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4 great day trips from Chennai

4 great day trips from Chennai

Chennai is not known for being a tourist hub – various writers have described it as “hot as hell” or an “overgrown village”. However those in the know are aware of a couple of hot spots around Chennai that make it easy to escape the city – even if just for a day!

Here, in no particular order, are my four favourite day trips from Chennai!

1. Mahabalipuram – 1.5 hours from Chennai Central

Mahabalipuram beach near the Radisson Blu

Mahabalipuram beach near the Radisson Blu

Mahabalipuram is no Angkor Wat – instead, just a handful of temples lie in ruin by the beachside. They are certainly worth a visit however, and the small township has enough souvenir shops to hold one’s interest, and eateries dish up a bunch of Tamil specialties. Meanwhile the Radisson Blu has a huge pool, a pleasant cafe, and a health spa to while away the hours.

2. Sriperumbedur – 1.5 hours from Chennai Central

Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperumbedur

Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperumbedur

Sriperumbedur is known as the place where former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991. A solemn memorial garden now exists on the site, with stone inlay retracing the politician’s final steps. A few temples exist nearby, but the main point of interest is the garden where history was made that fateful night.

3. Kanchipuram – 2 hours from Chennai Central

Shopping for Kanchipuram silk saris

Shopping for Kanchipuram silk saris

Shopping time! Get your rupees at the ready, because it’s time to buy up big at this centre for silken saris! Shopping aside, Kanchipuram boasts a glut of important temples, including Ekambareswarar temple, whose gateway tower is one of the tallest in India, at 59 metres.

4. Pondicherry – 3 hours from Chennai Central

Backstreets of Pondicherry

Backstreets of Pondicherry

It’s a long day trip, but if you’re in the mood, there’s nothing quite like Pondicherry. Officially called Puducherry, but often just referred to as “Pondy”, this former French enclave still hums to a slightly different beat to the rest of India. Streets are named “Rue”, architecture is a throwback to colonial yesteryear, European cuisine is available and the waterfront is sunny and pleasant (if not quite the Côte d’Azur). Don’t forget to visit the Aurobindo Ashram as well as Auroville’s utopian social project – it’s unusual, but undeniably Pondy.

What is your favourite getaway from Chennai? Comment below!

Meet Tim Blight


Writer, traveller, amateur photographer, teacher. Based in Melbourne and Lahore.

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  • Andrew Boland August 3, 2016, 9:39 pm

    they all look amazing, especially the first and last!

    Reply
    • Tim Blight August 6, 2016, 1:01 am

      You’ll need to try them some time! Any plans to go back to India?

      Reply
    • Adam @ Round the World we go September 29, 2016, 7:59 pm

      Love that first image the most, but the others are very striking!

      Reply
      • Tim Blight September 30, 2016, 9:28 pm

        Thank you! I love Mahabalipuram – I hope you can go there one day soon 🙂

        Reply
  • Agness August 8, 2016, 12:14 am

    Tim, please take me there. I really need some beach now! I would love to do morning cardio there :).

    Reply
    • Tim Blight August 8, 2016, 12:17 am

      I’d love to take you there!! If you liked Sri Lanka, I think you’d love this:)

      Reply