Weekend getaways from Chennai after lockdown
Like most people in the world, the lockdown stemming from the COVID pandemic pulled the brakes on my life too. I still remember the first day of the lockdown. As I sat on my window with a cup of hot coffee staring down the streets of Medipakkam and a host of complex emotions surging through my mind, I remember telling myself, “This is just temporary. Soon, life will be back to normal.” However, the way things turned out, I soon found myself introspecting and doing things that I never had time for.
While I missed meeting people, the sound of children in the playground, the speed of the city, and many other things that constituted a ‘normal’ life, what I missed the most was getting away from my routine life on a whim. The weekend getaways that were my lifeline, which helped me stay grounded were suddenly gone! As the lockdown stretched from weeks to months, getting out of my 600 square-feet house seemed like a dream.
While Chennai is still under lockdown, I decided to give myself a head start and create a list of weekend getaways from Chennai that I will revisit after the lockdown:
Tirupati is one of the best places to visit if you love ancient archaeology and history. The Venkateswara Temple located on the Tirumala Hill is definitely a must-visit. Tirupati is at a distance of around 135 km from Chennai or a 3-4 hour drive. You can also take a flight to Tirupati and take a safe and convenient cab from Tirupati Airport to Tirumala. This is a scenic drive of around 90 minutes (a distance of around 40 km) with a roster of gorgeous sightseeing spots on the way.
There are some weekends when the adventurer in me is at its peak – when I am looking for thrilling activities or being as close to nature as possible. During such times, I head to Yelagiri – a picturesque town surrounded by hills, tea gardens, and quaint hamlets. It is at a distance of around 231 km from Chennai via the NH48 and a drive of around 5 hours. However, with a good cab and a local experienced driver, this can be an amazing drive.
The cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur has an abundance of temples and history that can mesmerize most travelers. For me, this place is a spiritual haven and I go here once every few months to visit one of the Living Chola Temples and connect with the higher power. If you take the Trichy-Kanyakumari Road, you can reach Thanjavur in around 6-7 hours from Chennai (a distance of around 350 km).
Pondicherry or Puducherry has been my favorite weekend getaway from Chennai for a long time. There is something about this coastal town that always seems attractive. The French aura, picture-perfect lanes, beautiful architecture, and the Promenade Beach make for a compelling destination. Once the lockdown is lifted, I will book a safe and sanitized Chennai to Pondicherry cab that ensures my safety and takes me to my favorite destination in around 3 hours (~ 165 km).
With fingers (and toes) crossed, I await the lifting of the lockdown. I have my gear ready – sanitizers, face masks, and gloves. The day the lockdown is lifted, I will hit the road for a weekend. Until then, I am staying safe, healthy, and sanitized and adhering to all the rules – you should too. See you on the other side of this lockdown (hopefully soon)!