26 Dec 2017 / 27 Dec 2017
The second leg of our Tamil Nadu road trip was our journey from Chennai to Thanjavuru. (The first leg was Bengaluru to Chennai). We had never traveled on this route and I ended up spending a good amount of time trying to figure out the best route to take. Finally we decided to take the scenic East Coast Road over the one Google recommended as being the fastest. In retrospect, this choice of scenery over speed worked out very well for us. The total distance was 332 KM and we took 8 hours and 1 minute to travel including several breaks we took along the scenic route.
We left Avadi (in the outskirts of Chennai) and took the Outer Ring Road and joined the East Coast Road at Kovalam. We paid toll near Kovalam and the the entire stretch from there was along the beach and was awesome to drive as well as watch the scenery. We were planning to break for breakfast somewhere near Mahabalipuram and luckily found a beach resort called Golden Sun Beach Resort. We parked at 9:17 AM and were told by the resort guys that breakfast will be served from 9:30. Never the one to lose a good opportunity, we headed out to the private beach and had fun there. Our little one who is 3 years old had never been to a beach and was very excited to get her feet in the water.
We ended up spending about 1.5 hours at this resort and had a decent breakfast. We left the place and drove towards Pondicherry, our next transit point.
The road from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry was very scenic and with little traffic. The drive was great.
Soon, we were in Pondicherry and couldn’t resist getting out and onto Auroville Beach. An hour later, we were back on the road till we found ourselves hungry and were looking for a place to have our Lunch. Luckily, we found Hotel Aryas which was a small restaurant. I chatted up with the owner in broken Tamil who wanted to move my car as it was positioned right on top of the water refill tank on the ground 🙂 We had good hygienic food and used the clean washrooms before heading out to Thanjavur. This was a stretch where I knew my co-passengers would doze off and I made the most of it. A long non-stop drive to Thanjavur. On the way, we crossed Kollidam river but it did not have much water. Finally, we were at our Thanjavur hotel at 5 PM.
All of us took a quick shower and headed off in an auto rickshaw to see the historic Brihadeeswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is a 1000+ year old temple built by Rajaraja Chola 1. The dome at the top itself weights 80 tonnes. We were quite amazed to see the unparalleled Chola architecture and would come back next morning for better pics as it was already past sunset when we visited the temple.
No doubt this is a UNESCO heritage site.
The area around the temple with barricades to control the flow of traffic.
From Thanjavur, we would make our way to another historic place – Rameswaram – but that’s topic for another blog post 🙂