Chennai is blessed with a long and gorgeous coastline dotted with beaches perfect for weekend getaways. If you want to relax and rewind, you can take your pick from the scores of resorts, amusement parks, beaches and historical places in Chennai to visit. There are also many tourist destinations a few hundred kilometres outside of the city and with so many long weekends coming up, you will be spoilt for choice with locations to choose from. If you are in need of a quick getaway and an impromptu plan, here is a list of destinations that are only an hour’s drive from the city.
Kanchipuram is considered to be one of the Seven Sacred Cities of India and is the perfect getaway for avid history-buffs. As one of Tamil Nadu’s oldest cities, Kanchipuram has a rich history and is rife with temples, known for their grandeur and unique style of architecture. Kanchipuram’s glorious past is filled with the rise and fall of many famous South Indian dynasties. From the 3rd to 9th century, Kanchipuram served as the capital of the Pallava Dynasty. Most of the temples were built during their reign. After the fall of the Pallavas, the Chola Dynasty ruled over this town from the 10th to 13th century. All these kingdoms have left their mark in Kanchipuram, giving it the moniker “golden city of a thousand temples”. History-buffs will lose themselves in Kanchipuram’s famous temples like the Kamakshi Amman Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kailasanathar Temple and theKarchapeshwarar Temple. The most prominent among these is the Ekambaranatha Temple, considered to be the Earth Abode of Lord Shiva.
Kanchipuram is also world-famous for the traditionally-crafted Kanjeevaram silk sarees which originated here and are renowned for their hand-woven fabric. You can even visit the handlooms and watch how skilled artisans weave their masterpieces.
Distance from Chennai: 72km
Best Time to Visit: September to March
Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram (as the locals call it) is located in Tamil Nadu’s Kanchipuram district. The town is well-known for its shore temples built in the 7th century. Like Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, too, has seen its fair share of rulers and kingdoms that have filled this town with history and culture. Mahabalipuram is considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the many historical monuments, sculptures, man-made caves and rathas or chariot temples. The most prominent of these is the monolithic Shore Temple – a gigantic structure carved out entirely from a single rock.
All of Mahabalipuram’s temples and structures were primarily built during the reign of the Pallava kings in the 7th century AD. Legend has it that “Mamallapuram” gets its name from Pallava King NarasimhaVarman I, a great wrestler with the title Mamallan.
Apart from its historic structures and culture, the Cholamadal Artist’s Village, Mahabalipuram Beach, Tiger Cave and the Crocodile Bank are popular picnic spots you can visit. Finally, end your day with a cold beer and fresh seafood at any one of the sea-facing shacks.
Distance from Chennai: 55km
Best Time to Visit: December to March
Located just 88km from Chennai Central Railway Station, Pulicat Lake is India’s second largest brackish water lake, after Odisha’s Chilka Lake. The famous island of Sriharikota (ISRO’s space centre) acts as a barricade and separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal.
The Pulicat Lake Sanctuary acts as a home and stopover for migratory birds in the winter. With over 15,000 flamingos, along with pelicans, kingfishers, herons, painted storks, spoonbills and ducks visiting every year, the Pulicat Lake Sanctuary is a must-visit for bird watchers. The Tourism Board also organises an annual Flamingo Festival.
If you prefer sightseeing, you must visit the Dutch Fort and Cemetary, remnants of the 16th century Dutch colonial past.
Distance from Chennai: 55km
Best Time to Visit: October to March
If you enjoy trekking and the great outdoors, you must head out to Tada Falls. Tada Falls also called Ubbalamdugu Falls is a picturesque destination perfect for trekking, climbing and picnicking.
The falls are located in the dense forest of Siddulaiah Kona within the Kambakam hills. The trek route is an exciting one interspersed with streams, rocks, a jungle and ends with the massive waterfall. The distance is 10km in total along a little stream that leads to the falls. You will also see a Shiva temple en route.
For first-timers, the trek may be a difficult as the path gets very steep after the first two kilometres, but the view of the falls at the end is completely worth it. The drop looks breath-taking, and if you’re feeling adventures, you can do a free a fall into the water. If you have a day to spare, pitch a tent and stay overnight.
Distance from Chennai: 90km
Best Time to Visit: October to January
So what are you waiting for? Now that you’ve got a list of places to choose from, all you need to do is hit the road. And if you’re looking for a place to stay, head over to Feathers Hotel. Located on Mount Poonamallee Road, Feathers Hotel acts as a great start or end point for all your quick getaways. This luxury, five-star hotel is only 10km away from Chennai International Airport and 16km away from Chennai Central Railway Station.
If you’re planning a weekend trip to Chennai, here’s a complete weekend guide to the city. Book a room at Feathers Hotel today for the perfect stay during your vacation.