Up until a few years ago, there was no direct train from Mumbai to Pondicherry, an atmospheric ocean-side French colony that's one of the top travel destinations in and around Tamil Nadu. It was necessary for passengers to go via Bangalore or Chennai and change trains, or go as far as the nearest station (Villupuram Junction, about an hour from Pondicherry). Fortunately, there's now a direct option.
What You Should Know
- The main railway station in Mumbai is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) near the Fort area of south Mumbai. Its code is CST. However, trains to Pondicherry also depart from Dadar Central station in central Mumbai (DR), and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Kurla in the northeastern suburbs of Mumbai (LTT).
- The code for Pondicherry railway station is PDY.
- The code for Villupuram Junction railway station is VM.
- Transport is readily available from Villupuram Junction to Pondicherry, so taking a train that only runs up to there is still a decent alternative. Buses depart frequently (about every 20 minutes) and are inexpensive. There are also passenger trains to Pondicherry that depart every one or two hours. Taxis cost about 1,200 rupees.
Best Mumbai to Pondicherry Trains
- The direct train from Mumbai to Pondicherry started running in November 2012 and is called the 11005/Chalukya Express. The train departs from Dadar Central station in Mumbai on Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays at 9.30 p.m. It runs via Yesvantpur and arrives in Pondicherry two days later, at 7.15 a.m. Travel time is almost 34 hours, and the train has 37 stops. Ticket availability is good. The fare in 2AC (two-tier, air-conditioned, sleeper) is 2,480 rupees. 3AC (three -tier, air-conditioned, sleeper) is 1,689 rupees. SL (three-tier, non-air-conditioned, sleeper) is 625 rupees. Although the train isn't particularly fast, in its favor, it is clean and punctual.
- A quicker option is to take one of the trains from Mumbai to Villupuram Junction. The fastest train is the 11017/Mumbai LTT-Karaikal Weekly Express, which completes the trip in about 25.5 hours and has 20 stops. This is around 9 hours less than the 11005/Chalukya Express to Pondicherry. The train departs only once a week from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai, on Saturdays at 12.05 p.m. It arrives at Villupuram Junction the next day at 1.40 p.m. The fare in 2AC is 2,274 rupees and 3AC is 1,559 rupees. Sleeper is 575 rupees. Ticket availability and cleanliness are good, and punctuality is excellent. The only drawback is that safety could be improved.
- Another similar option, albeit with an inconvenient arrival time, is the 11043/Mumbai LTT Kurla-Madurai Weekly Express. The train departs Fridays at 12.15 a.m. from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Mumbai and reaches Villupuram Junction the next day at 2.30 a.m. The journey takes just over 26 hours and has 21 stops. Fares, cleanliness, ticket availability, and punctuality are all similar to the train above.
- There's also the 16351/Mumbai CST-Nagercoil Balaji Express, which runs twice a week and takes 27.5 hours from Mumbai to Villupuram Junction. The train departs Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at 12.10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It arrives the next day at 2.55 p.m. Ticket availability is excellent, and cleanliness and punctuality are good.