Through the internet search, I had got a fair bit of an idea on Pondicherry being a very small-yet-lively city (a Union Territory, by the way) and that 2 days actually would be more than sufficient really to explore every nook and corner of it. Somethings were pre-decided, like Cycling, to explore the "French" culture. So then, I thought this seems to be an apt destination for a short weekend get-away beginning 11th Sept 2015 (Friday) to 14th Sept 2015 (Monday).
I have been reading about quite a few popular travel bloggers from India and overseas, on how they have left their corporate jobs and have started out & continued their travel trails full time. It is great if this happens to me. But somewhere I may not prefer that kind of a lifestyle. So, my kind of style and my USP will always be that of a working professional (I am a full time HR Manager with an MNC in Pune India), who tries hard with thinking of ways to save money for his travels and also squeezes time & schedule, wherever possible, from his office life, to visit several places and help fulfill his dream.
With only around 20 days to go for this trip, I had to configure the fastest & the cheapest way to travel, which ensured that I didn't keep spending unnecessary time in transit. Rather, I had to be at the "place"... in the "city" and make the most of it - by my own standards. So, did the scheduling in the following manner:
- 11th Sept 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm: Flight - Pune to Bangalore
- 11th Sept 9.00 pm: Train - Puducherry Express - Yeswantpur to Pondicherry
- 12th Sept 7.45 am: Arrival & exploration of Pondicherry
- 13th Sept 1.00 pm to 2.30 pm: Bus - Pondicherry to Villupuram
- 13th Sept 5.30 pm to 9.00 pm: Train - Garuvayur Express - Villupuram to Chennai
- 14th Sept 5.15 am to 6.45 am: Flight - Chennai to Pune
Flight bookings on SPICEJET helped me bag the cheapest tickets @ only INR 2,111 and INR 2,107 both ways respectively. It turns out that this is actually the best thing to happen for a Solo Budget Traveler like me. That too, getting them so cheap with only 15 days in advance is damn lucky. As for trains, I preferred Sleeper Class on both my journeys i.e. from Yeswantpur to Pondicherry and then while returning from Villupuram to Chennai, costing me hardly INR 451 via IRCTC website. So, 15 days prior to the date of journey, I was done with the travel booking part & was quite happy on how lucky it turned out to be for me. Here I give a day by day briefings, hopefully it will be useful to you:
Day 1: 11th Sept 2014
Once you arrive at the Kempegowda International Airport at Bangalore, no need to take taxis etc. Just outside the Airport, there are AC buses that take you to all parts of the city. This Airport is way outside the city limits, around 35 kms if I am not mistaken. So going by taxi will seriously ruin your budget. Since I had a train from Yeswantpur Railway Station (an area of Bangalore itself) at 9.00 pm, I had quite a few hours to reach & no need to hurry. The bus is comfortable, takes INR 210/- and about 75 to 90 minutes, depending upon traffic. Halts at a bus stop 1 km away from Yeswantpur Railway Station & you can walk the distance.
The train Puducherry Express was very clean (even in Sleeper Class), had on time departure and fairly vacant. May be since it runs everyday, it isn't crowded at all. My bogie contained quite a few young working professionals I guess, who had come in groups to see around. Reaches next day morning at about 8.00 am.
Day 2: 12th September 2015
Pondicherry Railway Station is small yet clean. There is only one way of exit and outside, it is not like the typical outer side of any railway station - noisy, cluttered, too much congested, vehicular traffic coming in from all sides - no, nothing of that sort. There is only an auto stand and the drivers too don't really come onto your face, forcing you to hire them. I found them very decent.
Having reached right time, at around 7.45 am, I hired one Auto to my hotel Aadhaar Guest House at INR 60/- which is reasonable. Below this, they won't drop you anywhere. You may read full review of the hotel by clicking on the above link.