Like many people we also thought the only nearby getaway from Chennai is Mahabs/Pondy. But increasingly this year we have come to discover some new places around Chennai that make for equally good weekend getaways. So here goes, early this year we discovered through word of mouth a resort named 'Sparsa' in Thiruvannamalai- a holy town famous for its Annamalai (Siva) temple. So one innocuous weekend we set out with our friends to explore this resort: http://www.sparsaresorts.com/thiruvannamalai_resort.html
Sparsa is 198 KMS from Chennai, unlike what google maps indicates, the fastest route is to get to Vellore on the Bangalore-Chennai highway and take a detour from there to reach Thiruvannamalai- the journey form Chennai takes about 4 hours. But the roads are good and once you detour from Vellore, the landscape with gentle rolling hills, paddy fields and greenery around is beautiful. You first reach the temple complex, this resort is some 4 KMS from the temple. Pay close attention to the signs enroute, a very small arrow shaped board is all that guides you to the by lane leading to Sparsa. The resort itself is beautiful and cosy, the rooms are just about adequate. They have some unique concepts such as a Tea Kadai (the elaichi tea is awesome), Pookadai (For jasmine lovers), A Bullock Cart Ride and a Spa. The pool is fantastic and on an early morning it feels like you have the resort to yourself! The birds and butterflies in the resort also make whiling away time in this green haven easy! All in all 2 days and 1 night felt like ideal time to have spent there! Finally we had a weekend getaway alternative to the Pondy resorts
You could visit the Nitya Kalyana Swamy Temple on the East Coast Road.This is an ancient temple with a legend attached to it. Its a very peaceful place across the sea coast and worth a visit.
Temple Timing : 6am –12noon and 3pm-8pm
Contact : +(91)-(44)-27472235 or 9443107809
Address : 1/55, U-1 Mada Street Thiruvidanthai PO, Kovalam Via,
Kanchipuram Dist 603112
Location: 40 kms South of Madras along the East Coast Road
Chennai has always had a great local rock music scene thanks to institutes such as IIT that not only attract the intellectuals but also encourage excellence in music and sports. We recently attended the popular JRO (June Rock Out) concert at UNWIND CENTER in Adyar and it was an unforgettable experience. 4 bands performed in a span of 3 hours and made for some thorough enjoyment on 29th July 2011. Unwind center charged Rs150 pp as entry fees. Once in we were treated to a top class rock experience. The first to perform were 'Whitel Lady'- a band from Chennai. I was busy envying the lead singers long tresses! ;-) The second band (Final Surrender) to perform had come in from 'my city'- Bangalore and quite naturally their Christian Metal/Hard Rock style was something that appealed to me a lot! The third band to perform was 'Hourglass Inversion' from Pune- alternative rock was their style and they look a bit rustic on stage! The finale was of course a chennai band- the roar in the center as the crowds cheered for them was awesome!
What was truly amazing about being here was we didn't feel out of pace at all, there were rock lovers from all ages and all walks of life! One family who'd turned up were particularly interesting, their 4 year old son was right upfront- head banging! :D
June ROck Out is probably India's only live performance festival..in the past it has produced some of the best rock bands including Moksha and Thermal n a Quarter! This whole experience at Unwind Center was smoke free and enjoyable- I'd recommend it to anyone who has an ear for rock music! :-)
This was the most exciting and unusal therapeutic massage i had in India and beyond.
The Ayush Therapy Centre in Chennai. For the uninitiated it might take a bit of courage -as you are basically stripped naked and soaked in spiced oil from head to toe. And then the fun starts as 2 expert masseurs rub it in (and off afterwards). A highly recommended experience for every soul ! This massage is setting a new standard for me what a therapeutic treatment can be!
Their advertisement is saying that you might live up to the blessed age of 120 yrs if you come every day - not sure if Chennai makes up for this outlook ;-)
This is a great way to ease the effects of the heat. (Coconut is one of the "cool" foods, meaning it subtracts from your body temperature.) Every other corner and long-ish straight-away has someone selling fresh coconuts - take advantage! First they'll cut the end off (with a scary machete) so you can drink the fresh milk (through a straw, on request), then they scrape the flesh out for you to eat.
If you can get tickets to the opening show of a movie starring a popular current actor, don't miss it. Just go to watch the crowd - poojas to the screen, shouts, tears, it's brilliant. Get a box seat if you're at all timid in crowds.
The movies are supposed to follow a standard pattern of boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-gets-girl. There has to be a wedding, a major singing and dancing sequence, a death/illness/suicide attempt, some fighting, and a few other elements I can't recall at the moment. They are real eye-candy, surreal, and probably more fun if you don't understand the language but have a good imagination.
Movie theaters are everywhere, identifiable by the throngs of people outside otherwise large, nondescript buildings with billboards of the heroes plastered around the entrances.
The juice you find being squeezed everywhere is brilliant, although most people are advised against buying it, which is too bad. The main issues are the water and the cleanliness of the glasses, which are used by all comers*. But vendors are fine with making juice using bottled water if you ask (bring it or buy it there), and sports-type bottles are for sale everywhere.
"Sweet lime" is delicious.
*If you watch, though, you'll notice that no one's lips touch the glass. I end up with a face-full of liquid when I try to do it.
It is the harvest festival of thanks giving to Sun, Earth and the Cow. The festival is celebrated in the month of January for three days. Sugarcane, turmeric, sheaves of paddy, newly prepared jaggery, vegetables and pulses are offered to the Sun god. The earth and the cow are also worshiped and offerings were made. The festival ends with 'Kanum Pongal' on the third day when children enjoy watching the celebrations.
On one side of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial is a bas relief wall with scenes of Indian commerce, industry, and life. While it doesn't rival Arjuna's Penance in nearby Mamallapuram -- and won't last nearly so long -- it is an attractive piece and a fitting tribute to the man who sparked India's economic renaissance.
Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira and grandson of Jawaharal Nehru, was out of power but headed for a comeback when he was assassinated.
Here, in Sriperumbudur, at the very spot where a fanatic blew herself and Rajiv up, the Indian government has erected an impressive memorial to the martyred leader. (His Italian-born widow, Sonia, is now head of the ruling Congress Party.)
Sriperumbudur is on the main highway between Chennai and Kanchipuram and about half-way between those two cities.
This place is about half an hour or more from the centre by auto, here you'll find a deserted stretch of beach, temples and wait....a domino's pizza place.The thing is the area seems to be of a bygone era(despite domino's) everything seems slower paced..I ear it comes alive at night, though I ve only been in the day.
Also stop at the Theosopical Society, and wander its beautiful gardens, and see the oldest (or was it largest) banyan tree..
The shore temples at Mahabalipuram, a coastal village 50 km south of Madras, were built in the 7th century, during the reign of Rajasimha, and they depict the final flowering of Pallava art. These temples are refreshingly uncluttered, unlike later grandiose Dravidian architecture and they tower over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. The temple with its beautiful polygonal dome enshrines Lord Vishnu and Shiva. These beautiful temples, ravaged by wind and sea, were listed among the World Heritage sites, a few years ago and they are probably the most photographed monuments in India.
visit kancheepuram. avoid the silk shops. the same stuff is available in chennai itself. visit the old temples. be warned, they close at 12:00 in the afternoon. there are 4 prominent temples in this small city. each has its own charming history and architecture. the journey from chennai to kancheepuram is around 2 hours by private taxi. the charge for an AC car for a day with chauffer is around 50$. a great bargain.
Well worth visiting , the Government Museum is on Pantheon Road between Egmore and Anna Salai. The building originally belonged to a group of eminent British citizens, known as the Pantheon Committee, who were responsible for improving the social life of the British in Madras. The Main Building has a fine archaeological section representing all the major South Indian periods including Chola, Vijayanagar, Hoysala and Chalukya. It also houses a good ethnology collection. The bronze gallery has a superb collection of Chola art. One of the most impressive is the bronze of Ardhanariswara, the androgynous incarnation of Shiva. The museum complex is open 9.30 am to 5 pm; closed Friday and public holidays
The SPENCER PLAZA
This is one of Chennai's finest & largest shopping mall and covers over a million square feet.
In this complex, leading names like food world, music world, health & glow, vummidiars, van heusen, proline, arrow, american express, allen solly besides a lot of retailers dealing with jewellery, domestic appliances, leather goods and handicrafts are housed. Other comforts like central air-conditioning, smooth-moving escalators to the first and second floors, glass capsule lifts to all the seven floors, well-lit atriums, info-desks are available. The shopping area spreads across ground, first and second floors. Office units are spread between fourth and seventh floors. An exclusive car park is located partially in the second floor, and fully in the third