Bus Trip to Pondicherry


Recently my wife was diagnosed with glaucoma by a doctor in Tiruvannamalai. We were warned by a friend that, in such matters, it is very good to get a second opinion at a higher level facility. After checking around, Carol found a very good eye hospital near Pondicherry, the Aravind Eye Hospital, so we wanted to go there for a visit.  Since we still have many western ideas about things, we wanted to take the most comfortable bus, which is ‘the Volvo bus’ which goes express from Bangalore to Pondy.

I show photos from the bus ride for those who have not been on such Indian bus rides.

The bus usually stops at Ramanasramam, so to take it, we wait in front. It should come about 1:30 PM. It costs us each Rs 153 for the trip.


If you go there in a rickshaw, the driver will probably ask you to sit in his rickshaw to wait. Here is Carol waiting, a bag on the front seat.


While I was waiting, I thought it would be good to get some ‘color’ shots to show some of the local life outside Ramanasramam.

There is a coconut vendor, under the big tree across the street. In the summer especially, many people go to ‘drink a coconut.’


After you drink the coconut, they will cut in in half so you can eat the tender coconut neat. The shells are in a pile, cleaned up each day. They will dry these coconut husks and use them for fire fuel.


There is also a vendor selling a kind of cucumber, long, thin and curved. He will slice it half and sprinkle it will chili powder. These are quite refreshing in the heat. This time of year there are also usually watermelon vendors, selling slices from their cart.


Here comes the bus. It is a Karnataka bus, so has K.S.R.T.C. on the front window. Today there are people getting off, so we do not have to wave it down.


Now we are on the bus and  ready to go. The seats are nice and comfy and lean way back for a nap. It is  cool, there are good curtains to keep out the sun, and they give you a half-liter of water for the ride.


The trip is about 100 km, and takes nearly three hours. It goes mainly through farm fields.


And through several small towns.

HPIM2937 adjusted


Small houses are near the road. This is a fairly nice one.


Many are just small thatch huts.


There are many bright green rice fields.




About 36 km out of Tiruvannamalai, we reach Gingee, one of the few remaining forts in Tamil Nadu.  It has a long and colorful history. From the Wikipedia article on Gingee  Fort:


Originally the site of a small fort built by the Chola dynasty in 9th century AD, it was later modified by the Vijayanagar empire in the 13th century to elevate it to the status of an unbreachable citadel to protect the small town of Gingee.It was also the head quarters of the Gingee Nayaks, during the Nayak domination in Tamil Nadu. The fort was built as a strategic place of fending off any invading armies. The fort was further strengthened by the Marathas under the leadership of Shivaji in 1677 AD, who recaptured it from the Bijapur sultans who had originally taken control of the fort from the Marathas. During Aurangzeb’s campaign in the Deccan, Shivaji’s second son who had assumed the throne,Chhatrapati Rajaram escaped to Ginjee in the distant South and continued the fight with Moghuls from Ginjee. The Moghuls could not capture the fort for seven years in spite of laying siege. The fort was finally captured in 1698, but not before Chhatrapati Rajaram escaped. It was later passed on to the Carnatic Nawabs who lost it to the French in 1750 before the British finally took control in 1761 despite losing it to Hyder Ali for a brief period. Raja Desinghu rules Chenji an he is one of the famous king to be known when it comes to Chenji. The temple is made full of rocks and rocks sculpture can be known here.


The fort consists of three hills, connected by walls enclosing an area of 7 km². It was built at a breathtaking height of 800 feet (240 m), and protected by an 80-foot (24 m) wide moat. It had an eight-storeyed Kalyana Mahal (marriage hall), granaries, prison cells, a military gymnasium and a temple dedicated to its presiding female Hindu deity called Chenjiamman. The fortifications contain a sacred pond known as aanaikulam. The walls of the fort are a mixture of the naturally hilly terrain comprising the Krishnagiri, Chakkilidrug and Rajagiri hills, while the gaps were sealed with the main wall that measures 20 metres in thickness. It was thus an impressive sight where the defender could seal himself indefinitely.

Approaching Gingee, the first of the two forts is to the south, built on top of a hill.


If you look closely, you can see buildings on the top of this hill.


Below, the 20 feet thick stone walls line the valley.

HPIM3017 closeup


The stones are fitted together without any cement or mortar.



We pass a small lake with a shrine on the other side.


The town is big enough to have a big main cross street.


On the way out of town, there is a row of taxis waiting for a rider.


And a row of vans.


Everywhere we go we see cell phone towers.


A riverbed runs east from the town. It is so much more green here.


We pass many banana plantations.


And sugarcane fields.


And brick kilns.

HPIM3059 closeup

And small villages.



And lush green fields.


We stop, as most vehicles do on this trip, at the NSF  Hotel. On the sign in front, we are welcomed by a big Tamil movie star.


Riders and the driver all take breakfast here.


Here is the Volvo Bus.


When we turn south towards Pondicherry, we see the road construction that has been going on since we came here in 2007. Small parts of the new road are complete. Many more parts are still being worked on.


Lining the road here are what I think of as ‘pole orchards,’ where many closely planted evergreen trees grow.


And are sometimes harvested.




Finally we arrive at the Pondicherry bus stand.



We spent most of the next day at the eye hospital. It turns out that the diagnosis made in Tiruvannamalai was not right, and the treatment they gave Carol was not needed. More needs to be known, but Carol probably does not have glaucoma. Good that we made this trip!      


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3 Responses to “Bus Trip to Pondicherry”

  1. sitaram54 Says:

    Hi Richard. Glad to know Carol doesn’t have glaucoma. I had to laugh when I saw that chai stand, as I’ve never succeeded in having a driver pass it by without stopping!

    Richard, are you at all interested in the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (since you went to Pondy), or was your trip exclusively business?


    • richardclarke Says:

      Usually when we go to Pondy we will stop by Auribindo Ashram and meditate at the Mother’s samadhi. We find it a most peaceful place to meditate.

  2. satchitanada Says:

    Richad – glad to know that carol is glaucoma. It is real advaita teaching. Glaucoma that she never had, she is now free from it.

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