The East Coast Road, also known as State Highway 49, runs from central Chennai to Cuddalore. It goes past the city of Puducherry, formerly called Pondicherry, and is one of the major routes in the Tamil Nadu region.
Driving the East Coast Road
Enjoy breath-taking views of the Bay of Bengal as you drive along the two-lane highway, which starts in the Thiruvanmiyur district of Chennai. It’s a toll road, but it’s charged at a considerably lower rate than you would pay on European toll roads. Although there are speed restrictions, it’s a busy and popular road, so you’ll have to stay alert as you drive along the coastal highway.
What to See near East Coast Road
On your East Coast Road drive, which locals shorten to the ECR, you’ll be tempted to stop at one or more of the many clubs and restaurants that have sprung up on the coast. Join Chennaites at one of the laid-back beach clubs which cater to a sophisticated crowd looking to combine lunch with a spot of surfing.
Soon you’ll come to Cholamandal Artists’ Village, which has been running since 1966 and is India’s largest artists’ commune. Discover the legacy of the Madras Movement, which you can see in the Cholamandal Centre for Contemporary Art as well as in the artists’ workshops.
For a fascinating flavour of France in the middle of South India, carry on driving south to Puducherry. This former French colony is full of attractive French-style hotels, villas and restaurants, and even some of the street signs are still in French. Don’t be surprised if you hear French spoken in the streets, too.
Hotels on the East Coast Road
Ranging from two- to four-stars, there are many hotels along the East Coast Road – head to Guindy for a five-star hotel. Splash out on a stay in a four-star beachfront hotel resort along the East Coast Road, where you can relax in an outdoor pool with views of the Bay of Bengal. Take advantage of the hotel’s fitness centre as well as the full-service spa, or have a private romantic dinner served to you at your hotel under a candlelit canopy right on the beach.