Chennai, on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, is the capital of the Tamil Nadu state. It’s home to Fort St. George, built in 1644 and now a museum showcasing the city’s roots as a British military garrison and East India Company trading outpost. Religious sites include Kapaleeshwarar Temple, adorned with carved and painted gods, and St. Mary’s, a 17th-century Anglican church.Chennai Marina Beach, Kapaleeswar Temple, Fort St. George, Museum, Santhome Cathedral Basilica, St. Thomas Church, St. Thomas Mount. Chennai has innumerable places of tourist interest. It is the Gateway to South India and 368 years old, and the 34th largest metropolitan city in the world. One cannot fail to notice the dominant British influences in the city. But Chennai retains a charming characteristic of a typical South Indian heritage. Fort St. George was built by the East India Company. Fort Museum contains many relics pertaining to the reign of the East India Company and British India. St. Mary’s Church is the oldest Anglican Church in Asia, the first English Church in Chennai and the oldest surviving British Church in India National Art Gallery and Government Museum has an excellent archaeological section and also houses a good ethnological collection of the Cholas. The Marina Beach is the second longest beach in the world. St. Thomas Mount is a small hillock, where the Apostle, St. Thomas was believed to have been killed by his assassins. Kapaleeswar temple is an ancient Shiva temple constructed in the Dravidian style and displays the architectural elements. St Thomas Cathedral- Santhome Cathedral Basilica is said to house the remains of St. Thomas, the Apostle.

 Crocodile Bank

Location: Near Mahabalipuram
Distance: 40 km from Chennai
Founded In: 1976
Founded By: Romulus Whitaker
Area: 3.2 hectares
Main Attractions: Various Species of Crocodiles, Alligators and other reptiles

The Crocodile Bank is sited at around 44 km away from the capital city of Tamil Nadu, near Mahabalipuram. It extends over an area of about 3.2 hectares, comprising a wide range of Indian and African crocodiles, alligators and other reptiles including turtles and snakes. Here, the crocodiles are kept in their natural habitat. Founded by Romulus Whitaker, the German Biologist in 1976, to conserve the species of crocodiles and alligators which are endangered, it is provided with lush tropical vegetation for giving ample shade to these reptiles. At the time of its establishment, the total population of the crocodiles was only 30. Presently, it has 14 varieties of crocodiles, 12 species of turtles and 5 types of snakes, with total number of 2,400 reptiles in the Crocodile Bank.

Indian varieties of crocodiles namely the Mugger – Crocodylus Paluster, which is 3.6 meter long and is commonly found, the Ghariyal – Gavialis Gangeticus, which is 4-5 meter long and has the longest jaw and the saltwater Crocodile – Crocodylus Porosus, the largest of reptiles contribute signifficantly to the total population in the bank. It also includes Morlet’s crocodile from Mexico, American Alligator from Africa, Dwarf crocodile from Africa and the Siamese crocodile. The bank is one of the most popular tourist spots where visitors come in a large number every year to watch different reptiles in their natural surroundings and since all the creatures are kept in open pools, they can be easily observed from a safe proximity.

However, the main spot of attraction is the Crocodile Conservation Centre, which is the largest breeding locale of crocodiles in India and since its origination, thousands of crocodiles have bred here. This bank also houses a Snake Farm, where anti-venom is produced. The Irula Snake Catchers’ Industrial Cooperative Society has a show of venom extraction on daily basis which is a source great enthrallment for the visitors. The process of venom extraction was started on 16th December 1982 and now, the place has become the largest venom-producing centre in India with an annual turnover of US $ 15,000. The place is also thinking to conserve green anacondas under an international exchange programme. So for this, four adult green anacondas of an average length of 4 metres are brought from the Danish Crocodile Exhibition held in Denmark in exchange of marsh crocodiles, the gharials and the African slender snouted crocodiles.

Besides all this, the bank also conducts research on the biology of crocodiles, alligators, turtles and observes lizards. Honoured with the Ford Conservation and Environmental Grant 2001 for the project ‘Integrated Environment Education’, a multi-lingual programme on the preservation of reptiles to create an environmental awareness has further made it a not-to-be-missed attraction among the tourists. The authorities are also planning to set up a second bank on the western coast of India, in Goa, along with planning to get four new varieties of crocodiles, including black caimans, smooth-fronted caimans, Cuban crocodiles and broad-snouted caimans.

crocodile-bank-chennai

 Mahabalipuram

Location: Kanchipuram District
Distance: 60 km from Chennai
Main Attraction: Shore Temple

There are many stories related to the origin of its name. Some say that, it has been named after the demon King Mahabali, who was famous for his kindness and on the other hand, others believe that it has been named after the King Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava dynasty, who was a great warrior and that his name was kept because his achievements. Whatever may have been the origin, one thing is for certain – Mahabalipuram is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu. And together with Chennai and Kanchipuram, it forms ‘Golden Tourism Triangle’ on the shore of Coromandel Coast. This 7th century port city of the Pallavas, which was a dynasty of Dravidian civilization, includes several historical monuments which were mainly structured in that era.

This tourist destination has been listed amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its importance and ancientness of the sculptures and temples which depict its historical past and traditional legacy and also about the Dravidian civilization. The major attraction of Mahabalipuram is the Shore temple which is devoted to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, sited on the Bay of Bengal with the gateway from the Western side away from the sea. It is one of the world heritage sites and also one of the ancient rock cut temples in the country. Noted for its complex carvings embellished with beautiful motifs and craftsmanship, the architectural designs of this temple are absolutely fascinating.

However, there are many other temples and statuettes which are magnificent in their carvings, one of which is Thirukadalmallai, the temple devoted to Lord Vishnu which was constructed by the King of Pallava dynasty to protect the sculptures from the waves coming from the sea. It is said that after the construction of this temple, the sculptures were able to withstand the turbulent waves of the sea and have been preserved since then. But the place is most renowned for Arjuna’s Penance, which is a relief statue on a huge scale representing an episode from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata; and the Varaha Cave, which is a small rock-cut temple built during the 7th century. Plus, there are Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) which comprise of five colossal pyramidal constructions named after the Pandavas: Yudhistra, Bhima, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdeva together with their wife Draupadi. All the five chariots are built from granite carved in a unique style. These monuments and sculptures are delicate examples of the architectural pattern of the Pallava dynasty.

Apart from the monuments and temples, there are Mandapas which were built during the Pallava dynasty. These Mandapas are very beautifully carved and are adorned with spell-bounding motifs. The biggest Mandapam is dedicated to Lord Krishna and the sculptures inside it marvellously portray the brave legends of Lord Krishna. Besides this, there is Mahishasuramardini Mandapam, which is a rock cut temple depicting the war between the Goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura, who changed himself into a buffalo. This Mandapa is the finest example of the architectural designs of the Pallava dynasty; the carvings and the designs are simply splendid and breathtaking. The Ganesh Mandapam is another shrine which is visited everyday by the people.shore-temple-mahabalipuram

 Muttukadu

Location: Kanchipuram District
Distance: 36 km from Chennai
Main Attraction: Backwaters and Water Sports

Muttukadu, located at a distance of 36 km from Chennai, is a small town which serves as the most preferred picnic spot along with backwaters and water activities. Muttukadu is adorned with greenery, including coconut trees and lush grassland to provide ample shade and to give relaxation to the visitors, making the environment pollution free and breezy. Helped by the fact that the backwaters and the facility of boat house have been developed by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation for the visitors to stay and enjoy, the place is visited by hordes every year who come here to enjoy their holidays.

The main attraction of this place is windsurfing regatta which is organized every year in the month of February, plus many other water games such as kayaking, boating, canoeing, etc are organized here. Those who are adventurous and fun loving, they can also join the training programs which are held in Muttukadu. No wonder it is visited by thrill seekers as well as peace lovers form India and abroad. Prawns and Jellyfishes are well-known in this place and due to these reasons, it is also known as ‘the land of flora and fauna’. It is just the perfect destination for spending holidays with beguilingly exquisite backwaters, peaceful surroundings and a charismatic blend of greenery and gleaming blue.

There are other places of attraction include Dakshinchitra, a small handicraft village nearby Muttukadu, structured in the traditional architectural style of 19th century and prominent for its ceramics, glass items and sculptures. It is spread over an area of 10 acres, looking across the Bay of Bengal, sited at a distance of 30 km, south of the capital city. In addition to this, it is a centre for the living culture of arts and crafts, performing arts and architecture of India with prominence on the mores of South India.

This site was opened for the people in 1996 and the project runs under the administration of the Madras Craft Foundation, a non-profit organization. On the way to Mahabalipuram, there is an amusement park, known as the MGM DIZZEE World which has many recreational facilities including Karnakasi Ranger, Dashing Boat, Arrow Loop Roller Coaster, water sports and 110 ft. Dizee Shake. Surely, it is one of the best excursion locales for the visitors coming from other parts of India as well as abroad. If in Chennai, do not miss the chance to pay a visit to this place.

 Pulicat

Location: Thiruvalluvar District
Distance: 60 km from Chennai
Main Attraction: Flamingos, Beach Activities

Pulicat LakePulicat is a small seashore township which offers an invigorating and thrilling experience of expedition. Sited on the barricade island of Sriharikota which divides the Pulicat Lake from the Bay of Bengal, it is located at a distance of 60 km from Chennai and 3 km from Elavur, It is the second leading brackish lagoon in India–covering a total area of 720 sq km of which 84% comes in Andhra Pradesh and 16% in Tamil Nadu–following the Chilka Lake in Orissa. It extends to a length of 60 km.

The major attractions of Pulicat are the beach, the Dutch cemetery and, particularly, the bird sanctuary. Every year between October and March, thousands of migratory birds can be observed here which turns into their dwelling place. Amongst these migrants, flamingos come in a large number and at that time is the main point of attraction. They cover the swampy region of the lake, giving it a touch of pink colour. Other birds which can be seen are ducks, herons, cranes and painted storks. In mid-December or the start of January, the Flamingo festival is organized by the Tourism Development Board every year. This is why, this place, also known as a haven for bird watching, with its captivating and magnificent views allures visitors from all over.

Other appealing sites include a Dutch Fort which was constructed in 1609 for the stay of Dutch army on the Coromandel Coast though later on, in 1825, it was conquered by the British. There is also a Church which was built by the Dutch but, today, only the ruins are left of both, the fort as well as the Church. On the opposite bank of the lake, there is a lighthouse of the ancient times. In addition to this, there is a cemetery which was structured in 1622 which is now under the department of Archaeological Survey of India. The huge mausoleums and graves emblazoned by Dutch, engraved with skeletons instead of the cross have been very well conserved. This place, famous for its historical past and natural magnificence, is visited every year by thousands of people. There are two other places of attraction which includes Vedurupattu and Nelapattu. Vedurupattu village is sited as of 10 km north of Sullurpeta, on the Nellore road. At this place, in every winter painted storks nest in the trees or the huts and to see them in their natural habitat is a refreshing experience.

In the village of Nelapattu of Nellore district, is the Nelapattu bird sanctuary which was founded in 1976. It is at a distance of 20 km from the Pulicat Bird Sanctuary. The huge fresh water tank and the ‘Barringtonia acutangula’ trees in a large number make this sanctuary a shelter for a huge number of varieties of birds that migrate here for breeding and roosting, including over 1,500 pelicans, making it one of the most prominent Pelicanaries in South East Asia. Several endangered species of birds including open-billed storks, grey pelicans, white ibis, little cormorants and night herons come here to breed. Besides this, wide range of birds such as ducks, egrets, tern, waders, etc. can also be spotted here easily. Another thrilling experience is provided by the forest region of the sanctuary which has mammals such as slender loris, jackals, spotted deer and reptiles including tortoise, snakes and monitor lizards. Thus, Pulicat and the places around it make the excursion exhilarating with a unique combination of historical relics and the natural beauty.

 Thanjavur

Location: Thanjavur District
Distance: 330 km south of Chennai
Main Attraction: Brahadishwara Temple, Saraswathi Mahal Library and the Akshayapureeswarar Temple

Thanjavur is a royal and historic city near Chennai. It is known as the ‘Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu’ and is the granary of South India. Thanjavur is sited at a distance 330 km from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The name Thanjavur has been originated from Tanjan, who was a demon killed by Lord Vishnu at this very place, according to the Hindu mythology. Being one of the ancient regions which hold a long history dating back to the Sangam era, this province was established by the Mutharayar King Swaran Maran, and reached the summit of fame in the sphere of knowledge and culture, at the time of Chola dynasty. It remained the capital of the Cholas from 9th to 13th century AD. After the collapse of the Cholas, it was ruled by several dynasties including the Madurai Nayaks, Pandyas, Vijaya Nagar Empire, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and the British.

Today, it is one of the significant sites of South Indian art and architecture and with its fascinating history, ancient temples and monuments, it is a major attraction for visitors from all over the world. Most of the grand Chola temples, present in and around Thanjavur, come under the list of UNESCO World Heritage Monuments while the paintings of Thanjavur have their own way of embellishment. Made on glass and on board, in these paintings, the pictures and the background are nicely adorned with gold leaf and gems. Made by applying gesso, a mixture of gypsum, plaster of Paris and glue, the Thanjavur paintings are renowned all over the country for their exclusive style. Besides this, Thanjavur district is also famous for Carnatic music and the musical instruments made from jack-wood.

In terms of attractions to see and marvel at, there are various sites which allure visitors from all over the globe, the most prominent one being The Brahadishwara Temple, also known as the Big Temple, built by Raja Raja Chola, the leading emperor of the Chola dynasty. The construction of this temple, dedicated to the Lord Pragatheeswarar, commenced in 1003 AD and ended in 1010 AD, with the chief architects being Raja Raja Perunthachan and Kunjaramallan. This temple is a unique example of the Indian architecture as well as the wonder of the Dravidian art and architecture and is enclosed by a fosse on both the sides with the Anaikut River flowing on the other side. One major crowd puller here is an eight storied victory tower constructed by the great Maratha emperor Serfoji, to honour and admire the triumph of the British over the Napoleon Bonaparte at the combat zone of Waterloo.

To enrich your experience further visit the Thanjavur Palace. One of the main attractive sites, the Thanjavur Palace lies in the heart of the ancient tower and contains huge labyrinthian edifices, vast halls, watch-towers, moat, fort and patios. Structured by the Nayak rulers around 1500 AD, the palace was refurbished and enlarged by the Maratha Kings in the later years. Other locale of attraction is the Saraawathi Mahal Library set up around 1700 AD in the district of Thanjavur. It has about 44,000 manuscripts and the ancient palm leaves and paper manuscripts are still conserved in the library. It also has 4,500 foreign books inscribed by the Kings and the Scholars. 80% of the manuscripts are written in Sanskrit language and some of them are really very exclusive and uncommon. The Tamil works includes the dissertations on medicines and observations on the ancient works of Tamil. With so much on offer, a visit to Thanjavur, when in Chennai, is a must

 Amusement Parks

musement Parks are important means of entertainment for the residents of Chennai city as well as the tourists. The amusement parks not only provide the fun and frolic for the children but they also help the elders to bring out the child in them. Though, there are a host of good amusements parks in Tamil Nadu, some of the best are located around Chennai. These parks are equipped with all the modern day facilities and gadgets and provide adventurous and fun filled entertainment for all, by the means of crazy activities and rides. Amusement park is an excellent idea for people wanting to spend good and quality time with their family members. What’s more, small food restaurants and refreshment centers are also present here, offering mouth watering food, after all the day’s activities. You can choose from a host of amusement parks in the vicinity of the city, some of which are given below.

Dash-N-Splash
It is situated at a distance of 30 km from Chennai and has a sprawling 21 acre campus. Just along the national highway 4 that leads to Bangalore, the park is in Mevallur Kuppam Village in Chennai’s MGR district. The park is beautifully landscaped and has ample shaded seating area. It is a huge hit amongst the kids, because of different exciting rides, and being a great place for a picnic. The facilities offered at the park include a well-equipped pure vegetarian cafeteria, separate change rooms with deposit lockers, souvenir shops, toiletries, eatables, etc.

Dolphin City
Dolphin City is situated at a distance of 46 km from Chennai along the ECR road. The park offers a host of unique activities, such as the American Sea Lion performance, which is the first of its kind in the country. Other activities include under water view, open air theatre, boating, slides, swimming, chuck wagon, disco scooter, tea cup, animal simulator, dragon ride etc. There is even a multi cuisine restaurant here, which caters to a variety of tastes. Buses can also be arranged on request.

Kishkinta
Spread across a vast expanse of 120 acres, Kishkintha is an amusement park that is situated thirty minutes from south of Chennai City. The park is situated five kilometers west of Tambaram Bus stand and suburban train station. The verdant landscape of the park dotted with numerous hills and lakes is one of the top favorites for both young and old alike. It offers some of the hi-tech adventurous rides and activities like space shuttle, wave pool, white water and Kiddies Kingdom.

Little Folks
It is situated at about 46 m from Chennai towards Mahabalipuram and mainly caters to children and has many rides to attract them, like toy train, rainbow fountain, slide-into-pool, and cartoon show and paddle pool. The park also has a one of a kind giant piano and an open air theatre.

MGM “Dizzee World” Beach Resort
At a distance of about 24 km from Chennai in East Coast Road, Dizzee World is a beach resort. It has a number of slides and rides for both kids and adults. The main attraction here is the water sports, which are a huge hit amongst the visitors. MGM Dizzee World beach resort features as one of the biggest amusement parks in India. The park offers thrilling experience to people in the form of log flume, giant wheel, spider spin, roller coaster, the funny mountain, dashing cars, super trooper, a water world and it also hosts special seasonal shows. A special addition in the early 2000’s to the park was a snow valley: an artificial snow shower with snow capped mountain and a snow man.

 Discotheques

Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, has a happening nightlife and a number of discotheques, to add to its glitz and glamour. These discotheques provide you an opportunity to set the floor on fire and have a rocking night experience. As the sun goes down, the spirit of the falling dark engulfs the, otherwise, historic city of Madras and its people, to lure them into pleasurable activities. There are many options available in the city to enliven your late night hours, such as pubs, discos, lounges, etc. The nightclubs in Chennai have the right ambience, décor along with the brilliant lights, and classy beverages, both, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Step into one to immerse yourself in the fun filled revelry. Even if you don’t happen to be the kind who does not like nightlife, you will still love the ecstatic environ that the jovial crowd build up. Here, you can groove on some foot tapping numbers amidst revolving lights, colourful people and chill bars, which make the environment intoxicating, forcing you to want more.

HFO
HFO is the most popular discotheque in Chennai. With 6000 sq. feet of floor space, 2500 watts of music, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, billiards table, bar for members and non-members, the choicest liquors, the great music, 3 super-cool DJs and a simply electrifying atmosphere, it literally stands up to its name HFO (Hell Freezes Over). A special ladies night takes place on Wednesdays, while two Saturdays a month are dedicated to events like Fashion Shows, Bacardi Nights, Coke Nights, etc. Moreover, Guest DJs from all over the country are invited to play here.

Dublin
Dublin is a chic class pub and has become a hot spot in the city. It is situated in the premises of ITC Hotel Park Sheraton. This swanky pub cum discotheque is a fine blend of Irish pub/nightclub and has a very unique ambience of the southern metro city. Nice music, good environment and amazing lightings.

Pasha
Situated along the Nungambakkam highway, Pasha is a jazzy discotheque, which allows you to relax in low divan-styled seating areas and resting arrangements made in with beautiful cushions in true Persian style. The place may be relatively small but it is a huge crowd puller. Apart from this; the excellent music is an add on, which will prompt you to shake your legs on the dance floor.

The Park, 601 Anna Salai
The Park is the place to ‘chillax’, where you would naturally loosen up as the relaxed ambience with the easing low divan seats and the silky cushions that come in riotous bursts of colours, allowing you to slide to the comfort zone. To hide out from the frantic activity, you can veil yourself in a maze of metallic organza drapes. You can also enjoy an Indipop evening, which spikes up the atmosphere every Wednesday.

Flame Le Club
Nightlife does not get better than this; Flame le Club truly offers a great experience for all who come to seek the fun of Chennai night life. Situated at the No. 1 GST Road, this nightclub offers a bevy of exciting offers to enjoy in the weekends. Entry is free for all during the pub hours.

Geoffrey’s
This night hangout joint is a great place to have gourmet pub food and exotic drinks. Further, the place becomes more sought out for its nice music, exclusive décor and matchless ambience. Situated at Jawaharlal Nehru Salai, the joint also organizes private “Ladies Night” offering special menu and discount.

Zara – Tapas Pub
With a great ambience that helps you to unwind and sojourn, this place has the harmony of atmosphere, exquisite cocktails, great music and delectable Spanish snacks to lift up your mood. Zara-Tapas Pub is situated in 74, Radhakrishna Salai.

 Chennai Water Sports

Chennai is the capital of coastal state of Tamil Nadu. The city, being in the vicinity of the sea, is a paradise for water sport lovers in India, as well from abroad. It offers a wide variety in terms of adventure activities, right from parasailing to scuba diving and from fishing to boating. So all the adventure freaks who have not decided about visiting Chennai city yet, just pack your bags and head on. Chennai is waiting with its arms open to welcome you and lead you to the exciting and hair-raising territory of sea. Dive, plunge, splash, sprinkle or bathe in the pleasant waters of Chennai and have a ball!

Tarsha Water Sports
Tarsha Water Sports is an ideal place for water sports. It hosts a number of water sports event for the entertainment of the visitors. Located 15 kilometers from Mahabalipuram on the East Coast Road, people of every age enjoy the fun of different water related activities. It provides sports activities that are unique in the whole region and has therefore, become quite popular amongst the natives as well as tourists. The main activities offered here are Water Skiing, Wake Boarding and Knee Boarding. These action-packed activities attract people from all over the state. Kayaking, Speed Boat Rides, Banana Boat Rides, Double Tube Rides and Para-sailing are some other means of amusement provided by the club.

Muttukadu Boat House
Muttukadu is situated at a distance of 30 km from Chennai on East Coast road which leads to Mamallapuram. The place serves as an ideal location for picnic. The sight of the rocking bridge over backwaters is absolutely breathtaking and awesome. For people who are ardent fans of sea food, the place is absolute heaven to indulge in such gastronomic delights. The backwaters at Muttukadu are one of the favorite spots for the visitors, as they offer a host of water spots facilities. You can enjoy boating and wind surfing here. It is an attempt by the Tamil Nadu government to lure people towards the Gateway of South, which was formerly known as Madras. Muttukadu Boat House even conducts competitions and training camps for passionate water sport lovers.

Wildertrails Adventure Club
Wildertrails Adventure Club provides you all the adventure you can want. It organizes treks, camps, jungle rides, cycling treks, etc. It trains youngsters and children for the risks outdoor. But the trips are not planned only for young people, even parents and grandparents can join the bandwagon to discover the wild and in the process also discover the thrill seeking explorer within them. The sheer thought to arrange a trip for adventurous trip might seem to overwhelm you but from the logistics to the meticulous arrangements, all is done by the adventure club for the absolute convenience of their clients.

Pichavaram
Located near Chidambaram in the Cuddalore district, Pichavaram is home to the second largest mangrove forest in the world. Famous for its eco-tourism, the place has placid backwaters that are interconnected by Vellar and Coleroom river system. The small and serene town that is situated almost 280 km from the southern part of Chennai offers thrilling water sports and activities like parasailing, rowing, canoeing and more. The nearest railway station is Chidambaram from where Pichavaram can be reached by road.

Covelong
The pristine beach of Covelong village offers a wide range of water sports activities and it is a perfect getaway from the mundane routine of daily life. The waters here are calm enough even for a novice to try out different water activities. This fishing village is situated 40 kilometres south of Chennai, on the East Coast Road on the way to Mahabalipuram.

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