Updated: Jun 26, 2021
Beaches, temples, monuments, crowded bazaars, tall city buildings, and a mélange of culture and folklores. Tamil Nadu’s quaint capital city offers an ambitious rich heritage and cultural past. Renowned as the “Gateway of South India” and one of India’s largest six-city is a fast-growing metropolis –Chennai. Even with its pristine beaches and ancient temples, one is liable to get drained from the busy life in the city.
What a perfect respite it can be to escape for 48 hours from this glamorous city! Wondering where to go and enjoy a perfect weekend? The Flapper Life suggests you top weekend getaway destinations to get that relaxation you deserve.
Known for its temples and monuments and the famous Shore temple and Pancha Rathas, framed in rich Indian culture and heritage, this small town is a strip of land stretching between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake. This seaport lies only 58 km away from the capital city, Chennai –making it the most popular and first sought-after place for a weekend getaway.
If temples and heritage are your things, then what way to get the best out of Mahabalipuram if not visiting - Arjuna’s Penance, the Crocodile Farm, the Cave temples, the Indian Seashell Museum, and Krishna’s Butterball. While at your stay in Mahabalipuram experience beach camping with a campfire, Fishing Safari, Kadumbadi bicycle tour, and don’t miss the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival (A must-add on your bucket list).
Best time to visit: October to March.
Feeling French? Want to experience something vintage or aesthetic? Pondicherry is a dream because not only do you get to experience a pre-glimpse of France, but you get to stay and live it (even if it was only for a weekend). The sky, the architecture, the smell of the patisseries baking in the air, the yellow walls with oil lamps, and the promenade by the rock beach feels totally different (makes you wonder if you are really in India), like it is said, it truly is a dream.
This beach-town is a three-hour journey (152 km) from Chennai. How to spend your weekend here? Explore the White Town and the effortless beauty of French architecture. Witness the mini Notre-dame salmon-pink colored Churches (Notre-dame des Ange, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Church of the Sacred Heart –few to mention). Stroll through the streets and get yourself a coffee at the ‘Instagrammable’ Café Des Artes or Le Café that sits overlooking the Rock Beach. For spiritual restoration visit Auroville -serves as the best. The beaches here are to die for -Serenity Beach known for its clean sand and cabanas (the ideal place to watch the sunset) and the endless Rock Beach in its wide stretch is a must-visit. Don’t ever miss the delectable French cuisine.
In for an adrenaline rush? Surfing, scuba diving, paragliding, boating, kayaking, Banana Ride are quite a few to add to your bucket list.
Best time to visit: October to February
Pichavaram -Mangrove Forest:
If you are in Pondicherry (fondly ‘Pondy’), then you shouldn’t miss the second largest Mangrove Forest in the world –Pichavaram. Two and half-hour drive (70 km) from Pondy and there you are in Pichavaram. The forest spreads over 1000 hectares (50 small islands and 4,400 big and small canals) housing local birds like snipes, cormorants, egrets, storks, herons, spoonbills and pelicans that migrate here. Also, 177 species of birds belonging to 15 orders and 41 families have been recorded (Whoa!).
Hire a rowboat or motorboat and dwell deep into the beautifully arched Mangrove trees. Take the entire day if you must, because the mangrove forest has a lot of hidden curves and watch the sunlight playing hide and seek. Locally known as Thillai Vana, this region is sure to surprise you.
Best time to visit: November to February.
The charm of Kanchipuram, 72 km away from Chennai lies in its glorious Dravidian heritage. Known to be the Golden City of Temples and the second holiest city after Varanasi, it offers the perfect respite to find inner healing and attain that spiritual bliss. Proudly claimed as the Crowning Jewel of Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram houses unmatched temples in their prime architect - Kailasanathar Temple, Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple, and Chitragupta Swamy Temple to mention a few.
From bird sanctuary (Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary) to cascading lakes (Nathapettai Lake) has quite the best to make your visit a memorable one. Popularly known for the Kanchipuram Saris made out of mulberry silk is a must-add on your shopping list. Soaked in spirituality, Kanchipuram is that perfect weekend getaway to dwell in history and tradition and witness the festivals and fares that draw man visitors from all over India.
Parasailing and scuba diving are becoming popular in Kanchipuram, so, make it your must-try marine experience when you visit.
Best time to visit: March to May, Mid-September to October.
Popularly called the ‘Niagara Falls of India’, Hogenakkal Falls is the prime tourist destination to visit if you are near Chennai or Bangalore. 345 km away from Chennai / 276 km away from Kanchipuram, Hogenakkal Falls literally translates to Smoke Rocks has 14 channels of water from River Kaveri that drops varying between 15 and 65 ft. Coracle riding between the two Carbonatite rocks with waterfalls on both sides –What a sight! Although coracle riding is the only way to get a closer view of the waterfalls. The current of the water is challenging and calls for a bumpy ride sometimes but what is a trip if not for the highs and lows. You have multiple viewing decks to enjoy the bird-eye view of the water busting through the rocks. Believe us when we say it’s magical because it really is.
Best time to visit: July to October.
When it comes to exploring Tamil Nadu, Chettinad undoubtedly tops the chart. For many reasons, this region is a sensory delight. The intricate Chettinad Architecture, the intriguing heritage, and the immaculate Chettinad cuisine hold the complete package of a perfect weekend getaway under a single roof.
Where to stay? Chettinad offers ancestral homes turned Heritage Hotels for the best royal experience with unforgettable authentic cuisines. The homes are typically Chettiar styled and depict the period and lifestyle of the Chettiars. Kanadukathan Palace, Athangudi Palace, Visalam, and the Chidambara Vilas are the most notable Chettinad Mansions you should definitely explore. Stroll through the tiny lanes that hold quite a few shops -stop at the Karaikudi Antique Market and collect black coins or old black-and-white paintings or bronze sculptures, it always adds a nice touch to your walls at home).
When you’re in a traditional village, temples are like the cake of a wedding (never a wedding without a cake, right? –the Pillaiyarpatti Vinayakar Temple and Kundramudi Murugan Temple with their own community and rituals and distinct stories are a delight for the eyes and the ears. Make a stop at the Sree Mahalakshmi Handloom Weaving Centre and watch how the beautiful saris are knitted.
Alagappa Chettiar Museum in Karaikudi -holds the collections that belonged to Alagappa Family, Thirumayam Fort, Chettinad car & camera Museum will give a mix of feelings. Chettinad known for its Mansions and Palace extends a different kind of experience for those seeking something new!
Best time to visit: August to April.
Spreading over an area of 600 square km, set on the barricade island of Sriharikota separated from the Bay of Bengal is this pristine ‘brackish water’ -Pulicat Lake. Pulicat Lake (55 km away from Chennai) is the ideal getaway to embrace nature.
This place carries the existence of the Dutch recalling their life and culture –don’t miss the Dutch Fort and the Dutch cemetery. Birds like Kingfisher, Storks, and mainly Flamingos rule this landscape and mark it as a paradise for bird watchers. Visit the nearby villages Vedurupattu and Nelapattu for a local experience. While at your stay, don’t miss out on the Flamingo Festival conducted every December is the highlight of visiting this haven. Pulicat Lake calls for fun beach activities and watersports. Take the time and soak your soul at the gorgeous sunset that falls behind Pulicat Lake.
Best time to visit: October to March.
Also referred to as Tada Falls, located in Chittoor district is a hidden gem in Chennai, 92 km away from Chennai. Adorned in serene hills and the emerald green valley with its murky weather is the perfect spot for hiking. It is a 7 km trek through the wild Siddhaiah Kona Forest. Locals say the water that flows here is holy in nature because it holds reverence to Lord Shiva.
Book yourself a caravan and make it a memorable stay at the foot of the hill exploring the wilderness and the beautiful sunrise and sunset.
Best time to visit: October to March.
Why Yercaud? Located in Salem district, Tamil Nadu, 358 km from Chennai is nature’s paradise covered in serene landscapes, coffee plantations, misty hills, and lakes. The winding roads take you to the various tourist spots in this region. But what captures your heart is the great view of the valley amidst the fog and the smell of the Eucalyptus trees that grow in abundance here.
Escape into the vast and beautiful hill, with a chance to reach Pagoda Point where you can soak your mind with the panoramic view of the hills. Try out High Rope, Zipline, and even Pipe Dream for some adventure to add to your travel diary. Want to do something daring to break free from the mundane things, then drive yourself to the Oak trails, and take a walk on ropes (Burma Bucket). For some off-road experiences -Grange Treetop Adventure serves with thrill activities, one of them is taking an ATV ride (Motor ride) inside the woods definitely of its kind adventure- don’t miss out.
The Yercaud Lake is a never-miss spot, hire a boat with a guide or take that boat for yourself and paddle your way into the vast lake. Get drenched in the sparking Kiliyur waterfalls. Lady’s Seat, Silk Farm, and Rose Garden, Deer Park, Bears Cave, Anna Park –are a definite add to your list.
Yercaud has got you covered with trekking and camping obviously! Where there’s a hill, then surely enough trekking and camping swallow the other touristy things to do. Now take that walk to remember down the Kottachedu Teak Forest and encounter the wildlife animals -anteaters, paradise flycatchers, foxes, and bison. Camp by the Vanier River.
Best time to visit: October to June.
If you are looking for a way to escape from Chennai city life, add these destinations to your weekend getaway list. Come explore and relax because you need that break.
Contributed by: Virgil Garrett