If you have just moved to Chennai and are new to the city it’s tough to find a getaway from the sweltering heat and the fast paced urban lifestyle if you don’t know the ropes. If you’re stumped about where to head then take a sip of some warm filter kaapi, sit back and relax as we have you sorted.
Pondicherry: 160 km south on East Coast Road from Chennai
Maama Pondy polama ? is a catch phrase you would have heard if you’ve ever brought up a weekend plan in Chennai. There is more to the lovely little union territory than cheap booze and the beach although that is a pretty sweet icing on the cake. It has a uniquely quaint Indo-french architecture with row houses and cafes that dot the coastal landscape. It also has some truly amazing people and you can soak in a little bit of French culture and cuisine in this oasis. Little bit of trivia for all the bibliophiles ‘Life of Pi’ the novel by Yann Martel that spawned the opus by Ang Lee was set in Pondicherry. Do not miss out on visiting Aurobindo Ashram and Serenity beach if you are paying a visit. Also Tasmai, centre for art and culture is a gem of a gallery featuring mostly Indian artists and hosting a lot of classes, screenings and talks throughout the year.
Covelong beach: 45-50 km south on East Coast Road from Chennai
The sun, sand and waves are calling you to Covelong. This little village on the way to Mahabalipuram is one of the few authentic surfing villages in India with a thriving surf culture. This is the place to head to if you are into water sports and would love to experiment with the thrills of surfing. It is well connected to the city with frequent shuttle services from Chennai. If you can afford to splurge a bit extra the Fishermans Cove Hotel by Taj Vivanta has a well maintained private beach that’s worth a visit.
Mahabalipuram: 50 km from Chennai
This beautiful town, almost 50 kms south from Chennai along the East Coast, is famous for its beautiful architecture and rich heritage. It has rock –cut caves, temples and sculptures that are sure to take you into a world of mystery and enchantment. Explore the city by foot or motorcycle to get the essence of the place. it is a backpackers paradise and is a pocket –friendly destination with cheapaffordable accommodation and some awesome places to simply explore and introspect. The shore temple, Arjun’s penance and the Five rathas are can’t –miss spots at Mahabalipuram. If you are visiting between January and February, don’t miss the Mamallapuram dance festival where talented exponents of Odissi, Mohini Attam, Kathakali, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak perform against the iconic backdrop of Pallava rock sculptures.
Pulicat Lake: 55 km from Chennai
This little known lake is a treat for birdwatchers and nature buffs. At a stone’s throw from the city, it is a welcome getaway and you can even catch a glimpse of the graceful flamingos that flock there between December and January. The major attractions here areis the bird sanctuary that plays host to a variety of rare species of cranes, painted storks and herons. The other main attractions are the ruins of the Dutch fort and thee eerily beautiful Dutch cemetery.
Hogenakkal : 340 kms from Chennai
At 340 kms from Chennai, it is a bit of a stretch and a 6 hour drive but it is definitely worth a visit for the picturesque waterfalls. Located in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu the waterfall derives its name that literally translates to ‘smoking rocks’ from the image of the water splattering on impact causing a fine spray to envelop the whole area. If you are visiting during the summer you can take a trip across the river in little bamboo coracles called as parisal.
Make better weekend plans with this awesome list of events curated for Chennai