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India Chennai- Pondicherry

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Its that time of year again when I really regret not having gone to India for/ after Christmas. Sadly after many visits to Goa which I love I feel that I have seen what I want to see and I do not want to lie in the sun for the length of my holiday.
The S.E. coast of India appeals to me but doesn't appear to be well-known in Britain.
I would like to go In November.
If we flew in to Chennai and spent time travelling down to Pondicherry , can we find a nice hotel by a nice beach? We'd be looking for character,and good restaurants nearby which are more important than top class facilities.
If we had 10 days is there enough to keep us occupied (whilst allowing for a swim every day)?
Many thanks.

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    I've never been to Goa, but i understand they are quite different.

    Chennai to Pondicherry is about a 3 hour drive, with mamallapuram about halfway down. There are nice hotels, and If i remember the name of a little beach caban resort slightly north, i'll come back and post it. It may be me, but all the beaches left a lot to be desired. I saw lots of surfers in Mamallapurum, but no swimmers in either town. Apparently there are some pretty strong rip currents.

    I was therein June, so the beaches may be different in November.

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    Frances, is your top priority a nice beach? If so, aybe the coast of kerala (either south nr Trivandrum, or north near Cannur) would better fit the bill. The latter is much less known, and quieter.
    If it's interesting towns, etc, that is your priority, the TN coast as you mentioned abobe would be fine.

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    The east coast of India offers a lot to see and do and is far less touristed than a place like Goa. My thoughts and suggestions are as follows:

    1. Unfortunately, November is not a good month for the south east coast of India, as that is when the area gets the monsoon, as they don’t get the summer monsoon like most of India. (I guess if you really don’t want to “lie in the sun for the entire holiday”, then maybe it is a good time of year…). But I would be a bit wary of swimming during monsoon season, as waves can be rough. So look at weather websites and make sure you are OK with heavy rain. It can keep temps down, which is nice, but can also spoil sea views, which along this coast are quite pretty. You could also have flooding and travel delays.

    2. There are several large resort hotels just south of Chennai, like the Taj Fisherman’s Cove which are on the beach and cater to weekenders from Chennai. This does not sound like what you are looking for, but they may be OK for a night or two if you want an actual beach resort holiday sort of in the Goa mold. See the Taj website.

    3. As noted above, the drive between Chennai and Pondicherry, only takes 3-4 hours, so 10 days is quite a bit of time for that portion; however there is a lot in that area to consider including (weather permitting), so you could get 10 days out of that trip pretty easily. I would certainly spend 2 days or so in Chennai first (they have a very pretty beach).

    4. Kanchipuran which is a major ancient temple complex and a city of silk weavers, would be an interesting first stop. This is inland, so no beach swimming that day. Get an early start from Chennai and make this a day trip so you can get to Mahabalipuram by dark. (I think it is about 2 hours between the two.)

    5. Mahabalipuram deserves at least 1 night. You might consider the Sea Breeze hotel which has a very pretty setting on the beach and walkable to the shore temple. It’s not luxe by any means, but seems comfortable (have not stayed by have eaten in the restaurant ( see For more upscale but off the beach there is a Radisson. There is also the Sterling resort near the Shore Temple which I have not seen.

    6. From Mahabalipuram you can head to the Pondicherry area. This is a very pretty drive along the east cost highway. (Do not take National Highway 45 which is all lorries and construction and is inland.) I really like the city of Pondicherry a lot, however it has no beach to speak of, although it has some nice esplanade areas along its sea wall. It does have most everyone else on your list, like good restaurants and hotels with character. It has a good bit of the Raj/French charm left, mixed in the modern India. I would say 4 days or even more would be a nice bit of time there. You can of course take a day trip to a beach nearby. There are also mangrove areas for boat trips, and you will want to go to both the Auroville ashram and the temple complex at Chidambaram for a least half a day each.

    For hotels in town, try , in sort of descending luxe order try the Promenade, or its sister hotel Le Dupleix, see for both, the Seaside Guest House 14 (can’t find an official website ), the Villa Bayoud (see , the Hotel de L’Orient see Hotel du Parc (, or the Richmond ( The Athithi is also quite comfortable but is not in the old town area and is modern, see

    You could stay in areas outside of town on the beach, esp. around the Auroville ashram, which may interest you. See which gives info as well as links for places to stay nearby.

    7. For beach areas south of Pondi, the Neemrana group has a hotel on the beach called Bungalow on the Beach in Tharangambadi which is which is a former Danish colonial outpost further south of Pondicherry. I have not been so can’t comment, but see

    8. Then work your way down toward Madurai which deserves 2 days and possibly more. The Gateway hotel (a Taj hotel) has colonial charm, but there are others, but the Heritage opened since my last visit and I hear it is nice, there are others in all prices ranges as this town is popular with local and foreign tourists.

    9. Finally, quite a bit north of Chennai in Andhra Pradesh state, you might want to consider adding Vishakhapatnam (or Vizag) to your itin. Because this area is further north thanTamil Nadu, they don’t get the heavy winter rains that the beach areas around Chennai get in November. I quite enjoy this little town (of a million people) very much. For sure stay at The Park on the beach, perfectly comfortable, nice little spa and gardens (see The beach is a bit rocky and not a lot of swimmers, and in monsoon season I am not sure you should swim, but speak to the hotel and see what they say. Otherwise, the sea is very lovely and surrounded by hills, and the town is virtually untouristed, and you can get to countryside areas as well. You can fly to Vizag from Chennai, Mumbai or Delhi so it can pretty easily be added to an itin. This is a place I could happily spend 10 days in, just eating the food, reading on the beach, having massages occasionally and venturing out to see local temples and festivals.

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    This is all very interesting.
    I can swim in a pool so the beach isn't essential- at least I don't have to have the sea to swim in-especially if its rough.
    I must admit that I hadn't thought of the monsoon and I will now need to read up on it. If its a couple of hours a day followed by nice weather then that may be an option
    Cali Nurse- where is Cannur as I can't find it. I've been to Cochi and down the coast to Allepey but I'm always interested in somewhere new.
    Cicerone thank you for so much information which I will now look at in detail. Your comment that you could happily spend 10 days in Vizag is illuminating as otherwise I may not have considered that. This tells me though that I need to give it close consideration.
    The last time you answered a query of mine about going to Hong Kong you recommended we went to Bali instead and so we changed our plans and did that! it was good!
    Thanks all

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    What might be a nice trip as you have 10 days is to fly into Chennai, drive down to Mahabalipuram for an overnight, and then spend 3 days in Pondicherry. (Or vice versa.) Then fly from Chennai to Vizag and spend the remainder of the holiday there. I am not sure of your interests, so if Madurai is more of an interest, then include that instead. But combining Pondi with Vizag would be a nice mix of quite interesting historical/temple and then relaxing beach holiday. (Vizag has less to offer of the former, but like most places in India, will probably surprise you with its number of religious and other sites; you just have to look a bit harder as Vizag does not show up in the guidebooks as prominently as places like Mahabalipuram or Madurai.)

    I am not a huge fan of Indian Air, but I understand they are to start non-stop service between Vizag and Dubai this year, which may work well for UK flights.

    I think you will find the rainfall in Novmeber to be more than just a few hours a day. The average rainfall for November is 33 inches, which is more than the UK gets in an entire year. I have not been in that part of India during the monsoon, but have been in other parts (including Goa) and generally what you get are solid days of overcast skies, even if you don’t have rain. While it mostly would not hamper touring (other than some flooding), it’s not ideal for a beach holiday IMO. It also can feel damp. There is a marvelous green fecund beauty to everything, but you have to be prepared for the weather and not mind it.

    With regard to your post on your cousin getting married in NY State, I would think that the certified copy of the statutory declaration of the name change would be sufficient evidence. A certified copy is accepted the same as an original. Of course your cousin needs the official OK on this from the NY marriage license bureau, but that would be my opinion.

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