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 Tamil Nadu travel destinations. 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 is 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, if you choose to take one of the trains that only run up to there. Buses depart frequently (about every 20 minutes) and are inexpensive. There are also passenger trains to Pondicherry that depart every one or two hours (see timetable). Taxis cost about 800 rupees.
Best Mumbai to Pondicherry Trains
- The new 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 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 2,470 rupees. 3AC (three tier, air-conditioned, sleeper) is 1,680 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. See train information.
- An alternative (and 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 the 11005/Chalukya Express to Pondicherry. The train departs 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 2,200 rupees and 3AC is 1,550 rupees. Sleeper is 575 rupees. Ticket availability and punctuality are good. The only drawback is that cleanliness could be improved. See train information.
- 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 are similar to the train above. On the plus side, cleanliness, ticket availability and punctuality are all good. See train information.
- 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 Tuesday and Saturdays. It arrives the next day at 3.35 p.m. Cleanliness and ticket availability are excellent. The train is also punctual. See train information.
For more information, see How to a Make Reservation on Indian Railway Trains.