About weekend getaways from Chennai
Chennai is India’s sixth-largest city and also the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. Today, Chennai is one of South India’s largest cultural, economic and educational hubs and is dubbed the Health Capital on account of its booming medical sector. Chennai is also the Detroit of India, given that more than a third of the country’s automobile industry is located in this city alone. If you’re the kind of person who loves Chennai’s verve but also likes to escape to somewhere quieter every once in a while, make sure to browse through our list of the very best weekend getaways in Chennai.
A historic beach town located 60 km north of Chennai, Pulicat was first established as a Portuguese trading post in 1502. The town was later occupied by the Dutch and later by the British, and remnants of these former inhabitants can still be found in present-day Pulicat. The area is best known for the Pulicat Lake, a shallow saltwater lagoon – the second-largest lake of its kind in the country. On the shores of the lake is the famous Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, which is known for its population of greater flamingos. The lake is separated from the Bay of Bengal by the barrier island of Sriharikota, which is one of India’s two satellite launch centres. Pulicat is a great place to go to when you’re looking for scenic lakeside views, and to unwind in the midst of Nature at her most beautiful.
Home to some of the oldest existing examples of Dravidian architecture and sandy beaches, Mahabalipuram is s relatively small tourist town and one of Chennai’s greatest attractions. The city is best known for its Shore Temple, which dates back to 700 CE and the Five Rathas stone sculpture that is flanked by carved animals. Look out for Krishna’s Butterball, a giant natural rock that defies gravity to perch atop a slippery slope. The area’s gorgeous terrain makes for great bike trips, while boat rides in the sea and turtle walks on the beach are interesting ways to savour the area and its inimitable charm.
Kanchipuram or Kanjeevaram is one of the most important Hindu spiritual centres in the country and is a prominent pilgrimage spot. As the erstwhile capital of the Pallava Kingdom, Kanchipuram was a centre of learning for all major religions in South India. Today, the region is known for its exquisite hand-woven silks, which are available here at relatively cheap prices. The temple town is, unsurprisingly, best known for its many temples, of which the Kailasanathar temple is known for its distinct architecture. The Ekambeshwar temple is the highest, largest and most impressive temple in the region and is home to a mango tree that is purportedly 3,500 years old. The town is also a haven for lovers of South Indian classical music – regular concerts are held in the Kanchi Mutt.
The former French Colony’s relative proximity to Chennai (only 160 km away) makes it an ideal weekend getaway destination. Mediterranean-style houses, aromatic bakeries and French-accented Tamil have earned this city the moniker of the French Rivera of the East. There’s plenty to see, do and experience in Pondicherry – from the renowned Sri Aurobindo Ashram to , scenic beaches and dive spots, fabulous French food and a bohemian-chic ambience that is in equal parts eclectic and spiritual, Pondicherry is one of those places that everyone in your family will enjoy.