Like any coastal city, upon arrival, Chennai greets you with its heated glory. Previously known as Madras, Chennai is a melting pot of various cultures which are reminiscent of the past and an embracement of modernism. Though Chennai has had its fair share of tourist sites, for the locals, summertime escape from the metropolitan city offers the much-needed respite.
So here is a list of weekend getaways from Chennai for those willing to go a little light on their pocket this summer.
The French left the country but delivered in the process a quaint little town of Pondicherry. Popularly referred as “Pondy”, it is divided into two parts, one the French quarters, displaying vintage-styled colonial buildings mostly painted in white and mustard and the Tamil quarters, representing an older vibe with customary air of gajras and mogra flowers, elaborate Nagadainspired temples and smaller and more populated roads. Pondicherry is recognised for the existence of the Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s Ashram characterised by the colour grey, in the French quarters. Pondy serves as a great holiday for budget travellers because there is so much to see, at a mere hop skip and a jump away from each other.
There are 42 trains from Chennai to Pondy in a maximum time of 4 hours. But driving down to Pondicherry from Chennai using the scenic ECR (East coast road) although longer, gives you beautiful vistas along the way which are completely worth it.
Pondicherry has a plethora of mid-range hotels and guest houses such as Hotel Green palace, Hotel Citi Business and Hotel AnnamalaiInternational offer good service and facilities on an average rate of Rs.1000-3000 per night.
Yercaud Meaning “Lake Forest” is a popular hill station located in the Eastern Ghats. When one thinks of Yercaud, all that comes to mind are the mountains of verdant green where one can take numerous treks finding hidden natural treasures. Speaking of natural treasures, the Yercaud Lake is another noteworthy tourist destination along with with the Killiyur falls and Lady’s seat which is one of the many viewpoints providing a panoramic view of the surrounding undulating hills. This small town is a major source of Coffee and various fruits, spices and wood.
Yercaud is situated in Salem district. The nearest airports are Salem Airport at a distance of 38 km. The nearest railway station is Salem – 38 km.
Wellington Hill Resort, Sri Durga Residency and Grange resort allow the budget traveller to stay in Yercaud at an average price of Rs.1000-3500 per night. Or you could opt to stay in a camp set up like Truenature Wilderness Stay which falls into a similar price bracket.
Green dew-kissed hills going on all the way till the eyes can see. Coorg serves as one of the most popular hill stations of India and it’s probably because of its tranquil environment, amalgamated with an element of adventure-trekking across the verdant never-ending hills. Thinking about trekking in Coorg? Thadiyandamol, the district’s highest peak with its surrounding vistas is where you must go for sure.
Coorg is an easily accessible location by road from most cities in southern and coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala. Virajpet, approximately 30km from Kakkabe, is a larger town with good bus connectivity. Mangalore and Kozhikode (both around 165km), and Mysore (about 110km), are the nearest airports.
There are many great hotels and guesthouses such as Stay Simple Vista Madikeri, Capitol Village Resort and Yedamakky Cottage give every kind of basic amenity within Rs.1500-2500 per night.
Thekkady located on the Tamil Nadu- Kerala Border, is considered a heaven for coffee and natural spices, also known for its proximity to ChellarKovilhome to a lot of picturesque waterfalls and cascades. Thekkady is more popularly known as the location of Periyar National park. The wildlife Sanctuary was declared a tiger reserve in 1978. The greatest attractions at Periyar are the herds of wild elephants, deer and bison that come down to drink in the Mullaperiyar Lake. The sanctuary can be accessed through a trekking, boating or a jeep safari.
The nearest railway station to Thekkady is located in Kottayam, 114 kilometres away. You can hire a cab from Kottayam to get to Thekkady, or even board a government or private run bus.
Budget travellers good news you can find good facilities and services at Periyar Nest Resort, Seasons Thekkady, Michael’s Inn and Coffee Routes where the average price is approximately Rs.1000-3000 per night.
Rameshwaram considered one of holiest sites of pilgrimage in India is part of the Char Dham yatra(Badrinath, Puri, Dwarka, Rameshwaram). Legend has it, Rameshwaram was the point of conjunction where Lord Ram built a bridge to Sri Lanka to save Sita. In modern times, Rameshwaram is known for the esteemed Ramanathaswamy temple which has the largest temple corridor in India. When driving across the Pamban Bridge to Rameshwaram, one must stop just to enjoy the cool sea breeze, surely the re-energizer you need to return to the city after a much needed holiday.
Rameshwaram is connected with all major cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy and Tirunelveli. City buses are available through the night for those who wish to travel during the night and make the most during the day.
As a frequented tourist spot Rameshwaramoffers massive numbers of hotels geared to give one basic amenities at low rates. Hotel Queen Plaza, Jiwan Residency and Daiwik Hotel operate within Rs.1500-3000 window guaranteeing customer satisfaction.
Another favourite, Udhamangalam or Ooty one of the popular holiday destinations in the country is cradled in the Nilgiri Hills. Ooty renders breathless and spectacular green vistas as far as the eyes can see, while the cool breeze with a whiff of eucalyptus is a refreshing change from the city’s dust and smog. Previously a British town, it still carries constant reminders of the inhabitants of the past. Said to be the Birthplace of Snooker, Ooty offers travellers plenty of recreational activities such as horse-riding, cricket and an array of adventure sports including hang-gliding and trekking. There are many tourist sites to visit be rest assured if you are looking for a peaceful, relaxing holiday, that is what you’ll get in Ooty.
At a distance of 535kilometers from Chennai, Ooty is well connected by road, while the nearest airport Coimbatore is 96 kilometres. However, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) one of the oldest mountain railways in India, operates from Coonoor and travelling in which is an opportunity of a lifetime.
The NaharNilgiris Hotel, United-21 Paradise, Greenyards Cottage and Vinayaga Inn offers exceptional services at a cost ranging between Rs.1000-3000 approximately per night. These hotels also come with the added advantage of stunning views.
The legendary city is a melting pot of various cultures and the city sure looks it. Popularly known for the Chidambaram temple in the heart of the city, it’s a testament to the Chola dynasty. Few of the fifty monasteries that once stood here remain, but the temple itself is a hive of activities and hosts numerous festivals. Chidambaram revolves around the Temple and the busy market area that surrounds it. The town also has a large student population, because of the Annamalai University. Decked with grand temples displaying sculptural and architectural splendour, this town perfectly captures the colours and vibrancy of South India.
Chidambaram is a long drive from Chennai (335km), but the destination and the drive are worth it. Express trains to and from Chennai are available.
Hotel Grand Palace Stay, Rk Residency and Arudhra residency are available at 1000-1500 rupees on an average per night. Booking at the earliest is the best as the place is usually crowded.
Previously a princely state, Mysore embodies the royal and cultural abundance of Karnataka, earning the title of the ‘Cultural Capital of Karnataka’. Mysore is known for its palaces, and the famous Mysore Palace, the residence of the erstwhile emperor of Mysore. Mysore is home to many Mysore paintings an elaborate representation of Thecultured royalty. Those having a sweet tooth its a haven of delight as Mysore has a lot to offer in terms of mithai. The Mysore Pak a famous sweet dish will leave you looking for more with each bit filled with ghee and jaggery. Those travelling on a budget, have a lot to experience in Mysore.
It’s best to take the Shatabdi Express from Chennai to Mysore that gets you there in 7 hours. You could save taking the direct bus that to Mysore from Chennai in 11hrs, saving to spend while shopping in Mysore.
Aishwarya Suites, Sunflower Hotel, Hotel Roopa and Hotel KVC International are available at Rs. 1000-2000 at an average per night ensuring you have a good experience while staying in Mysore.
Munnar means “three rivers” is cradled between rivers, Kundala, Mudrapuzha and Nallathanni, ensuring it is a splendid and refreshing hill station on the Western Ghats. Munnara popular centre of adventure sports like trekking, paragliding, rock-climbing and hang-gliding, offers surprises to one during your nature walks as you may come across some wildlife. Munnar home to various endemic species like the Sambhar Deer, Nilgiri Langur, NilgiriTahr and the Wood-Pigeon, making it a haven for bird-watchers as well. Munnar and its lush environment prove a brilliant weekend destination from Chennai. Even though Munnar is at a slight distance from Chennai but that just ensures more space for you to spread out and relax in the verdant greens of Munnar.
There is no direct train, it’s best to take the Vaigai Express from Chennai to Madurai and then hire a taxi from Madurai to Munnar. However, there is a direct bus between Chennai and Munnar. You can opt for KPN Travels from Chennai to Munnar that gets you there in around 12 hours.
Munnar is a popular tourist destination provides travellers with a large range of hotels and facilities to choose from. For your budget travellers out there, iCloud Resort, Leisure Inn and the Green ridge cover all facilities for Rs. 1000-2000 approximately per night.
Chennai is a gateway to an array of beautiful and breath-taking destinations. So you choose, what’s better, staying in over the weekend, or going on the adventure of a lifetime? And no, a light pocket should never hold you back!