Chennai- the capital city of Tamil Nadu situated on the coast of Bay of Bengal is one of the most renowned centres of the economy, culture and education in the country, giving it the tags of ‘Detroit of India’ and ‘Gateway of South’. The lively city is a popular destination owing to the rich diversity of heritage monuments, pristine beaches, places of worship and picnic spots.
While the beaches located within the city, Elliot’s beach and Marina beach are very picturesque and lively; they are thronged by tourists in large numbers. For the traveller who wishes to bask in the sun on a sandy beach without the hustle and bustle of excited tourists, there are some serene beaches located in the near vicinity of Chennai which offer tranquillity and peace away from the din of crowds.
Also known as Kovalam, this fishing village is situated 40 kilometers from Chennai. This serene coastal hamlet is flanked by historical monuments including a Dutch Fort, churches and mosques. Kovalam beach is the most exquisite and virgin beach in Tamil Nadu. The waters are crystal clear and tourists, though present, are not in large numbers. A page from history books tells us that this was a favourite port of the Carnatic Nawabs and the ruins of the fort do, in fact, transport you to the bygone era. You can lie back and enjoy watching the fishermen go out on their daily saunter with their nets and poles.
To add to the feathers in its cap, it is also one of the rare beaches in the East Coast famous for wind surfing.
Mahabalipram is situated at a distance of 57 kilometers from Chennai. The coastal town has a rich history dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries. The beach is pristine and is an ideal spot for lazing around and sunbathing or even meditating. This coastal beauty is not only famous for its salty air and sandy beaches but is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. It is well known for being the seat of the famous Mahabalipuram temple and the incredible Krishna’s Butter Ball- a colossal boulder that seems precariously perched atop a sloping rock structure but does not budge.
The fortress town of Sadras lies at a distance of 70 kilometers towards the south of Chennai. A part of the Kanchipuram district, the name of the town is an anglicised version of the ancient one, Saduranga pattinam. The tranquil beach abounds with coconut trees and the coastline is studded with fishermen boats. Sadras Fort, a Dutch fort, the ruins of which are a history buff’s delight, is now being maintained by ASI (Archaeological Survey Of India) to prevent further dilapidation. It lends an Old World charm to the place. The picturesque beach, the enigmatic fort, and the revered Sri Malaimandala Perumal temple come together as a great holiday package with something for everyone.
The choicest destination in South India for a peaceful getaway is Pondicherry. Now better known as Puducherry, the Union Territory lies at a distance of 170 kilometers from Chennai along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The sleepy, picturesque town is possibly the only place to have attracted the attention of the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese and the British. A large influence of French colonial architecture can be seen in mustard coloured villas and chic boutiques that abound the town. The quaint town is also famous for its serene beaches that revel in the beauty of nature. Travellers who seek a quiet vacation with the sun and sand simply love Pondicherry.
Karaikal sandy beach
Further away lays Karaikal, a port town under the Union territory of Pondicherry. The sandy beach lies along the Arasalar River and is an aesthetic delight. The beach offers an equal chance of boating in the backwaters or laid back relaxation on the sand. It is very famous for the breathtaking views of sunrise and sunset at the horizon.
Karaikal is also noted for Karaikal Ammayiar temple and Tantondreeswara temple. Like Pondicherry, Karaikal also retains the flavour of French heritage which seamlessly blends into Indian culture.
These beaches are great getaways from Chennai for the residents of Chennai and for travellers from afar, they are on the must-visit list of a trip to Chennai. if you are not the biggest fan of the beaches, visit the hill stations near Chennai and enjoy the pleasant weather that the destinations have to offer.