Things to do in Chennai

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When I say we are visiting Chennai, my friends automatically think temples, katcheris, and Mahabalipuram. But there’s a lot more to Chennai than that, and this December, keeping in mind the tastes of our kids – we explored a few of them.

Crocodile Park and Muthukadu Boating

The Madras Crocodile Bank is one of our favorite places to visit, and it’s something we do time and again.

Located on the scenic East Coast Road heading south of Chennai, it’s a great place to see a huge number of crocodiles, snakes, and other reptiles at dirt cheap prices.

If you get lucky, you can also see the crocodile feeding, an experience not to miss. I’ve only seen this happen once, and it was a treat to see these normally slow-moving animals jump high in the air to catch the meat being lowered down to them.

So, we didn’t get to see the croc feeding this time either, but we did get to see the normally reclusive star of the place – Jaws the 17 foot long salt water crocodile.

Piglet loved the so-called green iguana, that had turned itself into an interesting shade of orange.

The green iguana that turned orange

The green iguana that turned orange

He also loved this cutie tiny tortoise munching on greens, and desperately wanted to bring the little fella home. Truth be told, so did I 🙂 .

The cutie tortoise Piglet wanted to bring home

The cutie tortoise Piglet wanted to bring home

Club a visit to the Crocodile Bank with a go at boating at the nearby Muthukadu boating. Here you can find options to rent a variety of boats – motorboats, paddle, and row boats.

We opted for the motorboats, and enjoyed a cool and pleasant ride across the brackish backwaters.

Head out to a beach resort

There are tons of resorts scattered all through the East Coast Road with varying amenities and price points. The most luxe is the Taj Vivanta, which is awesome, but also hugely expensive. At the other end of the scale are the Golden Sun, Silver Sands, and sundry other beach resorts.

The one that is our all-time favorite though is the Radisson Blu Temple Bay Mamallapuram beach resort. It’s not cheap no, but the food is good and the pool is excellent. We go there often on day trips, and every time I kick myself for not investigating the stay options further.

Located right at the entrance to Mamallapuram, this resort allows you to combine a restful beach holiday along with a cultural trip investigating Mamallapuram’s historical monoliths, and temples.

Highly recommend a leisurely visit to this place, and here are the photos to prove what an incredibly relaxing place it can be.

We had told the staff that we were celebrating Piglet’s birthday, and they very kindly arranged a birthday cake for him to cut.

Happy birthday Piglet

Happy birthday Piglet

Piglet was over the moon happy with the swimming pool and the surprise of getting a cake from the staff.

Happy smiles from Piglet

Happy smiles from Piglet

All in all, it was one amazing day, and we so wished we could have spent a couple of hours more.

An end to a wonderful day

An end to a wonderful day

We had just done the lunch, and swimming pool, but they have ATV options, catamarran, cycling, and simply plain relaxing as well. Definitely, the next time we visit, we will plan to make it an overnight stay and enjoy all the other facilities.

Explore Chennai via Metro

I”ll be honest, this is kind of a dumb thing to do. But since the kids wanted something to do, and this time, quite a few options were not available to us (thank you, Cyclone Vardah for all the damage), we ended up taking a ride on the Chennai metro.

Snubnose passed on this excitement as she is now neck deep in Potter mania. We seriously had to drag her out of Potterverse for every family trip. She joined us with great reluctance and throughout the trip bored all of us with Potter trivia, games, and quizzes. Snubnose and I belong to Hufflepuff, if you are interested to know.

Anyway, back to the topic. The Chennai metro might possibly interest if you are from a city without a metro, or if you have very young children. We took the train from Alandur station to Koyambedu, and it was mildly interesting to us adults. Piglet though, enjoyed it thoroughly following the route map closely, and looking out of the window and all the new places he was seeing.

Other Things to do

We couldn’t do a number of places that were on our wishlist. Vedanthangal bird sanctuary was closed because of the heavy damage caused by the recent cyclone. Winter is the season when birds come to roost there, and so we definitely missed out this year. Another place we wanted to visit, but couldn’t was Gingee fort. Both places are an easy day trip from Chennai, and can be clubbed within a single day.

Another great option for kids is the Zoo, and the Birla Planetarium and science museum, which will interest slightly older kids (ages 6 and above).

There’s also Pulicat lake – another bird sanctuary. In addition, this lake is also the second largest brackish water lake in India, and is definitely another place that is a must-visit when in Chennai in winter (when it is full of birds).

Another great day trip or overnight option is Pondicherry, which provides some really good shopping, and dining options, amidst a strange Fremch Colonial cum Aurobindo ashram vibes .

If a temple is on your must-visit, then head out to Kanchipuram, where you can visit the beautiful temple there, and combine it with some shopping for silk sarees. Within the city, the Mylapore temple is a definite must-visit with its wonderful olde worlde atmosphere, and the authentic flavor of old-time Chennai surrounding the temple.

So, I hope I have given you enough ideas for places to see when you visit Chennai.

Chennai always gets a bad rap because of the weather in summer, and loses out to Goa and Kerala in the winter. But there are some great options in Chennai for travelers, and if you are looking for a break from your regular winter haunts, do consider Chennai in your travel plans.

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