Located on the coast of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is a gateway to some of the spectacular weekend travel destinations. No matter how much you love the metropolitan everyone at one point of time needs an escape. Even a day’s escape from the city can give you an assured vacation on your car or motorcycle.
Here is a list of some of the splendid weekend getaways from Chennai.
Chennai to Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram , a UNESCO world heritage site, makes for a quick getaway from Chennai. The temple ruins showcase the rich Dravidian architecture with Buddhist elements. There are also local craftsmen and artisan who showcase their handiwork in the form of intricate sculptures that you can take home. You can take a bicycle tour to explore the place.
Distance and Road Condition – 56 kms from Chennai via E Coast Road and should take you just under two hours to complete. Several tender coconut sellers dot the road so be sure it will be a delicious and refreshing journey!
Best time to visit – December to March
Chennai to Pondicherry
This Union Territory and erstwhile French colony has to be one of the best known places in south India for a getaway. With the calm atmosphere and the beach make for a very inviting road trip. It’s an ideal destination for a one day trip and the drive to it is one of the most scenic ones you’ll ever embark on. There are plenty of places to visit here like Auroville, Gingee Fort, Promenade Beach, Jawahar Toy Museum apart from indulging in a variety of water sports.
Distance and Road Condition- 143 km from Chennai via E Coast Road, taking just over 3.5 hours to cover.
Best time to visit – October to February
Chennai to Tranquebar/Tharangabadi
For a relaxing, quiet getaway where you can swim in the ocean and be free, Tranquebar is the best place for a road trip. A short while from Chennai, it has calm waters, perfect to swim in. Danish museum, Jerusalem Church, Fort Dansborg are some of the places you can visit on your trip here.
Distance and Road Condition – 270 kms from Chennai via E Coast Road (NH 45A) which will take about 6 hours or a little more to complete, given the altitude and curvature of the road
Best time to visit – February to August
Chennai to Kumbakonam
Colourful gopurams dotting the skyline are a prominent feature Kumbakonam. It was once the height of medieval power in southern India and is now a quaint temple town to visit ideally for 1-2 days. It is also well known for the Hindu festival of Mahamaham festival that takes place every 12 years
Distance and Road Condition – 296 kms form Chennai via Grand Southern Trunk Road/NH 45 will take you just under 6.5 hours to cover, the road being good for most of the distance, except for the area near Varudachalam, where driving in top gear can be impossible.
Best time to visit – November to March
Chennai to Kanchipuram
Well known for its silk sarees, Kanchipuram is also called “golden city of a thousand temples” and it should definitely be a destination on your travel list. It is also considered one of the seven sacred cities of India. The Kaliasanathar Temple is the oldest in the city which was ruled by the Pallavas, Cholas, and the Vijayanagara Empire. Vedanthangla Bird Sanctuary is also popular with the tourists here.
Distance and Road Condition – 75 kms from Chennai via the Kanchipuram-Chennai Road taking just and hour and a half, the route being simple, the road clean and no need to make pit-stops anywhere
Best time to visit – September to March
Chennai to Vellore
Reminiscent of the Dravidian civilisation, Vellore is the place where Hindus believe that Lord Murugan had appeared. The Vellore Fort is one of the most prominent landmarks of the city. The Srilakshmi Golden Temple is the other famous golden temple of the country you must visit. There is a lot of history and culture here to immerse yourself into.
Distance and Road Condition – 158 kms from Chennai via the Kanchipuram-Chennai Road and NH4 taking just under 4 hours to cover, the road being smooth throughout
Best time to visit – October to March
Chennai to Nellore
Nellore has made contributions to art and trade since ancient times. With beaches, temples, water falls, bird sanctuaries to see, it has something to offer to everyone. It’s a place where you can go for either a day or make a long weekend out of it by choosing to relax on the beautiful beaches here.
Distance and Road Condition – 175 kms from Chennai via NH5 taking just over 3 hours to reach and there are few restaurants like the Silver Inn and Alankar Bakery & Sweets on the route at regular intervals
Best time to visit – December to February
Chennai to Madurai
Great food and great architecture should be enough reasons to pay a visit to Madurai! It’s also called the Athens of the East given the lavish temples dotting the city and being one of the oldest cities in India. The Meenakshiamman temple is the most famous one. The Gandhi Memorial Museum is also a top tourist spot to visit.
Distance – 463 kms from Chennai via NH45B and Grand Southern Trunk Road, a long journey taking almost 9 hours. Though many would prefer to cut the drive short and finish it in two days but if you’re daring, you can conquer the beautiful and smooth drive in just a day!
Best time to visit – October to March
Chennai to Kodaikanal
Cosy and serene, Kodaikanal or Kodai as it’s called lovingly is truly the princess of hill stations. It has water falls, a huge lake around which cycling is a favourite pass time, quaint little cafes selling homemade chocolates, trekking which make this one of the most famous getaways from Chennai. It’s also a popular destination for many couples.
Distance and Road Condition – 527 kms from Chennai via the Grand Southern Trunk Road/NH45 clocks in at an 8 hour drive which if you’re not feeling up to drive yourself, you can always take a bus for. The climate is pleasant and the Dindugal-biryani en-route is something to watch out for!
Best time to visit – September to May
Chennai to Ooty
A cosy little hill station with some parts that could be mistaken for a foreign countryside are what Ooty is all about. It has beautiful gardens which are nothing short of out of a tv-screen. Tea plantations, toy trains on the Nilgiri Hills, boating in the beautiful lakes are just some of the activities to do here.
Distance and Road Conditions – 561 kms from Chennai via the Grand Southern Trunk Road/NH45, taking almost 9 hours to reach the little paradise. A lot of buses ply here so you can make your journey even more comfortable along the beauty of the ride.
Best time to visit – May-June and December-February
Chennai to Coorg
Not just famous for their coffee, Coorg is a beautiful destination a short while from Chennai. Dubbed as the Scotland of India and the Kashmir of South India, do you need any more reasons to convince yourself for a trip here? Coffee plantations, trekking, forests, forts, temples will enchant you and make you not want to go back home!
Distance and Road Condition – 582 kms from Chennai via NH46 and NH275, has to be the longest road trip taking almost half a day on the road if you maintain a good speed but a trip that will definitely be worth the journey. Be careful of all the speed breakers on the way but don’t let them break your excitement down!
Best time to visit – October to March
Chennai to Munnar
Nestled between the three mountain rivulets of Kundala, Mudrapuzha and Nallathanni, lies a charming little town atop a hill that is Munnar. A popular trekking destination, its highest peak is Anamudi. Lakes, waterfalls, forests just add to the beauty here. Rajmala Wildlife Sanctuary is famous along with several tea plantations which also make this town an important tea trading centre of India.
Distance and Road Condition – 575 kms from Chennai via Grand Southern Trunk Road/NH45 is again a journey to take almost half the day which you can break into parts by stopping at places like Tirchy, Theni and Bodi which will offer a lot of photography spots as well
Best time to visit – August to May