The busy metropolis of Chennai has not earned itself the moniker of ‘Gateway to the South’ for nothing – there are numerous weekend getaway destinations where one can drive down to from Chennai. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a thrill-seeker or a chilled-out wanderer, these destinations have something to offer for every kind of traveler and promise them an amazing experience.
Here’s our list of places to visit in Tamil Nadu:-
Just 60 km south of Chennai lies the bustling yet sleepy temple town of Mahabalipuram. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is famous for the windswept Shore Temple standing amidst well-kept green lawns. Culture trippers can visit the Pallava-period sites of Group of Monuments which include the Pancha Rathas, the Descent of the Ganges, and Krishna’s Butterball, a gravity-defying huge stone atop a small hillock. Visit the winding markets of Mahabalipuram to see artisans craft spectacular stone figures, climb up the lighthouse to see stunning aerial views, or indulge in bicycle tours or spa treatments.
Pondicherry is top of the popular charts for places to visit in Tamil Nadu. On the country’s eastern coast lies the former French colony of Pondicherry (affectionately called ‘Pondy’), which is Indo-French fusion at its best. The French Quarter, known as White Town, has cobblestone thoroughfares with French-style villas, the Aurobindo Ashram, stunning architectural delights such as the Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, the Lutheran Church, and the Arulmigu Vinayagar temple. Travelers can walk along the promenade, enjoy a cup of filter coffee at Le Café, eat French delights at Baker Street, hitch a ride from Chunnambar boat house to Paradise Beach, and visit the ideal township community of Auroville.
Green, undulating hills, and valleys rose gardens and orchards make up Yelagiri. Located in the Vellore district 230 km south-west of Chennai, Yelagiri is still untouched by commercial tourism and is the perfect place to spend a tranquil weekend. Travelers to the town can enjoy a spot of boating in the Punganoor artificial lake-cum-park, walk by the majestic Jalagamparai Falls, feast their eyes on gorgeous views at the Swami Malai Hills, and finally, wrap up their day with a visit to the Murugan temple. Adventure junkies can let their hair down with numerous thrilling adventurous activities at the Yelagiri Adventure Sports Association.
Shades of green and blue create a stunning confluence at the hill station of Yercaud, which is also known as the ‘Jewel of the South’. Located around 370 km south-west of Chennai in the Shevaroys range of the Eastern Ghats, Yercaud has an interesting mix of places for every kind of traveler. One can take a walk along Yercaud lake or enjoy a spot of boating while enjoying the stunning panoramic views. Other places to see include Anna Park, the Kottachedu teak forest, Bears Cave and Deer Park, Rose Garden, Silk Farm, Lady’s Seat, the Pagoda Point, and the Kiliyur waterfalls.
This one has to be on your list of places to visit in Tamil Nadu. Kanchipuram, a.k.a. Silk City, lies 75 km to the south-west of Chennai. The city is not only renowned for its culturally rich heritage but also for traditionally crafted silk sarees. Kanchipuram is famously considered to be the city of thousand temples, some of which are Kailasanathar, Devarajaswami, Kamakshi Amman, and Ekambareswarar, among others. Travelers can visit the century-old ancestral home named ‘Kanchi Kudil’, an architectural wonder which has preserved items used by joint families in earlier times, birdwatchers can visit the Vedanthangla Bird Sanctuary and culture enthusiasts can also explore the Dutch Fort.
Tiruvannamalai is one of Tamil Nadu’s holiest destinations and also one of South India’s five ‘elemental’ cities dedicated to Lord Shiva. Every full moon sees thousands of pilgrims flock the town to circumnavigate the base of the mountain Arunachala for the purifying ritual of Girivalam. Located around 207 km to the south-west of Chennai, the main attraction of Tiruvannamalai is the Annaimalaiyar temple. Other places to see include the Arunachaleshwara temple, Sathanur dam, and explore the forests of the Javadu hills.
7) Tranquebar (Tharangambadi)
The 14th-century beach town and former Danish colony of Tranquebar lie 270 km south of Chennai. In true colonial style, the entry to the town is marked by the Town Gate on King’s Street, Tranquebar’s main street. Colonial history buffs will find a lot of Danish remnants in Tranquebar in Fort Dansborg, the Zion Church (India’s oldest Protestant Church), the old Danish Cemetery, and the New Jerusalem Church. Travelers can also visit the Masilamani Nathar temple and the Ziegenbalg museum complex, wherein lies the Danish museum.
8) Nandi Hills
The ancient hill fortress town of Nandi Hills is around 350 km to the east of Chennai. Originally known as the ‘Hill of Happiness’ during the Chola period, Nandi is also commonly referred to as Nandidurga (Nandi Fort), which was built by Tipu Sultan. Interestingly, the hills resemble a sleeping bull as well. Nandi Hills offer great trekking opportunities as well as gorgeous viewpoints for nature lovers. Places to visit in the region include the cliff face of Tipu’s Drop, Tipu Sultan’s summer palace, the Brahmashram, and the Nandi temple. Muddenhalli in the Nandi Hills has a museum which culture trippers can explore.
Vellore lies on the banks of the Pallar River, around 137 km to the east of Chennai. Once having been ruled by numerous powerful South Indian dynasties, Vellore derives its name from the words ‘Vel’ (a spear, a weapon of Lord Murugan) and ‘Oor’ (place). Legends speak of a story where Lord Murugan appeared in a lotus pond in the guise of a tribal hunter to attack enemies; hence the name. Places to see in Vellore include the Vellore Fort, Jalakandeswarar temple, the Srilakshmi golden temple, and the Vainu Bappu observatory.
For many a long holiday lounging and relaxing for a few weeks is ideal but for working professionals, a short stress-free break might just be the thing to loosen up. Get on the road to any of these destinations and have a wonderful weekend. Are you game?
SelfRoadiez Travel Solutions Pvt Ltd through our online travel portal www.selfroadiez.com provides integrated self-drive holidays to offbeat destinations within India. We provide exclusive self-drive car rentals to travelers with a choice of multi-city car pick up points in India. We also offer drive holiday packages including accommodation, route planning, and experiential activities under custom travel plans. Thinking of a self-drive holiday? Call us to find out how we can help.