Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry

Date: Sep 18th to Sep 21st

Places covered: Vellore, Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry.

Transport: 3 cars - My first trip outing in my Ritz.

People: Pallavi (wife), Divi (younger sis), Mom in my car.... jeeju, hema (elder sis), nieces - Aditi and Bhoomika, Sis parents-in-law, Anand bhaiya, Jaya bhabhi and their daughters - Dimpi, Anjali.

Stay: Mamalla Beach resort in Mahabalipuram and Hotel Sooriya International in Pondicherry.

Didn't cover Gingee fort or the Tiruvannamalai temple as it was getting already very late.

Took leaves on 18th (Fri) and 21st Sep (Mon). Since Friday was also Mahalaya Amavasya, we took head bath and planned to do Pooja in the morning itself. Pallavi and mom got up even earlier and finished up cooking too before 6. After finishing pooja, we did start at 6:30 in the morning. Jeeju was driving his Wagon R, Bhaiya his Alto and me the powerful Ritz :). Took NICE Road and hit NH4 road. The road was too good and for the first time in my life I crossed 100 km/hr while driving myself and did clock a speed of 160 Km/hr.... Hoo hooo.... !!!!

Stopped only in Krishnagiri to fill up the tank. We continued and planned to stop at Vellore for breakfast, but didn't find any sign boards which said vellore and we continued further until I found sign board for Ratnagiri. So we took a U-Turn and went back 20 kms to hit a restaurant on the highway. After having masala dosa, we went to Vellore fort and Jalakanteswara temple. The temple is an old one and has good architecture. Fort around, we couldn't walk around as it was already very sunny and hot. After taking few snaps, we left for the Sripuram Golden temple. It is an enormous temple with a golden mandap. yes the whole structure is made of pure gold and is said to have cost more than 6000 crore to be built. We had a nice view of the temple and then headed to Mahabalipuram. We had lunch in vellore itself and jeeju got an indigestion. So couldn't travel that fast. We stopped for some rest in Sriperambadur on the highway itself. Reached chennai at around 7 and we did 2 hours intercity route finding. Every damn person we asked on way to Mahabalipuram gave us different routes and with 3 cars in the heavy traffic, we did all kind of circles and finally found ECR at 9. Reached Mahabalipuram - Mamalla beach resort at around 10:45 PM.

{Traveler's note: GRT and Sterling Resort were the choices jeeju initially suggested. With cost of around 5k/day for 5 rooms, it just didn't seem worth and hence I suggested - Mamalla beach resort or Silversands/Ideal beach resort. we checked some reviews and found silversands/Ideal beach resorts weren't upto the mark, but mamalla look to be good one. We spoke to one Rajeev, who is the manager I think and his gentle assurance made us decide on the place. our package was Rs 20K for 5 rooms for 2 days with breakfast and one bon-fire :). }

Mamalla beach resort is a good picturesque resort. Well maintained and neatly done but rooms are okay and definitely not worth the 2k/room rates. Since the restaurant was already closed, we went to a nearby local restaurant and got some egg biriyani's parcelled. Had that and dozed off. Oh yeah, before dozing off, since it was my sis bday, gave some gifts to her at 12 sharp. Got up early in the morning with a call from Aditi and we headed to the beach which is just behind the resort. The beach here is little harsher and the black soil for some reason doesn't encourage getting wet :(. But with the joyous attitude of the kids - Aditi and Dimpi, we ventured into it and played nicely. After breakfast, headed to Crocodile park - This is really worth a visit. The sheer number of crocs grown here are mind-numbing. Some of us did experiment holding a baby crocodile, a baby python and a tortoise. It was fun. we also went to poison removal session and heard a nice lecture on snakes. After finishing this, we headed to Tiger's cave. Don't mistake it for another wildlife park. It's a hill carving of a tiger den and has good carvings. Lie down and enjoy a break here :).

We headed back to our resort and had lunch. It started raining, so we couldn't venture out, but went to the swimming pool and had nice fun. Evening, we played in the beach and then we arranged for a cake cutting and bon-fire. Sis cut the cake and had a nice view near the bon-fire. Had dinner outside and returned to hotel and slept off.

Next day, again we spent some time in the beach and the swimming pool. We had our breakfast and left at around 9:30. Shore temple is a good magnificent old temple on the shores and we went around other places like Krishna mandapam, Arjuna's penance, Krishna's butterball etc. we came back to our hotel and refreshed. Left back at 2 and had lunch at Anand Bhavan. It was a chaotic experience with self-service and huge queue/rush. After spending nearly 2 hours there and with raising tempers, we left and went to Pancha ratha. it's again a marvelous place and must visit. Beautifully done. Had lot's of icecreams and coconuts there.

We left for Pondicherry at 4:30 and reached the place around 7. we had not booked a room here as most of the beach resorts were very costly and we planned to stay at a decent hotel in the city itself. We took some time to hunt down a decent hotel and after that the crap people took 2 hours to ready the room and hand it over to us... (they had told rooms have to be cleaned up - it would take 30 mins)...

Pondicherry is a decent place. we first went to the so called beach in the main town. This is full of big rocks and good to take snaps but you can't venture in the sea. So, we headed to Auroville beach around 10 kms from the city. This is a nice one and the beach here is calm too. Played well here. Didn't visit the Auroville town though. Went back to the hotel, got freshened up and headed to the Aurobindo Ashram. Has his samadhi and worth a visit. Had lunch on the way back (Anamalai International).

We left Pondicherry around 4 PM. Since it was getting dark, we didn't cover Gingee fort or the Tiruvannamalai temple but took coffee break there. Stopped in Krishnagiri for dinner and had nice roti's. The road from Pondicherry to Tiruvanamalai is a good state highway. Not much potholes but 2 lanes makes it difficult to overtake especially in the nights. We reached back Bangalore at about 12:30 AM on Tuesday.

Overall a great trip. Main intention was to spend lot's of time in beaches and we accomplished that very well !!! :)