Bangalore is surrounded with amazing weekend getaways. Most people would take the Mysore road towards Coorg, Ooty, Bandipur , Kabini or the Chickamangalur Route . This time we decided to head to Pondicherry – but packed in a nice round trip over 4 Nights that covered Blr – Thiruvanamalai – Pondicherry – Chennai – Blr ( If you have time you can actually extend this to a 7 night trip & cover Chidambaram, Mahabalipuram & Kancheepuram)
Thiruvanamalai is 220 Km from Bangalore and a 6 Hr drive. The 1st 100 Km is on the road to Chennai and then at Krishnagiri you take a detour off the highway. ( NH7 , NH 46 & NH66) The 1st 100 Km takes 2 hrs (Including a breakfast stop) and the remaining 120 takes an additional 2.5Hr hrs – so if you leave Blr at 7 AM you can reach by 1130AM – in time for check in & lunch . Best place for breakfast stop is Shri Krishna Inn ( about 60 Min from Silk Board) – other Options are Kamat , McDonalds & Cafe Coffee Day.
Thiruvanamalai is famous for two things
1. The ancient Shiva Temple of Arunachalam (Sanctum is said to be nearly 2000 + years old) – and the 14 Km walk around the temple along the scenic hills helps you redeem you of your sins.
The temple is massive and majestic & surrounded by hills covered with clouds. The 14 Km walk around the Temple called Girivalam is famous and is announced by the temple authorities on certain days of the year. The walk area is neat and clean with excellent footpaths and is designed to cater to the massive crowds that flood the temple town on auspicious days.
The Ashram is well maintained and has many visitors from across the world who come to understand the simple approach to life and to answer the questions ” Who am I ? What is my purpose in life ? ” – its a small Ashram and can be covered in less than an hr. Do visit the bookstore which has an excellent collection. If you plan to trek to the cave where he meditated that could take you an additional hr.
You can cover Thiruvanamalai in less than 1/2 a day, the Ashram and the temple are closed after 12 Noon , so even if you start at 3 PM you can cover both by 6 PM. They are both located close by.
The best place to stay is the Sparsa Hotel. This is an excellent property managed by the Aloft Group. (Its part of the SPG Group so carry your card for points)
It has 38 tastefully designed rooms in an ambience of lush greenery. Its a wonderful place – peaceful & quiet .
Rooms come with all modern amenities, the bathrooms are big & spacious , they have 24 hr room service and an excellent pure Veg restaurant. (No Liquor , No Smoking)
A lovely swimming pool & Yoga Huts for soothing early morning sessions
They also have a lot of activities for Kids, unfortunately we did not have the time to stay back and enjoy most of them
Thiruvanamalai can get very hot in Summers ( 45+ Deg C) so plan your trip sometime between Oct & Feb.
We left after a wonderful breakfast and headed towards Pondicherry (126 Km – 2 Hrs). Thiruvanamalai & Sparsa is a great break point in your journey to Pondicherry – it breaks the monotony of a day long drive and helps you catch up on some wonderful sights.
We thoroughly loved this break and were fully energetic as we headed to Pondicherry for the next phase of our holiday. Details on Pondy , the amazing Dunes Resort Hotel and how best to spend a few days at Pondy in the next Blog entry