MAHABALIPURAM AND PONDICHERRY PART 1

me @ hitec City MMTS

If you have read any one of my previous blogs you would know that I am aiming to visit all the world heritage sites in India as a part of Gounesco challenge and this trip was partly for that.
I have been planning and wanting to visit Pondicherry for quite some time and Ugadi brought with it the chance to realise the vacation, we jumped on the chance and added Mahabalipuram in the mix. You can read more about the history of Mahabalipuram here, but to cut the long words short:
These are an example of rock cut architecture which many would relate to the Ellora caves of Aurangabad. The monuments are scattered around in the city. you can either hire an auto-rickshaw or walk as we did.
Now to start from the beginning. We were hell bent on making the trip as cheap as possible. No matter what u earn it becomes difficult to justify your frequent trips to others and sometimes to yourself unless they get as cheap as they can.
AJ @ Hitech City MMTS

Our train
Ditching the auto for MMTS from Hitec City to Secunderabad Railway station we started on the right foot. Details of the expenses will come in the end but it would suffice to say we saved around 200/- before we had even set foot in Tami Nadu. Both our trains were late (MMTS and Charminar Express) and it was more than comfortable for us to stock up on some food and reach on our platform. The train journey was relatively uneventful, but I got to mention that we could not find water on the train and we had finished our supply in first 2 hours. Sleep was comfortable and weather got cold as the night progressed.
Refreshed after night’s sleep and happy our train got us there on time we walked to the  stop where we could catch the bus from Central to CMBT. After a lot of guidance and a few minutes we caught 15B the bus you need to get to the bus stand of CMBT.
Bus to Mahabalipuram
At CMBT it was difficult to locate a non AC bus to Mahabalipuram and we were sure an AC would burn a hole in a small budget, plus it was another hour before it started. After a lot of directions and 15 minutes we found a bus which dropped us in Mahabalipuram market two hour later. With directions from a shopkeeper we knew how we were to see the monument and he was right.
Freshening up @ Arjun’s penance
You should start with Arjuna’s penance as it is called. It is a park like comples with many viharas which would catch your attention. It also houses Krishna’s butter ball the precariously balanced rock. The toilets here were really clean and it is the right place if you need to freshen up. We couldn’t find any other place in our km or so long walk to reach the complex.
We clicked a few pics and had some slices of cucumber. That helped a lot. But beaten by heat which seemed to escalate as soon as we reached Mahabalipuram and scared by the monkey kingdom we decided to leave the complex in favor of other sites. By this time I was not sure where will we buy tickets for the mandatory pics. We took newspaper pics and started for the five rathas.
Aj and the Butter Ball
Aj @ Varaha Mandapa
Some details
An Incomplete Gopuram
Way out of the complex
Toddy for Rs 10/-
The walk was tiring in the heat but we reach there in another 15-20 minutes. This was the first time we had to pull out our identity cards to assure the ticket guy we are Indian. Refilling our water bottles from the cool water dispenser we walked towards the complex. I had seen pics a few days back on FB about the fruit of toddy tree. Here I had my first encounter with the refreshing fruit.
We walked in the campus telling another person we are Indian. The sand gets in your feet and being hot doesn’t really help. We took the pics as required for gounesco and then took shade behind a ratha. We fixed up our Gatorade and munched on some food. This was definitely what our body needed. Rested and refreshed we looked around other rathas. Now it was time for the shore temple.
Aj @ 5 rathas
Me @ 5 Rathas
Rest behind the rathas
Souveniers from Jaipur trip

We refilled our bottles again. Looked around for the restraint the sign said about but it is not there. It was then a walk to the shore temple. Here I want to tell you that you will be paying more than the mrp for cool water and icecream. Why? Cooling charges are to the tune of 5/- on a Rs. 5 ice-cream. With another bottle full of Gatorade down our throat we reached shore temple. As you approach the monument there are a lot of shops selling all kinds of food.  We zeroed in on a decent outlet and walked ahead. You do not have to buy another ticket here if you have one from the rathas and vice versa.
Tsunami has really worked havoc on the temple and for the first time the heritage site was nothing like we studied in college. But still it was beautiful and the sound of sea beyond was really relaxing. do go to the shrines behind the shiva lings in the pic below
We spent some more time here and the blisters on my feet had really started showing their face. Hopping a bit we walked out to feed ourselves and ended up at the inn deco hotel. Definitely not a cheap place though not as exorbitant some of our previous trips had been.
Shore Temple
Another moment of rest at shore temple
With full stomach we walked to the bus stand a few 100 meters away only to discover that the buses to Pondicherry don’t go from there and we need to get to bye pass where the frequency is 5-10 minutes. An auto wallah was keen to drop us there ‘for 40 bucks but I refused. We could walk another 2 kms if we had walked so much and those 40 might as well be the ticket to Pondicherry.
As we walked I could see people staring at us ‘what fools walk in this heat?’ We reached the ECR bye pass in around 20-30 minutes gulping down water and maybe I forgot to mention with our bags on our shoulders the entire time since morning. As if to bless us for all the hardships we had seen as soon as w reached the underpass a bus was there though it was packed we still found two seats in the last row. After disturbing a few of our co passengers AJ put our luggage on the storage racks and we sat in the bus waiting for Pondicherry to come. All we wanted was a cold bath and hot water to dip our feet in, followed by a good night’s sleep so that we can greet Jobin and Pondicherry next day with fresh faces and bodies.
Our bus to Pondicherry
Now for the practical part of it all of this is per person.
Office to Hitec City- got a drop off                                                                             0/-
Hitec City MMTS to Secunderabad                                                                           5/-
Charminar express from Hyd to Chennai @ 6:55pm                                                   380/-
Central to CMBT                                                                                                      13/-
CMBT to Mahabalipuram                                                                                         50/-
Entry tickets to the world heritage sites                                                                      10/- (Indian)
Mahabalipuram Bye pass to Pondicherry                                                                   60/-
Food and other expenses                                                                                          400/-
Total for the day                                                                                                    918/-
 Tip: When at CMBT and if you want a cheap bus, go to the rear of the terminus and ask around a lot. The bus we were in was going to Kalpakkam.
Part 2 is up now.

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