Top 10 Weekend Getaways from Chennai
Chennai!!! Why it is hardly ever an option for the travelers looking for fun, adventure and relaxation all rolled into one is beyond my understanding. Most of the people conveniently forget that it’s a metropolitan city due to its extremely laid back nature and language barriers the NRI’S/Expats or for that matter even the north Indians face there. Okay, now all said and done you have landed up in Chennai and have to live here thanks to your work transfer or any other unavoidable reason.(Unless you are a Tamil and your heart lies in your native city).
Welcome to Chennai’s (erstwhile Madras) extremely hot and humid climate. But there are umpteen ways to beat the scorching heat and take a quick break from the mad and crazy pace of life in big cities. There are zillions of options for places in and around Chennai where you can enjoy the best moments of life either with your special someone or with your complete family.
Do check out these places if you are a person who wants to do out of the box stuff or even if you want a relaxed, peaceful and a strict no adventure holiday. (You can thank me later!!!!)
1. Pondicherry – At a distance of just 163 Km from Chennai it is the ideal weekend getaway to spend some quite moments with your spouse/special someone in the lap of Mother Nature. The 2 hrs 30 minutes drive would come-what-may be one of the most breathtaking drive of your life where you would just forget, that heaven was not really on earth for mortals like us. This quaint little French boulevard town is distinctly divided into two parts. One half being a beautiful French style town with complimenting architecture and the other half being a run-of-the-mill small south Indian towns. You can whiz around this place on a bike (it’s easily available on rent) with the cool breeze slapping your face and messing up your perfectly gelled and combed hair. Then there is always the option of crashing down on the bed after a hearty meal of lip-smacking food accompanied with the best of wines available. Auroville is a must visit place which is dedicated to human unity. Sri Aurobindo Society is another must visit place where you can learn a lot about culture as this society works towards individual perfection, social transformation and human unity based on a spiritual foundation. The shopaholics can indulge themselves in the extensive collection of handmade papers, export surplus garments from Tirupur and other items sure to catch your fancy.
2. MahabaliPuram - This historical town with jaw-dropping carvings intricately engraved on the monuments and temples is just 54 Km away from Chennai. The ideal destination for the NRI’s or anyone with a keen interest in the history of our Country. If admiring architecture is not exactly your cup of tea then also you need not lose heart as there are still a couple of things you can do here. The silvery sandy beaches look inviting enough to take a walk on or simply complete your quota of sitting and staring at the sea or the sky. The extensively lavish variety of hand-made crafts would be a collector’s delight. The grandeur of the temples is bound to intoxicate you for years to come. World famous dance festivals are conducted on weekends and the months of December and January on the back drop of Arjun’s penance. Even people like me who claim to have two left feet are sure to be completely bowled over by the extraordinary dancers.
3. Chidambaram – A call for the religious people out there! This place is bound to enchant you with its Nataraja Temple and the pious atmosphere which hangs around the town. A journey of 240 Km from Chennai, it’s your call whether you want to go via road or rail. The unique posture of the deity in the temple is one of its kinds in the world. It’s a pilgrimage site for Shaivites and Vaishnavites. A must visit place for all the temple lovers’ and people with a deep penchant for the mythological history.
4. Horseley Hills –Situated in Andhra Pradesh it’s a famous summer hill Resort at a distance of approx 274 Km from Chennai (depending on where you are situated)! The scenic beauty of the place, which you can discover through a drive of the narrow roads, is sure to whet your appetite for more. The dense growth of Eucalyptus, Gulmohar and Jacaranda trees seem to come alive from the pictures we saw in the geography text books. You can hike, trek, walk or enjoy the breathtaking view points from the hills. Zorbing (a sport where they put u inside a plastic inflated balloon and you can go rolling down!!) and Repelling (a form of Rock-Climbing) is a must try to fully enjoy the magic of this place.
5. Thanjavur – The ideal time to visit the place would be from November to February. The place is well connected from Chennai by road and rails both and is at a distance of 314 Km from Chennai. The Brihadeeswarar temple is the most visited monument here. There are tons of things you can do here from visiting monuments to watching movies in the state-of-art Multiplexes. Tanjore Paintings (made from gold foil) are a must buy gift for your near and dear ones.
6. Tirupati – This city is house to one of the World’s richest Temples to Lord Venkateswara. You can feast your eyes on the dome of the Temple made from Gold or simply be in awe of the sheer quantity of the offerings in gold, silver, precious stones etc made to the Lord. The heavenly driving experience from the city to the temple cannot be penned down. It is a very popular tourist attraction and hence well connected to the other cities and countries. The administration and the infrastructure is well structured and managed. You can relish all the south Indian delicacies here which are sure to keep you craving for more.
7..Kanchipuram – Yes! You have read it right it’s a name of the city too apart from being the world famous name of Silk Sarees. Temples and Silk Industry is a characteristic feature of this place. The distinguishing factor of Silk Sarees is that none of the materials used in it is sourced locally but only the weaving part is done here. Apart from temples (which are a trademark place to visit when touring this part of India!!) it is the visit to the local weavers which is the main attraction. The curious cats can quench their thirst of knowledge by witnessing firsthand the process of weaving from silk threads and creating a magical six yard piece of wonder!
8. Ooty – The Queen of hill stations nestled in the Nilgris Hills is an overnight journey from Chennai. The beauty of this place cannot be explained but only experienced. On the way to your destination do take a drive through Coonoor (preferably in the early morning) to experience heaven on Earth. I can tell you from my own personal experience, that the drive on the deserted lanes with the dried fallen leaves from the trees, carpeting your way is a feeling of nirvana. The view points on this stretch are lovely and it will take some effort on your part to tear yourself away from the points and continue your journey. The sheer joy of eating even the simplest of food like hot maggi and coffee is absolutely incredible. Boating is a fun option in Ooty. Also the Botanical Gardens are a must visit.
9. Yelagiri Hills - A quick unplanned getaway from the hustle and bustle of the fast paced city life – if this is what is running in your mind then do take a trip here. Buses are available or you could drive down if you are one of those who is a die-hard passionate driver. The best part is that this is a place where the mobiles and laptops will not intrude your privacy and you can spend a good time with yourself listening to the winds and chirping of birds. The waterfall and an artificial lake are about the only places you can go visiting. This place can satisfy your urge of going to undiscovered places by the tourists. So go and set your foot prints in this still remote and undiscovered hill station of the Country.
Vandalur Zoo – The first public Zoo of the Country which is located in Vandalur is just 31Km away from the city centre. In case, you just need a nice day outing with your family or friends this is the ideal place to visit. For all the animal lovers this place is a blessing in disguise. The heavenly feeling you get on watching your children shriek with utter amazement and delight on watching the animals is inexplicable. Black buck, jaguar, panther, wolf are few mammals among the wide variety of species you can feast your eyes on. The rare species like European brown bear, Muscovy duck, Bengal Tiger, White Tiger in the Zoo are sure to delight your senses. The Elephant Safaris (you can ride the poor animal as it takes you on a pleasurable tour around the park) provides the much needed relief to your tired legs.