Chennai (formerly Madras), is the capital city of Tamil Nadu, and India’s 4th largest metro city. Travellers have always found the city to be welcoming and interesting, with a plethora of activities to indulge in. A beautiful amalgamation of tradition blending with modernity, the city offers a kaleidoscope of moods and flavours to explore. While Chennai has a ton of popular tourist destinations to explore, we decided to share with you some unique and one of a kind experiences. So if you’re planning a trip to this heritage city, read on as we help you discover its best.
1. Watch The Sunset On Elliot’s Beach
Located in Besant Nagar, Elliot’s Beach (popularly known as Bessie) is one of Chennai’s prettiest beaches, forming the end point of Marina Beach shore. Far less crowded than Marina, Bessie is the perfect place to enjoy the serenity of nature while watching the sun set in the distance. Bessie also offers an exciting array of water sports for all you adventure seekers! While here, make sure to visit the Ashtalakshmi Temple and the Church of our Lady of Health. With a host of restaurants and cafes lined up, Bessie is perfect for feasting on delicious food with a view to die for.
2. Explore The Serenity Of Thalankuppam Pier
Thalankuppam is a small fishing hamlet on the northern part of Chennai. The pier is perfect for solo walks, as well as with friends and family. Take a stroll along the pier to view the sun’s reflection on the sparkling waves. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, a visit to Thalankuppam Pier will be the perfect time-out you are seeking.
3. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping In Muttukadu Boat House
A small town famous for its natural beauty and backwaters, Muttukadu near Chennai, is home to exciting water activities for adventure enthusiasts. From kayaking, boating and surfing to canoeing and windsurfing, this place is sure to get you all pumped up. While Muttukadu is enjoyable all year round, we recommend visiting the town around February when the annual windsurfing regatta is on.
4. Drive Up To Mahabalipuram
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway near Chennai, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mahabalipuram. Established in 1827, Mahabalipuram is home to temples built by the Pallavas, holding much historical and archaeological relevance. The temples are dedicated to Lord Krishna and other deities and held in great reverence by worshippers. Whether you’re a history buff or an architecture enthusiast, Mahabalipuram will not disappoint. The town has a very laid-back vibe making it the perfect destination for the new age explorer.
5. Take A Road Trip Along ECR
The Great East Coast Road (ECR) along the Bay of Bengal has one of the most scenic highway routes in India. Take a drive on this highway for a heady rush of exhilaration and thrill. With stunning views on both side and tasty eateries along the way, this will definitely be the best family road trip ever. Pay a visit to the Cholamandal Artists Village along ECR, which is the largest artists’ commune in India. A treat for the eyes, this visit is one of our must dos! You can also check out the Dakshinachitra Museum on the way which is a gallery depicting the art life, culture and heritage of South India.
6. Lose Yourself In Chennai’s Night Life
Contrary to popular belief, Chennai has a vibrant night life with themed restaurants and pubs, standup comedy nights and live artists performance. Some of our favourite haunts are Ten Downing Street, Gatsby 2000, The Flying Elephant, Bay 146, Mathsya, Pasha and Blend. Get your evening started with some mind blowing music, the finest drinks and of course the best of food.
7. Shop Your Heart Out At T Nagar
Thyagaraja Nagar, popularly known as T Nagar is Chennai’s main hub for all things related to shopping at mind boggling prices! Whether you’re looking to shop for gold or need sarees at different budgets, this busy marketplace has got you covered. Visiting T Nagar is a must if you’re looking to experience the true vibe and essence of Chennai. The best time to visit T Nagar is the festival period between November to January, but keep in mind the crowds here can get pretty large, so it’s always wise to plan ahead.
8. Treat Your Taste Buds To Scrumptious South Indian Food
Chennai is a foodie’s paradise. For delicious South Indian fare, choose eateries like Saravana Bhavan, A2B, Murugan Idly Shop, Dakshin, Ente Keralam and Kumarokam. But don’t miss out the aromatic flavours and delectable spices of the Chettinad cuisine in Anjappar! Chennai’s food scene is however incomplete without a visit to the street food joints in Sowcarpet and Mylapore so make sure to visit those.
9. Watch A Movie At Sathyam Cinemas For 10 Rupees
Yes, you read that right! Chennai is home to the iconic Sathyam Cinemas which has tickets priced as low as 10 rupees! One of the only cities in India to offer such economically priced tickets, at Sathyam, you can enjoy a complete movie experience without burning a hole in your pocket!
10. Experience The Thrill Of The Sea In An Open Boat Ride
Chennai offers catamaran rides for all adventure and fun seekers. Feel the rush of the wind and the sea as your open boat ride takes you on a thrilling ride to remember. Visit Parrys Corner in George Town or Covelom Beach to experience this.
11. Take A Stroll Through The City’s Multicultural Neighbourhood
Triplicane is one of Chennai’s oldest neighbourhoods. Together with Mylapore and the surrounding regions, Triplicane is historically much older than the city of Chennai itself. Primarily a residential locality, the neighborhood centers around the famous Parthasarathy Temple, with strong influences from the British and the Nawab of Arcot who settled here. Today Triplicane is home to a number of monastic orders, Hindu and Jain temples, mosques, Brahmin agraharams, as well as traditional music venues and local cafes. Make this visit a top priority to witness the beauty of different cultures living in harmony.
12. Be A Part Of The Off-beat Olive Ridley Conservation Walk
Between December and April, a conservation walk is organized in Chennai for the Olive Ridley turtles that lay their eggs during this season. One of the few places in the world where this endangered species can be seen, this walk will make you witness a truly marvelous sight. If you care about animals and the environment, this is a not to be missed activity.
13. Visit The City’s Heritage Sites
Being a strategically important port city during the British era, Chennai boasts several buildings symbolic of pre-independence India. The Fort George complex is one such prominent structure, which today houses the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and Secretariat. The complex is also home to the beautiful Saint Mary’s Church and the Fort Museum, which houses a priceless collection of artifacts & paintings from the British era. Since you’re walking past heritage buildings, it’s also worthwhile to visit the High Court, Chepauk Palace and Senate House.
14. Broaden Your Mind With A Trip To Higginbothams
Higginbothams is India’s oldest bookstore, having been in existence since 1844. Located in Anna Salai, it is one of the city’s major landmarks. Whether you’re a voracious reader or a casual explorer looking for something new, this is the place for you. Even if you’re not a reader, this place is an architectural beauty with its large teak doors, wide staircases, shelves after shelves of books, and nostalgia for times gone by.
15. Discover The Thrall Of Carnatic Music
Chennai is home to Carnatic music and dance. While visiting the city, it is a good idea to visit the Madras Music Academy which is one of the earliest established music academies in all of South India. The academy hosts events and concerts all year round, to keep the spirit of Carnatic music alive and throbbing. Make a trip to Chennai during the annual music season held between mid December to mid January. You will love it!