Excursions from Madras
Mamallapuram (58 km)
Also known as Mahabalipuram, this ancient sea port was built by Emperor Mahendravarman Pallava in the 7th century. From here ships left for countries in south-east Asia and the Mediterranian carrying not only traders but people who emigrated to countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Combodia. Over the passage of time Mamallapuram ceased to function as a port but its glory lived on in its finished and unfinished temples and monuments. Time and natural forces have wrought changes onthe solid rock surface of these monuments but each sculpture and image still succeeds in conveying a message of beauty and harmony. Mamallapuram bears testimony and pays tribute to its Pallava artists and to the culture of South India. Among the places of interest are Arjuna's Penance, Krishna Mandapa, Mahishasuramardini Cave, Mandapams, Pancha Rathas, Shore Temple and Varaha Mandapa.
Pulicat (54 km)
This is the site of an old Dutch settlement dating back to 1609. Today, Pulicat is a picnic spot famed for its lake. There are amenities of sort for swimming, fishing, and windsurfing. History-buffs can wander around the ancient Dutch cemetery with its well-preserved tombstones.
Cholamandalam Artists' Village (28 km)
Contemporary art, sculpture, batik and craft flourish in this little palm-studded sea-rimmed artists' commune that was 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.
Kovalam (43 km)
A picturesque fishing village en route to Mamallapuram. It has an idyllic, golden beach and a charming luxury hotel beach resort that's been ingeniously integrated with the remains of a fort. The resort offers delicious sea food and facilities' for such watersport as swimming and windsurfing. The ruins of the old fort, an ancient Catholic church and a mosque make interesting viewing.
V.G.P. Golden Beach Resort (30 km)
This is a cleverly planned beach resort geared to entertain the visitor with sculptured vignettes from the past, folk dances and ethnic sea food cuisine. Its unique stretch of spotlessly clean golden sand is a warm invitation to sun-bathers and the surf beckons the seabather. The V.G.P. Art Centre, a part of the resort complex, sells merchandise ranging, from sea shells to rural handicrafts. Pretty tacky and tastelessly done!
MGM Dizee World (20 km)
An amusement park complete with Roller Coasters and Water Slides and Giant Catherine Wheels - fun place for kids.
Dakshina Chitra (immediately next to Dizee World)
A reasonably new place presented by the Madras Crafts Foundation as a show piece of different living styles in the South. Contains recreations of Brahmin, Chettinad, a 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.
Crocodile Bank (31 km)
Several species of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators bred in captivity are kept here in open pools. Visitors can view the reptiles from close but safe proximity. There is also a small snake farm here that conducts demonstrations of venom extraction.
Kancheepuram (75 km)
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 they left behind 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. The best way to see the temples is to hire a bicycle or a cycle-rickshaw driver for the day and have plenty of baksheesh ready for the temple guides, shoe-minders and riff-raff who will relish your arrival.
Courtesy: Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation.
This site will continue to be under construction!