A Trip Down South- Chennai, Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry

22nd April 2016, 4:40 pm, - Chennai International Airport-

The minute I step out of the airport, I see taxi men in white waiting for their passengers to arrive. It's easy to spot my aunt. This was my first flight alone, my very first step towards travelling India on my own.


There are 5 and 7 star hotels like Park Hyatt and ITC Grand Chola(which I managed to visit) close to the airport but I believe that to get the feel of the place, one must stay with a local. While in Chennai, I stayed with my aunt and her family in a place called Ambattur, 45 minutes away from the airport.

 ITC Grand Chola(lobby)

During the 45 minute drive to her house, the 3 things I instantly noticed were.
1. Chennai people seemed to love yellow.(buses, trucks, hoardings,houses)
2. A lot of men wore short lungis.(unlike Bombay where people wear dhotis once in a blue moon)
3. The houses were multicolour.(reminded me of the Chandravanshi way of living. Reference to Amish       Tripathi's "The Immortals Of Meluha").
Chennai Houses
Positive vibes !

Chennai
Some places worth seeing are :
1.Nallis ( Best place for saarees and lungis)
2.Marina Beach  (Though the water is no longer blue, its still better than some bombay beaches)
3.Elliot's Beach
4.St Thomas Mount
5.Fort St. George  (Its in the shape of a boat)
St. Thomas Mount

*While you are in Chennai, try out some Andhra Food. Its spicy but worth a taste. Its even better if you get to eat it in a person's house.
*Best and real Hyderabadi Biryani from Chaar Minar .
*Avoid eating at 5 star restaurants. Go in for the traditional food. Murugan Idli Shop offers good South Indian food. 
*You can also see Saravanna Stores. A mall where you get everything.  Worth seeing and hard to miss(Its 8 stories tall). 
*Try out thattu idlis. Big and Spicy but yummy !

Mahabalipuram
Enroute to Pondicherry we stopped at Mahabalipuram.
Here the monuments are mostly rock cut and monolithic in nature.


 Shore Temple

I visited the Shore Temple also known as the Seven Pagodas because of its tall structure and the Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) –The interesting thing is that they are named after the 5 Pandavs. Despite their size they are not assembled. They are actually carved from one single piece of stone.
Pancha Rathas
Pondicherry
This place has many churches, temples, beaches and statues which, combined with the systematic town planning and planned French style avenues, still preserve much of the colonial ambiance. 

Here, all the streets have French names, Rue De La Marine, Rue Suffren, Rue Dumas, Rue Saint Gilles and many more. Pondicherry gives a very relaxed feeling, one just feels like lazing around here.
French Bakery

Some must visit places in Pondicherry :
1. Baker Street/ French Bakery- (for breakfast) Lovely croissants, rolls, pastries, chocolates,pizzas.
2.Rock Beach?Gandhi Beach
3. Jazz Concerts( we found a place called Kasha ki Asha. rooftop concert with foreign musicians )
4.French war memorial
5.Immaculate Conception Church
Pizza Slice and Croissants

We then visited Auroville which is 40 mins form Pondi. Here they have a bakery which sells delicious breads and pizza. Yummy breakfast.

Matrimandir- It is an edifice of spiritual significance for practitioners of internal yoga. It is the Soul Of The City. It is in the shape of a dome.Inside it, the inner chamber contains the largest optically perfect glass globe in the world.

Matrimandir

Dakshina Chitra
It is one and a half hour from Chennai. It is a kind of exhibition centre where there are life size houses belonging to all the south indian states.
Here, they also teach you some creative stuff. There are even stalls where you can buy handmade jewellery from or make it yourself.

Chennai is a lovely place to visit with a variety of things to see and explore !

P.S- Just make sure you check the month and book your tickets .Chennai can get boiling and burning hot during April-May.
P.S -One and a half week is more than enough to see this part of Chennai.

HAPPY TRAVELLING !!!

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