What makes Chennai a traveller’s paradise?
The fact that it is not only a perfect getaway in itself with a number of sanctuaries, beaches and heritage sites, but it spoils you for choice when you seek some respite from the city life.
With a number of pilgrim sites, heritage centers, sun-kissed beaches, even hill stations close to the coastal city, your weekends will never be the same.
Here are some of these perfect weekend getaways from Chennai within 300 kms, so you always have interesting stories to share on Mondays.
- Kanchipuram (75 km away)
- Pulicat (88 km away)
- Mahabalipuram (55 km away)
- Pondicherry (160 km away)
- Yelagiri (227 km away)
Famously called the ‘Golden City of Thousand Temples’, Kanchipuram is a hotspot for tourists seeking a spiritual awakening.
Places to Visit in Kanchipuram: Explore the ancient and architecturally brilliant temple of Kanchipuram on your visit. The Kanchi Kamakshi Temple and the Kailasanathar Temple reflect the architectural influences of the Pallava period. Sprawling over 40 acres is the Ekambeshwarar Temple, the largest in the temple in the city.
Things to do in Kanchipuram: If you have time, engage in bird watching at the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. Surrounded by lush green trees, the sanctuary shelters many migratory birds like the sandpiper, white ibis, and spoonbill.
Heard of the famous Kanchipuram Saris? This is where the fine fabric is made. Visit the silk factory to watch the making of this fabric right from the beginning.
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A historic seashore town on the Bay of Bengal, Pulicat offers a mesmerizing scenic view to the visitors. With hordes of flamingos flocking to town, it sees a high number of tourists to witness its natural beauty.
Places to visit in Pulicat: The Pulicat Lake is the second largest lagoon in the country offering asylum to many exotic birds in the Pulicat Bird Sanctuary. Flowing through the charming valleys and cutting edge with a technological hotspot of Sriharikota, the Pulicat Lake has something for everyone. You can enjoy a nice picnic by the lagoon here as the sanctuary birds fly and chirp overhead.
Another key attraction is the Dutch cemetery for those interested in history and culture. Though the cemetery is locked, the gatekeeper is usually around and opens upon request. The well-preserved inscriptions on the tombs and the different crests are worth seeing.
Things to Do in Pulicat: There are a number of activities in the township to pump up your adrenaline. Enjoy boating on the waters of the lake. To make it even exciting, ride in the traditional fishermen boats. The region also has some trails for the trekkers.
If you are a foodie, do taste scrumptious seafood in the eating stalls and joint around the area.
Mark the end of your visit by watching the sunset over the lake while a silhouette of birds makes a postcard-worthy scene in front of your eyes.
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With its fascinating architecture, rock-cut caves and ancient history, Mahabalipuram is an ideal place, especially for history lovers and art aficionados.
Places to visit in Mahabalipuram: To unveil the town’s rich history, visit the Shore Temple. Built in the 7th century, is one of the oldest South Indian temples exhibiting a Dravidian influence in its architecture. It comprises of three shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, this temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should be on your travel itinerary.
To witness another Pallava marvel, head to the Five Rathas (Panch Rathas). These set of rock temples are an excellent example of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. Also, visit the monolithic rock carvings on the Arjuna’s Penance.
Beach lovers can head to the Mahabalipuram beach to relax in the waters of the Bay of Bengal.
Things to do in Mahabalipuram: Adventure seekers can enjoy surfing at Mahabalipuram Beach. To get your dose of adrenaline, do visit the Madras Crocodile Bank. If you are lucky, you may spot a family of turtles here as well.
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While your plans of visiting Cannes are in the pipeline, pack bags for the French Riviera of the East: Pondicherry. This former French colony is a quaint town with remnants of its historic past and comes close to giving you an insight of the French culture.
Places to Visit in Pondicherry: With a number of churches and beaches, Pondicherry is rich in key attractions. If you like the hippie vibe of Goa, Auroville is the place to be. The township promotes the concept of unity. The highlight of the settlement is the Matri Mandir.
To see the epitome of the French architecture in India, pay a visit to White Town. It is a well-planned area with European style streets and trees of bougainvillea. Ever seen those rustic images against a sunflower-yellow wall on Instagram? Those are from the White Town too!
If you are a beach bum, head to the Paradise Beach. The beauty of the beach lies in its isolation from the main town. You have to take a ferry ride across the backwaters to reach this paradise of nature.
Things to Do in Pondicherry: Pamper your body to the Yoga Sessions at Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Take a stroll through the streets to marvel at the finery of the town’s architecture. Enjoy a nice French meal at the famous cafes of Pondicherry. Take a slow walk on the calm and beautiful Seaside Promenade as the sea lightly sprays your feet.
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This unconventional hill-station offers the much-needed respite from the heat of the coastal city. Not as developed as Ooty, but Yelagiri is abundant in natural beauty. The drive to the town is marked by a picturesque landscape. As the hills get closer, the city starts to fade little by little. Once you reach the town, the first thing you will notice is its quietness. So, if you seek some ‘me time’, Yelagiri is the perfect destination.
Places to Visit in Yelagiri: While it may seem much different than the other hill stations, it does have quintessential features of one. From viewpoints to lakes, Yelagiri has it all. With a fountain adding to its charm, the Punganoor Lake is one of the most famous attractions of Yelagiri. The tranquil surroundings of the lake make for a pleasant experience of its visitors. You can collect your thoughts here to the sound of water or take a boat ride across the waters. A short trek from the lake will lead you to the famous Swami Malai Hills that offer a spectacular view of the valley.
Enjoy a walk in the Nature Park near Punganoor Lake. Spread over 12 acres, the park is abundant in exquisite floral species. An artificial cascading waterfall, a multicolored musical fountain, fish aquarium and a bamboo house are also within the park confines.
Things to Do in Yelagiri: Get your adrenaline rush at the Yelagiri Adventure Camp. Enjoy trekking, rock climbing, hiking and paragliding at this tourist hub.
Take a 5 km trek to the cascading Jalagamparai Falls. Get in touch with spirituality at the Velavan Temple, Murugan Temple, and the Moksha Vimochana Temple.
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Where are you headed this weekend from Chennai? Let us know in the comments below. Happy weekend!
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