Monday, April 13, 2009

Bangalore to Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) by Road

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram


I think I am going bonkers. Why else would I plan for a trip down to Mahabalipuram - now known as Mamallapuram - in the summer heat?
But there it was and now it is done and I do not regret it one bit.
For the time being this post is for all those who want to drive down to Mamallapuram - now or in the winters.
So sit back, relax and enjoy the drive!

The route
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Bangalore -- NH7 -- Krishnagiri -- NH46 -- NH46 joins NH4 shortly after Vellore -- get off NH4 at Kanchipuram to take SH56 -- via Chengalpattu -- briefly touch the East Coast Road (ECR) towards Chennai -- quick right turn and reach Mahabalipuram

Advise: You will find 4 toll gates on National Highways and one on the ECR. The toll varies from Rs 24 to Rs 45. Keep small change. There is an entry fee at Mahabalipuram also.

The road is GOOD. Even the State Highway is pretty good.

This also happens to be the shortest route from Bangalore to Mamallapuram.

The total distance I traveled? 730km.
This includes our tiny excursion inside the Mahabalipuram town. So, if you take off 30 odd kilometers, the distance one way is around 350km from Bangalore.

It should take you around 5.5 to 6 hours. However, as you will read below it may take upto 8 hours. But that is cool. This road is better than NH4 (also called the Old Madras Road). I heard they are widening NH4 near Kolar and it is all dug up, so perhaps it is not advisable to travel on NH4 now.

CAUTION: Towards evening people in and around Vellore tend to walk casual across the NH. Drive a little carefully.

Our Journey
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We planned to start at 5:00 a.m.; managed to start at 6:00 a.m. We touched NH4 from a small road that joins Sarjapur to NH4. This was we avoid most of the Bangalore traffic.

Just after Hosur, there is a HP outlet, at Sulagiri. They also have a fantastic restaurant, Silver Spoon. I think they have the world's best Vada. The Ghee Roast Dosa (see picture) has a tiny cap and tastes as good as it looks. Tuck in so that you do not have to stop anywhere else for food.

Ghee Roast Dosa

Next stop Kanchipuram - the town of temples and world famous silk sarees. We had to stop there. My mother-in-law would not let me go out of Kanchipuram without buying a saree. We also saw the 1000 year old temple, Ekambareswarar Temple.

Kanchipuram

The people of Kanchipuram must be the most help people in the world. You ask one person for a route and some 5-6 chaps will be ready to help. And emaculate directions. We needed to get out of Kanchipuram to hit the SH56. One person gave us this: "At one kilometer turn right and then after two kilometers turn left." He repeated it twice to ensure we understood. He was wrong! You need to turn right exactly at 1km and turn left at 1.8 km not 2km!!!! We almost wanted to go back and kiss his hands.

We reached our destination - GRT Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram at 2 p.m. And had a fantastic buffet lunch at the resort.

We followed the same route on return. Had late breakfast at GRT Temple Bay and then stopped only at Silverspoon, Sulagiri for evening tea. On the way we snacked while driving.

Our Stay
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GRT Temple Bay resort is f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c. It also offers fabulous discounts in summer (now you know I am not that crazy!) At the resort you can do lots of stuff, but my advise would be to restrict yourself to only three activities:

(i) Early morning and late evening walks at the beach. From GRT Temple Bay I could walk to the shore temple. It is that near! There is a tiny fishermen's colony on the way. This tiny stretch is a little unhygienic. The fishermen answer nature's call on the sea shore and allow sea to flush away the remains. Not very pleasant.
The walk along the shore away from the shore temple is better. Tiny crabs scurry around. I could see some kingfishers.
Kingfisher
(ii) An Ayurvedic massage - once a day. A 45 minutes massage followed by 15 minutes of steam bath. Aahhh! Heavenly.

(iii) Inside the swimming pool for the rest of the day. The swimming pool snakes through the resort and must be around 300-400m in length. Almost all rooms and chalets (except the ones that are facing the sea) face the pool. So one step from your and you are in.

Mahabalipuram

(iv) Read. The private beach enclosed by the resort has chairs and Hammocks. Just relax and do your favourite thing. I read.

This is a shot as I lay in my hammock.

Mahabalipuram

Yes! GRT Bay Resort is expensive. But it is more than worth the money. It also has a fantastic kitchen. The buffet laid down for breakfast is mouthwatering. We took dinner in another hotel in the centre of the town - the hotel is called Mamallapuram Heritage. Nothing elaborate, but good food.

Places to visit in and around Mamallapuram
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The Shore temple, The Five Rathas, Mahishasuramardini Cave temple and the lighthouse, and Arjuna's Penance and the Butter Ball are within a few kilometers of each other and on a cool day manageable of foot - but then there is never a cool day in Mahabalipuram; not even at peak winter. These are world heritage sites and are compulsory to do places.

It was too hot - so we just spent the minimum time required to see these monuments. We returned straight into the pool.

I will put up the photographs on my Squidoo pages soon.

Then there is the crocodile farm. We did not visit this place in this trip; but in one of my previous trips I had gone there. My favourite? A demo by tribals how snake poison is extracted.

In my previous trip I also went to Pondicherry. The drive on the East Coast Road along the Bay of Bengal is enjoyable. I think I will stay at Pondicherry for a few days to really enjoy that place.

I hope this gives enough information for those who wish to plan a trip. If there is any other information you require, please feel free to leave a comment (or send me an e-mail) and I would be only too glad to help.

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6 comments:

wandering soul said...

I have been to GRT Temple Bay too.. I thought the place was totally awesome..more so since i went on a sponsored trip.. ;) But a moonlit night and a private beach.. priceless it was!
And btw nice trip report. :)

Priya said...

hi
i am priya bangalore we some of my friends are planing to visit mahabalipuram. can u pls let us know weather this will be good time to visit. & from bangalore how many kilometers to mahabalipuram ( ONE WAY )

Amitabh said...

@Priya, Mahabalipuram has only two weather: hot and very hot. SO any time is good time. It should be cooler now than in summer. My advise: do not bother; just go. It is a wonderful place. Just remember to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Go around visiting either in early mornings or evenings.
The distance (one way) between Bangalore and Mahabalipuram is approximately 350 km.
Have fun at Mahabalipuram.

Vidooshak said...

Nice read, man. Well written and balanced travelogue. Can't wait to go!!

anjali gupta said...

It must have been an amazing experience to go on a road trip from Bangalore to Mahabalipuram. The ancient and historically important city sees a host of tourists every year. Click here to know about famous hotels in Mahabalipuram.

Rajesh periasamy said...

Very informative post and nice pics. Keep updating about your Blogs and article. Im looking forward to read more of your works and posts I think it was great idea to weekends.

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