Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

My first ever tête-à-tête with this state was a road trip from Bangalore to Coonoor in the year 2017 on a Maruti-Suzuki Swift, with me on the backseat doing nothing. Fast forward to the year 2021, I could only promote myself to become the navigator in Volkswagen Vento on yet another road trip from Bangalore to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry.

This was a very different experience in the sense that I had never done a road trip with a family and two kids in the car to such a long distance (more than 350 km). Needless to say, the entire trip was thoughtfully timed to maximize kids’ sleeping time so that one can drive peacefully without distractions. My first learning on the trip: when travelling with kids in a car, it is better to start late at night than daytime and have a lot of boot space in the car.

Knowing that Pondicherry is more famous for reminiscent of erstwhile French colonies and gourmet food, I had kept my expectations low in terms of serene and clean beaches. What made this trip truly a worthwhile experience was the slight detour (around 100 Km) to Mahabalipuram, instead of hitting Pondicherry directly from Bangalore.

Route we took: If you are travelling from Bangalore to Mahabalipuram, it is better to start your journey through the Electronic City to take NH 48 that goes through Hosur – Krishnagiri – Vellore, as it has the best roads to drive, taking lesser time (6-7 hours). On your way, you should definitely make it a point to have breakfast/lunch at Murugan Idli Shop. I must say, this was the best ever Idli I ever had. We had to take a different route on return as we were travelling from Pondicherry.

Day 1

Moving ahead, we reached our destination MGM Beach Resort around 10:30 AM taking less than eight hours (with breaks). Choosing this resort was probably the best part of our trip as it has a very clean beach touching one end of the hotel premises, a swimming pool to relax, children play area and a lot of open space to take leisurely walks.

The first leg of the trip was all about a pleasant, relaxing stay at MGM Beach Resort, which was undoubtedly one of the best beach resorts I had ever been to. During our stay at this resort, we also tried lunch at Delhi Dhaba, which was amazingly good and true value for money, and breakfast at Sangeetha which did not disappoint us with its south Indian food.

Photography: For the whole trip, I trusted my new Samsung Galaxy S20 FE phone camera, despite carrying a DSLR camera. The challenge was to click all pictures in the same mobile phone aspect ratio, using the phone camera’s wide-angle lens. This pushed me to be extra cautious of the foreground, midground and background. It was definitely a good learning exercise as I had to pay more attention to the composition than camera settings.

Camera: Needless to say, I loved the camera on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and would recommend it to anyone planning to buy a premium camera phone within budget. Some of my favourite features on this phone camera are 12 megapixels wide-angle lens, time-lapse video, slow motion and the ability to go manual mode even for videos which is a rare feature. The display is crystal clear and sharp and the image quality is something I had never experienced in a smartphone so far. The only trade off may be its battery, which can be managed.

Day 2

We left this resort the next day afternoon to reach our homestay, Gaia’s Garden Guest House at Auroville, Pondicherry. The beauty of this place was an abundance of greenery all around and a dreamy terrace full of flowers. It just felt like an ancestral home far away from the maddening crowd of the city, refreshing memories of childhood. We were so impressed with the property and its location that we actually felt like staying here for at least a week.

Finishing lunch at a nearby restaurant, we headed for Pondicherry to explore the local art and craft market and Puducherry beach, strolling through beautiful lanes in this area.

Day 3

Our last day on this trip was as unplanned and hectic as it could get. The unexpected rain from the night before, falling incessantly till half the day, washed away our plans to visit Paradise beach, forcing us to head back to Bangalore. Luckily, the rain stopped while we were still in Pondicherry, giving us hopes to visit at least Auroville Matri Mandir. Later, as the day progressed with more and more sunshine, we extended our plan to also visit Baker Street to grab some French delicacies and pizza to have on our way back.

The rest of this trip was quite an exhausting experience for my brother-in-law who drove all the way to Bangalore for ten hours through rough roads, without any back-up who could drive. Second learning of the trip: if you are planning a long road trip, it is always better to have an extra person who can drive.


Published by Vivek Kumar Verma

Investment Banking Lawyer | Photographer & Blogger | Connoisseur of Food | Poet

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