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India Travel

Top Things To Do In Chennai

  • June 23, 2020
Top Things to do in Chennai

Located on the Coast of the Bay Of Bengal in Northern Tamil Nadu is the magnificent city of Chennai. A city with deep roots in its traditional South Indian culture and yet, one of the modern Metropolitan cities in India; Chennai is also rich in its diversity hosting people from all over Tamil Nadu and the other Indian States, being a Business hub, a health care capital and a Tourist spot, all in one. Referred to as ‘Singara Chennai’ with love by the natives, which typically means ‘Beautiful Chennai’ the Capital city lives up to the praise with its stunning beaches, monuments and other scenic spots. Keep reading to know about some of the most sought-after places and Top Things To Do In Chennai!

1. Marina Beach 

That’s right. The Marina, known for being the longest beach in India and the second-longest of its kind in the world stretching around 13 km, is the most visited beach in Chennai. The sandy beach is majestic with its classic charm and strong waves gushing to the shores with the calming sounds of the sea. The beach is almost always crowded and alive with fun shore side happenings. The Marina has ongoing activities all through the day like horse riding, balloon popping stalls, Hoopla Ring Games, Mini Giant Wheels and other joy rides.

For your tummy–  Hot Sundal (boiled Channa) with raw mango masala is a favourite staple snack at Marina and also, any other beach in Tamil Nadu for that matter. While there are not many full-fledged restaurants, the beach is filled with small eateries and stalls selling snacks and speciality foods. Don’t miss the Vaazhakai (plantain) and Milaga (chilli) Bajjis with Coconut Chutney from one of these stalls. They are mouth-watering and delicious and perfect for the evenings.

Areas of Interest nearby–

While at Marina, the 150 ft Chennai Light House and Memorials of past Tamil Nadu Leaders are some other architectural structures that can make for an exciting visit. Your fresh seafood dreams will be sorted at the Marina Fish Market, where all types of freshly caught fish will be laid out in an orderly pattern for you to pick your choice at decent rates!

Some of the most visited Religious Sites nearby include The Santhome Church, Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Temple, Kapaleeshwarar Temple and The Thousand Lights Mosque.

2. Besant Nagar Beach

Also known as Elliot’s beach and fondly referred to as ‘Bessie’, this beach is arguably Chennai’s cult-favourite owing to it being not-so-crowded and its clean and enigmatic shorelines. Offering a fantastic view of the sea, a leg dip in the calming waves is simply irresistible! Just like Marina Beach, this beach also has several activities all through the day and is a hangout for youngsters and elders alike.

For your tummy– Apart from the unending street food stalls on the beach which are usually buzzing with happy foodies, this beach has plenty of restaurants and cafes right at the opposite; to match and satiate your food cravings ranging from Pizzas and Burgers to authentic traditional Indian and foreign cuisines. You name it; they have it.

Areas of Interest nearby– 

The Karl Schmidt Memorial is a riveting structure found on the beach, which was built to commemorate an act of gallantry from a Danish sailor who according to legend, died saving a drowning person.

The Broken Bridge is an intriguing ruin. The now quiet and deserted bridge was then built in 1977 and lasted for a decade, after which it is said to have collapsed during a flood. ‘The bridge that leads to nowhere’ as it is called is a sought after spot for cinema shoots, having been featured in quite a few movies of Kollywood.

 The Asthtalakshmi Temple and The Annai Velankanni Shrine near the beach are other exciting places to visit while at the beach.

3. VGP Universal Kingdom

Located on the East Coast Road, VGP is a magnificent theme park offering the entire package of fun and frolic. This is the go-to destination for a happy day out with family or friends, and be sure to be pleased with the plethora of enjoyable water and dry rides that this Theme park has to offer. The Petting zoo, Paneer Fort and the Live shows of Dancers, musicians and magicians will be definitely a hit among the kids.

And let’s not forget the Marine Kingdom with the vast variety of sea creatures, the Snow Kingdom that takes you away from the sweltering Chennai heat to a dreamy land of Snow and Ice and their Private Beach to cool off after the energetic day.

For your tummy– VGP has restaurants and fast food joints within their premises, offering plenty of variety including vegan options to satisfy your taste buds. If you are a Dosa lover, be sure to try their Signature Family Dosa – an 8 feet Dosa, the kind which apparently originated at VGP.

Bonus Tip– This place has separate entry fee for the Universal, Marine and Snow areas which may be considered steep by some. But, hey… Remarkable experiences like these don’t come cheap, yeah?

Areas of Interest nearby–

Be sure to check out the Click Art Museum, a 3D interactive “Trick Art” museum filled with optical illusions and 3D arts. Being the first of its kind in India, the museum was conceptualized and created by renowned Artist Ap. Shreethar who was inspired by similar art museums in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Also located on ECR is the ISKCON Temple, a religious place known for its calming atmosphere and its interiors made up of spiritual carvings.

4. Semmozhi Poonga

The first Botanical Garden in Chennai, Semmozhi Poonga is a treat for the eyes spreading with lush greenery as far as the eye can see. It is a vast expanse of trees and botanical plants stretching to about 20 acres and is said to be home to more than 500 species of plants, trees and herbs. Located at the heart of the city in Teynampet, this Garden has been well maintained since its inception and is an excellent spot to hangout and click some selfies!

For your tummy– The park does have a basic eatery inside it, but there are plenty of fantastic restaurant brands and Cafes around this place so you can be sure that you won’t be going hungry on your visit to this charming Garden!

Bonus Tip– The entry fee is Rs. 15 per head only! That’s just another reason for this being a must-visit spot in Chennai.

Areas of Interest nearby– 

A little distance away from this Garden, we have Chennai’s iconic Gemini flyover, one of the top-rated flyovers in India.

Also nearby, is the monumental Valluvar Kottam, a structure that was built in the 1970s dedicated to the celebrated Tamil Poet and Philosopher, Thiruvalluvar.

5. Muttukadu Boat House

Enjoy a ride along ECR and arrive at the Muttukadu Backwaters to this water sporting facility that offers rowing, windsurfing, water skiing, and speedboat riding. To those who are hesitant to try these rides, they do provide you with a lifejacket for safety! Enjoy boating with friends and family under the ECR bridge on the beautiful lake, and this will definitely make for an experience to be cherished.

For your tummy– The Boathouse hosts a multi-cuisine restaurant called ‘Surf’ for the hungry boaters. Around this place are many other top-rated restaurants like Upper Deck, Bay View and Foodaholic that are sure to fill us all with the good stuff! There is also a Floating Restaurant coming up in this boathouse that will be an added attraction and the first of its kind in the State.

Areas of Interest nearby– 

The Kovalam beach, aka ‘Covelong’ as referred to by the British, is fairly close to Muttukaadu and will make for a pleasant and relaxing visit. The water is quite gentle here, and you can even go fishing with the locals if you’re up for it!

Also nearby is Kovalam Darga, a famous pilgrim destination that sees thousands of visitors every day from all over the country.

Head to The Crocodile Bank to explore different types of reptiles including crocodiles, snakes, lizards, frogs and turtles.

6. Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is one of the oldest cities in India, a little away from Chennai known for its carvings and monuments built by the Pallava Dynasty in the 7th and 8th Century. Owing to its cultural and historical significance, it has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, thus making it a must-visit place for all. Some of the awe-inspiring ancient structures include the Pancha Rathas, The Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance and the Cave Temples.

For your tummy– Apart from the amazing street food available here, there are also multiple notable restaurants here like The Golden PalateL’attitude 49, Blue Elephant etc. that offer varying cuisines for every mood and whim.

Areas of Interest nearby– 

The Tiger Cave, located on the way to Mahabalipuram from Chennai, is considered to be another creation of the Pallava Dynasty from the 8th Century. The mouth of the cave is carved with Tiger heads thus, explaining its title.

The Seashell Museum nearby is the largest museum of its kind in Asia having a collection of more than 40,000 seashells and fossils.

7. DakshinaChitra

DakshinaChitra is a cross-cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. It was inaugurated in 1996 and exhibited the architecture, art, folk performing-arts and craft of South Indian traditions. They also have a lot of fun activities such as pottery, henna designs, puppet making tutorials, fabric stamping etc.

For your tummy– A Vegetarian Restaurant serving simple and tasty South Indian Cuisine is present within the premises of the DakshinaChitra. Other yummy options nearby include Sangeeta veg restaurant, Sea Crest Restaurant & Bar, KoKoMMo Tiki Shack etc.

Areas of Interest nearby– 

 MGM Dizzee world theme park, one of the best in Chennai offers plenty of rides for the adventure-loving and promises fun-filled time to all who visit. Don’t miss the Big Wheel, Bumper cars and roller coaster among other super-fun rides that would be sure to give you an adrenaline rush!

Mayajaal is a massive Entertainment Centre comprising of Multiple Branded Stores, Restaurants, Bowling Alley, Gaming Arcade, Spas and Food Court all under one roof. It is also India’s largest Multiplex with 16 Screens that play close to 80 shows per day on the weekends.

8. Various Malls all over the City!

Being a metro city, it is no doubt there are multiple Malls and Shopping Centres all over Chennai to satisfy your wildest shopping dreams.

Most popular malls include Express Avenue at Royapettah, VR Chennai at Anna Nagar West, Forum Vijaya Mall at Vadapalani, Phoenix Marketcity at Indira Gandhi Nagar and Ampa Skywalk at Aminjikarai, among others.

Any Brand you want, you name it; they’ve got it!

Each Mall has its own Food Court hosting a variety of Fast Food Joints and Restaurants that serve food that is to-die-for. And honestly, with Shopping and Eating sorted, what else do you really need?!

9. Vandalur Zoo

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, more commonly known as Vandalur Zoo, is an icon and pride of Tamil Nadu. Home to over 160 animal species and more than 2000 animals, this zoological park has attained excellence in the breeding of Endangered species. It is also involved in creating awareness about conserving Natural resources. The zoo is open on all days of the week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Tuesdays which is usually reserved for maintenance.

Along with the variety of Endangered Species, other unique features of this zoo include the Butterfly House, Amphibian house, a walk-through aviary and an insect museum, among many others.

For your tummy– The zoo does have a canteen inside it, and outside food is strictly prohibited. A little away from the zoo, there are many good restaurants to choose from like Sangeetha VegFaruuzi Multicuisine Restaurant, Domino’s etc.

10. Shopping Sprees at T. Nagar and Pondy Bazaar

The Street Shopping destinations in Chennai! Hand Bags, Sandals, Kurtas, T-shirts, Leggings, Fancy accessories, Mobile accessories, perfumes, sarees and what not. You name it! This place sells all these and more at affordable rates. Pro tip – Are you good at bargaining? Well, aren’t you lucky?! Bargain your way into buying all that you need, and you’ll be sorted for a few months. The best way to get around these markets is to walk as the stores are packed close to one another. So take a stroll and experience the heart of Chennai in these busy markets.

For your tummy– From humble street food to classy brands, this place has you covered. So shop all day and eat all through the way and most importantly, have fun!

The best time of the year to visit Chennai would be from November to February as these are the winter months. Do let me know what you think about my top things to do in Chennai and if you have any suggestions, feel free to list that down in the comments section.

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Top Things to do in Chennai

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