Tamil Nadu (தமிழ்நாடு) Solo Road Trip - Sid the Planner!

Planning a solo road-trip in Tamil Nadu (தமிழ்நாடு) and looking for a trip planner? Plus, does the idea of a road trip on a hot and sweaty day with no one else to give you company to attend a wedding sound good? If yes, you will love my story below! I had actually not quite planned for this trip (except booking the flight tickets in advance) and so the experiences that came out of it were unexpected and super fun :)


I have lived in and worked in Tamil Nadu, but somehow never really traveled much within the state, which is a shame as the state has so much to offer. Tamil Nadu is full of things I love when I travel - great roads and connectivity by public transportation, awesome food, some of the oldest architectural marvels in the country and finally, very warm people. Many of my friends from north have been wary of people from the state, but I think it is more to do with the language barrier. So when I made a plan to spend a few days in Tamil Nadu, I decided to keep people as the focus of my trip and make as many new friends as possible :)
தமிழ்நாடு road trip tamil nadu bus salem
A Road Trip in Tamil Nadu!

The idea of this road trip was primarily driven by my friend Manoj’s wedding. Manoj and I have been great friends for years now, even though we come from two rival design schools - NID and IDC (IITB). We met in Ahmedabad and bonded on many things - travel (we did tons of it together), tennis, chilled beer, old monk and so on (I am sure you get a wind of how things were). He picked his hometown, Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, to get married and I was a little disappointed, as I was hoping it would happen in Bangalore so that I can revisit the city again. However, there was no question of missing the wedding, so I decided to turn this into an opportunity to travel a little in the state and reached out to him for suggestions. His wife-to-be was from Trichy which is not too far from Tirupur, plus even M had studied in the city. I made a plan immediately, and it turned into a solo road trip using public transportation, and attending the wedding actually became a part of the road trip itself!

Most of my close friends (Tej, Bijoy, and Abhishek) were driving down from Bangalore to Tirupur, but the car was already full, so I was pretty much by myself. Such things often work best for me as I get lots of freedom to just interact with loads of people during my travels.

I landed in Bangalore early in the morning and immediately headed to Silk Board junction to catch a direct bus to Tirupur. I asked around a little and realised it would be much easier to get a direct bus from Salem and then another bus from there to Tirupur. The man I asked was himself going to Salem so I just followed him as he got into the bus. Unfortunately, the bus was only till Hosur (a town about two hours from Bangalore) and we had to then take another bus to Salem.

road trip bus interior tamil nadu bangalore tirupur
Just when I started the trip, the bus was rather empty...

On the way to Hosur I tried talking to many people, and very quickly realised what my biggest challenge would be - language. I didn’t know either Tamil or Kannada, and even though people seemed willing to talk and share, we just couldn't communicate. You can imagine how frustrating it was for me - I could go to Singapore and talk to locals, and here I was struggling to connect with my fellow countrymen.

However, there was no way I was going to get off the bus without talking properly to at least one person. I found one young guy who looked the sort who would understand English or Hindi, and I immediately went upto him and said hello. Dr Manoj Kumar was going to Hosur as he worked in a village close by. Over the next thirty minutes we had a great time talking about travel and medicine (both the things common between us) and I didn’t even have to interview him separately. I somehow managed to take a picture of him before he got down before Hosur and also collected his dream :)

road trip bus hosur tamil nadu bangalore tirupur
Dr Manoj Kumar near Hosur

Now Hosur as a town is really close to me - this was the town where I started my career and also lived for a while. It was quite an amazing feeling driving into the bus stand - much had changed in the last decade, but the place was still easily identifiable. The same noise,the same chaos, the same dust everywhere yet it felt like home. I got my first driving licence for a driving a car here, and these were the same road where I used to practice back in the days. You know how it is when you visit an old town where you lived. In my life, I have lived in so many such places that they feel like home (as there is no permanent home at all for me).

I got into the bus and even managed to find a place to sit. Salem is a few hours away from Hosur and now I wanted to take a little bit of rest. My friends in their car had started an hour after me, but they were already way ahead of me. I wasn’t jealous as this slow paced travel usually suits me well. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy was the heat; it was June and the bus was simmering. We stopped at almost every town and village on the highway, and if the village wasn’t on the highway, we took a diversion from the highway. At some of these villages no one would get on or get off, and the diversion seemed like a wasted exercise. Or so it seemed after five hours in the bus.

I was barely able to talk to anyone, nothing beyond exchanging smiles. Everyone was curious about my curly hair and tried talking to me about them, but unfortunately we could barely communicate. I was getting apprehensive about how I would interact with people in the state. I certainly hadn’t made a great start!

road trip bus inside tamil nadu bangalore tirupur
We tried hard to talk, but failed!
road trip bus tamil nadu bangalore tirupur
Some more lovely buses at a bus-stand

The day was cool in Bangalore when I had started, but it was getting hot now. Tamil Nadu is famous for the humidity in the air and I could feel all of it. In a busy bus full of people, the sweat also makes closed spaces a little more uncomfortable. I was by the window, so had good breeze, at least when the bus was moving. But it was quite hot, though not yet unbearable. A few hours later when I reached Salem, the weather had turned completely and it seemed like rain was coming soon. The presence of clouds was a welcome respite and I think there drop in temperature was enough to bring smiles to everyone’s faces.

In Salem I got off at the bus stand and looked for bus. It was already past lunch time, so I bought some bananas for meal and tried looking for a bus to Tirupur. My luck was still not on my side and there was no direct bus to Tirupur. I spoke to the bus conductor and he suggested I take a bus to Dharmapuri as it would be very easy to get to Tirupur from there. By now my friends in the car were already at Tirupur and getting ready to go for the reception (which was happening a day before the actual wedding). Travel by bus was great, but it had been a long and sweaty day, and I wanted to now quickly reach Tirupur and meet up with my friends.

road trip bus stand tamil nadu bangalore tirupur
Another bus stand...I love them all :)
road trip bus tamil nadu bangalore tirupur small girl
A tiny beautiful companion in the bus :)
road trip bus tamil nadu bangalore tirupur men people
There is lots of life at a bus-stand...
Change of bus was quick at Dharmapuri and a couple of hours later I was entering Tirupur. It ws already past sunset and the place looked wet as it had rained just before we entered the city Contrary to my expectations, Tirupur was no town, but a fairly large city! The bus dropped me near a lovely old temple and from there I had planned to take an auto to my hotel, but no one agreed. Thankfully I had 3G on my phone and I decided to simply follow the map and walk to the hotel. It was about 1.5 km and the weather was cool and breezy. I had a large sized backpack, but walking was fun nevertheless and I think I saw quite a bit of city just as I looked for my hotel.

By the time I was at the reception, the tiredness of the day was forgotten and it was time for leg pulling and some awesome Tamilian food. However, in my head I was already planning for the second leg of my road which was to start after the wedding the day. The next stop in my journey was Trichy and I was fairly excited to go there.

Trichy was actually way more adventurous than I had imagined, and was even stalked by another man I met in this bus there. However, to read more road stories, come back again :)

road trip bus tamil nadu bangalore tirupur selfie
And finally a terrible selfie :)


  1. Hey Sid, I just loved this post. I too always travel by state transport. Every time the travel gets more interesting, may it be long queue for the ticket, traffic jam in ghat, arguments among passengers or with conductors, tyre punctures.. but still I love it! Btw I must say the buses and even the bus stand is quite clean compared to what I see in Maharashtra.

    1. Thanks Shilpa! I also love all that happens in a bus...makes for great memories :)

  2. A lovely read of your experience, Sid. Hope you now do understand some Tamil. :)

  3. What fun! Enjoy reading about your experiences in the South, particularly those in TN, as I grew up in Madras. Your perspective is so refreshing and at times enlightening. :)

    1. Thanks Chaitali, that's nice to hear! :) It's interesting that you grew up in Chennai, on my recent visit learnt about a large group of Hindi speakers in Soukarpet...

  4. Hari OM
    Definitely one must set the mind to 'being one with the travel' when it is long and involved like this...to be too focused on arrival can make it very tedious indeed! I am a great fan of public transport.... YAM xx

  5. Traveling on buses used to be boring for me but ever since I started working, a long bus ride can be therapeutic since I have time to actually just think about nothing and stare out into the surroundings, catching a nap or two.

    Funny how you would have different perspectives on traveling as you age.

    1. Haha...that's very true Dan. Even I never found buses interesting as a kid (I used to love trains then, and still do). Now buses are great as they allow you do make the most of the journey as well...

  6. Taking public transport, whenever you can, is wonderful in many ways. Lately, even though I had been wanting to, I was not able to do it. But that changed last week when I finally, after quite some time, took a public bus for a small trip to Naggar from Manali. Needless to say, I loved it as I have always.

    1. Yes Rajiv, it's always more fun to use public transportation! Great stories come out of such trips :)

  7. Congratulations! Your blog post was featured in Tangy Tuesday Picks edition of 25-08-2015 at BlogAdda.

    You can check the post here: http://blog.blogadda.com/2015/08/25/tangy-tuesday-picks-august-25-2015


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