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 Tourist Spots around Chennai, India

While you are holidaying in Chennai, make sure to take some time off and visit the places around. There are ancient temple towns like Mahabalipuram and Tirupati (in Andhra Pradesh), traditional townships and villages that specialise in crafts like Kanchipuram, and golden beaches like Covelong.You will also find beach resorts and amusement parks dotting the coastline beginning from Chennai.

Mahabalipuram (58 kms.): 
Just out of Chennai, roughly 55 km away, is the world-famous town of Mahabalipuram. The Pallava dynasty of Southern India, one of the major lines of kings to rule in India after the Gupta period, made this lovely seaside village their second capital. The place blossomed under the creative forces of that time between the fifth and eighth centuries. Today, the shore temple, the largest bas-relief in the world called Arjuna's Penance and the famous and beautiful mandapams has made this town world famous. Almost 5km north of Mamallapuram in the village of Salavankuppam, the tiger cave is a rock cut shrine dating from 7th century. Dedicated to Durga, it has a small mandapam featuring a crown of carved yali heads. Another 14 km from here lies Tirukkalikundram a pilgrim centre with a hilltop temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Covelong (48kms):
Replete with historical monuments such as forts, churches, mosques, and a lovely beach, Covelong is a place where you can experience the history of Tamil Nadu as a whole. If you are in Chennai, do not miss a visit to this place. The remains of the Fort have now been converted into a luxury beach resort that offers facilities for windsurfing and swimming.

Mahabalipuram,Tours to ChennaiKanchipuram (75 kms.):
Along with Chennai and Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram forms the famous Golden Triangle of the Coromandel Coast. Almost all tourists visit Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram finds place on the global map because of the wonderful craftsmanship of the Kanchi weavers, the makers of what is perhaps the finest silk fabric in the world. This spectacular temple city is one of the seven sacred cities of India. It was, successively, capital of the kingdoms of the Pallavas, Cholas and rajas of Vijayanagar. The temples and gopurams are exquisite reminders of the beauty of Dravidian architecture, from the freshness and simplicity of the Pallavas' 7th-century Kailasanatha Temple through to the Vijayanagar Empire's 16th-century Ekambareshwara Temple. The latter covers nine hectares, has a 59-metre-high gopuram, a 1000-pillared hall and a sacred mango tree said to be 3500 years old. Kanchipuram is also famous for its hand-woven silk fabrics.

Tirupati (152km):
Situated in the Chittoor district in southern Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is the abode of the legendary Lord of the Seven Hills. Tirupati is one of the most famous shrines in the country where worship of the Lord has been carried out for over thirteen centuries. Even today, Tirupati draws enormous crowds throughout the year. The main attractions are the Pratima Mandapam, with the statue of Sri Krishnadevaraya; Tulabharam, the scales upon which materials for offerings are weighed; the Tirumalanayaka Mandapam, replete with beautiful carvings; and Dhwajastambham, and others. Tirupati is situated at a distance of around 152 km from Chennai and well connected.
Muttukadu (16 kms):
Tirupati,Tours to ChennaiThe backwaters of Muttukadu have been developed by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation to serve as a scenic picnic spot and a water sports centre. In February every year, a windsurfing regatta is organised in Muttukadu.Competitions in windsurfing and other water sports are held. Training and demonstration programmes are organized for youth.

Crocodile Bank (44 kms.):
Not far from Mamallapuram, Romulus Whittaker runs this crocodile breeding and research centre. Here several species of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators are bred in captivity. The reptiles are kept in their natural habitat in open pools and can be viewed from safe proximity. This farm breeds crocodile to augment the crocodile population of the wildlife sanctuaries.

Vedanthangal (85 kms.):
Vedanthangal is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in India. It is a marshy, 30 hectare park with lake visited by over 1,00,000 migratory birds every year. The majority of these birds can be seen between November and February. The 4variety of birds include Herons, Darters, Spoonbills, Pelicans, Sandpipers, White Ibis and Cormorants, Blue winged teals and Swans.

V.G.P Golden Beach Resort,Tours to ChennaiV.G.P Golden Beach Resort (30km): 
This beach resort is popular not just with the people of the city, but also with tourists. There is an entertainment arcade for children and for adults. There are folk dance performances apart from an Art Center that sells handicrafts and articles made out of seashells. The beach is clean and ideal for sunbathing. This is a cleverly planned beach resort geared to entertain the visitor with sculptured vignettes from the past, folk dances and ethnic seafood cuisine. The V.G.P. Art Center, a part of the resort complex, sells merchandise ranging, from seashells to rural handicrafts.

Spread over an area of 1,265 acres, the Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur is the largest in South Asia with a rich variety of different species of mammals, reptiles and birds. The animals roam in natural surroundings with a special enclosure for nocturnal creatures. The coast road from Chennai to Mamallapuram is dotted with beach resorts, recreational areas and artist's communities.

Cholamandal Artist's Village:
Located 18 km south of Chennai. Contemporary art, sculpture, batik and craft flourish in this little palm-studded sea-rimmed artists' commune started in 1966. Artists and sculptors live and work here and also exhibit and sell their work. Its open-air auditorium is also the venue of avant-garde theatre, poetry-reading and dance recitals. It has a gallery with fine contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Located 12 km south of Cholamandal, a reasonably new place presented by the Chennai Crafts Foundation as a showpiece of different living styles in the South. You can admire traditional arts from Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and AndhraPradesh. Contains recreations of Brahmin, Chettinad, potters, a basket weaver's, a silk weaver's houses along with live representations of their craft. Similarly the Kerala section has a Syrian Christian house, a Menon house etc. Very authentic since the dwellings were actually bought from their places of origin and replanted here. There is an accompanying audio-visual presentation and a little gift shop. Very well done and definitely worth a visit.

Pulicat (54 km):
Site of an Old Dutch settlement dating back to 1609, today, Pulicat is a picnic spot famed for its lake. There are amenities for swimming, fishing, and windsurfing. History-buffs can wander around the ancient Dutch cemetery with its well-preserved tombstones.

MGM Dizee World (20 km):
An amusement park complete with Roller Coasters and Water Slides and Giant Catherine Wheels - fun place for kids.

One of the oldest towns in South India is the abode of goddess Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Sundereswarar (Shiva). Legend has it, that when a Pandya king founded the town of Madurai some thousands of years ago, Lord Shiva was present. Moreover, the nectar falling off his hair gave the town its name of Madurai or city of nectar

MGM Dizee World,Tours to ChennaiTiruchirapalli:
The famous Rock Fort is precariously perched atop a massive outcrop of rock that rises abruptly out of the flat surrounding plain. Set in the middle of the town on the bank of the river Cauvery, it is visible for miles around and it. A citadel of the Chola kings in the Sangam period (2 BC to 2 AD) the Rock Fort has had a long and chequered history.

Just 58 km away lays Thanjavur, once the capital of the Chola Empire referred to as the "Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu". Nearly a thousand years ago around the 11th century, Thanjavur was the capital of a powerful dynasty, the imperial Cholas whose empire extended beyond South India and Sri Lanka to the kingdoms of South-East Asia.The Chola kings used their wealth to encourage arts and craft and built innumerable temples and shrines to ornament their land.

Palani, a pilgrim spot atop a hill dedicated to Lord Subramanium, is easily accessible.

Pondicherry (157km):
Lying 162 km south of Chennai, this town has an imminent French influence. It is here the famous philosopher Sri Aurobindo once lived. For sight seeing, interesting places include churches, museum, beach, the Aurobindo ashram, and Auroville.

Close by lies Chidambaram, an ancient Chola temple with a gilded roof, tall gopurams and a thousand pillared halls. This is the most venerated shrine of Lord Shiva represented here as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer.

Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary lies close by.

The mangrove forests of Pichavaram, an ideal spot for boating, fishing and water sports is also nearby.

Rameswaram lies 176 km from Madurai. This conch shaped island in the Gulf of Mannar is a holy spot for Hindus. The magnificent Ramanathaswamy temple is well known for its longest corridors in the country, extending over a length of 1220 m long with its marvelous carved pillars. Those who visit here bathe in the sacred waters of Agaitheertam, a stretch of Clam Sea near the temple.

Kanyakumari,Tours to ChennaiKanyakumari:
Proceed to Kanyakumari, the land's end of India to view the spectacular sunrise and sunset at the beach. The temple, Vivekananda Rock and Gandhi Mandap are among the places of interest.

Vellore (145km):
Famous for Fort and Vijaynagar temple. It is also world renowned for CMC hospital-a leader in research and health care recognised as one of the finest hospitals in South India.Vellore Fort was built in 16th century but occupied by British in 1760.The small government museum inside the fort complex contains sculptures dating back to Pallava and Chola times. The Jalakanteshwara Temple is a gem of Vijaynagar architecture built about 1566.Within the temple; the pillared mandapam is famous for yali and other mythical creatures. Large statues of Ganesh grace the entrance and mandapam.

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