Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, often features on international lists of must-visit places in India. New York Times counted Chennai as one of the 52 destinations to visit in 2014 and in 2016, Tamil Nadu was the state that received the largest number of tourists… more than Rajasthan and more than Goa. But Chennai isn’t just a tourist spot, it is also a major cultural, educational and commercial centre of India. It is one of the four original metropolises of the country alongside Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata. Believed to have been founded on August 22, 1639, Madras got rechirstened to Chennai in 1996. But don’t let the visible ‘westernisation’ fool you; Chennai remains rooted in its unique culture and tradition.
Chennai is not just a thriving hub for manufacturing, it also has a strong IT industry and is home to several business process outsourcing companies. It is also home to one of the biggest film industries in the world and home to the legendary AR Rahman and Superstar Rajinikanth. There are several things to do and places to visit in Chennai but as with every city, Chennai can wear you down. And it does help to get away every once in a while. We bring you this list of weekend getaways from Chennai.
Photograph: Joseph Jayanth/Flickr (Under Creative Commons license)
One of the rare Danish colonies in India – others being Serampore (West Bengal) and the Nicobar Islands – Tranquebar or Tharangambadi is that beach town you can easily fall in love with. Tranquebar is also often called the village of the dancing waves. From Fort Dansborg that houses Danish sculptures and manuscripts to the Zion Church and the Danish Museum that shelters antiques from the Danish period, there’s much to see in and around Tranquebar, especially if you are a history buff.
Photograph: Manu NDD/Flickr (Under Creative Commons license)
What can we say about Munnar that hasn’t already been said? Nestled between the rivulets of Nallathanni, Mudrapuzha and Kundala, Munnar isn’t just popular for its expansive tea gardens but also for its several trekking trails, clear lakes, gushing waterfalls and lush green forests. Home to Rajamala Wildlife Sanctuary and the Eravikulam National Park, Munnar is the ideal destination for, wildlife and nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts and honeymooners alike. Got just two days to spare in Munnar? Here’s everything you can do in that time:
Photograph: Antriksh/Pixabay (under Creative Commons license)
In several ways, Pondicherry is to the east coast of India what Goa is to the west… only a lot classier. July to September is a good time to visit Pondicherry since the summers have made way for the rains and the tiny union territory gears up to celebrate the birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo in August. Pondicherry is a great weekend getaway from Chennai. Here’s what you can do in and around Pondicherry in just two days:
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Located just off the Chennai-Bangalore road, Yelagiri is situated at over 4600 feet and s nestled amidst orchards, green valleys and rose gardens. The tiny town comprises 14 hamlets sitated across four hills. The hill station itself offers a wide range of adventure sports activities, though the drive to Yelagiri is a one-of-its-kind experience. The road with its 14 hairpin bends sure does test your driving skills but each bend, especially the seventh, offers breathtaking views of the hills and its environs.
Photograph: Sanmitra Kale/Flickr (Under Creative Commons license)
Yercaud is, somewhat derogatorily, called Ooty for the poor. Even so, this hill station that is located in the Eastern Ghats and about 360 km from Chennai is one that deserves to be visited. Well known for its orange groves and coffee plantations, Yercaud offers several trails for trekkers, excellent boating facilities for families and couples in its only lake, historic temples, colonial buildings and the spectacular Killiyur Falls that drop from over 3,000 feet! What makes Yercaud even more enticing is the fact that the food is cheap (and tasty) and it offers several inexpensive accommodation options, including rest houses that are run by Christian missionaries.
Still need reasons to get away from Chennai this monsoon?