5 Places in Tamil Nadu which you can visit any time of the year:
1. Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry
Nestled between Chennai and Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram is famous for its historic temple architecture, white sand beaches, rock-cut caves and a shopping experience that is different from any other in TamilNadu. The laid back atmosphere, aforementioned architecture and a sense of zen-like calm are the prime reasons for a visit to Mahabalipuram. It also boasts of a variety of interesting cafes and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. There are ample modes of transport available within the town including public transport buses, rented motorcycles / scooters and the omnipresent autorickshaws of TamilNadu. The sea breeze consistently Local sculptors will teach you their prized skills and allow you to make your own sculptures for a few hundred rupees a day.
Some of the places to visit: Mahabalipuram Beach – The primary beach is clean, white and has hordes of tourists. Shore Temple which dates back to the 8th century and is carved out of granite chunks. A port in its heyday, it sits overlooking the Bay of Bengal is magnificent on a cloudless moon-lit night. Five Rathas or Panch Rathas are another exemplary set of rock temples in true Dravidian style. Tiger’s Caves near Salurankuppam hosts a spectacular “Mandap” that holds a shrine to goddess Durga. The Alamparai Fort – All that remains of this once resolute fort are ruins but what a sight they present. Arjuna’s Penance, Crocodile Bank, Kovalam, Sadras Beach are the other must visit places.
Puducherry / Pondicherry, a French colony till 1954, is the best place to get a glimpse of colonial heritage with its narrow lanes, yellow walled houses and French cafes (both faux and real) serving delicious steaks. Auroville, on the outskirts, with the famous Shri Aurobindo Ashram that offers yoga, meditation and spirituality is another prominent reason why people visit. The authentic food, insight into French culture and architecture, the beer, beaches, tranquil and laid-back atmosphere are the signatures of Pondy.
Accommodations range from youth hostels to luxury hotels. The best way to travel is to walk around exploring the by-lanes dotted with Bougainville but you can also rent cycles / scooters, hail an autorickshaw or a bus, of which there are plenty.
Head to the Paradise Beach, Seaside Promenade, Auroville Ashram, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Raj Niwas, Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Pondicherry beach, Pondicherry Museum, Church of Our Lady of Angels, Aurobindo Ashram, French War Memorial, Bharathi Park, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Arikamedu, Chunnambar Boat House, Meeran Mosque and Ousteri Wetland and National Park while you are in Pondy. Then head to Chidambaram for another day to cap off the trip.
Ooty, the queen of hill stations, is one of the most popular tourist spots in the state, especially as a honeymoon destination. Rising more than 2200 meters, you can watch the flora and fauna change in wonder as you move up from Mettupalayam, Kallar, Conoor, Ooty and Kotagiri. The innumerable tea estates, lofty mountains, dense eucalyptus trees and sprawling grasslands with cud-chewing cows are the trademarks of this hill station. It enjoys favorable weather throughout the year. It offers the thrill seekers options like hand-gliding, trekking and mountain biking, couples can spend time rolling around in the grass, photography enthusiasts can point and shoot in every direction – something for everyone. No wonder it is crowded throughout the year, especially in the summer. Lose yourself in the city’s quaint little bakeries which serve home-made chocolates, fudges tea and cakes in every imaginable flavor. There is no dearth of accommodations, with many hotels and inns that cater to every budget. Accommodations are no more expensive than most cities in India, and the popular Indian hotel chains have a presence here.
A Toy Train ride, a visit to the Botanical Gardens, Thread Garden & Rose Garden, boating in the Ooty Lake, photos from the highest peak (Doddabetta), lazing around in the silent alleys of Emerald Lake or Kamraj Sagar Lake, trying to figure out if the rock at Dolphin’s nose does look like a Dolphin, getting wet at Catherine Falls, hiking to Kotagiri should all be on your list of things to do while in Ooty. Mudumalai National Park should also be on the cards with a trip to Theppakadu Elephant Camp and a Jungle Safari being the highlight of this excursion.
Chennai doesn’t leave a memorable first impression. If you want to get to know Chennai, take your time and put in the effort, it will not disappoint you. Dive into its distinctive culture, peel back the layers and this city will surprise you with its warmth and heart. Here are a few places that make this city special.
Mylapore: A historic neighborhood, one of the many souls of the city. Full of culture and revels in its tradition. The 17th century Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of the more impressive sights of Chennai. The neo-Gothic Santhome Cathedral, original built by the Portuguese, and the serene Ramakrishna Mutt Temple also call Mylapore home. There is a Peacock Trail Walking Tour and various groups that do Photo Walks in the area, both worth checking out.
Fort Saint George: Yet another British era keep sake, Fort Saint George is home to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and Secretariat. One of the oldest surviving British churches – Saint Mary’s – and the Fort Museum are also in the vicinity. The museum houses paintings, relics, memorabilia and a host of war stories from the old timers in the museum. Chennai Heritage Architecture Day Tours include all of the above, the Madras High Court and the congested lanes of George Town dotted by some fascinating street stalls and vibrant markets. Noisy, chaotic, and a photographer’s delight.
Chennai’s Beaches (Marina, Elliot’s & the untouched beaches on ECR): Head to Marina beach at sunset and soak up the carnival-like atmosphere, with amusement rides and snack stalls. The longest urban beach in India it is about 13 kilometers long. It’s dotted with numerous statues and monuments there is a lighthouse at the southern end of the beach. Unfortunately, the strong currents prevent swimming or surfing.
Cholamandal Artists’ Village: The Cholamandalam Artists’ Village is one of India’s largest artist communes which is self-sustaining and does not operate with any financial assistance. Pioneers of the Madras Movement of Art, the place houses a great collection of art. Head there, you won’t be sorry, if you love art that is.
Kalakshetra Arts Academy: A cultural academy dedicated to the preservation and teaching of Indian art forms, with a focus on Bharatanatyam, Carnatic and Instrumental music the academy also nurtures the visual arts, traditional crafts and textile design, history and philosophy.
The Turtle Walk: The coast of Chennai is a breeding ground for the endangered Olive Ridley turtle. The nesting season, between December and April, sees a large number of turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. The hatchlings are left to make their own way into the sea. Volunteers conduct walks to collect their eggs and take them to a hatchery. Members of the public who are interested in conservation are welcome to join in. It’s also possible to see hatchlings being released in the evenings. Animal lover? Can’t miss this.
The Anna Centenary Library: Book lovers will be interested to know that Chennai has one of the largest libraries in Asia. Home to more than 500,000 books, and subscriptions to innumerable newspapers and periodicals from across the world. The library is well maintained, and there are plenty of comfortable spots to sit and read. Add a Planetarium visit in the evening and make a day out of it.
Hogenakkal is a heavenly mixture of relaxation and discovery where the Kaveri river splits into multiple streams of waterfalls. The neighboring villages that surround this place are breathtaking making it a great place to explore. Touted as the Niagara Falls of India, it is one of the most spectacular waterfall in India. Hogenakkal isn’t spoilt for choices, when it comes to eateries or lodging options. Buses, taxis and autorickshaws are available to drive you around. These places around the place should help you make a trip out it.
Hogenakkal Falls is prime attraction as the river forks into multiple streams and falls through multiple steps, making the site mesmerizing. Melagiri Hills offer various trekking options up to the hill which can thrill you with great views of the surrounding ranges. The Mettur Dam, one of the largest in India, is surrounded by hilly range and is quite popular among tourists. Pennagram Village is about 20 km away from Hogenakkal and is famous for its weekly fair which provides great insight into the Tamil culture and rural life, like the brightly colored giant terracotta statues that dot the place and have significant religious value to the locals. Theerthamalai Temple, Hanuman Theertham Temple and Parameshwari Temple are popular pilgrim centers close to Hogenakkal, all which abound in local legends. Whatever you do, make sure you take a ride in the circular basket-boats called Coracles. It is sure to scare the living daylights out of you if you are not used to them. Relive yourself of all that anxiety with a Hogenakkal Oil Massage which are very popular in this area. Multiple masseurs are found all over the city. Mostly male, these masseurs carry herbal oils and are very well versed with pressure points.
Kodaikanal abounds in wilderness, enchanting waterfalls, landscapes and natural beauty that can keep you enthralled for a vacation of any length. An ideal spot for the family trips, adventure freaks and explorers it offers activities trekking, boating and horse riding among others. Cab charges are generally higher and non-negotiable but still the best option of travel in the area. Eateries around the place offer chocolates, brownies, cheeses, organic foods, Punjabi cuisine, Tibetan cuisine, an elaborate Gujarati platter and an absolutely lip-smacking variety of Biryanis! Try a home stay in Kodaikanal for an authentic Kodai experience.
Here are things you can do while you are in Kodaikanal: Kodai Lake is a star shaped man-made lake that offers boating, horse riding, cycling and angling, you could spend a whole day here and not be bored for a second. Green Valley View (Suicide Point) is a magnificent spot in itself but the misty woodlands on the way here are the real charm. The famous Pillar Rocks of Kodaikanal are an exquisite picnic spot. A beautiful garden, with boulders reaching up to a height of 400 feet, it is perfect for a family picnic. Berijam Lake and Bear Shola Falls is another place to unpack your picnic sandwiches and laze around. Coakers Walk offers a great bicycle track. Bryant Park is known for its exotic fauna and it is a riot of colors during the annual horticulture show in May. A trip to Kurinji Temple provides delightful views of small villages surrounding the area and carrots plantation on the terraced slopes. The temple is also associated with the Kurunji Flower which blooms once in 12 years carpeting the whole area with purple flowers. Silent Valley View Point offers astounding and stunning views of the Silent Valley. Silver Cascade Falls is known for its celestial and exquisite flow of pure crystalline water. There are more than 15 different treks you can take in Kodaikanal, with routes of varying difficulty levels classified according to the fitness, time and ability. The trek of Periyakulam Adukkam is one of the most challenging treks in Kodaikanal. You can also trek to Vattakanal and enjoy the bio-diverse, virgin beauty of biodiversity and Kodaikanal’s infamous hippie culture. Devil’s Kitchen lies in between the Green Valley View and Pillar rocks, is a deep cleft and fall which is both mesmerizing and dangerous. The Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, Chettiyar Park, Kodaikanal Golf Club, Lutheran Church, Pambar Falls, Shembaganur Museum of Natural History, Bison Wells are all places worth visiting.