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  • Writer's pictureRobin Gupta

Mahabalipuram, Auroville and Pondicherry Road trip- Exploring the beauty of East Coast of India

Are you looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a short but rejuvenating getaway? A self-drive trip from Chennai to Mahabalipuram, Auroville, and Pondicherry is a great way to explore the beautiful eastern coastline and experience the rich culture and history of these destinations. This self-drive road trip not only offers breathtaking views but also the freedom to explore at your own pace.

I will take you through the journey that was undertaken by me along with a friend. Will share few recommendations of places to stay, eat and roam around.

Few things to keep in Mind:

  • You should ideally book the tickets 1-2 months in advance for cheap prices.

  • Self-drive cars can be taken from local vendors instead of Zoom car and other websites. You can easily find them on google by typing “self-drive cars near the place you are visiting” and confirm with them by calling. They are much cheaper and reliable. Two major companies in Tamilnadu and Kerala are MSD cars and Comfort cars. They charge approximately 1.5k per day for a hatchback with free pick and drop service at major airports. The quality is pretty amazing

  • Avoid planning on long weekends as places get very crowded due to locals and everything from food and stay becomes expensive.

  • Auroville is closed on Tuesdays and open only till 1:30pm on Sunday. Also, you need to book the guest house well in advance if you wish to stay inside Auroville. You can check the website:

  • Don't forget to try some delicious French cuisine at one of the local cafes or bakeries at Auroville and Pondicherry.

Here's a suggested 4-day itinerary for your trip:

Day 1: Chennai to Mahabalipuram

We started my journey early in the morning from Chennai. Picked up our car and drove to Mahabalipuram, which is approximately 55 kilometers from Chennai, and it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach. On the way we visited Madras crocodile sanctuary and an absolutely stunning beach midway which was completely empty.

After check in at Babu’s Homestay (Rs 3k per night), which is a beachside property and one of the best properties ever visited. We took some rest and then explored the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mahabalipuram, including famous attractions like the Arjuna's Penance, Five Raths, lighthouse and Butter Ball. We saw the sunset at the beautiful Mahabalipuram Beach. Had dinner and stayed overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Day 2: Mahabalipuram to Auroville

In the morning, we went on a beach walk. Then we visited the shore temple. After having local south Indian breakfast, we continued your journey to Auroville, which is about a 2.5 to 3-hour drive from Mahabalipuram. We checked in at AuroBay resorts (Rs 5k per night), which is a newly opened one. It is very close to the main Auroville and has its own private swimming pool admis the nature. We had lunch at Tanto’s pizzeria (one of the highest rated words fired pizza restaurant in the country). After having rest, we went to enjoy in the pool and then visited Lemarc (one of the best French coffee places). We had dinner at our resort and stayed overnight.

Day 3: Auroville to Pondicherry

Next morning, after having breakfast, we went to visit the Matri mandir and explore the unique and serene ambiance of Auroville. Please try to visit early in the morning else it gets very crowded. After that, we headed to Pondicherry, which is approximately 10-15 kilometers away and takes about 30 minutes to reach. We checked in at “La Maison de Batista” (Rs 6k per night), which is right in middle of French quarters and have beautiful antique French aesthetics. After resting a little, we went to take a leisurely walk along the Promenade Beach. We had dinner at famous coromandel Café and rested for the night.

Day 4: Explore Pondicherry

We woke up early in the morning to view the sunrise. Actually, Pondicherry is one of the best places on east coast to view the epic sunrise view. We rented a Scooty for a day (about 500 Rs) to explore the local places as there is parking problem for 4 wheelers due to narrow roads. After having breakfast, we spent the day exploring more of Pondicherry's attractions, such as Auroville Beach, Serenity Beach, Paradise Beach (via a boat ride), churches, Aurobindo Ashram and the Botanical Gardens. In the evening, we visited the Pondy marina beach and enjoyed the lively nightlife in Pondicherry exploring the French quarters and sitting by the beach. Then we rested for the night.

Day 5: Return to Chennai and back to Delhi

After breakfast, we started our journey back to Chennai. The drive back to Chennai takes around 3-4 hours. Depending on your interests, you can make stops along the way, such as at the Gingee Fort or other attractions. We reach Chennai in the afternoon, dropped our car and concluded our road trip with such beautiful memories.

Make sure to book accommodations in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, and have a plan for meals and refreshment stops along the way. Enjoy your road trip to Mahabalipuram, Auroville, and Pondicherry!

Do let me know if you need any specific information. You can reach out to me at or DM me at Instagram @peakandtroughs.

To many more travels,

Robin Gupta

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