Flamingos come to Pulicat Lake between October and March – there is a flamingo festival here each year in December-January. (Photo: Deepak Sundar via Unsplash)
There are times when we get a day or two off, and just want to get out of the city – to do something different and offbeat, rather than just head to a resort or the beach to spend some time with the kids. Well, there are numerous quick getaways from Chennai that one can head to for a day trip and engage in activities that are not run-of-the-mill.
Located about 54 kms away from Chennai is Pulicat Lake, the second largest saltwater lake in the country. You can reach it in about one-and-a-half hours by car. This is one of the most beautiful spots in Tamil Nadu for birdwatchers, and those who want to see migratory birds – especially flamingos, which come here between October and March. In fact, there is a flamingo festival here each year in December – January.
After spending time at the lake looking at storks, kingfishers and other bird species, you can explore the seaside town which has been influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and Arabs. There’s a Dutch fort and cemetery in this town that is a history buff’s delight, and for those who love clicking photos, this place presents picture perfect locales.
Sriharikota island which is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre which is the launch base for many of ISRO’s rockets lies between Pulicat Lake and the Bay of Bengal. An awesome selfie moment here for kids!
Considered one of the major bird sanctuaries in India, Vedanthangal (meaning hunter’s hamlet) is around 86 kms from Chennai and is an ornithologist’s delight.
The best time to visit the sanctuary is during the winter months when migratory birds fly down to nest and breed, but there are many resident birds throughout the year.
Egrets, grey herons, open-billed storks, spoonbills, cormorants, sandpipers, pintails, pelicans, stilts, shovelers, coots, moorhens and more can be spotted here.
If you love nature and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, then you can spend hours here just soaking in the peace and quiet with the birds.
The wetland ecosystem located in Kanchipuram district has been a local favourite for decades, and given that it’s one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in India, weekends are when the crowds are brimming here.
Are you one of those who love history and want to explore India’s rich heritage? Well, then Chandragiri is the perfect place for you. This town is about 145 kms outside Chennai, in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and is home to the Chandragiri Fort and numerous palaces.
The fort was built in the 11th century by the Yadava Rayas who ruled here for over three centuries. Then it was passed on to the Vijayanagara rulers and came to be under the Mysore kings eventually before it was abandoned in the 18th century.
There are several ancient temples and a museum that you can explore here along with the Rajamahal and Ranimahal. Along the way to Chandragiri, you can enjoy the beautiful Kailasakona Falls and even take a dip on hot summer days. There’s an enchanting Lord Shiva temple nearby if you want to go for darshan. A very wholesome trip indeed.
Everyone who lives in Chennai knows about the famous Covelong Surfing Festival – an annual surfing, yoga and music festival that has a wide range of other activities as well.
But did you know that you can go and surf at Covelong Point (40 kms from Chennai on the East Coast Road) throughout the year? So if you like adventure and want to try a new sport, then head out here for the day.
You don’t need to know surfing either, because Surf Turf here has a beginner’s course that lasts a few hours and if you get hooked on to the sport, then you can make a weekly trip and turn pro!
And it’s not just surfing that’s on offer here but even kayaking, catamarans rides and fishing. Isn’t life a beautiful adventure?
Surf Turf also offers the option of stay and has some beautiful rooms and suites and the seafood at the restaurant is a must-try.
Today, trekking is not just a sport but it has become a way of life for many. And when you get a day off, you want to get out of the confines of your home and spend time walking around in nature discovering new places.
Located about 92 kms from Chennai is Ubalamadugu Falls or Tada falls, which is a trekker’s paradise. Inside the dense Siddulaiah Kona forest in the Kambakam hills, we find Ubalamadugu falls amidst a verdant and rocky terrain. As you make way to the walls, you’ll discover a quaint Lord Shiva temple in the forest.
The fort leg of the trek is easy for beginner’s but the second leg gets tough as the path gets very rocky. This is ideally a day trip and would be best to go with a trekking guide who is familiar with the terrain. Avoid taking kids and the elderly on this adventure – it’s best suited for the young and the restless.