Top 10 Places to Visit Near Chennai

Chennai in Tamil Nadu is an industrious mega-polis. With hundreds of years of history, colonial heritage and numerous allures, the city is the largest hub of South India. The capital city is not just, all work and no play. Weekends in Chennai offer exhilarating breaks. The city is well connected to various nature blessed locales where weekends can be enjoyed with relaxation and thrilling activities. From the sandy coastline along the Bay of Bengal to the misty hills of Eastern Ghats, from historical villages to the cluster of world heritage sites, from divine faith to wild fun, weekends can be whatever you want it to be. Here is the list of top places to visit near Chennai.

Horsley Hills

Horsley Hill

The famous hill resort of Andhra Pradesh, Horsley Hills is an enthralling, charming little hill station. Source

Horsley Hill named after, W.D. Horsley, the collector of Cuddapah district is a charming hamlet in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Snuggled at the heights of 4000 feet in the Eastern Ghats, the hills are scenic, thrilling and relaxing. The hill slopes are covered in a lush carpet of Eucalyptus and Gulmohar trees. The soothing climate of the hills is a pleasant change from the hot and humid temperatures of Chennai. The weather is the major allure of tourists to explore the blessed environs. The quaint hill resort is a short driving distance from Chennai. Explore the local sights of the famous Mallamma temple, animal sanctuary and hill viewpoints. There are also well-known adventure sports camps that offer trekking, bungee jumping, zorbing, rappelling, rock climbing and rope adventures. Relax in the scenic environs of the hill station or indulge in the adrenaline gushing sports. The serene location revitalizes your body, mind and soul.

How to Reach Horsley Hills from Chennai

Horsley hills is 275 kilometers away from Chennai. The distance can be covered easily by a road trip. Buses, private vehicles and hired cabs commute easily.

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Mudumalai National Park

Mudumalai National Park

he Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also a declared Tiger Reserve, lies on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills. Source

Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu is nestled in the North Eastern Slopes of the Nilgiris part of Western Ghats descending to the Mysore Plateau. The 62 sq. km. area premises was a game reserve before being declared the sheltered wilderness in the early 1940 by the then Madras Presidency. The national park region is a viable habitat for a varied range of wildlife and is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The national park is surrounded by other sanctuaries like Bandipur and Wayanad. The main attraction of Mudumalai happens to be the elephant camp called Theppakadu. For plant lovers, there are a ton of medicinal herbs to observe. Unique wildlife species call the sanctuary their home. Rare and endemic species thrive in the blessed environs. Enjoy bird watching, camping, tree house stay, visit to nearby waterfalls, water hole visit, village tour, safari, swimming, etc. A laid back weekend can be spent in the nature blessed environs.

How to Reach Mudumalai National Park from Chennai

Distance between Mudumalai National Park and Chennai is almost 575 kilometers. The nearest airport is Coimbatore International Airport. From the airport, the national park is connected through Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSRTC) and some private travel services.

Madurai

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar. Image Source

Madurai is the city with the soul of Tamil Nadu. Located on the banks of Vaigai River, the city is a treasure historically, artistically and culturally. The 2500 years of history and rich heritage is the greatest allure of the south Indian state. “The city that never sleeps” is buzzing with tourists all seasons of the year. Temple culture is the oldest tradition of the city. Observe the architectural brilliance of the 1000 pillared beautiful Meenakshi Amman Temple. The other splendors of Madurai are Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam, Koodal Alagar temple, etc. Spend a leisure weekend sighting the attractions. The gastronomical delights of the city and the shopping pleasures have also made their name. Relish the flavors of the local food. For shopping the beautiful Sungudi sarees, Tanjore paintings and brass work are the best souvenirs. The city is a pleasant weekend break form Chennai.

How to Reach Madurai from Chennai

Madurai is 464 kilometers from Chennai. Both the major cities of Tamil Nadu are connected by air, rail and road. Frequent flights are available with major domestic airlines. Trains are also regular. Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSRTC) has good connectivity to the city. Private vehicles and taxis are also a good way to commute.

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Karaikudi

Chettinad's Palace

The oldest surviving building of this style, the Chettinad Palace was built by Dr Annamali Chettiyar, founder of the Indian Bank and the Annamalai University in Chidambaram. Source

Karaikadu in Sivagangai district of the state of Tamil Nadu is a pleasant change from the chaos of Chennai. The sleepy town and 74 more villages collectively is called Chettinad. The name of the place was begotten as this was the historical region of the Chettiar community. The Chettiars were prosperous bankers and businessmen of the 19th and 20th century with trade all over South East Asia. They spent their wealth in prospering the region. Their style of houses became architectural marvels. The community also lent some delightful tricks to the gastronomy. The Chettinad style houses are famous for their constructions using the limestone called ‘karai veedu”‘ in local language. Spend a weekend in a Chettinad style home built with teak wood pillars and handmade tiles. Tantalize your taste buds with the spicy Chettinad cuisine, locally called Aachi Samayal which translates to grandmother’s cooking. The delicious dishes to try is the famous chicken Chettinad. Pay a visit to the Pillayarpatti cave temple. The leisurely time in the traditional village set up is a soothing break making it one of the off the beaten track weekend getaways near Chennai.

How to Reach Karaikudi from Chennai

The distance between Chennai and Karaikadu is 420 kilometers. Tiruchirapalli International Airport in Trichy is the nearest airport. From the airport, private vehicles, taxis and the Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSRTC) buses connect it frequently.

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Mahabalipuram

Arjun's Penance

Arjuna’s Penance is one of the most beautiful stone carvings at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. Source

Mahabalipuram with its collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is one of the popular places to visit near Chennai. Snuggled on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu, the town is famous for the rock cut temples, mythological tales recited through sculptures, rathas (temples in the structures of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries) and massive open-air reliefs. Dated back to the 7-9th Century during the rule of Pallava King Narsimha Varman, the archaeological wonders have survived the ravages of time. Check out the famous attractions of “Descent of the Ganges”/ “Arjuna Penance”, the Shore Temple, the Pancha Rathas and Temple of Rivage with innumerable splendid sculptures of Lord Siva. Spend time walking on the sandy shores with the melody of waves for company. The Cholamandal Artists’ Village is a pleasant place to check out remarkable sculptures and paintings. Dakshina Chitra, a living museum is a good place to learn about the bygone days. The peaceful town is the perfect recipe for a relaxing weekend break from Chennai. Plan a weekend holiday during the Mamallapuram Dance Festival where traditional dance forms from all over India are performed.

How to Reach Mahabalipuram from Chennai

Mahabalipuram is 58 kilometers form Chennai. The easiest way to reach is by road. Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSRTC) buses are frequently available. Private cabs or vehicles are also available.

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Puducherry

Pondicherry

French legacy of Pondicherry is preserved in its French Quarter, with tree-lined streets, mustard-colored colonial villas and chic boutiques.

One of the most popular places to visit near Chennai, Puducherry, a Union Territory of India was a French Colony till the 1950s. The town has now gained fame for the splendid beaches, azure waters, seafood, colonial architecture and the relaxed ambiance. The coastal colony along the Bay of Bengal has the nickname of the ‘French Riviera of the East’. A short distance from Chennai, here is the place to soothe all worries and get lost in the charm of the colonial vestige still surviving. The beaches are pleasant and fun. Sunbathe or indulge in water sports. Try out surfing at the beach when the waves are just right. Treat yourself with the French delicacies of the town bakeries. The other gastronomical delights equally tantalizes you senses. The drinks are also pocket friendly. The Aurobindo Ashram is a good place to forget all tensions. Indulge in yoga, meditation or relaxing. Exploring the town on foot or a two wheeler is fun. Shop for knick-knacks. The languid coastal town serves as the pleasant weekend getaway from Chennai.

How to reach Puducherry from Chennai

Puducherry is 148 kilometers from Chennai. The best way to commute is by road. Buses frequent the Union Territory from the capital city. Private cabs and personal vehicles can also make their way. The drive is around 3 hours.

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Havelock Island, Andaman Islands

Havelock Island, Andamans

Havelock Island, Andaman

Havelock Island, Andaman is the tourist hub of the archipelago. The beautiful island is blessed with picturesque silvery sands, teal waters of the Bay of Bengal, thrilling adventures and relaxation. The island has the famous Radhanagar beach which was voted the ‘Best Beach in Asia’ in 2004. For weekend breaks from Chennai, Havelock is a dream come true. Far from the mainland, the beautiful haven makes you forget all hassles of the cities. The ambiance of the island will provide cherished memories. Spend time relaxing on the beach enjoying views of the crystal clear waters. Explore the waters with snorkeling or scuba diving. Para-sailing and surfing are also available. Trekking and beach exploring are thrilling. Relish sunsets with walks on beaches. The bonfire evenings are also charming. Enjoy the delight of camping on the beach or a luxury stay in the island. The island is the perfect recipe of a dream weekend.

How to reach Andaman Islands from Chennai

The offshore Havelock Island in Andaman is 1258 kilometers away from Chennai. The best way to reach the paradisiacal island is to reach Port Blair by flight. Chennai has frequent flight options. From Port Blair, government ferries, speedboats and sea planes make the journey to the island.

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Colombo

Colombo

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a bustling city and a hopping-off point for beaches in the island nation’s south.

Sri Lanka’s Capital, Colombo is a beautiful port city with a rich colonial heritage. The vibrant city is a good option of a weekend break from Chennai. An international holiday for a weekend is surely an amazing experience. Snuggled on the Western coast of the country along the Bay of Bengal, the metropolis is a potpourri of races, religions and cultures. Check out the beaches. Though Sri Lanka boasts of better options of sand, sea and sun, they are no less fun. Days can be well indulged in the museums, colonial mansions, art galleries and gardens. A city tour is good way to explore. The Buddhist temples and monasteries are soothing oasis. Evenings are well spent in nightclubs. The nightlife is impressive. The dining scene of the city is a multi-cultural gamut of delightful options. Try out local delicacies; seafood is an absolute pleasure. Shop at the thriving street markets or the trendy designer malls. The city is an exciting break. A weekend in an international locale cannot be better than this.

How to reach Colombo from Chennai

Colombo is 686 kilometers form Chennai. The best way to reach is a flight. Cruises and boat services are available but are time taking. From Chennai frequent flight options land at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo.

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Tirupati

Tirupati

Tirupati/Tirumala is a pilgrimage center of great significance and is visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. Source

Tirupati is the city of the richest God’s abode in India. The temple town is spread on the seven hill ranges of the Tirumala hills. The Sri Venkateshwara temple is the holy allure making it one of the best places to visit near Chennai especially on weekends. The glorified form of Lord Vishnu is visited by crowds from all over the world. From Chennai, Tirupati is a pleasant weekend break. The divinity is felt the moment you step in the town. The holy pilgrimage place soothes and relaxes visitors. There are many other temples in the complex to be explored. Not only is the town drenched in spirituality, there are many nature blessed places to check out. The Chandragiri fort is a beautiful place to explore. The 11th century fort was once the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Converted into a museum, treasures are sheltered in the premises. Spend time exploring the remnants of a powerful dynasty. Weekends in the town of divine faith is a lovely change.

How to reach Tirupati from Chennai

Tirupati is at the distance of 146 kilometers from Chennai. One can reach the holy town by road and rail from the capital city. Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSRTC) buses are frequently available to the holy town. Daily direct trains also cover the route. The Tirupati-Chennai Express is the best option.

Tranquebar

Tranquebar/Tharangambadi

Tranquebar is a Dutch, Danish, British Colonial heritage town of pristine beauty and perennial charm, situated on the Coromandel Coast in the Nagapattinam. Source

Tranquebar is a beautiful coastal town with multi-ethic roots. Known as Tharangambadi meaning ‘Land of the Singing Waves’, this small Coromandel town is timeless. Nestled at the confluence of the Kaveri River and the Bay of Bengal, Tranquebar is scenic. The town is a mix of the Danish, British, German and French. The bygone colonies may have been vacated but their presence lingers. The town has witnessed the colonial powers at their peak. Imprints of almost two centuries of colonial rule can be witnessed everywhere in the town. The chief attractions are the aquamarine waters of the ocean, the military Dansborg fort, elegant churches, colonial-era homes and serenity. The melody of singing waves needs to be enjoyed at leisure. The delicious gastronomy comprise the mix of fresh catch of the sea and the flavors of Danish, Portuguese and French delights. Walk around the town for a better feel. The languid pace of the coastal town is a pleasant change from Chennai. Weekends here are relaxing.

How to reach Tranquebar from Chennai

Tranquebar is located at a distance of 280 kilometers from Chennai. The easiest way to get to the coastal town is to drive from Chennai, on the smooth East Coast Road. The journey takes five to six hours. Tamil Nadu State Road Transport Corporation (TNSRTC) buses also run on the route.

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A travel writer by profession and self-professed addict to literature, momos, dancing, music and travelling, Debasree Chakraborty has all interesting things to share. Go through her penned down travel experiences and collected intelligence in her write ups. Read on!

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