The East Coast Road (or ECR as it is fondly called) is a state highway (SH 49) in Tamilnadu built along the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal, initially connecting Chennai with Cuddalore. At present it runs up to Karaikal, and is expected to be extended up to Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India, and will cover a distance of 737 KM.
I have been travelling from Chidambaram to Chennai and back on a number of occasions for over four years, to meet my daughter who studied in Anna University CEG campus, Guindy. For most of my journeys I traveled 6.00 AM Rathimeena Volvo bus to reach Guindy, Chennai at around 10.00 AM and returned by 2.05 PM Multi Axle A/C bus reaching back to Chidambaram at around 6.30 PM ( 220 KM). I also traveled by a hired car on a few occasions.
I have had the good fortune to experience a mesmerizing sea view, on number of occasions, lined with coconut trees, rice fields, tiny villages of fishermen, neatly arranged sailing boats, plain beach sand, and glimpses of the Bay of Bengal.
ECR is considered as one of India’s most scenic highway, and studded with a lot of tourist picturesque spots of historic, cultural and recreational importance. It has got a place in Outlook Traveller Magazine as an important road expressway. There are amusement parks, hotels, resorts and open air theaters that attract everyone. Whether go by riding in a bus, biking or cruising in a car, the thrill is awesome.
Crocodile Bank is 44 KM from Chennai. It is a centre for herpetology and consists of 3.3 hectares of farm area where several species of crocodiles, alligators and snakes are bred in captivity in open surroundings.
While riding through ECR, sometimes, I find sea coast just a few feet away, and at some places, it is about a KM away, but, with nothing else the view of sea coast is breathtaking.
Mamallapuram, formerly Mahabalipuram, is a UNESCO World Heritage and a tourist town 60 km south of Chennai along the ECR famous for its Pallava culture and stone carvings.It was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom.
With just another about 50 KM to go before Puducherry, there are plenty of opportunities to click camera every few kilometres thereon. The road passes through bridges constructed on the top of backwater … it is like water lashing the road; and salt harvesting (salt from sea water) fields.
Further drive south winding its way to soak Puducherry’s unique French ambience. Puducherry (Formerly Pondicherry) is the former French colony and very popular weekend tourist destination specially for Chennaites. And further continue driving southward on ECR leads to Chidambaram, famous for for its Nataraja Temple with the roof of the sanctum sanctorum covered with golden plates.