chola temples in Thanjavur, the magnificent mansions of Chettinad and the lovely beach and 18th century Danish town of Tranquebar and magnificent temples at Madurai and Rameshwaram
Here is what we recommend you can do in nine days…..
(Please on the pictures to see them in original size and resolution)
Road condition – Great till Krishnagiri. The road from Krishnagiri to Thiruvannamalai is now ready. You may find few bad patches but no worry as such.
Leave early. Have breakfast in Saravana Bhavan which is after crossing the Krishnagiri toll gate. This is bang opposite the boat house. Don’t be misled by another Saravan Bhavan which comes earlier.
Reach Pondy by Lunch. After lunch and relaxing for a while, go to beach by evening.
Spend the evening by the sea on the marina. Taste the juicy pineapples which are cut fresh on the marina!
Night stay in Pondy.
Day 2 – Explore Pondicherry
After breakfast drive to Auroville information centre. Attend short video presentation on Matri Mandir. Obtain passes and visit Matri Mandir. More details can be found in this link here Visiting Matri Mandir Spend an hour in the information centre to buy artefacts made in Auroville. Look for lovely pottery and paper lampshades. Of course, the wide array of fragrance and aroma therapy products.
Leave for Aurobindo Ashram. On the way, visit Auroville bakery for oven fresh bakery products. Visit Aurobindo’s samadhi. Have excellent Chettinad lunch in “Appachi” restaurant.
Matri Mandir, Auroville
Drive back to Hotel. Relax.
Drive to Pondy and park the car in one of the bye lanes of French quarters. Walk around the french quarters and appreciate the heritage of the place. In the evening, go to Auroville beach and enjoy the sea front. Have dinner in “Bay of Buddha” roof top restaurant of Promenade hotel facing the sea. It is lovely. If you don’t get a table then go for next option – Rendezvous.
Night stay in Pondy.
Day 3 – Pondicherry – Tranquebar via Chidambaram and Pichavaram – Distance – 151 KMs
Leave Pondy after early breakfast. On the way visit famous Nataraj temple at Chidambaram and visit the Pichavaram Mangrove forests for a lovely boat ride.
Mangrove forests, Pichavaram
Nataraja temple, Chidambaram
Reach Tranquebar for late Lunch. Relax.
In the evening, explore the Danish fort – it closes by 6 PM – and the town of Tranquebar. Play on the beach. Have dinner in the hotel.
Night stay in Tranquebar
Day 4 – Explore Tranquebar
Get up early to watch beautiful sunrise. Play on the beach. Have break fast.
If desired, you can plan a trip to the famous shrine at Velankanni and Dargah at Nagapattinam and come back for lunch.
Danish fort, Tranquebar
Relax for the day.
Night stay in Tranquebar.
Day 5 – Tranquebar – Thanjavur via Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Dharasuram – 143 KMs
After early breakfast drive to Gangaikonda Cholapuram to see beautiful Chola temple. Continue to Darasuram for another gem of Chola architecture.
Have lunch in Indeco Hotels in Swamimalai or in any good restaurant in Kumbakonam and head to Thanjavur. Relax in the evening or explore local market.
Tower of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple
Night stay at Thanjavur.
Day 6 – Explore Thanjavur and Trichy – 140 KMs
Get up early morning to witness the fabulous sight of sun-rays bathing the mighty temple of Brihadeshwara. Visit the temple. Come back and have breakfast. After breakfast drive to Srirangam to see the great vaishnava temple – one of the largest in the country.
Sculptures in Brihadeshwara temple
Tower of Sri Rangam temple as seen from Rock fort
Have lunch in Trichy. After lunch, visit Rock cut temple and Theppakolam.
After early breakfast, leave for Karaikkudi. Reach Karaikkudi for lunch.
After lunch and relaxation drive to Kanadukathan to see Chettinad mansions. Come back and walk around the streets of Karaikkudi to pick up some antiques. Return to hotel for dinner.
Chettinad Palace – Kanadukathan
Night stay in Karaikkudi.
Day 8 – Karaikkudi – Madurai – 100 KMs
After breakfast, visit the Chettinad mansions in the city.
Come back to hotel, pack your bags and drive to Rameshwaram. Have lunch on the way.
Relax and visit the temple in the evening. Buy special darshan ticket to beat the queue. Have dinner at hotel and relax.
Night stay in Rameshwaram.
Day 9 – Explore Dhanushkodi and reach Madurai (Distance – 211 KMs)
After breakfast visit Gandhamadahava Parvatam for a panoramic voew of Rameshwaram. Then drive to lands end – Dhanushkodi. This is a lovely drive along the sea. After Dhanushkodi drive to Madurai. After Pamban bridge, visit lovely Kushi beach on the way.
Visit the famed Meenakshi temple in the evening.
Day 10 – Explore Madurai and return to Bangalore After breakfast, visit the hill temple of Tiruppurakundram, palace of Thirumala Nayak and other temples in city.
Feast on famed Madurai menus – see details below in Travel Tips – and buy cotton handloom sarees from Rajmahal Silks in city.
If you have missed out on degree coffee in Kumbakonam, try that out in one of the coffee shops in downtown.
Colourful tower of Madurai Meenakshi temple
After Lunch, drive back to Bangalore. You can have snacks/early dinner in any of the restaurants on the highway near Hosur – Adyar Anand Bhavan, Kamat or Krishna
Pondicherry – There are host of hotels to chose from. You can either opt for heritage French bungalows converted into lovely hotels or stay in any of the resorts on the outskirts of Pondy. The advantage of resorts is they are next beach where as the french villas are in city. Another excellent option are guest houses in Auroville.
Tranquebar – Choose any of the three properties from Neemrana hotels. “Bungalow on the beach” is the best choice.
Thanjavur – The newly renovated heritage hotel – Tanjore Hi and top end Svatma – is a good choice.
Karaikkudi – Our choice is “The Bangala”. Top class. Best Chettinad food in the world!! For more details on the hotel and Chettinad click this post in this blog. Chettinad Charms!
Madurai – Taj Gateway is excellent choice. Perched on a small hill and spread across more than 100 acres of forest, this is a heritage British bungalow run as a lovely hotel by Taj group.
a) You can stop for few hours exploring lovely Ginjee Fort after Thiruvannamalai.
b) If you have another day, you can add Kodaikanal to this circuit.
c) Don’t miss heritage walk conducted by INTACH, Pondicherry. For more details take a look at this INTACH Pondicherry Heritage Walks d) Spending evening time walking around Marina, eating freshly cut pineapples is a relaxing experience in Pondy. If you are a gourmet, don’t miss continental food at Rendezvous and many lovely restaurants in French area.. e) The temples of Tamil Nadu are notorious for closing in the afternoon unless they are managed by Archaeological Survey of India. Make sure you are in Chidambaram temple before noon. f) Tranquebar is a lazy, small little town. Explore it by walking around. You can also talk to locals to find out the way they live. Tranquebar was devastated in the tsunami of 2004. g) Chola temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Dharasuram are outstanding in design, architecture and sculptures. Take time to explore them. Swamimalai which is close to Dharasuram is famous for Chola bronze manufacturing. If you have time do visit any shop to witness how Chola bronzes are manufactured.
h) Indian classical music lovers can take a small detour to visit the birthplace of Saint Thyagaraja, the doyen of Carnatic classical music at Thiruvayyaru.
i) If one is interested in doing a Navagraha Temples tour, add two more days to this itinerary. All details can be read here in this post.
We strongly suggest that you download customised Routo app from H V Kumar. HVK as he is fondly called, provides you customised route maps, live support on the road trip and will also help you with hotel accommodation as well. Check out all details here.
What has been your experience of Pondy and TN? We would like to hear from you. Please share it in the comments below.
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