Bangalore - Madurai - The route
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The Road route from Bangalore to Madurai. If you want the route for Madurai to Bangalore ask a Maduraikaran. (I know it is a PJ)
All distances are approximate and conditions are as when I traveled (Sometime in Oct 2005).
Bangalore - Madurai Road Route I
Bangalore - Krishnagiri (95) - Dharmapuri (150) - Salem (210) - Namakkal (265) - Karur (320) - Dindigul (390) - Madurai (450): entirely on NH 7
Distance: 450 Kms
The entire route comes under National Highway (NH) 7, which is included for widening under the NHDP, North-South corridor project. Bangalore - Krishnagiri stretch 95 kms is part of Mumbai-Chennai GQ project and is completed already. From Krishnagiri, you can divert to Chennai via Vellore (NH 46) and Pondicherry via Thiruvannamalai (NH 66). Krishnagiri - Salem is about 120 Kms. From Krishnagiri, the road is the usual two lane NH for most part. Some stretches are very bad with potholes between K'giri and D'Puri. Night time traffic to Salem is very heavy in this road as it leads to Coimbatore and Kerala from Bangalore and north. After Dharmapuri, the Thoppur ghat section is 4/6 laned and widening is under progress from here to Salem. No bypass for Dharmapuri but available for Salem.
From Salem, you can go to Coimbatore and Kerala (NH 47) or Chennai via Ulundurpettai (NH 68). From Salem, the two lane road improves a lot and is in par (maybe slightly narrow) with Bangalore - Chittoor road to Chennai. Salem - Karur is 87 kms. To goto Trichy, divert at Namakkal on the way thru state highways. Karur has a good 4 lane bypass for about 5 kms that skirts the town. You can also reach Trichy from Karur via NH 67 (Coimbatore - Trichy road), which is a greenic drive along Cauvery river. Karur - Dindigul is about 75 kms of easy but dreary drive with not much scenery. Halfway in the road we come across mountains (western ghats) which slightly eases the view. There are deviations to Palani (SH) somewhat closer to Dindigul.
Dindigul has a bypass and quiet a few of National highways converge here. The NH 45 from Chennai via Trichy and NH 209 from Bangalore via Coimbatore and Palani merge into NH 7. Dindigul - Madurai 62 Kms is not so boring scenery wise but heavily trafficked. Kodai Road railway station, the rail link to Kodaikanal hill station (74 kms away) comes on this route. Madurai city's urban sprawl extends some 10 kms to the highway as we join Madurai bypass and the city.
Fuel stops are available at frequent intervals.
Good South Indian Food is available at all the towns but I do not prefer the highway ones. Dont remember seeing many dhabas. Meenakshi Bhavan in Hosur and Saravana Bhavan opposite to Salem bus stand are my picks.
See my Bangalore - Chennai road guide for details in the Bangalore - K'giri stretch. Dharmapuri is the base for the famous Hogenakkal falls (40 kms, now embroiled in a minor border dispute between TN and Karnataka. I hope this makes it nationally famous.
Yercaud hill station, called poor man's Ooty is 32 kms from Salem. Mettur Dam (Stanley reservoir) is a locally famous tourist spot (if it has water) and that is about 40 kms away.
Namakkal is famous for Anjaneya (Hanuman) temple with a huge statue of Hanuman. It is also India's biggest trucking centre (most owners, drivers are from around here) and truck body building is an important economic activity.
Trichy with its rock fort and Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is an important tourist place reachable from Namakkal or Karur
Dindigul is not much of a tourist place but has a rock fort / temple. Palani, the richest temple in TamilNadu is nearby. There is a famous temple for Lord Murugan or Subramanya. This temple on a hillock has winch and rope-car facilities and is very crowded. Kodaikanal hill station, a smaller and better version of Ooty is also near to Dindigul.
And finally, Madurai is THE TOURIST place of TN. With its several thousand years of history, as the former capital of Pandiyan empire, centre of Tamil culture and literature and a place of religious significance with a famously huge temple, this would have rubbed shoulders with Rome, Paris and Athens, had it been in any western country. Unfortunately situated in India, it looks like just another dusty, dirty large town.
Road Route II
Just for the sake of taking the road less travelled
Bangalore - Kanakapura - Chamraj Nagar - Sathyamangalam - Coimbatore - Pollachi - Palani - Dindigul (NH 209 - 450 Kms) - Madurai (NH 7 - 62 Kms)
Distance: 515 Kms
I have personally taken only a part (150) kms stretch in this road. If you like a totally different route, this is the choice. This is a much more scenic route than NH7. Certainly not as good a road as NH 7, still shouldnt be too bad considering this is a NH. Sure, there are potholes and some very narrow stretches after Kanakapura, this road is seeing some improvement. Reports say the Tamilnadu stretch of this road is very good.
This road will take you thru the Kollegal and Sathyamangalam forests, formerly Veerapan's territory.
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