From a collection of temples dating back to the 7th century to a gorgeous little French colony, a bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry has to be on your bucket-list. Both these destinations are fun with unique things to see and food to eat. Delicious South Indian food in Chennai sees competition in the fresh breads, steaks and other dishes found in Pondicherry. In addition, Chennai has several bike rentals and we can help you pick out the best. We’ve covered everything about taking a bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry, so read on to know more.
State Capital And Capital of French Influences – Chennai And Pondicherry
Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu and an interesting combination of diverse neighbourhoods. It holds within it, the South Indian traditions of culture, artistry and cuisine, and has loads to see of all three. Two of its most famous locations are Mahabalipuram and Marina Beach, and both are definitely worth a visit. Being in Chennai and not indulging in authentic dosas and South Indian vegetarian thalis is nothing short of a tragedy.
With pleasant yellow houses and artsy cafes serving some of the most delicious food, Pondicherry is indeed the ‘French Riviera of the East’. The French were in Pondicherry up until the year 1954, and have left behind some very esthetic French influences. In addition to this, Auroville, the Aurobindo Ashram, attracts everyone who visits; from followers of Aurobindo to the curious travellers. Nothing feels better than renting a bicycle or a motorbike and exploring this quaint Union Territory.
You have two different routes that you can opt for when going on a bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages so read on and make an educated choice.
Your first option is the ECR or the East Coast Road. As the name suggests, it runs along the coast and is a scenic ride. You have the Bay of Bengal for company for a lot of stretches along the route. Additionally, there are several stops you can make on the way for some sightseeing like Mahabalipuram, a Crocodile Farm, Sadras Dutch fort and Alamparai fort. Additionally, you can even stop for a few snacks or lunch breaks.
However, the ECR is known just as much for its accidents and speeding vehicles as for the scenic view. The ECR switches from being four-lane to two-lane which is where the trouble starts. Bus drivers speed rashly around the corners, while unfamiliar tourists, seeing a clear stretch, floor their vehicles only to realise it is a blind corner. This leads to several mishaps.
We highly recommend avoiding the ECR at night as the full-beam of oncoming vehicles tends to blind you and the road is not well lit. Additionally, you can fully enjoy the views as long as you drive very safely. Do not engage in road rage with other arrogant riders – just let them pass. Don’t try speeding, and definitely leave Pondicherry before or by 7 am to take this route. Avoid it post 10 pm as you will meet rush hour traffic. Instead, opt for the NH 45.
National Highway 45
On the contrary to the ECR, NH45 is a four-lane highway for the entire way. While it doesn’t offer views as scenic as the ECR, it is a much safer and relaxed ride. Traffic is a lot more organized, though peak hour traffic presents itself here as well. NH 45 is 25 kms longer than the ECR and does not offer as many stops for lunch on the way.
However, it is your go-to option for night travel as the road is not half as dangerous as the ECR. While the ECR remains a bit risky in the daytime with its sharp bends, blind spots and rash drivers, NH 45 remains safe and manageable throughout. Both routes have tolls, and both have less traffic on the weekend. Both also take approximately the same time i.e around 3 hours. Keep all these points in mind when deciding the best route for your bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry.
Who Is This Bike Trip For
The bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry is best undertaken by bikers with at least intermediate, if not advanced, experience. The ECR is a very tempting route, but we stick to recommending it only for an early-morning drive. Its bends and blind spots are better navigated by a trained eye. Besides, the scenery is so breathtaking that it can get quite distracting. If you are yet to get fully comfortable on a bike, we recommend giving it some time before you undertake this route.
We also recommend that you avoid trying to squeeze this day trip into just one day. Choosing to stay the night in Pondicherry gives you enough time to recover and enjoy its many sights before you head back refreshed. Making it a one-day ‘leave-and-return’ trip is possible, but you won’t get to enjoy it as much.
Best Time to Visit Pondicherry
The best time to undertake a bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry is undoubtedly between the months of November to February. While the start of November still sees some showers, they are rarely intense. The weather will be cooler than otherwise and it won’t be exhausting. It is also ideal to get in some sightseeing.
The summer months from March to June can get exceedingly hot and it will be too draining for a 3-hour ride. The rainy season makes Pondicherry pleasant, but it is not meant for a bike trip. The rain can come down in sheets, fueled by strong winds from the Bay of Bengal. It makes the journey dangerous and we recommend avoiding a bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry in this season.
Chennai and Pondicherry are both lovely destinations, and both deserve to be thoroughly explored. Renting a bike for a bike trip from Chennai to Pondicherry is the best way to do this – there’s no better feeling than that of the coastal wind in your face, or riding down the characteristic roads of South India. While we can help you out with bike rentals across India, only you can decide how to spend your time. Don’t wait any more. There are memories to be made and the roads are calling!