Chennai has always played a significant role towards administering economic affairs and armed services. Once home to Pallavas, Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Vijanagar rulers, this city is rightly described as the cultural hub of South India. As you explore the city, you will find many sacred temples with the most intricate and complicated sculptures. These temples stand as exemplary works of art and display the regal taste of the former regal dynasties. Places like Mahabalipuram, Covelong, and Kanchipuram, that skirt the city of Chennai, are truly a tourists’ delight. Mahabalipuram reveals the best sculptural skill that is unique and is beyond comparison while Covelong has the most beautiful beach views. Kanchipuram, on the other hand, is well-known for its traditional silk weaving and is the best place to shop for silk saris. If you wish to know more on other tourist attractions around the city of Chennai, then scroll down this write-up and get on with your journey.
Tourist Places Around Chennai
Located 60 km away from Chennai, this place is a popular tourist destination. Mahabalipuram is filled with beautiful beaches and monuments, cave temples, pavilions, scared shrines and chariots that epitomize the skillfulness and artistic taste of the people belonging to the former times. Mahabalipuram is an architectural wonder that cannot be adequately expressed in words. Most of the sculptures belong to the 7th and 9th century and are of a great value to the archeologist. Declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO, Mahabalipuram is the home to six important sculptures Thirukadalmallai, Descents of the Ganges, Arjuna’s Penance, Varaha Cave temple, The Shore temple and the Pancha Rathas that are a ‘must see’. A trip to Chennai will be incomplete without visiting this place.
The district of Kanchipuram is located 75 km away from Chennai. Also known as Kanchi or Kancheepuram, this town has always been a place of learning that is better known as ‘ghatikasthanam’ in Sanskrit. The place is well-known for its different educational centers. Besides this Kanchi, is also home to many temples of Lord Vishnu and Shiva and is fondly known as the “city of temples” in Tamil Nadu. Another reason to visit this place is its flourishing handloom industry, which is the main livelihood of people living in this place. These professional silk weavers are well known for their quality and design. You can also shop for a good quality silk sari at an affordable price while on your visit to this place.
Also called as Kovalam, this place is located just 40 km away from Chennai. This fishing village is well-known for its stunning beach views and forts. Covelong is a small town that is popular for its luxury beach resorts among tourists. Although the town was built and developed by the Nawab of Carnatic, it was later passed under colonial administration of French, British and Dutch officials. Covelong is the only place in the whole of east coast region that allows wind surfing, which makes it a must-visit place for adventure freaks.
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
A place strictly for the bird-watchers, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is just 75 km away from Chennai. A natural dwelling place for migratory birds like grey wagtails, sandpiper, blue-winged teal, and pintail, earlier this place served as the famous hunting ground for the landlords and locals, who came here to hunt for the feathered guests. The colonial government understood its significance and declared it as bird sanctuary in 1798. The best time to visit this place is during the months of October and February.
Cholamandal Artist’s Village
Situated 9 km away from Chennai, this village is every art lovers’ paradise. The community was founded in 1966 by K.C.S Paniker who introduced contemporary art forms to the people of Chennai. Today, the Cholamandal Artist’s Village is the home to various forms of artwork such as painting, batik fabric work, metal and leather craft, ceramic and wooden craftwork. Besides this, the village also has a number of art galleries, open-air theatre, museums and classical dance shows. The Cholamandal Artist’s Village is the best place to experience rich cultural and unique rural art form of the South India. The village is open to the public on all days from 10 am in the morning to 5 pm in the evening.
Located 14 km away from Mahabalipuram, the crocodile banks are the breeding ground for different species of crocodiles, alligators and other reptiles. This famous alligator sanctum, founded in 1976, boasts of more than 5000 breeds of reptiles and is quite a popular place among the tourists. On your trip to this place, take out some time and make a quick tour to the snake farm that conducts shows on how to extract the snake’s venom, which is quite a fascinating sight. Apart from crocs and gators, this famous crocodile reserve also has twelve endangered species of tortoises and turtles, two pythons, five species of snakes, and some water monitor lizards.
The word Dakshinachitra, meaning “picture of the south”, is a 10-acre heritage center owned by Madras Craft Foundation. This cross cultural living museum, established as a means to preserve and promote the antediluvian art forms that seems to have forgotten over the years, has taken serious initiatives to promote the various art forms from different states of South India like Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The volunteers of Dakshinachitra are friendly and allow you to try a hand at pottery, silk weaving and other craft forms, on request. If you are keen on art and crafts, then Dakshinachitra has a lot to offer. On your visit to this one of its kind of heritage houses, you can explore the revivified streetscapes, witness contextual exhibitions, view folk performances and even interact with village artisans and traditional craftsmen.