Travelogue #10 - Chennai to Pitchavaram

The deadly tsunami that hit the southern states of India along with many other south Asian countries was an eye-opener of sorts on what nature is capable of unleashing on us humans. It also proved how nature’s own creations could help save us from such catastrophes as well. Pitchavaram, located in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu and home to one of the world’s largest mangrove forest cover, is a classic example.

As ironical as it may sound, Pitchavaram actually shot to fame after the 2004 tsunami as the villages in and around miraculously escaped the devastation that the tidal waves effected elsewhere in Tamil Nadu and the rest of India. The thick forest cover, with roots so dense and interspersed across a huge area, acted as a dampener, reducing the intensity and velocity with which the waves hit the shore, saving precious lives.

A chance to drive along the scenic East Coast Road is something that we wouldn’t miss on any given day. Combine that with the added advantage of exploring a destination as promising as Pitchavaram and it becomes a double delight. We might have said this earlier, but we are saying it again and, most probably, would say it sometime in the future as well. Driving in ECR is so much fun with the smooth road surface, the scenic coastline and the numerous curves all along providing a great driving experience. Remember to exercise caution though and stay within your limits.

Having planned this drive on a Sunday, starting early was the only way we could beat the mad weekend traffic on the ECR. The boat house in Pitchavaram opens at around 08:30 AM and the best bet is to reach the place before that. Remember, summer in Tamil Nadu could be unforgiving and the earlier we reach the place, the better. As planned, we drove along the ECR up to Cuddalore and then turned on to NH 45-A towards Chidambaram. Strangely, almost until we reached the place itself, we couldn't spot even a single signboard telling us about Pitchavaram. Located just 15-odd kilometers before Chidambaram, the Pitchavaram mangrove forest is located between two estuaries formed by the Vellar and Coleroon rivers.

No amount of stories that you hear about it or the research that you do in the internet would prepare you for the visual feast at the location. You will have to see it in person to truly understand the depth and intensity of this unique biotope that is said to be supporting the existence of a number of varieties of fishes and birds. As you start venturing into the backwaters, the mangroves that appear as a distant speck at first gradually grows dense and, at some point, is all around you. Its quite an experience to trundle along in the artificial caves formed by the mangroves, using the roots to move forward. Remember, the dense growth of roots around would render the rows of the boat unusable.

A couple of hours into the ride takes us to a secluded beach, something that we rarely see these days. We are allowed to spend time on the beach while our boatmen wait for us to start the return journey. Overall, we quite liked what we saw and are sure that you will like it too when you visit the place.



* Total No of Days: 1 (28.04.2013)
* Vehicle Make & Model: Honda Civic

* Odometer Start Reading: 50774 km
* Odometer End Reading: 51193 km
* Total Distance traveled: 419 km
* No of Toll Booths: 1
* Money spent on Toll & Parking: Rs. 140

* Total Quantity of Fuel filled: 34.34 l
* Average Fuel Consumption: 12.20 km/l
* Money spent on Fuel: Rs. 2310

* Destinations Covered: Pitchavaram
* Route Followed: Chennai-Puducherry-Cuddalore-Pitchavaram



The Honda Civic, which has now become our trusted partner for many a long drives, made for a perfect companion to this journey. While the smooth i-VTEC engine ensured that we never ran out of power for those overtaking errands, the superb handling made us feel at home in the tight and twisty ECR. If only the rear suspension was a bit stiffer and the ride quality was more absorbent, the car would have been just perfect on all aspects.

If you are in Chennai and looking for a place to go on a day's outing, Pitchavaram is an ideal destination. Remember, you will have to overcome the lure of ECR's many picnic spots and Puducherry on the way. Unless you are either extremely lucky or you have planned your trip during the monsoons, brace yourself to face the scorching sun. When we were there at Pitchavaram, the infamous Tamil Nadu summer was at its peak, but that didn't stop us from having as much fun as possible.

Staying at home and resting in air-conditioned comfort might be the idea of a perfect weekend for some, but not for us. For those of you who are like us, happy driving!


  1. good dude. neatly described.Hmmm Take care of GF so as to support the rest of your partnership...
    Photography is as usual a blend to viewers.

    1. Thanks for the comment Sri. Why don't you do a travelogue for us on the G.O.R?

    2. I will do da. First I need to settle in a job. After that I will start my hang outs

  2. Do you own the Civic or is it rental?