Have you been to Chennai (2 of 2)

Chennai

24 Amazing Places to Visit in Chennai

24 Amazing Places to Visit in Chennai

Image Credit: Dr. Mithun James

Retaining its traditional flavor even today; is the coastal city of Chennai. Every aspect of its culture, be it the cuisine, music and dance, textiles or architecture, is steeped in time-honoured customs. Amongst this setting, it is no wonder that there are many interesting places to visit in Chennai.

With several religious sites, galleries, museums, gardens, historic monuments, beaches and adventurous activities, one can easily spend a week touring this city. Given below is a list of where you can visit when in this city. While some are located in the heart of the city, others are placed on the outskirts and call for a daylong expedition.

Popular beaches in Chennai:

1) Elliot’s Beach

Image Credit:  wikimedia

Now renamed as Besant Nagar Beach, Elliot’s is one of the places to see in Chennai and less crowded than the popular Marina Beach. On the southern side this seashore are the famedAshta Lakshmi Temple and Velanganni Church, popular among the residents of Chennai.

The Schmidt Memorial is yet another draw of Elliott Beach which was built in remembrance of a Dutch sailor, Karl Schmidt. Head here to experience a tranquil evening overseeing the waves as they roll into the shore

2) Marina Beach

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India’s largest beach happens to be Chennai’s Marina Beach which extends from Fort St. George to Besant Nagar. One of the best places to visit in Chennai for viewing a spectacular sun rise, this sandy delight is lined by palm trees on one side.

An old light house stands on the southern end of Marina along with several other structures including an aquarium, a swimming pool and a park. With food stalls, rides on ponies, kite flying and beach games to entertain you, a visit to here must be included on your trip to this city.

[Explore the charms of some famous beach resorts around Chennai]

3) Covelong Beach

Located a distance of 40km from Chennai, on the coast of Coromandel, Covelong Beach is well-known for its beach activities and the serene beauty of its surroundings. Once a major port, one comes across it on the way to Mahabalipuram.

It is now thronged mostly by water sports enthusiasts for activities such as wind surfing and swimming. Close by are ancient monuments like forts, churches and mosques apart from the town of Mahabalipuram and the Crocodile Farm, makingCovelong Beach a popular destination for a day outing.

Monuments & historical places to visit in Chennai:

4) Fort St. George

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A delight for history buffs, this fort constructed during the British Rule, encloses historic monuments of St. Mary’s church and St. George museum. The museum houses artefacts from that era including paintings, coins, silverware, arms, porcelain and documents.

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm (except Friday)

Entry Fee: INR 100 for foreign tourists and INR 5 for Indian visitors (only the museum)

Photography: Allowed

[Check out walking tour of Chennai Bazaars]

5) San Thome Church

Image Credit: wikimedia

An important religious spot for the Christian community, the sparkling white structure of San Thome stands on the tomb of St Thomas. This structure, which is a reminder of the colonial past of the city, has stained glass windows and a statue of St Thomas in a sitting posture. A museum, a library and a shop selling prayer material are found within the church premises too.

Timings: 6 am to 8 pm

Entry Fee: None

Photography: Allowed

[Get refreshed with a touch of the Chennai countryside in your schedules.]

6) Sri Parthasarathy Temple

Image Credit: wikimedia

One of the historical places to visit in Chennai is the temple said to be the oldest in this city. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, one can see its splendid coloured gopuram apart from the other shrines that stand within the temple grounds.

Timings: 4 am to 11:30 pm

Entry Fee: None

Photography: Allowed

7) Kapaleeshwar Temple

Image Credit: Flickr

Apart from being a religious spot, what draws crowds to this temple is its unique architecture. The detailed Gopuram of this structure is 37 metres high and is a fine example of Dravidian style of construction. The temple, home to the deities Shiva and Karpagambal, even holds a festival in the months of March and April.

Timings: 5:30 am to 12 pm, 5-9 pm

Entry Fee: None

Photography: Allowed

8) Vellankani Shrine

Image Credit: Flickr

Just off the Elliot’s Beach stands the AnnaiVailankanni Shrine which is much revered among both Christians and non-Christians. The pristine white structure of the church stands overlooking the Bay of Bengal and is visited by thousands of solace-seekers each day. One can attend the mass conducted here in both Tamil and English.

Timings: 5 am to 9 pm

Entry Fee: None

Photography: Allowed

[Book an amazing shopping tour of Chennai]

9) Thousand Lights Mosque

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Another place to see in Chennai for its architectural magnificence is this mosque which holds a special place in the Shia community. A total of 1000 oil lamps light up the hall of the mosque, which is how it got its name. Its multi-domes and twin minarets enclose the main hallwhere  men offer their prayers. There is a separate hall for the women.

Timings: 5:30 am to 9 pm

Entry Fee: None

Photography: Not allowed

10) Connemara Public Library

Image Credit: wikimedia

Constructed in late 19th century, Connemara library is a treasure house of centuries-old publications. With a collection of over 600,000 books, it is one of Asia’s largest libraries. Be it avid readers or scholars doing research work, one could easily get lost in this enchanting world of books as they immerse themselves in their favourite activity.

Timings: 9 am to 7:30 pm

Entry Fee: None

Photography: Allowed

[Check out some of the best tours of Chennai]

Places to visit in Chennai with family & kids:

11) Arignar Anna Zoological Park

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Located 35 km from the city centre, this zoological park is one of the places to visit in Chennai with kids. The expansive grounds of the zoo are home to 1500 species of wild beings, some of which are even endangered. An aviary, a lion safari, a deer safari and an elephant safari form the popular sections of the zoo. There is a separate section for nocturnal animals, an aquarium and a butterfly house too.

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm (except Tuesdays)

Entry Fee: INR 30 for adults and INR 10 for children between 5-12 years

Photography: Allowed, INR 25 for camera and INR150 for a handycam.

[Magic of Mylapore –  Walk through narrow lanes and old-styled architecture homes.]

12) Semmozhi Poonga

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Covering an area of 20 acres, the SemmozhiPoonga Park is a botanical garden.Overseen by the horticultural department, it is an ideal place to visit in Chennai with family. Apart from the exotic and rare flora grown, there are also some medicinal herbs in the green houses of the park.

Visitors can relax on the park grounds which also contain a water and rock garden, a butterfly garden, a fern garden, a sunken garden and many theme gardens.INR 15 for people over 10 years of age.

Photography: Allowed

13) Crocodile Bank

Image Credit: Flickr

Started in an effort to preserve and protect this reptile species, the Crocodile Bank even houses alligators, snakes, sea turtles and water birds. In all there are 2500 creatures within the premises of the Bank and one can spot crocs as well as ghariyals sunning themselves on the edge of the water body during the day. There is also a shop where one can purchase books and memorabilia related to these reptiles.

Timings: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm (except Monday)

Entry Fee: INR 35 for adults, INR10 for children below 10

Photography: Allowed, INR 40 camera and INR 100 for video camera

14) MGM Dizzee World

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This amusement park, located on the East coast road, is a wholesome entertaining spot for young and old alike. With several thrilling rides and an amphi-theatre for performances, guests to Dizzee World would surely enjoy a day spent here. The water park on the premises has a wave pool apart from many other rides and slides.

Timings: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays, 10:30 am to 7:30 pm on weekends and holidays

Entry Fee: INR 799 for adults (with food), INR 577 for kids (food included), INR 550 for adults, INR 450 for kids

Photography: Allowed

[Check out Walking tour of Marina and Fort St George , Chennai]

15) Dakshina Chitra

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This is one of the places to visit in Chennai with kids where they will be introduced to the South Indian culture of the past. Literally translating to ‘a picture of the south’,DakshinaChitra is a small village has been recreated using replicas of traditional South Indian houses dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries.

The visitors get a peek into the lifestyle and customs of different communities of South India and also viewartefacts made by the local artisans. Another treat is one can taste a vast array of the traditional South Indian cuisine.

Timings: 10 am to 6 pm (except Tuesday)

Entry Fee: INR 100 for adults INR 30 for children between 5-12 and INR 250 for foreign visitors

Photography: Allowed

16) Cholamandal Artist Village

Image Credit: wikimedia

This artists’ commune is a platform for the resident painters and sculptors to showcase their creations to the visiting guests. Located on the fringes of Chennai, in the village of Injambakkam, Cholamandal has two galleries, an open-air theatre, a book store and a craft shop. For those interested in art and craft, this destination with a serene ambience will be an ideal outing.

Timings: 9 am to 6:30 pm

Entry Fee: INR 20 for adults and INR 5 for children

Photography: Allowed

17) Guindy National Park and Snake Park

Image Credit: wikimedia

The only national park situated in the middle a city, Guindy has many birds, animals and reptiles as its residents. On visiting this place one can see blackbucks, spotted deer, jackals, tortoise and the likes. The snake park is home to cobras and pythons, while the birds found here include partridge, quail, fly catcher and buzzards. This is one of the few places to visit in Chennai with family where every member will enjoy the experience thoroughly.

Timings: 9 am to 5:30 pm

Entry Fee:  INR 20 for adults, INR 5 for children

Photography: Allowed, INR 20 for camera and INR 100 for handycam.

18) Birla Planetarium

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Situated close to the Anna University in Chennai, Birla Planetarium is an important part of Periyar Science and Technology Museum. There are regular audio-visual programs on astronomy conducted here apart from exhibits that include Solar System, Cycle of Stars, Sky and Seasons, Comets and Man on the Moon. Science Park, Traffic Park and Science on Wheelsare the highlights of Science Centre which are of special interest for young visitors.

Timings: 10 am to 5:45 pm

Entry Fee: INR 40 for adults, INR 25 for children

[Book an amazing experience of Living Museum, Chennai]

Places to visit near Chennai (within 100 Kms):

19) Muttukadu

Image Credit: Flickr

A backwater area of the Bay of Bengal, Muttukadu is one of the tourist places near Chennai where one can get to indulge in water sports. With its extensive facilities, that include a restaurant, and a large number of boats, it can host visitors throughout the year.

Distance: 31 km

Location: Eastern coast, South of Chennai

Best time to visit: November to March

Attractions:

The Boat house in Muttukadu is where all the action is. Apart from this, the beach at Muttukadu draws a sizeable crowd during trips to this area. Get a glimpse of various species of birds at the backwaters during migratory season.

Activities:

Rowing, water skiing, speed boat riding, wind surfing and paddle boating are possible in Muttukadu.

Type of destination: Family and kid friendly

20) Mahabalipuram

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Famed for its ancient mountains, Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is one of the places to visit near Chennai. Placed around 60 km south from the city of Chennai, it was once a busy seaport during the dynasty of the Pallavas.

Distance: 52 km

Location: Eastern coast, South of Chennai

Best time to visit: November to March

Attractions:

The iconic Shore Temple, among the oldest temples of South India, is carved out of a large block of granite. A short distance from this place of worship is ‘Descent of the Ganges’ or‘Arjuna’sPenance’.Among the world’s biggest bas-reliefs, it depicts the story of the descent of the River Ganges from Heaven to Earth. ‘PanchaRathas’ or the five chariots are again carved out of a single rock and are dedicated to the Pandavas.

Activities:

Explore and observe the fine sculpture of the various monuments standing in Mahabalipuram. The drive from Chennai to Mahabalipuram along the seashore is quite an experience too. The beach at this tourist place near Chennai is also ideal for spending a day just lounging on the sand and relaxing.

Type of destination: Family and kid friendly, historic, beach and pilgrimage

[Book now Day Outing in Mahabalipuram]

21) Sadras

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The coastal town of Sadras was once a Dutch fortress which was taken over by the British in later years. It is currently in ruins but a few structures within can still be viewed.

Distance: 71 km

Location: Eastern coast, South of Mahabalipuram

Best time to visit: October to March

Attractions:

The glorious Sadras Fort was constructed by the Dutch as a post for exporting goods. It has a vast compound which contains a large granary, stables and structures used to mount elephants.

Activities:

On a day trip to Sadras, one can enjoy a picnic on its beach after touring the fort.

Type of destination:

Family and kid friendly, historic and beach

22) Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Kanchipuram

Image Credit: Flickr

This bird sanctuary is inundated with thousands of birds of varied species during the migratory season. The lake within the sanctuary is the all important source of water for these creatures, around which they build their nests and thrive.

Distance: 78 km

Location: Close to Palar River, south of Chennai

Best time to Visit: November to February

Attractions:

Birds of diverse origins are what you can see at this place to visit near Chennai. While some birds like cormorants, egrets, moorhens and terns are found at other places in India, others like snake bird, ibis, stork, heron and spoonbill come all the way from Europe to make Vedanthangal their home for a few months.

Activities:

Bird watching and capturing the experience with your cameras is the major activity to be carried on here.

Type of destination: Trekking, family & kid friendly

23) Tiruttani

Image Credit: wikimedia

This small town is known for the temple dedicated to Murugan that stands on top of a hillock here. One can reach the temple by climbing up the 365 steps that take you to it. A few religious festivals are celebrated here during which many devotees visit the temple.

Distance: 90 km

Location: West of Chennai

Best time to visit: October to March

Attractions:

This pilgrimage centre has a number of temples located here apart from the famed one dedicated to Murugan. Some of these are Shivan temple, BajanKovil, VinayagarKovil and Eshwaran temple.

Type of destination:

Pilgrimage, family and kid friendly

24) Pulicat Lake & Bird Sanctuary

Formed by the backwaters of the Bay of Bengal, Pulicat is the second largest lagoon in India that has brackish water. And the bird sanctuary stands on a piece of land in the middle of this lake.

Distance: 98 km

Location: Eastern coast, North of Chennai

Best time to visit: October to March

Attractions:

The spectacular sights of thousands of pink Flamingoes flocked together can be viewed only at this place to visit near Chennai. Besides, you can spot pelicans, herons, kingfishers, storks and many more at the sanctuary. There are quite a few fishing villages on the lake’s edge which one can visit if interested.

Activities:

Boating in the lake during which one can see birds splashing about in the water.

Type of destination: Trekking, family and kid friendly

Whether travelling with a family or on your own; spiritually inclined or a history buff, nature lover or photography enthusiast – every kind of traveller to Chennai has something of their interest here. The best season to visit Chennai and its neighbouring regions is winters when it is relatively pleasant and one can make the most of the trip.

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