With the long weekend right at the corner, it is time to make the most of it. If you’ve had travel plans last year which never materialised, this is the time to revisit your plans and make them happen.
We aren’t asking you to make elaborate plans or live out of your suitcase, but small trips every now and then serve as a much needed break from the daily grind. After all, short trips don’t burn a hole in your pocket, don’t require maniacal planning and keep you rejuvenated!
For all the Chennaiites out there, here are five weekend getaways you can trail off to for that perfect work-life balance:
Probably the most popular weekend getaway from Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a quaint coastal town with a lot to offer. It is a treasure trove of UNESCO heritage sites such as the Shore temple, Pancha Rathas, Thirukadalmalai, and in addition, has beautiful beaches, mouth-watering food, and the calm, azure sea. What else could a human possibly need?
Sample this: relaxing at the beach with the wind in your hair and sand in your feet, delicious seafood and a book to savour. Sounds like a plan?
You can opt for either Mahabalipuram Beach or the Pallava Beach for this near-perfect vacation. For the adventure junkies, go for water sports or boat rides, windsurfing or kitesurfing. For those who have an eye for arts, Mahabalipuram is the perfect weekend getaway. It is, in fact, like a crash course in Dravidian architecture and ancient monolithic artworks. Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, Cave temples, Pancha Rathas will satiate the art enthusiast in you. Sandy Bottom Cafe, Le Yogi, Gecko Cafe are some of the places you can visit to get a slice of the local cuisine.
There is also India Seashell Museum and Aquarium which boasts of being the largest seashell museum in the country and is well-equipped to give one a lesson or two about the rich marine life in not just India but the world. The Dakshina Chitra Museum, on the other hand, is a cultural museum which can teach you a range of things about South India – culture, lifestyle, art and more.
If that travel bug is still not satisfied and your dil maange more, head straight to the Crocodile Farm. Yes, you heard that right! It is home to several species of crocodiles, turtles, snakes and alligators (Indian Ghariyal included) and offers quite a different experience than most other vacations taken by the sea.
That’s not all. There are tales, folklore, food and beautiful Dravidian architecture to keep you company should you decide to go solo. So next weekend, drive on!
Distance from Chennai: 56 km (by road)
2. Hogenakkal Falls
Located along the river Kaveri in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, Hogenakkal Falls is perfect for a quiet getaway in the lap of nature.
Enjoy the famous Coracle boat ride – or simply grab a spot near the waterfalls to marvel at the beauty of the place as you ruminate on life!
Trekking along the Hogenakkal Falls is an experience worth remembering. You can even visit Pennagram Village if you are are a stickler for variety. At a mere distance of 15 km from Hogenakkal, Pennagram is surrounded by lush green forests and is known for its giant terracotta statues. Fancy a picnic in such surroundings?
What a peaceful weekend it would be!
Distance from Chennai: Approximately 340 kms
A road trip from Chennai to Tharangambadi is all you need to beat the weekday blues. A lesser-known place, high on history (this place was once the abode of the Danish admirals), Tharangambadi is where you need to go to spend some quality time with friends or yourself.
A 15th century Danish Fort, now in ruins, tops the list of local attractions. You can also visit the Bungalow on the beach restaurant that has some delectable dishes on the menu. That’s not all. There’s also the New Jersusalem Church, the Town Gate (which goes back to the 18th century), the Old Danish Cemetery Maritime Museum and the 14th century Masilamani Nathar Temple.
If you still have time on your hands, go for a stroll along Goldsmith Street, which is dotted with many a colonial mansion.
Distance from Chennai: Approximately 280 km
Brimming with relics of the past, Pondicherry is ideal for a laid back vacation. Once a French colony, Pondicherry still feels like an amalgamation of different cultures coexisting in harmony.
There are several beautiful beaches, perfect for a lazy day by the sea. Serenity Beach, Promanade Beach, Karaikal Beach, and Mahe Beach are some of the popular options. Pondicherry is also a water sports enthusiast’s paradise. The beaches offer some thrilling water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, boating, jet skiing – which means all adventure junkies are bound to have a gala time in Pondicherry.
And while you're there, shed those inhibitions and go scuba diving. Rich in marine life, Pondicherry is the only place in the eastern coast of India to have a scuba diving spot.
The best way to explore Pondicherry – with its antiquated French colonies, socio-cultural centres and museums – is through the very famous Pondy bicycle tours. Two hours is all you need, folks!
Let’s get to the best part now – food! Pondicherry is dotted with quaint little cafes serving delicious fare. Other than the quintessential Pondi cuisine (which essentially is a blend of several cuisines), you must savour French food, traditional South Indian food, continental delicacies at famous eateries such as La Coromandale, Villa Shanti, Le Club and more.
Some other places you can visit in Pondicherry are Auroville, the very famous Aurobindo Ashram, the beautiful churches, the old lighthouse, Pondicherry Museum, Arikamedu, the French War Memorial and the scenic Osudu Lake.
Trust us, Pondicherry has a bucketful of surprises in store for you!
Distance from Chennai: Around 150 km
Chennaiites, how about heading straight to Pulicat next weekend? You would be enthralled by the natural beauty of Pulicat Lake – the second biggest brackish water lagoon in the country, after Chilka lake in Orissa. The sheer number of pink flamingoes who flock together near the lake will take you by surprise. In fact, if you happen to visit Pulicat lake in December you will be greeted by the Pulicat Lake Flamingo Festival – a full-fledged three-day festival organised to welcome the flamingoes with music, dance and festivities.
The azure waters of the lake are safe havens for several species of birds such as pelicans and storks. The lake and accompanying bird sanctuary is a bird watcher’s delight.
Trekking, boating and fishing are some of the other activities you can indulge in, while at Pulicat.
Distance from Chennai: Approximately 99 kms