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BEACHES   Marina Beach - Chennai
The 13 km long and 400 to 500 meter wide Marina Beach is the pride of Chennai with the city Light House, memorials, statues, walkways, gardens and drives alongside the beachfront. The Elliot's Beach further south along the coast from Marina in Besant Nagar is preferred by younger Chennaiites with its promenade, restaurants and coffee shops. There are a large number of beaches between the Elliot’s Beach and Mahabalipuram, the most notable being the Covelong Beach which has a cove and a fort built by the Nawab of the Carnatic.
Tamil and Indian culture and tradition is on display in several art galleries and cultural centers. The Valluvar Kottam is an auditorium inmemory of the poet-saint Thiruvalluvar. It also has a 101-feet high temple chariot structure. Kalakshetra, a centre for the revival of Indian art and crafts; especially the dance form of Bharatnatyam is located in Besant Nagar. The National Art Gallery built in 1907, houses 11th and 12th century Indian handicrafts, 17th century Deccan paintings, 16th to 18th century Mughal and Rajasthani paintings and 10th and 13th century bronzes and is part of the Government Museum. The world headquarters of the Theosophical Society was established in 1886 on the banks of the Adyar River. The shrines of all major faiths stand in its sprawling estate gardens. Cholamandal Artists' Village, on the East Coast Road offers a view of artists and sculptors at work in their own studios and permanent gallery. Dakshinachitra by the Chennai Craft Foundation is a depiction of the way of life prevalent in South India with exhibitions and workshops of the arts and crafts and performing artists of South India.
  Art Museum - Chennai
The Guindy National Park the country's smallest National Park, with an area of 2.76 km² is located completely inside the city. It hosts a variety of endangered deer, foxes, monkeys and snakes[1]. The Guindy Snake Park situated in the National Park has a large collection of snakes and is an important source of antivenom serum. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park (better known as Vandalur Zoo) is located southwest of the city and covers an area of 5.1 km². It has about eighty species on display, and includes a lion safari a nocturnal animal house and an aquarium. South of the city, along the East Coast Road, is an important centre for herpetological research called the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, which houses several fresh-water and salt-water crocodiles, alligators, gharials, and also turtles and snakes. The Botanical Garden of the Horticulture Department has a very wide variety of plants and even a fossilised tree trunk 20 million years old. A Summer Festival is held here annually during the month of May.
  Guindy National Park
Chennai has some unique places to offer for shopping. Art and crafts, contemporary and traditional artwork, antiques, jewellery etc. are available in the city. Traditional items like leaf and palmyra-fiber handicrafts from Tirunelveli, bronze and brass castings and traditional jewelry from Kumbakonam, metal works from Thanjavur, stone carvings from Mahabalipuram, silks from Kanchipuram are for sale in shops and boutiques. George Town and Parrys Corner are wholesale markets of Chennai where one can purchase almost anything. Many streets are entirely devoted to selling one particular type of merchandise. The nearby Burma Bazaar is famous for its counterfeit electronic goods and media, Moore Market for its large number of bookstores. Pondy Bazzaar located in T.Nagar, is home to huge multi-storey stores, unique to Chennai, which deal mainly in textiles and silks or gold, silver and diamond jewellery. Besides these shopping areas, the city has many modern shopping malls, departmental stores and boutiques, offering a variety of goods and products.
  Chennai City Center
There are three large amusement parks and a water sports centre located in the outskirts of Chennai. Kishkinta which is known to be the India's No:1 Theme Park is located at the outskirts of Chennai. Other amusement parks are MGM, Golden Beach, Little Folks and others such as Dolphin City, etc. There are also a large number of beach resorts all along the East Coast Road highway to Mahabalipuram. The city being home to the Tamil movie industry, has over 100+ large cinema theatres including a few multiplexes which screen English, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam films. The city has a large number of restaurants offering a variety of Tamil, Indian and international cuisines. The nightlife in Chennai is vibrant and growing ranging from bars to pool parlours to lounges and clubs.
  Chennai Entertainment
Even as recently as about ten years ago, the ECR, which was then known as the New Mahabalipuram Road, had nothing much to offer by way of entertainment, except for VGP Golden Beach and Roger Whittaker's crocodile bank. Further down, the road led you to Mahabalipuram, and that was that. The scenario that meets a traveller today is entirely different. The East Coast Road could very well be termed the entertainment highway of Chennai. The road is brand new, flanked by the sea on the left and dotted with amusement spots through the entire stretch. Driving down ECR is an experience. Really! You can pick and choose from Amusement Parks, Water Sports Centres, Beaches, Eco Conservation, Cultural and Religious Centres, Restaurants or Resorts to spend your day in. The road caters to practically every type of pastime that one could think about.
 Amusement Parks, Water Sports Centres, Beaches: Prarthana Drive In Theatre: Approximately 10 Kms out of Adyar, this complex offers both a drive in theatre and a drive in restaurant VGP.
 Golden Beach: The first amusement park in Chennai, just about 11 Kms away from Adyar. Still a landmark of Chennai, this park offers over 40 odd rides for the fun seeker. The only park with an access to the beach.
 Ahaa Water Park: A spot for frolicking in water, the Ahaa Water Park offers a variety of water sports and fun activities. It has a wave generator, which can generate waves of upto 3.5ft.
 Kart Attack: A centre dedicated to fulfilling the speed maniac's desire for thrill in a safe and secure environment. The first go karting centre of Chennai, this has placed Chennai on the go karting map of India, and has been instrumental in creating a few go karting champions also.
 Mayajaal: 100,000 sq.ft of air-conditioned space. A multitude of activities and entertainment avenues, including movie theatres, bowling alleys, video games parlours, multicuisine food courts, and much more. This is Mayajaal, a multidimensional entertainment centre, on par with any entertainment zone found abroad. Open from 11 am to 11 pm you can easily spend the entire day here. It offers that much and more.
 MGM Dizzy World: Spread over 27 acres, this theme park offers joy rides, food stalls and other games. It features one of the first roller coaster rides of Chennai, and many of the rides offered could make your hair stand on edge. On the softer side, you have the dashing car drives, and the swimming pool with its water slides.
 Little Folks & Dolphin City: Specifically aimed at providing entertainment for the children, this park has a longer history than MGM.
 Muttukadu Boat House: Located at 23 Kms from Adayar, this backwater area is maintained by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation, and offers rowing, wind surfing, water skiing, and speedboat riding.
 Eco Conservation, Cultural and Religious Centres: Marundeswarar Temple is the first temple that one comes across on the route. A Shiva temple having a rich sthala purana or location history.
 Sai Baba Temple: Approximately 8.5 kms from Adyar, the temple is peaceful, clean and breezy.
 Jagannathan Temple: An exact replica of the Puri Jagannath Temple. Those who have not been to Puri can take a look at this temple.
 Cholamandalam Artists Village: Set up by a group of artists to serve as a recluse for artists of all genres. This village offers the ambience needed for creativity to flow and is inhabited only by artists. The village offers guesthouse facilities exclusively for artists from elsewhere so that they could also benefit from the environment provided by the place. A must visit for those who appreciate the finer things of life.
 Tiruvidanthai Nithya Kalyana Perumal Koil: As the name denotes, a temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara found on East Coast Road.
 Crocodile Bank: The brainchild of Romulus Whittaker, the acknowledged specialist on reptiles, this centre has gained fame as an endeavour for the preservation and propagation of endangered species of crocodiles. The centre also houses a large variety of snakes.
 Dakshinachitra: A venture of Deborah Thiagarajan and her associates from the Madras Craft Foundation. Dakshinachitra is an amazing place to visit, as various kinds of traditional houses have been transported to Chennai from interior parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and rebuilt here piece by piece.
 Mahabalipuram: The internationally recognized heritage monument of our country, personifying the art and culture of the Pallava kings.
 Restaurants: The ECR abounds with restaurants and eating spots, which offer a wide range of cuisines and tasteful ambience. A few of the food outlets are listed below: -Basera -Blue Lagoon -Thanjavur Restaurant -Food Village -Coastal Kitchen -Hot Kitchen Beach Resorts: Another convenience that is found in plenty on the East Coast Road is the presence of several comfortable, pleasing, beach resorts, which enable you to take a break, and enjoy a seaside environment. Take your pick from those mentioned below: -Buena Vista -Blue Lagoon -Green Country Resort -Fisherman's Cove -Casuarina Bay Italic text
 Drive your way to fun and thrill: But be prepared to pay a small toll fee on the East Coast Road

  East Coast Road
Shore Temple - Mahaballipuram
MGM - ECR - Chennai
Crocodile Bank - Chennai
Fisherman's Cove
Muthukadu Boat House
VGP Golden Beach
Prarthana Drive In Theater
ECR & Muthukadu Backwaters
Toll Plaza - East Coast Road

Pondicherry means "New Town" in Tamil. Popularly known as "Pondy", the town is nestled on the Eastern seaboard of India. Whether you are looking for a romantic rendezvous or a fun filled resort vacation, Pondicherry can accommodate all of your holiday needs.
Situated on the Coromandel coast, about 160 kms south of Chennai, lies the Union Territory of Pondicherry. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, and today, it stands as a living monument of the French culture in India.
Pondicherry traces its origin to Saint Agasthya, the revered sage of the south. The excavations near Pondicherry reveal, that a Roman settlement existed here, 2000 years ago. It was also the site of many a battle between the British and the French, and was the capital of French India, before it attained its independence.
This former French colony exudes a Mediterranean aura with its chic streets, elegant houses, ornamental gardens and the Hotel de Ville. Being a small and quiet enclave of Tamil Nadu, it has imbibed the Tamilian culture.
Apart from the charming atmosphere, excellent restaurants and cheap beer, what attracts most travellers to Pondicherry is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot, Auroville, 10 km outside town.
The ashram, founded by Sri Aurobindo in the year 1926, has brought international reputation to this coastal town. The ashram, the spiritual tenets of which combine yoga and modern science is quite popular within India and abroad.
Pondy is most easily accessible by road from Chennai (160 kms). Finding accommodation is no problem there. There are plenty of well-maintained lodges and villas.

  Matrimandir - Auroville - Pondicherry
Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
Mahatma Gandhi Statue - Pondicherry Beach

It is not just famous for the silk. History and culture have woven a fabric of heritage, richer than silk, in the temple town of Kanchipuram. Every warp and woof speaks of a king's dream to build the most beautiful of structures and house a god within it. An interesting aspect to be recognized is that Kanchipuram displays art related to Hindu, Jain and Buddhist eras. A visit to Kanchipuram would leave you richer in your knowledge and understanding of Indian temple architecture. Kanchipuram is an important pilgrim destination for the Hindus and the seat of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, one of the four seats of Hinduism established by Adi Sankara. One can also find Buddhist stupas here, establishing the historical importance of the town. In Kanchipuram, do take the time to explore the silk manufacturing processes also. An industry that has brought international recognition to our country, and which is famed for it's heavy gorgeous silk saris.
 To Get There: Kanchipuram is just 65 Kms away from Chennai on the Chennai - Bangalore highway.
 Places to see: Kanchipuram is basically a holy city for the Hindus, and the Sankaracharya of the Kanchi Mutt resides here. Kanchipuram has around one thousand temples. The more popular ones are listed here.
 Kamakshi Temple: The most important amongst them all! It has a gold plated Vimanam (tower). While photography is not permitted within the temple precincts, the external areas of the temple can be photographed.
 Varadaraja Perumal Temple: Also known as the Devaraja Swamy Temple, this large temple features intricate sculptures. The main deity is huge. There are two sculptures of lizards on the roof of this temple, one covered in gold, and the other in silver. Myth has it that these two lizards represent two disciples of a rishi who were cursed by their guru to turn into lizards. The icons of the sun and the moon, who were witness to the transformation, are also found alongside the sculptures of the lizards. At the temple pond, one finds the shrine of 'Atthigiri Varadar'. The deity of this shrine is carved out of a special type of wood, called Atthi wood. The deity is preserved under the pond, and is brought out only once in 40 years, for a period of 48 days! The next viewing of this deity is scheduled for the year 2019. Another 'must see' is the 'Nooru Kaal Mandapam' or the 100 pillared hall. The entire edifice is carved out of one rock, and each pillar has sculptures that depict one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. The hall also features a chain that has been sculpted from the same rock.
 The Vaikunda Perumal Temple: The Pallava ruler Nandivarman built this temple in 7th century AD. It has great sculptures and inscriptions, which relate the history of the temple and the times. The inner walls have lion shaped pillars.
 The Kailasanathar Temple: Another historic temple, commenced by the Pallava ruler Rajasingha Pallava, and completed by his son Mahendravarman, during the period 685 to 705 AD. The temple is built mainly with limestone. The walls and the vimana are decorated with sculptures and paintings. There is a cave in this temple, supposedly used as an escape route by the Pallava king.
 Sri Ekambaranathar Temple: Sri Ekambaranathar Temple is one of the oldest temples to be found in Kanchipuram. The temple is built around a mango tree, 3500 years old, which is reported to bear four different types of mango fruit. The Gopuram of the temple is massive, and stands to a height of 57m. The temple has a hall with a 1000 pillars, called 'Ayiram Kaal Mandapam'. The inner wall is decorated with 1008 Shiva Lingas. Due to its age and size, not all parts of the temple are open to visitors.
 Sri Ulagalandha Perumal Temple: The name is to be split up into Ulagai Alandha Perumal, meaning the Lord who measured the world. This temple is dedicated to the avatar of Lord Vishnu as 'Visvarupam'. The main deity, representative of the Avatar, is 35 feet high, and 24 feet wide, with one foot on the earth, and the other in the sky. Attire: Considering that Kanchipuram is a religious town, populated by conservatives, it is advisable to stick to modest, preferably Indian, dress styles.

  Sri Ekambaranathar Temple
The Kailasanathar Temple
Interior of Ekambaranathar Temple
Kamakshi Amman Temple
Kanchipuram Silk Saree - Kanchipuram silk sarees are well known for their durability. These Tamil Nadu weavers claim that they are descendant of sage Markandeya.

The Yelagiri Hills is just 200 Kms away from Chennai. Very close to Vellore, which is located on the NH46, this scenic hill station could offer you a few thrills for a weekend visit. On the Eastern Ghats, among a range of hills, called the 'Javadu' range (Javadu is translated into musk - probably at some point of time, the range was inhabited by civet cats) is Yelagiri, at a height of 3500 ft. The altitude ensures a cool climate that ranges between a minimum of 18 degree centigrade and a max of 32 degree centigrade.
 Places To See: Punganoor Lake and Garden: A perennial lake, offering rides on rowboats and pedal boats. A floricultural garden located beside the lake sports a variety of flora. A walk path between the lake and the garden provides a beautiful view of the lake on one side and the garden on the other.
 Jalagamparai Waterfalls: Flowing from a pond, the water falls for a height of 30 metres. Facility for bathing under the falls is available.
 Other sight seeing spots include: A Murugan Temple, shaped like a Shiva Linga with a view point nearby, a Sericulture Farm, Thayalur Horticultural Farm, a Fishing Pond at Mangalam Village, a Telescope House and Nachiamman Temple The place offers excellent scope for trekking, with established tracks through wooded areas. One of the favoured trekking routes is to the peak of Swami Malai, which is 4338 ft above sea level.

  Yelagiri - The Musk Mountains
Yelagiri - Amidst Fog
Yelagiri - Sunset

 Pondicherry - Go on a spiritual trip down to the Auroville ashram. The drive down the East Coast Road (ECR) is delightful, with lovely beaches all along the way, and on the way you can stop over at...
 Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) There are several things to see on the way and in Mamallapuram 60 km south of Chennai.
 Hill stations of Tamil Nadu, including Ooty and Kodaikanal
 Kanyakumari - Site of the famous Vivekananda memorial.
 Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Beaches, surfing and snorkelling
 Kerala - God's own Country. Paradise on earth

  Kathakali Dance - Kerala
Vivekanandar Rock & Valluvar Statue - Kanyakumari

South India is famous for its temples. Even if you aren't on a pilgrimage, these are worth a visit if you are interested in grand buildings and architecture.
 Tiruvallur - Approximately 45 Kms from Chennai. It is famous for its Vaidhya Veera raghava Swami Temple and Sri Viswaroopa Panchamukha Anjaneya Swami Ashram which has a 40 ft tall Murti of Hanuman.
 Tirupati - Approximately 150 Kms from Chennai, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
 Madurai - Home to the famous Meenakshi temple.  Swamithoppe - Ayya Vaikundar Pathi, religious head quarters of Ayyavazhi.
 Kanchipuram - Kamakshi temple, seat of one of the Shankaracharyas - the closest Hinduism comes to a spiritual head.
 Thanjavur - Brihadeswara temple (Big Temple).
 Tiruvannamalai Arunachala Temple famous for full moon day girivalam and Deepam
  Brahadeeshwara Temple - Thanjavur
Tirupati Temple

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