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Friday, April 20, 2012

Chennai - Largest Bus Station

In one of my previous posts I covered the Asia’s largest Perishable Commodities Market at Koyambedu (Chennai) and now here comes the largest Bus Station in South Asia. Incidentally this is also there at Koyambdu and that too very close to where I was residing. It so happened that we were proceeding to visit the market and en-route I could catch a glimpse of a huge structure. It appeared as if a very large boat has been put upside down over a building. Needless to say that I enquired. I was told that it is the Bus Terminus. The driver seemed to be more enthusiastic. He said Sir, it is as big as an Air Port. Since we had driven quite far from it, I decided to have a see some time later. The opportunity came the same day evening.

It was just adjacent to  the SAF Games Village where I was putting up so I ventured to take a walk accompanied by my son, who had arrived that morning. Walking on the main road caused a little discomfort because of the construction activity of the Chennai Metro Project.  
The Bus station called Chennai Mufussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) is 500 yards inside from the road. The architecture of the front building  was some thing unique but there were several  sign boards and structures which were obstructing a clear view. The moment we entered the front hall,  we were confronted by the Security. This was never anticipated. May be we were questioned for we were not carrying any bag or baggage. That was good and admirable. We were overwhelmed to see a very huge hall with shining tiles on the floor and without any rubbish scattered. No doubt the premises have been kept very clean. The aesthetics of the  interiors of the passenger area has blended with the architectural design perfectly. We were not able to reconcile with such kind of a thing. The image of Bus Stands/Stations stored in our permanent memory failed to recognise this. This beauty was something  alien. But it was there!

We proceeded further to have an idea about the buses and the facilities thereat.All the facilities needed by passengers are in place. There were locker rooms where passengers can lodge their luggage, an ATM for drawing money, dormitories AC and non AC could be rented, eating joints, Coffee/Tea stalls, Magazines/News papers, wheel chairs for the disabled, a super market, clean toilets and what not. As our driver had commented, this just seemed to be an Air Port with all securities on alert.

The inner yard had several platforms. We took the first one which had around 33 bays for buses to enter. Most of them had buses waiting for departure. Every bay had indication boards in English and Tamil and the buses also displayed their destinations. It was really very easy even for a foreigner to identify the bay which could take him/her where ever one wished to go. Many of the buses we came across were long distance ones going to or coming from  different states. The platforms for destinations within the state were different. In all there were 6  platforms but we also saw buses stationed outside this area.

The Bus terminus has an area of some 36.5 acres (148,000 m2). We understand that the terminus handles around 500 buses at a time 3000 buses and 2,50,000 passengers a day. Really unbelievable. The parking space for vehicles seemed to be quite comfortable and then there is a double basement parking structure to accommodate nearly 3000 two wheelers.

We walked to the extreme end of the terminus and took a right turn which opens on the Kaliamman Street. All the buses go that way and there is a shaded pathway for pedestrians. From there we went to the junction  on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road and came to see an outlet of a renowned sweet shop. Could not resist buying some sweets for children at home. It was already dark by that time and while passing through the road, we could get a snap of the Bus terminus which looked beautiful when it was lit.

It was Mr. R Sudhir Kumar who actually made me to make out a post on this wonderful Bus Station. Sudhir is a wonderful photographer too and has a beautiful blog here.