We were planning to go for a pilgrimage to Velankanni for last couple of months. We couldn't get convenient tickets in Mysore- Tanjore Train and the trip got postponed. Last week we decided not to wait anymore for the tickets and decided to drive down. My one month old Maruthi Zen was also a big inspiration for doing the same.
Searched in the net and got 2 routes. The first was Bangalore - Trichy- Tanjore- Velankanni which is 475 Kms and the second was Bangalore - Thrivannamali - Neyveli - Punruti - Chidambaram - Karrakkal - Velankanni (430 Kms). Although longer, we decided to try the first one because of the familiarity with the route.
We started from Bangalore on Saturday, October 13th at 5 AM. It was very tough to cross the Electronic City in early morning also. The construction for the elevated highway and trucks were the bottlenecks. We were at Dharmapuri by 7:45 AM and had an early break fast. We started to Trichy by 8:30. The route was to Salem then to Nammakkal and then to Trichy. Till Nammakkal we took NH 7 and then took local roads to Trichy via Musiri. At outskirts of Trichy we took the by pass and joined the Tanjore Road.
It was 12:30 PM when we touched Trichy - Tanjore road. We were very hungry and couldn't find any decent hotels on road side till Tanjore. So we decided to go inside the Tanjore town to have food. We were at Sangam by 1:30 PM. After break of one hour we started to Velankanni. The road was good, but lot of curves and lot of agriculture activities which were extending to road. We had to slow down. We reached Thrivaziyoor by 4 PM.
We tried to for some hotels reservations at Velamkamnni over phone and got information that most of them were full. So we decided to stay before Velankanni. We took a room in Royal Park in Thrivazhiyoor. It had a grand look from outside but is very rooms were very lousy and not clean. Our plan was to refresh fast and start to Velankanni ASAP. We planned to finish all the prayers and get back to hotel late night. So we can start back to Bangalore next day morning.
But our plans didn’t work out at all. We planned to start by 5 PM from the hotel. But we could start only by 6 pm. It is dark by 6:15 and there were lot people and cycles on the road. We really had to slow down. The last 10 kms from Nagapattinam to Velankanni was very bad with lot of construction going on. We had to really struggle hard to find the road at lot of times. We reached the shrine by 7:15 PM.
We spend till 9 PM on prayers. We felt that we couldn't visit all the places and couldn't spend decent time at church. So we changed the plan and decided to come back church again next day and probably start very late to Bangalore. We had dinner at Velankanni itself and started back to hotel.
We made a mistake staying away from Velankanni. We lost 3 hours because of the extra drive to hotel and back again in the next day morning. We should have stayed in Velmamkanni itself as the hotel we stayed was also lousy!!!!. The drive back was more difficult till Nagapattinam as there no light and no signs. Also lots deviation due to construction. Reach the hotel by 11 pm and straight to Bed.
We got up by 7 AM and were again traveling to Velankanni by 8 AM. After a small break for coffee we reached shrine by 9 AM. The Malayalam Mass was going on. We attended the mass and finished other route rituals by 11:30 AM. We were in car back to Bangalore by 11:45.
We decided to take other route via Karrakkal- Thrivannmali back. On the way to Nagapattinam we saw the Monument for Tsunami victims by Catholic church and rehabilitation houses created by World Vision.
We reached Karakkal by 12:30 and had lunch. Since Karakkal is part of Pondicherry, we could find lot of bars. Look like drinks are cheaper and there are lot bars in border of Karrakkal which are setup for people from Tamil Nadu. We also had tough time to find a decent hotel in Karrakkal. We had lunch at Hotel Paris. The good stuff in Karakkal was petrol at Rs 42 per litre. Comparing 50 plus in Bangalore it was Cooooooooool.....
We started by 1:30 PM to Chidambaram. The road is smaller at some places and it is a National Highway too. The width is enough for only one vehicle. The road were also little crowded as it was a costal road passing populated area. Overtaking was impossible at many places.
At Chidambaram we had 2 options to Thrivanmmali. One via Pondicherry-Dindivanam- Thiruvannamali. Other road was to turn from Bhuvanagiri, Punruti and then to Thrivannamali. We checked a Taxi stand and ask for suggestions. It was advised to take second and it is less distance, less traffic and good road.
The road is like this. Go towards pondicherry in same road till Bhuvanagiri. Here you have to take a turn to a State highway which connects you to the Kumbakonam - Vilipuram - Chennai National Highway. Continue on this highway till Punruti. You will pass through Neyvelli before Punruti. At Punruti turn towards Thrivannamali on the state highway connecting Punruti to Vellore via Thrivannamali. It turned out to be good and with two breaks of 15 mins we reached Thiruvanammali by 6 PM. (around 180 kms in 3 hours)
We took break for 45 mins for food at Thrivannamali and started our last stretch by 6:45 PM. It was a tough drive till Kirshnagiri (110 kms). Lot of bad patches in road and couldn't speed up at all. It was getting dark. We observed that everyone was slowing down and soon we were a group 6 cars traveling together to Krishnagiri. We reached Kirshnagiri by 9:15 and Bangalore by 10:45 PM.
We made a mistake by staying at 40 kms away from Velankanni. If you planning for 2 day drive trip to Velankanni from Bangalore, stay in Velankanni itself. Try to book hotels earlier. Heard that the MGM Bethsedha Inn is pretty good hotel.
Also Krishnagiri - Salem road construction for 4 lane is going on. Trichy - Tanjore 4 lane project is also going one. So if you are driving after 6-10 months this route will be faster as you can drive faster!!!
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