So you’re backpacking around South India, and you’re going from…
How to get from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry
The quick list:
- Go to the Mahabalipuram bus stand on ECR (East Coast Road)
- Look for the bus that comes that says “ECR” (and Pondicherry) on it, and get on that bus
- Enjoy the bus ride!
- Get off the bus at Pondicherry bus station!
- Visit Pondicherry!
Go to the Mahabalipuram bus stand on ECR
Look for the bus that comes that says “ECR” (and Pondicherry) on it, and get on that bus
Enjoy the bus ride!
Arrive at Pondicherry bus station!
When you’re headed to Pondicherry from Mahabalipuram…
Go to Mahabalipuram bus stand on ECR
So there is also a Mahabalipuram bus station in town, but this won’t help you in getting to Pondicherry.
I was told there is no bus to Pondicherry from the main bus station.
This means that you do need to go to the ECR Mahabalipuram bus stand.
ECR stands for East Coast Road but you’ll hardly ever hear anyone call it that. As the name indicates, this is a road that runs along the coast. It’s also a main road.
ECR might be around a 20 minute walk from town, or you can get a rickshaw.
The most important thing here when you get to ECR is to make sure you’re standing on the correct side of the road!
So coming from town (the beach, Shore Temple, etc), once you get to ECR, you’ll see a bus shelter on the opposite side of the road.
You’d have to cross the road for this, and this is NOT the correct side if you’re trying to get to Pondicherry. (If you are going in the opposite direction from Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram, it’s the side you would be dropped off at!)
So basically, stay put on the town side of the road!
You can also ask around or consult Google Maps to make sure that you’re standing on the correct side of the road.
Wait for the bus to arrive!
You’re looking to get on a bus that says “ECR” on it
The bus you’re waiting for is the ECR bus that goes from Chennai to Pondicherry.
This will be fairly easy to identify!
And then once you get on the bus, you can confirm that it’s a bus going to Pondicherry.
What are the bus timings?
Basically, you don’t really need to be concerned about specific bus timings when you are traveling from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry.
It seems that there are very frequent buses that go from Chennai to Pondicherry taking ECR, which means that you very likely won’t have to wait long for the next bus to arrive.
I waited like 2 minutes!
How much is a bus from Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram?
When I took this bus, it cost 91 rupees (US$1.50).
How long does the bus ride take?
So just to give an idea, these were the bus timings when I took this bus:
- 4:40pm – Depart Mahabalipuram ECR bus stand
- 5:30pm – Stop for break (10 minutes)
- 7:00pm – Arrive at Pondicherry bus station
So this bus ride from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry took a little under 2.5 hours.
So, this bus ride did have a break. (This is not always normal on government buses.)
Generally, you won’t expect too much from these rest areas on the side of the road.
You can get small snacks here.
There are usually also toilets here, although again it’s best to not expect too much in cleanliness.
The bus ride from Mahabalipuram bus stand along ECR to Pondicherry!
This bus ride was a case in point about why you want to try to take the bus at the starting point of the bus route as much as possible when you’re traveling by bus in India!
It wasn’t possible when starting from Mahabalipuram, so you’ll just want to keep your expectations in check.
And what does that mean?!
It can possibly mean…
Crowded bus… no seats… and you need to stand!
Do you need to stand for the full 2.5 hours on the bus?!
Well, in my case, I was able to get a seat relatively early on.
Although it did require having to be a little quick about moving into an empty seat! (And luck with standing near someone who is getting off at an early stop!)
After about 30 minutes of standing, I was able to sit down, although it was still a full bus.
But after about an hour from getting on the bus at Mahabalipuram, basically everyone was able to get a seat.
Scenes along ECR!
Well, most of these pictures I took on my bus ride from Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram, but the scenes are basically the same!
Arrive at Pondicherry bus station!
Once you get off the bus, there’s a rickshaw stand nearby so you can get a rickshaw.
Unfortunately, there are some rickshaw drivers here (not all) that will try to take advantage of tourists ($$).
So it’s a good idea to try to figure out how much is appropriate to pay before you arrive. (Like asking the hotel you’re staying at.)
The first time I took a rickshaw from Pondicherry bus station (after arriving from Chennai airport), I was quoted a price that was around what I was told. Well 30 rupees (US$0.50) extra, but that’s okay – 100 rupees (US$1.50) instead of the 70 rupees I was told.
When I returned from Mahabalipuram, this time a rickshaw driver told me 200 rupees for the same destination. (So double the previous time.)
“Night charge” he said. Um, no. Last time I took a rickshaw, I arrived later and it was the weekend!
Then he asked me how much… I said 70, he said 100, and that was that! (I don’t like having to “bargain” like this… but double is a bit ridiculous!)
And then once you’ve settled into Pondicherry a bit…
Where to stay in Pondicherry
Pondicherry is largely known for its “French Quarter.”
There are places to stay within the French Quarter itself (also called the neighborhood of White Town), and you can also stay a little outside the French Quarter too.
Put in future dates below (partner website) to see hotel prices in the French Quarter and beyond!
And there are also heritage hotels in Pondicherry.
HAPPY MAHABALIPURAM TO PONDICHERRY BUS RIDE!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
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Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!