Puducherry is just a little more than 150 kms from Chennai if you take the East Coast Road, popularly known as the ECR. We took the East Coast road for Puducherry since we had heard about the scenic drive. The driver was more than happy, for, he said that the road has lesser traffic compared to the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). It is true that the East Coast Road (ECR) drive is beautiful – one hour into the drive and you can see the Bay of Bengal no so far away on your left. Rice fields, little villages, back-waters, temples, fisheries, shrimp farms, stone sculpturing shacks, crocodile farms dot the entire stretch.
Stop by the Muttukadu Boat House, if you want to boat on the back-waters of the Bay of Bengal.
And then comes the Madras Crocodile Bank (read blog on Madras Crocodile Park), about 35 kms from Chennai. Famous for the crocodiles, snakes and turtles, the park is not only a delight for the animal enthusiast, both young or the young at heart, but also educative. A tour of the whole park will take you about 45 minutes, and you would have seen hundreds of crocodiles, King Cobra, Anaconda, very small poisonous snakes, phython etc and also the milking of snakes.
You must stop by Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram, as it is called now, for the rock-cut cave temples, the big-balancing rock, and the beautiful Shore Temple on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. The temple town is also famous for its stone sculptures. See if you want to buy any. The complete tour of the place takes about 2 hours.
Important to know these about the Chennai to Puducherry drive (via the East Coast Road):
- The East Coast Road is a 2-lane road. Traffic is very fast. Without stopping, Chennai-Puducherry are just about 3 hours away.
- There aren’t many good places to eat in the East Coast Road. One, Sangeetha, just an hour away from Chennai, is very average with pathetic service. Another, Midland Restaurant, about an hour away from Puducherry is no better. It is better to carry your own food/snacks for the drive. However, you can get a few local fruits while crossing the little villages.