Nobody likes to visit a hospital unless of course, you are a doctor or some way associated with the health care industry. A visit to the doctor’s chamber gives me a shiver and a thought of visiting a hospital was just not my cup of tea. With times things change and due to some medical condition within my family, a visit to the doctor as well as hospital visits became a regular affair. Initially, it was difficult but with time I and my family adopted to this new lifestyle.
The only reason why I was apprehensive about traveling all the way to Vellore from Kolkata was the fact that the distance was huge. We had to travel from East down to the South of the country. But with limited options, I had to take it.
HOW TO REACH CMC VELLORE
Vellore is well connected by train, the nearest major rail head is Katpadi Junction. Many trains pass through Katpadi and stop for an average of 10 – 20 minutes. Katpadi is almost like the de facto train station for all patients coming to Vellore for treatment. So much so that the station has been modified to suit the needs of patients like having a ramp along with staircase for accessing the different platforms with overhead bridges. These ramps have direct access to the auto and taxi stands located outside the station.
Wheelchairs are also available at the station for free usage but for sure these would be managed by a porter (cooli) with whom you can negotiate for a service drop to the auto stand outside. A porter can be paid somewhere between Rs. 80 – 100 for this wheelchair service. Unless you are very athletic with good body strength I would recommend you to use this wheelchair service for the patient since pushing a wheelchair with a patient seated on it up on a ramp can be very challenging. If you bring your own fold able wheelchairs then also do consider taking a help of a coolie to push it around.
Other than Katpadi some trains also do pass through Vellore Cantonment and this is much nearer to Vellore hospital than Katpadi. However, train stoppage time is very limited with an average of 3 – 5 minutes thus do consider this when planning your journey.
If you plan to travel by air then the nearest major airport is Chennai. Alternately you can also come through Tirupati which also has an international airport. However, Chennai is a major hub is always recommended.
LOCAL TRANSPORTATION AT VELLORE
If you have reached Katpadi Station then come out of the station, there is only one exit and it’s very easy to spot. Once you reach outside you will find Autos, Vikram (larger auto) and taxis waiting. Almost all of them will pounce on you thus be prepared for few minutes of complete mayhem. Ignore and keep walking so that some of them leave you while some keep following you. Give them the name of the hotel or the locality and ask them how much would the one-way drop be. The day time rates are different from night rates, at night be prepared to pay somewhere between Rs. 150 – 200 depending on your negotiation skills. One best thing about Katpadi is that even at odd hours of the night you will find plenty of transportation options.
Remember that Katpadi is a different town and one would cross the river over a bridge to reach Vellore town. The auto journey takes around 15 – 20 minutes at night and during that day can be double due to traffic congestion.
Vellore Cantonment is located right in the middle of Vellore town very near to CMC Vellore Hospital and will take around five minutes to reach your destination from here. Autos are also available here and would charge around Rs. 30 – 50.
From Chennai airport, you can take tourist taxis (Car Hire) outside for a price band between Rs. 2000 – 2500. Similar service is also available at Tirupati airport almost costing the same. Alternately you can travel from Chennai airport to Chennai Central Station and avail many trains that pass through Katpadi Junction. Train options from Tirupati station toward Katpadi are available but limited in numbers.
WHERE TO STAY AT VELLORE
It all depends on your budget and preference, to begin with. Ideally always try staying near the hospital and the options are galore. Bang opposite to the gates of CMC Vellore there are varieties of hotels with a range of Rs. 200 to 4000. The basic ones are more of a dormitory with shared toilets and if you go little higher you will get individual rooms with shared toilets. Some hotels allow cooking and these have a small enclosed area where you can cook.
The price of hotels or guest houses goes up when you opt for an attached toilet. It jumps further up if you are looking at air-conditioned rooms. This part of the country is very hot during the summer months thus plan accordingly.
Some hotels allow booking over the telephone while some only operate with instant booking options. There is a huge number of options and a quick search online will give you a full list. Alternately some prefer to stay at guest houses which are usually operated by NGO’s and other private organizations like a mosque, church or a temple trust.
If you plan to reach Vellore without a hotel booking then do not worry there are plenty of options you will surely find something or the other. Just reach the main gate of CMC Vellore and on the opposite footpath, you will find all these hotels. Most of the hotels are located on Gandhi Road, Sukkiah Vadhiyar Street, Babu Rao Street, KVS Chetty Street, Mitta Anandrao Street, Latif Basha Street etc.
WHERE TO EAT AT VELLORE
The eating options are many; if you are planning for an extended period of stay then do consider home cooked food as it’s always hygienic. You do not have to carry any cooking utensils as all of them are available on rent near these hotels. Even gas stoves with small LPG cylinders are available which can be refilled from time to time. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are available at Babu Rao Street with numerous shops all around selling groceries.