An epic sunrise at ECR beach

Visit #SingaraChennai The Right Way

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Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, formerly known as Madras is the gateway to the south. Traditional art forms such as Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music and so much more thrive here. The city has a rich cultural history and an abundance of stories that will fascinate historians! The people here are deeply connected to the city and everything that defines it. You’d often hear them say – “Chennai is merely a word but, Madras is an emotion!”

Indeed! The city is quite close to our hearts. We spent 2 years here during the initial days of our corporate life. 

This blog is a curated list of 15 things we did during our time. We hope it helps you!

Trivia: Chennai stands fourth as India’s best city with respect to ease of living after Bengaluru, Pune, and Ahmadabad.

Top 15 Things To Do In Chennai

Best Time To Visit

Chennai is known for its hot and humid climate. The temperature soars up to 40℃ between the months of March and June. The Monsoon starts in July and lasts till September. However, November to February is the best time to visit the city with temperatures around 25℃ (still hot and humid) but relatively better!

Getting Around Chennai

Chennai is well connected by public transport – metro, electric trains, and buses. It is the cheapest option available amongst others such as renting vehicles on a daily basis.

Apart from this, you can hop on and off the shared autos for commuting over short distances.

Note: The popular Ola and Uber services are available.

Network Connectivity

Being one of the metropolitan cities, all network providers have excellent connectivity here.

What To Eat And Where?

  • Filter coffee at Madras Coffee
  • Ghee Roast(Dosa) at Saravana Bhavan
  • Seafood at Sundari akka kadai, Marina beach
  • Idly and sambar at Murugan Idli
  • Bajji and samosas for a quick snack on the streets/ tea stalls

Note: Online food delivery platforms, Zomato, and Swiggy services are available extensively throughout the city.

Where To Stay?

From hostels to beach resorts, Chennai has everything. You can choose your accommodation based on your budget and comfort. Here are a few recommendations.

 

Top 15 Things To Do In Chennai For A Memorable Trip

Sunrise At The Marina Beach

Sunrise at Marina Beach

Set your alarms, wake up early, & go straight to Marina’s seashore. No better way to begin your day than with a bright morning!

If you’re a F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan you can also sing like Joey –
“Morning’s here… Morning’s heeerreeee!”

There is also a lighthouse right at the end of the long stretch of beach. The flight of stairs might be tiring but they’re worth the effort. From atop you can gaze at the vast expanse of the blue sea that we call the Bay of Bengal. 

Fun fact: The Marina Beach is India’s longest and the world’s second-longest beach. It is 12 Km long. Let that “sink” in.

The Besant Nagar beach and the ECR beach are the other top locations to enjoy the sunrise.

  • Lighthouse timings: 10 AM – 1 PM, 3 PM – 5 PM, Closed on Mondays
  • Entry fee: Rs. 20 per adult for the lighthouse and museum, Rs. 10 per child, Rs. 25 for Foreigner, Rs.25 for the camera.

Hang Out At The VGP Universal Kingdom

3D Art Gallery
3D Art Gallery illusions that left us in awe

The VGP Universal Kingdom is a theme park that makes up for a good picnic day. It’s got the Snow Kingdom, 3D art gallery, and wax museum. You can find your escape from the blistering heat in the snow kingdom. Ride bobsleds, climb snow mountains, have a snowball fight, and whatnot. 

The 3D art museum is quirky, & very well-designed. With perspective photography as its theme, it lets people click pictures in a way that makes it look like you’re interacting with the paintings. 

The adventure park however is quite old and lacks the charm, yet is functioning. So you can skip that.

  • Timings: 11 PM – 7:30 PM
  • Entry fee:
    • Silver Crown – Rs. 350 per adult, Rs. 300 per child that includes access to all dry rides at the theme park
    • Golden Crown – Rs. 600 per adult, Rs. 500 per child that includes all dry rides and water rides at the theme park
    • Platinum Crown – Rs. 945 per adult, Rs. 845 per child includes all dry, water, and entrance fees to the Snow Kingdom
    • Additional charges for Rs. 50 for the camera.

Drift Through The Backwaters of Pichavaram Mangrove Forest

Pichavaram - Mangrove Forest guide

The second-largest mangrove forest in the world, located in Chidambaram, 200 Km away from the city is a one-of-its-kind eco-tourism spot in India. You can drift along the waterways in a boat while gazing at a canopy of dense twisted trees that reach the surface of the water on both sides. It’s a place secluded & away from the city and carries an aura of tranquility & serenity. All you can hear is the gentle paddling, the birds chirping, and the distant roar of the sea waves crashing against the shore.

  • Boat charges: Vary depending on the boat, area, distance, and duration you chose. Ranges from Rs. 650 to Rs. 1100 for 5 persons for a 2 to 4-hour ride respectively.
  • Additional charges: Forest entry fee and Camera fee
  • Timings: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Accommodation: You can stay at Arignar Anna Tourism Complex which is nearby (Ph: 04144 249536, 04144 249232), or at any hotel near Chidambaram.

Fall In Love With The Beauty of Tada or Ubbalamadugu Falls

Tada or Ubbalamadugu waterfall

Another breathtaking tourist attraction is the Tada or Ubbalamadugu Falls, located about 90 Km away from the city. Families and children can enjoy the water pools along the way. Since the trek to the top has impassable rocks along the way, you might need proper directions to go further. 

Pro-tip: Remember to walk along the streams to reach the waterfalls.

  • How to reach: Hop on a bus (SETC: 114, Sri Kalahasti or 200, Tirupathi) from the Koyambedu bus terminal and step down at Varradeya Palam or catch a local train that heads to Sullurpetta and hop off at the Tada Railway station. Shared autos are available to pick up visitors from bus stands and railway stations.
  • Trek distance: 10 Km of which the last 4 Km are full of rocks. If you plan to trek, don’t get excited about seeing the water and get yourself wet as it will be really difficult and slippery to trek in wet footwear.
  • Camping: Not allowed
  • Entry fees: Rs. 20 per person, Rs. 50 for a two-wheeler, Rs. 60 for an auto, Rs. 200 for a four-wheeler, Rs. 300 for heavy vehicles, and Rs 50 for the camera.
  • Restroom: Available but not maintained.
  • Parking: Available.

Note: Beware of monkeys. There are no restaurants or public transport facilities in the region. But you can bring cooked food or snacks. Plastic is prohibited in the area.

Chase The 7 Waterfalls At Nagalapuram

Nagalapuram waterfall

If you are fond of chasing waterfalls or are a trekking enthusiast, Nagalapuram is the place for you. Located in the Chittoor district of Andra Pradesh, it is home to 7 beautiful waterfalls of which the seventh waterfall has a view of the ocean with never-ending water atop. You can plan and cover three to four pools in a single day. However, trekking beyond that would be quite difficult since it will get quite dark by the time you return.

We suggest you visit this place in groups since it is quite remote and secluded from the city. You will need to start early and plan the trek such that you reach the parking before the sun goes down. Unlike Tada, there is no public transport available to reach Nagalapuram.

  • Best time to visit: November to April
  • Timings: Open 24*7 on all days. Expect a little crowd during weekends.
  • Camping: Allowed. People usually camp and cook dinner near the fourth waterfall and resume trekking the next day.
  • Trek distance: 14 Km one way approximately 
  • Trek guide: It is safe and advisable to have a guide who knows the route well. Reach out to any people in the Arai village or contact the below numbers. Of Course, they will ask for a fee, and feel free to negotiate. Mari – 9550010278, Saravanan – 9603690134 (Speaks only Telugu and Tamil)
  • Entry fee: Rs. 20 for individuals, Rs. 50 for a two-wheeler, Rs. 100 for the car, and Rs.200 for the van.
  • Parking: Available

Note: Wear good trekking shoes. There are no restaurants available in the region. Take lunch, snacks, and an extra pair of clothes if you love to swim in the waters. We do not recommend this trek for children or people who aren’t physically fit.

Tour The Living Art Museum At Dakshinachitra

Inside Dakshinachitra
Source: dakshinachitra.net

Dakshina Chithra is a project of the Madras Craft Foundation and an NGO to promote rich art, architecture, and handmade crafts of the south Indian states. They conduct workshops including pottery making, weaving, traditional folk dance, and exhibitions that showcase paintings, drawings, and handmade crafts, encouraging people to buy locally. You can tour the 18 unique historic houses which usually takes 3 – 4 hours. The place also has a guesthouse and restaurant within its premises and doesn’t allow outside food.

  • Timings: 10 AM – 6 PM, closed on Tuesdays
  • Entry fees: Rs. 150 per adult, Rs. 40/ 60 per child, Rs. 250 for each foreign adult, and Rs. 100 for each foreign student.
  • Contact: 044 27472603
Did you know:
Madras Day or Madras Week is celebrated in August every year to commemorate the purchase of the village of Madrasapattinam by East India Company on August 22, 1639. The celebrations usually comprise heritage walks, exhibitions, lectures, nature and tree walks, book and postage cover releases, and film screenings.

Learn Surfing At The Kovalam beach

Surfing at Kovalam Beach

Are you one of those people whose mouth opens instantly when you see people taking on tall and wide waves by cruising their way through them on a paddle? Then surfing just might be the thing for you. Try surfing for free at Kovalam Surf Club during weekends at Kovalam beach or join their school and get trained at additional charges.

  • Timings: 8 AM – 5 PM
  • Contact: 9847347367

Enjoy Boating At The Muttukadu Boat House

Boating at Muttukadu Boathouse

Muttukadu boat house has become popular over the years as one of the top tourist attractions for families and kids. People usually stop here before visiting Mahabalipuram to enjoy boating in the backwaters of the Bay of Bengal. The place is well maintained by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department Corporation (TTDC). Kudos to them! A mandatory life jacket is given to all the riders as a safety precaution. Also if you’re feeling a bit munchy, snack counters are also available on the premises.

  • Boating charges: Varies based on the ride duration and type of boat you choose.
    • 2 seater water scooter – Rs. 550 for 5 mins
    • 6 seater motor boat – Rs. 420 for 20 mins 
    • 4 seater row boat – Rs. 200 for 30 mins
  • Timings: 9 AM – 5 PM

Take A Bicycle Ride At The Vandaloor Zoo

Arignar Anna Zoological Park or the Vandaloor Zoo spans 1490 acres and is said to be home to over 2600 animals, birds, and reptiles including numerous endangered and exotic species. That’s right!

The zoo has drinking water, rest sheds, stone benches, a restaurant, a canteen, and a tea stall run by the TTDC. You can stroll around the parking spot and look at almost all the popular animals including the leopard, white tiger, snakes, and different kinds of birds. To know the list of species available in the park, check their website.

  • Timings: 9 AM – 6 PM, closed on Tuesdays
  • Restroom: Available and well-maintained
  • Entry fee: Rs. 90 per adult, Rs. 50 per child, Rs. 500 per foreign adult, Rs. 250 per foreign child, and free for children below 5 years.
  • Vehicle charges: For hiring vehicles, a refundable amount of Rs. 200 should be deposited.
    • Adult bicycle – Rs. 20 per hour
    • Child bicycle – Rs. 10 per hour
    • Electric scooter – Rs. 90 per hour
    • Lion and Deer safari vehicle – Rs. 100 per adult and Rs. 50 per child
    • Zoo round Vehicle – Rs. 100 per adult and Rs. 50 per child

Note: Outside food is prohibited inside the zoo. Mobile phones are strictly not allowed and have to be submitted in the cloakroom. The place is crowded during weekends. As vehicles will be provided on a first come first serve basis, go during the opening hours to reserve a cycle or electric scooter to make the visit more interesting.

Get A Glimpse of The Vellore Golden Temple

Sripuram Golden temple, Vellore
Source: sripuram.org

Vellore Golden Temple stands out for its star-shaped path (known as the Sri Chakra) for a distance of over 1.8 Km positioning the deity, Sri Lakshmi Narayani – the goddess of wealth in the center. The Trust is a non-profit NGO run to not discriminate against people of any caste, religion, or race. The temple is made of gold and remains a visual treat for visitors in the evening. The temple also has a guest house and dormitory facilities available.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Deposit charges: Rs. 1 for a pair of footwear, Rs. 3 for the camera and mobile phones
  • Darshan timings: 9 AM – 12 PM, 4 – 7:30 PM
  • Helpdesk number: 0416 2206500
  • Parking: Available. Rs. 20 for a Car, Rs. 3 for a two-wheeler 
  • Restroom: Available

Note: Short pants, Midi, and the Bermudas are not allowed inside the temple. All electronic items such as mobile phones and cameras are restricted upon entry.

Visit Mamallapuram – A UNESCO Heritage Site

Shore temple at Mahabalipuram

Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is a historical town created by the Pallava Dynasty, between the 7th and 10th centuries. It is known for its great architectural monuments, stone carvings, and shore temple.

You can go sightseeing to the famous Arjuna’s Penance, Pancha Rathas – named after the Pandavas, mystical Krishna’s butterball, circular lighthouse, cave temple or rock-cut temples, shore temple along the Bay of Bengal, and the beach. We know that’s many places but hey, they’re close to each other. So just absorb the environment as you hop from one place to another, & before you know it, you’ll have visited all of them and in fact, you will long for more! To know more about the place, check out the Mahabalipuram blog.

  • Timings: The shore temple and lighthouse close by 5:30 PM
  • Entry fee: Rs. 10 per person, Rs. 340 for Foreign nationals.
  • Parking: Available for free.
  • Restrooms: Available
  • Accommodation: Ranging from budget shacks to luxury hotels, every type of accommodation is available.

There are numerous activities in Mahabalipuram which you shouldn’t miss.

Chokhi Dhani – Experience Rajasthan In Chennai

Dining at Chokhi Dhani
Source: tripadvisor.com

The Royal Chithran or Chokhi Dhani is a Rajasthani-style restaurant that enlightens tourists with a variety of traditional Rajasthani folk dances performed by professional dancers, a magic show called ‘Jaadu Ro Khel’, wooden puppet shows, camel rides, games, draw henna designs and much more. People usually come in groups with families and friends for a fun and colorful evening. It is an experience where people get a glimpse at the life & culture of people from Rajasthan.

The food served is exclusively vegetarian and tastes good, especially the “Thali”, the north Indian chaat, and desserts like barfi and halwa.

  • Timings: 4 PM – 10 PM
  • Dinner cost: Depends on the eating area – starts from Rs. 500 and goes up to Rs. 1000 for a single person.
  • Contact: 8056006677

Weekend Trip To Pondicherry

weekend trip to pondicherry - TwinsOnToes

If you plan to extend your stay in Chennai, you should explore Pondicherry – The French colonial town in south India. Sunbathing on the beaches, walking along the promenade, tasting French cuisines, witnessing French architecture, visiting the experimental township, and learning scuba diving. There is something for everyone!

Go Shopping At T.Nagar/ Pondy Bazaar/ Sowcarpet

Street shopping at Ranganathan Street, T.Nagar
Street shopping at Ranganathan Street, T. Nagar

Experience the tradition of draping a silk saree and Veshti by shopping in the streets of T. Nagar, Pondy Bazaar, and Sowcarpet. Shop for Jhumkas, Bangles, footwear, household items, bridal traditional dresses, souvenirs to take back home, and whatnot. This place is heaven for thrift shoppers where you can bargain and support the locals.

P.S. If you are into collecting some finest quality silk, go to Kancheepuram, 76 Km away which is known as “The birthplace of weaving”.

If you’ve got some time, you can try paramotoring near ECR and go birdwatching in Vedanthangal.

Cheer At The Chepauk Stadium – Home of The Chennai Super Kings

The crowd cheering for Indian Ex-Captain Dhoni
The crowd cheering for Mr. Dhoni during an IPL match

We had to end the blog with this, cause there’s nothing else that captures our emotions like the word CSK. There’s passion. There’s love. There’s pride. There’s a roar!

When you enter the Chepauk stadium with thousands of people around you, the feeling is like nothing else. Fun fact, the Chepauk stadium was built in 1916 and is the second oldest stadium in India. The best part about it? The people who come here. Known for their passion for the game, their love for the players & the sheer fandom they build, it is a treat to be one among them. 

So if you’re in Chennai during the IPL season, get your squad together, ‘cause it’s time to assemble and #WhistlePodu for men in yellow – CSK!

For fixtures and more information, visit BCCI TV.

Also read: A travel guide to Tiruchirappalli, the rock city

If you liked this blog about the city, then share it, tweet about it, and urge your folks to visit this place!

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