Major Highway Improvements coming to Tiruvannamalai

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As you come to Tiruvannamalai this year you will see road work on both sides of the road, from where you turn off, coming south from Chennai, at Tindivanum, to Tiruvannamalai. Or, coming east from Krishnagiri, when coming from Bangalore. This is the widening of NH-66, a major road project in South India.  NH-66 goes from Pondicherry to Krishnagiri, then via NH-46 to Bangalore. It is now all multi-lane highway, except for this 180 KM stretch, which is a two lane road which gets torn up badly every year when it rains. Right now to get from Tindivanam to Tiruvannamalai takes usually about 90 minutes (or longer if the road is bad after rains). With the new road it will be at least a half-hour faster. This will also cut an hour or more from Krishnagiri to Tiruvannamalai, and so makes Tiruvannamalai easer to get to from Chennai, Bangalore and Pondicherry.

Here is a map that shows the route of the project:

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If they can stay on schedule, then during 2012 and through the first half of 2013 construction will be happening. They think the work will take about 18 months, and they started in early 2012. It should be complete in time for the Tiruvannamalai tourist season starting in late 2013.

This is what construction looks like on the road now. These photos were taken 28 August 2012 on the stretch from Tiruvannamalai to Tindivanam.

While they are grading the road, and adding crushed rock layers as the new road bed, if there is a drop off at the edge of the road, they have set out colored sand bags to mark the danger. Note the full grown tree next to the grading. I think this is a tree they are trying to avoid cutting down. I am glad this is a part of their effort, to save as many trees as they can. They say they will plant three trees for each one that has to be cut down.

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Grading to widen the road.

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In a few places you can see bypasses being built to go around a town or village area.

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A long stretch of blue bags to the left of the road. Note the bus coming right now the middle of the highway. This is how they like to drive the buses if they can; everybody, get out of my way!

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This shows how narrow the road is now, and the width of the new highway to come.

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Blue bags to the right of the road. Many trees still stand.

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There is a culvert here, one of many. For each of these, new concrete must be laid to extend the culvert to both side of the road, and to make them strong enough for the upgraded highway construction standard that is one element of this widening plan. The upgraded standards will have a deeper roadbed laid, with more layers. These additional layers mean that the road will have a longer life, and not get torn up in the rains, like the present road.  Some of the ubiquitous potholes can be seen in the photo below.

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Here is a familiar stop for many people, the NSF Hotel. This is the place where drivers commonly stop for chai or coffee. You can see that the parking area in front of the restaurant will be taken up by the new wider road. I don’t know where they will park in the future. That becomes a real problem for places like this on the road, that depend on people stopping for their business.

This new road is going to have a great impact on the cities, towns and villages along its route. Old businesses that depended on the traffic, and the easy ability to stop (when the traffic does not move very fast) will go out of business. Cities that have bypasses built around them will lose businesses for the same reason. New places will open up in better locations for the new road, so some people will prosper. With improved highway access some places will see a land boom, as property prices increase. Villages that are on both sides of the road will be cut apart by the new road. The new highway should be a boon for farmers, since now they will have increase access to markets that they could not effectively reach before. These changes happened in the USA in the 1950s as the Interstate Highway System was built out. These same changes are happening in India today as they upgrade their national highway system all over the country.

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When NH-66 gets to Tiruvannamalai, there will be a bypass around the city. Below is an approximate map. NH-66 is in pink.

NH 66 Bypass around Tiruvannamalai

Here are photos of work on the Tiruvannamalai bypass, taken on 30 August 2012.

This wide road cuts through a new route. Now there is just a wide graded and built up road bed.

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Arunachala is unmoved by all the commotion.

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In some places piles of dirt and big water pipes line the road, waiting for construction to come. 

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Near the road are a few nice big houses, built mainly by Westerners. These were out in the country, quiet a peaceful, when built. Now they will be next to a major highway.

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For more information, here is an article from The Hindu about this:

Widening of Krishnagiri-Tindivanam NH-66 (from seven metres to 10 metres) will improve economic activities in this region. This highway is one of the main corridors connecting the Union Territory Puducherry via Tiruvannamalai, a well-known pilgrim centre. Lakhs of devotees from Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh visit Annamalaiyar Temple and Melmaruvathur Temple here to perform Girivalam (circumambulation), especially during full moon day, and Thai Poosam festival. A senior official from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Villupuram division, told The Hindu that contractors had been asked to send their proposals for the project. The official said the contract would be finalised in January 2011. The project would have to be completed in 24 months from the date of awarding the contract.

The 178-km Krishnagiri-Tindivanam road will have eight bye-passes covering eight towns — Tindivanam, Gingee, Keelpennathur, Tiruvannamalai, Chengam, Singarapettai, Uthangarai and Mathur.

Two major fly-overs will also come up on Thondayar River near Gingee in Villupuram district and Pampar River near Uthangarai in Krishnagiri district. A railway overbridge over the Samalpatti rail-level crossing is also a part of this project. Besides this, 17 minor bridges will also be built along the road. There will also be 133 culverts and 73 pipe culverts. The road will pass through 42 semi-urban and rural settlements from Krishnagiri to Tindivanam and Anandavadi, Muttukadu and Siruvadi reserved forests in 17 locations. Over 19,000 tamarind and neem trees will be axed.

However, the NHAI officials said they would make all efforts to retain as many trees as possible. They said the NHAI would plant three trees for every tree felled. Two to three toll plazas may be set up near Singarapettai, Tiruvannamalai and Gingee town. The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure has approved the project.

This year you will just see construction, all along the route. Next season, when you come, expect a faster, more comfortable trip. (Unless somehow the project’s completion is delayed. But things like this never happen in India {ha ha}).

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18 Responses to “Major Highway Improvements coming to Tiruvannamalai”

  1. Guruprasad K Says:

    Hi there, I am planning to drive down to Pondicherry from Bangalore this week. How does it look now between Krishnagiri and Tiruvannamalai? I will try for alternatives too (like via morappur), but a currnt status comment if available would be much appreciated.

    i will sure post ample information and photos of the route I finally take.

    Thank you,

    Guruprasad. K

  2. Ramesh Sundaram Says:

    Hi Richard,

    Its really awesome job , It would be nice if you can post latest photos of Krishnagiri to tiruvannamalai road photos..I knew its not that easy to take and upload photos, please collect the latest photos and upload it if you can ASAP.

    Thanks
    Ramesh

  3. guru prasad Says:

    Hi Richard, how are you ?
    Coming to tiruvannamalai. Can I take the NH 66 and reach safely. please advise.
    Guru

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      NH66 is OK, but give yourself more time due to construction, at least 30 minutes from Chennai, and an hour from Bangalore.

  4. Kb Onlinee Says:

    HI Richard,
    Do you have the latest update on the road work of NH 66 from Tindivanam to Tiruvanamalai stretch as of June 2013?
    how much kms completed and how much pending on this stretch? Any idea when this stretch would be in a good shape?
    If you can post some latest photos it would be great!

  5. Gyan Bhat Says:

    Thanks Mr Richard for the info .If you have any updates on the progress of the road work , could you please provide the same ? Thanks again .

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      It is still going on, I bet it takes at least one more year. I head the Krishnagiri to Tiruvannamalai is VERY bad. Look on the internet for alternate routes.

  6. Bhuvana Subramanian Says:

    your write up is good, yeserday i saw thousands of huge trees already cut ,includes beautiful banyan trees..i dont think your comment on department people keeping in mind about less trees were cut..sorry.anyway ,its all happened.

    • Richard Clarke Says:

      Yes, many trees have been cut. The road people said they would be pl;anting more than they cut down. But this will take many years for them to grow.

  7. Ramesh Sundaram Says:

    Thanks for your effort richard for the NH66 Photos, kindly update latest photos with the current status if you can &
    if you can …

  8. Venkata Ramana Sarma Podury Says:

    Whatever you post it so thorough and professional. Living in Thiruvannamalai I have no idea of these developments. Last time when I came into town it was from vellore side.The krishnagiri road widening is good news for me and for my site at Atyandal. Thanking you once again
    Ramana Sarma

  9. anabhakta Says:

    Thank you, Richard.

  10. anabhakta Says:

    Good news, Richard! Last year it took almost 9 hours to get in Tiru, from Bangalore, due to the extremely bad road conditions.
    Thank you for all the informations about Tiru and Arunachala you make us know.

    By the way, please tell me if you think this time of the year (august/september) is a good time to visit Tiru? I mean, how is the weather and temperature?
    I’m planning my next visit and as it will not be possible for me to go in the winter season, I would like to know about other months.

    Many thanks.

    Ana.

  11. Lalitha Ramesh Says:

    Thanks Robert. Your posts make me feel I am in Tiruvannamalai. Thanks for the detailed pictures.
    Very useful information for anyone travelling from Bangalore to Tiruvannamalai

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