Chennai: Tourist places to see/visit in and around Chennai, India (Including ECR)

Chennai Central

Image credit: Jamal Haider. This photo is published under this creative commons license.

People reading this blog might think that I have always loved traveling. No. I would any day love to read a book/browse blogs/sleep at home. But this travel bug bit me around one and a half years ago and suddenly, I started traveling all around my place. Earlier it was Coimbatore, and now it is tourist places to see/visit in and around Chennai (Tamil Nadu, India).

While this list is no way comprehensive, I have tried to include as many tourist places as possible, in and around Chennai. I have included tourist places from ECR (East Coast Road), as well because ECR is the entertainment highway of Chennai! Please note that this list is constantly expanding and I’ll be adding new places/venues as I visit them.

All the places mentioned below contain links to individual posts about them where you can find more photos/video and a description of my experience in each place. I write only about places that I have personally visited. This post does not include malls, multiplexes, theme parks and many other private entertainment centers.

I have arranged the places mentioned below based on my liking, and my most favorite tourist destinations in Chennai are presented at the top. It’s only my individual preference and your preference may be different.

1. Mahabalipuram

Shore-Temple-Mahabalipuram-Chennai-1

Mahabalipuram is located around 40 KM from Chennai on the East Coast Road (ECR) and this place is full of historical monuments/rock-sculptures. These monuments were constructed during 7th Century and some of them have been surprisingly well preserved. There are beaches, resorts and other tourist attractions here. Excellent tourist place to spend a full day. Timings: Morning 6:30 AM to Evening 5:30 PM. Read more…

2. Dakshina Chitra

Dakshina-Chitra-Pottery-decoration-items-entrance

This is the place you’ll want to visit if you want to flavor the culture and heritage of South India. The campus is divided into four sections – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka. In each section, a few heritage houses belonging to the respective state is on display with all the articles used by people who lived in them (prior to the modern times). They sell and teach how to make handicraft materials. Read more…

3. Vandalur Zoo

Vandalur Zoo

Vandalur Zoo is located around 15 KM further down from the Airport, on the GST Road in Chennai. This is supposed to be the largest zoo in India and it is well maintained/shady with lot of trees. There is a lion safari, elephant safari, elephant shower bath, aquarium and many more attractions. Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Weekly holiday on Tuesday. Read more…

4. Semmozhi Poonga

Semmozhi-Poonga-Chennai

This literally translates into ‘Classical language park’, but it’s just like any other park. It’s grandeur, greenery and variety of flora right in the heart of the city (near gemini flyover, next to Stella Maris college) makes it extremely attractive. Excellent place to take a stroll around with family or friends. Timings: 10 AM to 8 PM. Weekly holiday: Tuesday. Read more…

5. Marina Beach

Marina-Beach-Chennai

The stretch that includes Marina Beach, is the third longest beach of the world. Recently, this beach has undergone a lot of renovation and has received much required face-lift. You can visit the marina beach itself, have a walk on the beach road gazing at the statues along the marina beach or visit the Anna/MGR memorials, right next to this beach.

6. Madras Crocodile Bank (Crocodile Park)

Madras-Crocodile-Bank-5

The Madras Crocodile Bank (Crocodile Park) is a well maintained crocodile/reptile rehabilitation center that is located in ECR, on the way to Mahabalipuram. Of course, one can find various crocodiles, turtles, snakes, etc. with lots of info on them. The latest addition is an anaconda. This is a well-maintained park. Open: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM everyday, except Mondays. Read more…

7. Muttukadu Boat House

Muttukadu-Boat-House-Chennai-ECR-2
The Muttukadu boat house is located in a large salt-water lake on the ECR (East Coast Road), in Chennai. It offers various types of boating facilities for short durations. It has pedaling boats, rowing boats, motor boats and even water scooters! The lake has a rich population of migratory birds, as well. Read more…

8. Govt. Egmore Museum

Govt-Egmore-Museum-Chennai

The Government Egmore museum is located in the Pantheon road, Egmore and it is the second oldest museum of India. This museum is a treasure trove for art lovers as it provides a comprehensive insight into the history of this region. There are rocks, excavated objects, bronze statues, art works, children’s section and many more attractions. Timings: 9:30 AM to 5 PM. Weekly holiday: Friday. Read more…

9. BM Birla Planetarium

BMBirla-Planatarium-Chennai

The BM Birla Planetarium is located in the Kotturpuram Main Road, opposite to the Anna Centenary library. They run shows in English and Tamil and the main dome recreates sky/stars/planets in the night sky using a massive projector. There is a 3D science show (must watch) and a science park (which is like a museum). Timings: 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Weekly Holiday: None. Read more…

10. Regional Rail Museum, ICF

Old-Train-Engine

The Regional Rail museum in Villivakkam/Perambur is a surprise package as they display many old rail engine/coach models (real ones, out of service now). They also have a lot of information on different types of coaches manufactured by them (both historically and today) and have made an exhibition with small cute models of those coaches. There is even a toy train which goes around this place. Read more…

11. Rajiv Gandhi Memorial

Rajiv-Gandhi-Memorial-Chennai

The Rajiv Gandhi Memorial is a beautifully constructed and maintained memorial for our Ex-PM Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. This is located in the place of his death – Sriperumbudur, around 40 KM from Chennai, on the Chennai-Bangalore highway. The lawn, the pillars, the pathway and wall carvings are all beautiful. Timings: 10 AM to 5:00 PM. Read more…

12. Guindy National Park, Snake Park

Guindy-National-Park-Chennai

The Guindy National park is a mini-zoo with few animals, many birds, reptiles and a separate snake park. It’s a nice place to walk around, take kids for playing and see many birds/deers. The snake park contains exhaustive information on various snakes and they are presented using modern audio-visual technologies. It’s located near IIT, Madras in Guindy. Timings: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Weekly holiday: Tuesday. Read more…

13. Besant Nagar (Elliot’s) Beach

Besant-Nagar-Beach-Chennai

The Besant Nagar (Elliot’s) beach is an extension to the Marina beach, but it is located in Besant Nagar near Adyar. The Besant Nagar beach is located in a posh locality of Chennai and it has always been maintained well. The crowd is hip and there are a lot of joints/shops around this beach. Read more…

14. Cholamandalam Artists Village

Cholamandalam-Arts-Museum-ECR-Chennai-4

The Cholamandalam artists village is an art gallery. It’s not like any other art gallery, because the paintings/sculptures in this gallery are created by artists who live and work in the same venue. It’s a self-sustained artistic movement and it is very unique to this place. While one can see brilliant paintings inside the gallery, lot of sculptures are available to see outside, as well.Β  It’s located in the Eest Coast Road. Read more…

15. Madras War Memorial:

Madras-War-Memorial-Cemetry

This is a memorial park built in memory of all the British soldiers who died in the two world wars. No one is buried here, but it is styled like a cemetery and has a wonderful lawn. This park is such a quiet, neat and serene looking park and has a European ambiance to it. If you want to become the next Wordsworth, you can write your poetry from here! Read more…

16. Fort Museum

Fort-Museum-Chennai

This is the place where the British initially settled down and built a fort for themselves. Unlike what we think, initially it was very difficult for the British and it took them many years to get a stranglehold on the Indian territory. This museum is about the history of British occupation and the Victorian era. Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM. Weekly Holiday: Friday. Read more…

17. Temples/Museums/Heritage houses in Kanchipuram

Temples-of-Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram was the historic capital of the Pallava dynasty and surprisingly, many old Temples have survived intact. It is located at around 75 KM from Chennai, on the Chennai – Bangalore highway. Actually, Kanchipuram is a land of thousand temples and this place is also very famous for its silk sarees. Read more…

18. Annanagar Tower park

Annanagar-Tower-Park

The Annanagar tower park is like your neighborhood park, but with an imposing huge tower structure in the center. It’s sheer bad luck that we are not able to climb the tower any longer, but the surroundings of this park makes it a worthwhile visit for both tourists and local people. It looks pretty neat after a renovation. Timings: 5:30 to 10:30 AM; 4 PM to 7 PM. Read more…

19. Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar-Kottam-Chennai

There is a huge 39 meter stone chariot in Valluvar Kottam, near Nungambakkam in Chennai.Β What you see in the photo on the right hand side is only the lower part of the stone chariot! This monument is dedicated to Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar. There is a hall adjoining this chariot and many exhibitions are hosted in this hall. Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM. Weekly Holiday: Friday. Read more…

20. Vivekananda House

Vivekananda-House-Chennai

This is the place where Swami Vivekananda stayed immediately after his return from the historic religious conference, abroad. The Vivekananda House is a museum now and it showcases his life, teachings and history. There are a lot of galleries with abundant information and there is even an audio-visual section on Swami Vivekananda. Timings: 10 AM to 12 PM; 3 PM to 7:30 PM. Weekly Holiday: Wednesday. Read more…

21. Guindy Memorials

Guindy-Memorials

There are multiple memorial buildings within a park like compound in Guindy, near the Guindy national park and planetarium. It is a good place if you want to take a walk around or spend some time in the center of the city. Here, there is Kamaraj memorial, Gandhi memorial, Rajaji memorial, Bhaktavatsalam memorial and Thyagigal mandapam. Read more…

22. Adyar Banyan Tree/Theosophical Society

Adyar-Banyan-Tree-Chennai

The Adyar banyan tree is the remnant of a huge banyan tree located within the Theosophical society complex in Adyar. This banyan tree occupies an area of around 40,000 square feet and is considered to be one of the largest banyan trees in the world. Unfortunately, its main trunk is no more, but the offshoots live on and you can see a portion of it from here. Read more…

Destination Infinity

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24 Replies to “Chennai: Tourist places to see/visit in and around Chennai, India (Including ECR)”

  1. If I visit Chennai in the future, the list is surely going to get me through… πŸ™‚ WordPress is playing some tricks.. I am not getting mails from a number of blogs including yours when they post something new… πŸ™

    1. The email delivery service in some blogs (including mine) is not provided by WordPress. It’s actually a google service called Feedburner. They send mails once in a day, including multiple posts (if any) published on that day in a single mail. That’s why there might be a delay from the time the post is published, to the time people get the post in their email.

      Destination Infinity

    1. ECR is meant to be an entertainment getaway and hence one can find a lot of theme parks, resorts, malls, fancy restaurants and tourist places there. I want to do a separate series of posts exclusively for ECR, visit Pondicherry and perhaps include that also in the summary post for ECR. This post on Chennai, took one year! I hope to do the post on ECR and Pondycherry faster.

      Destination Infinity

    1. Good to know that you are passionate about traveling and exploring new places. I am yet to visit various places in ECR. Will update this blog as and when I do…

      Destination Infinity

  2. Wow, this is such a nicely composed Travel guide about Chennai!
    Am so amused or elated, to see Anna nagar tower in the list..yoohoo..I used to say S that this is the eiffel tower of Chennai…konjam over dhan..but still..adhu enga area!!!

    1. Anna nagar tower would have been even further up in the list had they allowed the visitors to climb above the tower. I have done it so many times before, but these days its not allowed!

      Destination Infinity

  3. I loved this post. I haven’t ever been to chenia but I will be carrying this as a guide for sure.
    Elliot’s beach looks classy, no? I feel like sitting there with a book and get some cool zephyr πŸ™‚

    1. You can do that, but don’t try it in April, May or June unless you want to get a sun-stroke πŸ˜›

      Destination Infinity

    1. This post has only half the number of tourist places. The remaining will come as a second (part 2) series…

      Destination Infinity

  4. Wish you had posted this list a few months back when I was in Chennai for a couple of months. Would have been really useful to decide the places of visit. Anyway, will make it useful next time I am in Chennai πŸ™‚

    1. It takes time to visit all these places, write about them and then summarize them. I thought I will include the ECR with this post, but then decided against it. It would have taken even more time. Yeah, there is always a next time πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

    1. Yeah, since this post lists many tourist places and links to the experiences/photos, it could be useful for people to decide on where to go. Some research will help people to select the best getaways.

      Destination Infinity

    1. I have been moving cities every two years, recently. I hope the trend doesn’t continue this time. But I am sure Kanagu will be in Chennai πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  5. Hey Rajesh, thanks a lot for putting this brilliant list together, with great pictures and useful trivia. Very well worked on and each destination has been presented in an new light. We would all look this list up the next time we are headed toward Chennai. Keep blogging. Cheers πŸ™‚ !!

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