Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is a salad bowl of urban cultures and time-honored traditions that set it apart from many other cities in the country.
If you wish to escape the heat and urban din of Chennai, there are greener pastures around the city that are reminiscent of South India’s rich past and treasure memorable experiences for visitors.
The ancient temples, serene beaches, and forest-draped mountains in the city’s vicinity beckon both planned and impromptu travelers to sink into their age-old charm and natural marvel. Here are the top 10 weekend getaways from Chennai –
- Kolli Hills
Read about each place in detail and choose your next weekend getaway from Chennai.
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Popularly known as “Pondy,” Pondicherry is a former French colony known for its tranquil beaches and way-out vibe. The city retains the architectural and cultural charm of the French in its townhouses, colonies, cafés, and restaurants, but embraces modernity with open arms.
Places to visit in Pondicherry
Pondicherry is home to the internationally known Sri Aurobindo Ashram or Auroville, where one can engage in cultural activities or just relax enjoying the coastal air. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Notre Dame des Anges, Sacred Heart Basilica, and Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple are few other attractions that dot the coastal town.
The distance between Chennai and Pondicherry and how to reach Pondicherry from Chennai
Pondicherry is located about 160 kilometers (3 hours) from Chennai and can be reached easily through the East Coast Road (ECR).
The best time of year to visit Pondicherry
The best time to visit Pondy is between October and February as the weather is pleasant enough to try some water sports and outdoor adventures.
If you are driving towards Pondicherry, you cannot miss this magnificent temple town, which is listed as a World Heritage Site owing to its enduring and praiseworthy archeology.
The historical significance of Mahabalipuram
Popularly called “Mahabs,” Mahabalipuram has a laid-back charm that entices travelers who don’t mind running back through the pages of history after witnessing Arjuna’s Penance, the Five Rathas, and the meticulous carvings on rocks, which delineate scenes from the Mahabharata.
The distance between Chennai and Mahabalipuram and how to get to Mahabalipuram from Chennai
Mahabalipuram is located about 60 kilometers away from Chennai and can be reached via an hour’s drive through the East Coast Road that runs along the seaside.
The best time of year to visit Mahabalipuram
If you wish to experience the best of Mahabs, you should plan a trip to this historic town between December and March, a time during which you can witness the Mamallapuram Dance Festival, go on bicycling tours to the nearby villages and indulge in rangoli drawings, masala, and rice grinding, and water sports.
Nestled cozily in the Nilgiri Hills is Ooty, a famous hill station in Tamil Nadu that treasures the remnants of the British Raj in their crudest form. You stand atop a hill, and all you can see is a panorama of green, forest-draped mountains rolling into nothingness. The refreshing breeze is a far cry from the smoggy and dusty air of a cityscape, and the welcoming local crowd will give you the perception of Ooty being your second home.
The lush tea gardens of Ooty and neighboring Coonoor lend a surreal appeal to the entire landscape. It’s not uncommon to spot a bison in the jungles that spread all the way down to Mudumalai National Park, which is also a famous tiger and elephant reserve.
Places to visit, specialties to shop and experiences to have in Ooty
The Botanical Gardens, Rose Garden, Thread Garden, and Doddabetta Peak are few attractions that you should add to your list. The place stores a range of outdoor activities such as horse-riding, trekking, and hang-gliding, which are best enjoyed during summers. Also, don’t forget to bag a few boxes of homemade chocolates from the main market.
The distance between Chennai and Ooty and how to get to Ooty from Chennai
Ooty is about 550 kilometers from Chennai and is easily accessible by road through Coimbatore.
The best time of year to visit Ooty
March to June, which is the summer season, is the best time to visit Ooty because the average temperature is less than 20 degrees, making it a beautiful place to seek respite from Chennai’s heat.
If you wish to explore the cooler slopes of southern India, Yercaud is another hill station you should visit. Nestled on the breathtaking Shevaroy hills in Salem District of Tamil Nadu, Yercaud translates to “Lake Forest” in English.
The name holds true owing to the picturesque lake that meanders along the forested Eastern Ghats. The sleepy hill station is known as the “Poor Man’s Ooty,” becoming an ideal destination to spend the weekend on a budget, enjoying a relaxed and clean atmosphere.
Places to visit in Yercaud
Yercaud is known for its spice and coffee plantations that lushly sprawl over the undulating hills. You should certainly pay a visit to the Servaroyan Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Kaveri and perched on the Shevaroy Hills.
The distance between Chennai and Yercaud, and how to reach Yercaud from Chennai
Yercaud is about 370 kilometers from Chennai, a six-and-a-half hour’s drive through Salem.
The best time of year to visit Yercaud
October to June is the best time to visit this hill station because it has mild summers with temperatures ranging from 24 to 28 degree Celsius and pleasant winters with temperatures ranging from 10 to 15 degree Celsius.
Whether it’s for a trek, a family outing or an impromptu expedition to the wild, Yercaud will leave you invigorated with its enchanting views and profusely green environment.
The historical significance of Rameshwaram
If you have heard of the famous Indian tradition of embarking on the Char Dham Yatra, then Rameshwaram is one of the holiest places along with three others (Puri, Badrinath, and Dwarka) to which pilgrims flock in search of moksha. Rameshwaram is believed to be the point where Lord Ram bridged this place with Sri Lanka to rescue Sita.
Places to visit in Rameshwaram
The revered Ramanathaswamy Temple is located here, making Rameshwaram the most prominent temple corridor in the country. If you are driving across the Pamban Bridge, do stop on the way to relish the ocean breeze, which will undoubtedly reinvigorate you. You can even go to the nearby villages to check out fishing activities prevalent in this region.
The distance between Chennai and Rameshwaram, and how to get to Rameshwaram from Chennai
Rameshwaram is about 550 kilometers from Chennai and is easily accessible by road.
The best time of year to visit Rameshwaram
Although you can visit Rameshwaram at any time of the year owing to its tropical climate, you should plan a trip sometime between October and April. The temperature ranges somewhere between 17 and 25 degree Celsius during winters, providing the comfort to indulge in outdoor activities.
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If you are looking for a retreat close to the wild, Thekkady is a gem of a place located on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Surrounded by undulating spice and coffee plantations, Thekkady is close to Chellar Kovil, which treasures breathtaking cascades and waterfalls for nature lovers.
Wildlife spotting at Thekkady
It’s known for its accessibility to Periyar National Park, which was declared a tiger reserve. Wild elephants, bison, and deer can be spotted near Mullaperiyar Lake. The rolling mountains and lush green landscape are fantastic views to relish when you are out trekking, boating or on a jeep safari.
The distance between Chennai and Thekkady, and how to get to Thekkady from Chennai
Thekkady is located about 570 kilometers from Chennai and 114 kilometers from Kottayam.
The best time of year to visit Thekkady
September to March is the best time to visit Thekkady as the temperature does not go beyond 15 degree Celsius, providing a pleasant time to go out sightseeing and nature-walking.
7. Kolli Hills
Most of you may not be aware of this uncharted destination in South India, but needless to say, it’s one of the most beautiful places you can see when you drive out of Chennai. Kolli Hills is a serene hill station which is far from the ills of commercialization.
What to experience at Kolli Hills
From coffee and spice plantations to emerald meadows and valleys, waterfalls to ancient temples, everything works together to provide a relaxing and invigorating experience to travelers.
Places to visit at Kolli Hills
The Agaya-Gangai Falls, which is located in close proximity to the Arappaleeswarar Temple, is a popular spot you should certainly add to your list. If you seek some thrill, you should take the NH45 from Chennai that has about 70 hairpin bends and provides a breath-taking view of the cloud-covered mountains.
The distance between Chennai and Kolli Hills, and the best time of year to visit Kolli Hills
Located about 367 kilometers from Chennai in Namakkal District in Tamil Nadu, this ecotourism spot is best enjoyed in the months from February to December, when the temperature is comfortable for doing outdoor activities.
What to experience at Pulicat
If you wish to experience a quaint seaside vacation, then Pulicat is a must-visit. This settlement sits on the island of Sriharikota and is the home to India’s second-largest saltwater lagoon, the Pulicat Lake. The lake has an enchanting appeal and a tranquil atmosphere that can prove to be a treat for the stressed-out souls.
Bird watching at Pulicat
The Pulicat Bird Sanctuary is yet another popular attraction of this place owing to its rich reserve of resident and migratory birds. Herons, pelicans, ducks, flamingos, and painted storks are few of the many bird species that one can spot here.
The historical significance of Pulicat
Besides its natural reserves, Pulicat retains the charm left behind by its erstwhile Portuguese, Dutch, and British rulers. The Dutch Cemetery and the Dutch Fort are reminiscent of the Dutch rule and attract flocks of tourists from all over the globe.
The distance between Chennai and Pulicat, and how to get to Pulicat from Chennai
This ecotourism spot is located about 60 kilometers, an hour and a half’s drive from Chennai.
The best time of year to visit Pulicat
You should plan a trip to this place somewhere between October and March as it’s the time for flamingos to migrate here owing to the mild temperature.
Activities at Pulicat
You should also brace yourself for some amazing water sports and beach activities during this time.
The green mountains, pleasant weather, and natural beauty are just a few aspects that define Yelagiri, a pristine hill station in the Vellore District of Tamil Nadu. The rolling tea estates and peaceful tribal villages welcome you to a whole new world that’s rich in beauty and traditions.
Places to visit at Yelagiri
This ecotourism spot is the perfect destination for those who look for a laid-back, easy-paced vacation in the lap of nature. The trekking-friendly Swami Malai Hills, Jalagamparai Waterfalls, and awe-inspiring temples such as the Jalagandeeswarar Temple and the Velavan Temple make for a vacation that perfectly blends historical sightseeing and adventure sporting.
From nature lovers to spiritual seekers, Yelagiri is a place for everyone.
The distance between Chennai and Yelagiri, and the best time of year to visit Yelagiri
Located about 250 kilometers (four and a half hours drive) from Chennai, you can visit Yelagiri throughout the year. But you should plan a trip to this place sometime between November and February to experience the pleasant weather with temperatures ranging between 12 and 24 degree Celsius.
June is a good time to visit if you want to witness the Yelagiri Summer Festival, which frames together flower shows, cycle races, and outdoor competitions for visitors.
What to experience at Nagalapuram
Nagalapuram is a paradise for trekkers located in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh. It is home to the picturesque “Nagalapuram Waterfalls,” which is a magnet for venturesome trekkers and adventure buffs. The challenging trail takes you up the forested hill from where you get a captivating view of the town. You can even choose to camp overnight in the jungles and lose yourself in the wilderness of the place.
The historical significance of Nagalapuram
Besides trekking, you can get a scoop of the place’s history from the Sri Veda Narayana Perumal Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. You are sure to be mesmerized by the site of thousands of devotees swarming to this temple to worship the Lord in his Matsya (fish) avatar.
The distance between Chennai and Nagalapuram, and how to get to Nagalapuram from Chennai
Nagalapuram is located about 70 kilometers from Chennai and can be reached in two hours by road.
The best time of year to visit Nagalapuram
Best time to visit Nagalapuram is between October and March during which the temperature ranges somewhere between 24 and 32 degree Celsius. A two-day trip to this place, which mixes adventure and spirituality in the right proportion, is enough to regain your energy for a hectic urban lifestyle.
What are you waiting for? Plan your holiday today. If you’re looking for quiet and set-in-nature places to stay, search for them using Wildr. Don’t forget to use the activities and terrain based filters to find exactly what you’re looking for!