How to Travel From Mumbai to Pondicherry by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

Beach, Mamallapuram near Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Peter Adams / Getty Images

Pondicherry—also called Puducherry—is where you'll find a sliver of Europe in India. Once a French colony, the foreign flair is still ever-present in architecture, language, and even cuisine (one word: quiche). This southeastern city is 809 miles (1,302 kilometers) from Mumbai, on the opposite coast, but you can travel between them reasonably quickly by plane. If ground transportation (and saving money) is your thing, you can spend a little extra time taking the slower-but-cheaper direct train, a bus, or a car.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 25 to 35 hours from $8 Minding a budget
Bus 29 hours from $15 When the train is booked up
Plane 2 hours from $20 Arriving on a time crunch
Car 18 to 24 hours 809 miles (1,302 kilometers) Private, flexible transportation

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Mumbai to Pondicherry? 

The cheapest way to get from Mumbai to Pondicherry is by train. Indian Railways operates a direct 11005 Chalukya Express train that costs as little as $8 but—here's the kicker—takes nearly 34 hours. The good news is that you won't have to deal with messy transfers. The Chalukya Express departs from Dadar railway station (one of the primary and central train stations in Mumbai) at 9:30 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays and will get you to the Pondicherry railway station around 7:15 a.m. two days later. That means you'll save money on two nights of accommodation as well. The cheapest ticket would be for a general sleeper, but second and third AC classes are available for up to $40. Reading up on Indian Railways' class system before booking your ticket would be wise.

To slice off some time from the trip (about 10 hours, actually), you can take the 11017 Mumbai LTT-Karaikal Weekly Express to Villupuram Junction, then hop on another hour-long train to Pondicherry. Another option: Take the 16351 Nagarcoil Balaji Express to Tindivanam, then take a 40-minute bus to Pondicherry. Either way, the trip should take between 25 and 27 hours and cost about the same as the longer, more direct train.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Mumbai to Pondicherry? 

Fortunately, because Pondicherry has an airport, lengthy ground transport is not the only option. IndiGo, SpiceJet, and Air India are popular options that offer regular direct flights out of Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and into the Pondicherry Airport. Tickets start around $20 one way.

How Long Does It Take to Drive? 

Driving the 809 miles (1,302 kilometers) between Mumbai and Pondicherry could take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. This is in part because some of the road is rough or unpaved. Besides a few unkempt patches, it's all highway, flanked by farms for miles. It's not what most people would consider a scenic trip, and because it's not advisable to self-drive long distances in India, traveling by car is not a popular option for tourists.

Is There a Bus That Goes From Mumbai to Pondicherry? 

RedBus operates a 26-hour route from Mumbai to Chennai, where you can transfer to another RedBus or Parveen Travels bus (the former takes four hours, 45 minutes, and the latter takes three hours) to Pondicherry. The trip takes 29 hours at best, not including transfer times, which is slightly longer than the shortest train ride. It's a reliable backup plan for when the train is full (say, around Indian festival times like Holi). Tickets cost, in total, $15 to $25.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Pondicherry? 

The best time to travel to Pondicherry is before or after the sweltering summer season, which is also prone to monsoons. March and October temperatures keep between 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius). With peak tourism season from November to February, you might find it quieter, too. Note that fog can sometimes affect travel within India in the wintertime. And try not to book bus or train travel around religious holidays (Diwali, Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi).

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport? 

Unfortunately, no public bus or train connects the Pondicherry Airport to the city center. A taxi takes about 15 minutes and typically costs less than $5.

What Is There to Do in Pondicherry? 

Pondicherry (Pondy, for short) is a coastal destination known for its rainbow-building-lined beaches and French flair. You can feel the European influence in this area's architecture, accents, and food. But like most Indian cities, its primary attractions are centered around religion. There's the Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Hindu Temple, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Pondicherry is also known for its famously cheap booze, so take advantage of the low liquor prices while you're here.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How long is the flight from Mumbai to Pondicherry?

    It takes two hours to get to Pondicherry by air.

  • How far is it from Mumbai to Pondicherry?

    Pondicherry is 809 miles (1,302 kilometers) from Mumbai.

  • How do I take the train from Mumbai to Pondicherry?

    The direct (but quite slow) train leaves from Dadar railway station in Mumbai and arrives in Pondicherry 34 hours later. Two other faster, connecting trains to Pondicherry also make stops at Dadar station.