Weekend Getaways From Chennai
Chennai is another city in India with a lot of action in the economic, cultural and educational space. With a large part of the automobile, computer technology and hardware manufacturing industries, the South Indian Film industry and healthcare service industries operating out of here, this city is constantly on the move. Music, dance, theatre, arts and crafts are also a big part of the Chennai people’s lives. With a lot of opportunity available here, the city does see a lot of immigrants hoping to work and prosper here and so the population too is on the higher side. Located on the Coromandel coast off the Bay of Bengal, the weather in the city is mostly warm and sultry. So escape to a slightly more cooler place is always welcome.
It’s little wonder then that people in big cities look for a respite from their hectic lifestyles. Weekends are mostly reserved for family outings, extended family visits and the occasional weekend getaways. Here we list a few such getaways, not too far from Chennai and yet giving one that much needed break and relaxation.
This is the ideal place for a break in a jiffy! Located really close to Chennai, one can get there and back the very same day if one wishes. Full of admirable architectural wonders, one can only gasp in awe at what the beauty of this place might have been in those days. Most famous for its ‘Shore Temple’ which was built along the coast of the Bay of Bengal during the Pallava rule and is the only one surviving amongst 7 such similar temples, one must try and attend the annual dance festival of Mamallapuram held during December – January, which showcases several classical dance forms. Besides these there are several other temples worthy of visiting and one can only marvel at the open air museum of rock-cut sculptures beautifully carved inside a series of caves. Other attractions include Krishna’s butterball, Arjuna’s Penance and a nice beach, ideal for a picnic with family or friends.
Distance from Chennai: 57 Km
Pulicat Lake :
This is a quaint, historic seashore town, 60 Kms north of Chennai, on the island of Sriharikota, which separates Pulicat Lake from the Bay of Bengal. The most interesting feature here is Pulicat Lake, which has been declared as the 2nd largest salt water lagoon in India after the Chilika Lake in Orissa. The Pulicat Bird Sanctuary on the lake is also a big draw as it houses several species of birds and the months between October and March every year, see thousands of migratory birds flying in, with the flamingoes standing out amongst all. The scenic beauty of the lake amidst the calm and tranquil atmosphere has a charm of its own and is a source of attraction. Other places of interest are the Dutch Fort, the Dutch Cemetry and an ancient church which are worth exploring. One can also enjoy a few beach activities and water sports in Pulicat.
Distance from Chennai: 66 Km
Considered one of the seven sacred cities of India, Kanchipuram is one of the famous pilgrimage destinations of Tamil Nadu and is also referred to as ‘the city of thousand temples’. These temples are architectural masterpieces and famous for their grand designs. Also known as ‘silk city’, this place is renowned for its hand woven silk sarees. The Vednathangal Bird Sanctuary is another interesting site for nature and bird lovers. The popular temples that one should visit here are the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, Vaikunthperumal Temple, Ekambareshwar Temple and Kamakshi Amman Temple. Kanchi Kudil, an interesting heritage museum depicting the life and artefacts of the people in Tamil Nadu in those days, is another place worth checking out.
Distance from Chennai: 72 Km
This half Indian and half French- influenced city seems like a quaint mix of cultures and lifestyle which makes Pondicherry or Puducherry ( as renamed now) an intriguing and exciting place to visit. The French colonial style architecture in one half of the city lends a different ambience to this slow-paced and tranquil city. One can relax and unwind at any of the wonderful, scenic beaches or through yoga and meditation at one of the various centres or visit any of the beautiful churches. Just walking along the Pondicherry beach promenade lets you enjoy the sights of various monuments and important buildings of those times. Some of the other interesting places to visit here are Paradise Beach, Chhunambar Boathouse, the Botanical garden with exotic plants, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Ousteri Lake amongst others.
Distance from Chennai: 160 Km
A city of forts……. at one time this place was a battleground and witnessed many wars. Even the name ‘Vellore’ apparently means ‘City of Spears’. Today, this locale has all the calm and peacefulness required for an ideal getaway from the main city. It’s picturesque view and numerous impressive monuments and buildings are a great attraction for tourists. The Vellore Fort is one of the main monuments that stand out with its grand granite walls, flanked by huge ramparts and a wide moat that has water filled even today and is used for pleasurable boat rides. The other attractions here are the Srilaxmi Gold Temple, Sri Varahaswami Temple, the Sri Venkateswara Museum, the Jalakandeswarar Temple, the Clock Tower, the pretty St.John’s Church within in the fort and many others.
Distance from Chennai: 136 Km
For those who are of a religious bent of mind and keen on a little soul-searching and spirituality, then Tirupati is the place to visit with one of the most revered and wealthiest temples in the world located here along with several others. The Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Balaji is situated at the top of Tirumala Hills in Tirupati and has hordes of tourists flocking here, through the year, to pay homage to the Lord. While one can do the rounds of as many temples as one wants, there are some other places of interest here too, that one can visit, like the Deer Park, TTD Gardens, Sri Venkateswara National Park, Talakona Waterfalls and Chandragiri Fort amongst others.
Distance from Chennai: 163 Km
Nellore is one of those places that is attractive for its cultural past and rich history, its scenic ambience, its nature retreats, beach and temples. A little something for everyone! Home to the well known Udaygiri Fort, Venkatagiri Fort and a few others, this place has an interesting historical charm. It is also famous for the Nellapattu Bird Sanctuary which houses both resident and migratory birds and appeals most to nature lovers, bird lovers and wildlife photographers. The Mypadu beach is also a lovely place to unwind. One can also visit the splendid Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and Paturu, a small village near the city, famous for its handicrafts and handloom industry, especially the hand-woven silk paturu sarees.
Distance from Chennai: 180 Km
Kolli Hills :
The Kolli hills or Kolli Malai is a small mountain range situated in Central Tamil Nadu with hills at a height of 1300 m. Besides the mountains being famous for hikers and nature lovers, the Arapaleeswarar temple on the mountains have made these hills a site of pilgrimage. Akasa Gangai is the waterfall that is situated near the Arapaleeswarar temple and is very popular. The forests here are rich with variety and home to several common plants. This region is also known for its coffee plantations, fruit orchards and wildlife.
Distance from Chennai: 295 Km
One can easily drive down or opt to travel by bus to these destinations. AbhiBus offers bus services to Pondicherry, Vellore, Tirupati and Nellore, so book your bus tickets online at www.abhibus.com.
Picture Credits : India.com, Accessindiatourism.com, World-Discovery.co.uk, Travelspro.com, Trip2blr.com, Ola Cabs, Onefivenine.com, Traveltriangle.com