I often travel to Chennai from Bangalore, either for work or to spend a weekend with my family. Somehow, I always end up taking a flight, just to save travel time. I remember taking a train once, and the long hours had tested my patience so much, that I dropped the entire idea of land travel. Last year, during the festival season, I had a long weekend, and I thought of spending it in Chennai. But as I should have expected, the flight rates were sky high and at the wee hours. Ergo, I decided on an alternative. Despite having shunned the idea of land travel, I had to resort to it, only that this time, it was by the highway and in a car. Only after I explored this option that I realized that traveling from Bangalore to Chennai by road is the most convenient. I managed to find a reasonable car rental for the trip, which was complemented by an excellent and friendly driver.
And thus began my first ever road trip from Bangalore to Chennai.
There are two route options- one is through Hosur-Krishnagiri, and the other is through Hoskote-Chittoor. Although the Chittoor route is shorter, it takes more time to travel since the roads are not as wide and well-maintained as the former route. So I took the route through, Bangalore -> Hosur 45 km - > Krishnagiri 50 km - > Vaniyambadi 55 km - > Ambur 20 km - > Vellore 55 km - > Ranipet 20 km - > Kanchi 50 km - > Sriperumbudur 30 km - > Chennai.
I might not have driven between these two cities, but I have been on many road trips, enough to know that my drives never meet the scheduled time as suggested by Google maps. I end up stopping now and then, admiring something on the way - a landscape, a monument, or even taking a detour to a quaint little village on the way. So, when I saw that my ETA was 5 hours, I rounded it off to 10. I was more than happy to spend almost an entire day on the road and have an exciting time than sitting in a boxed train, which would barely crawl and would probably take the same (or maybe even more) time.
Almost within an hour of leaving Electronic City in Bangalore, the road touched the state border and was passing through the countryside of Tamil Nadu. It was soon after the rainy season and surroundings were covered in fresh foliage with endless views of the awoken hills against the clear blue sky. The landscape was too alluring to not stop and take a breath of fresh air.
Stops along the way
On the way, there were many interesting places to see, from ancient forts to bustling bazaars, and silk markets, making the journey a discovery of sorts. After Vellore, near Ranipet, the two highway routes merge and thereby making it a faster and smoother ride. Here’s my list of pitstops on the Bangalore-Chennai highway,
- Choodeshwara Temple, off the borders of Hosur, where the colorful ancient temple stood like a welcoming sign for the road ahead.
- Krishnagiri, where I stopped primarily for a meal. It was popular among travelers, mostly because of the many restaurants serving fresh food. The landscape of Krishnagiri with its rocky terrain, surrounded by verdant hills, was the other reason. I also took a detour towards the interior of the town to stop by at the Krishnagiri Fort.
- Ambur was the most commercial town on this route, known for its leather markets, among various other goods and of course their famous biryani.
- Vellore, the ancient city of temples and forts, was like a world apart from the previous towns. Being in this historic place, I couldn’t miss the 400-year-old Vellore Fort and the ornamental Jalakandeswarar Temple.
- For my last stop, just before reaching Chennai, I landed at the iconic temple town of Kanchipuram. One of the oldest towns, recognized for its temples and shrines, Kanchipuram houses the most sacred Kailasanathar Temple, which is more than 1300 years old. While in Kanchipuram, how could I not sample their famous idli and other local goodies, exclusive to the place!
The Trip at a Glance
Distance: 340 km.
Time: 5-7 H, depending on traffic, weather (rains can slow the traffic at times), and how many stopovers you make.
Best time to start: 5.30 AM if possible (latest by 6.15).
Best places to stop for food: Krishnagiri or Vellore or Kanchipuram.
- If you truly want to enjoy the road trip, then leave Bangalore at daybreak, particularly on weekends, to avoid the outbound traffic.
- Always book a top-rated taxi from Bangalore to Chennai for a comfortable and convenient journey.
- For meal breaks, avoid the popular highway side diners and opt for the smaller, local joints instead.