CHENNAI - MAHABALIPURAM - PONDICHERRY (FROM CHENNAI)

City | Historical & Heritage | Beach

Photo Credit: Flickr

ITINERARY SUMMARY

Trip Starting Point: Chennai City

Mode of Travel: Car (or Cab)

Trip Duration: 4 Days

Ideal Start Time: 10 AM:8 AM:9 AM:9 AM

Total Places Visited: 26

DAYS

DAY 1 : CHENNAI SIGHTSEEING

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6.30 AM - 12 PM & 4 PM - 8 PM
Entry Fee: Free Entry

At a distance of 4.5 km from Chennai Central Railway Station, Sri Parthasarathy Temple is a Hindu temple located in the Triplicane locality of Chennai. It is one of the popular temples in Tamilnadu, and among the must-visit places during your Chennai Trip.

Sri Parthasarathy Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It was originally built by the Pallavas king Narasimhavarman I in the 6th century CE and was renovated by the Vijayanagara kings around the 15th century. It is one of the oldest temples as well as the famous places to visit in Chennai.

The temple was built in the typical Dravidian architecture style, complete with gopurams and mandapas with intricate carvings and stucco figures. The temple has icons of five forms of Vishnu: Yoga Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Ranganatha, and Krishna .....

Museum & Gallery

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 9.30 AM - 5.30 PM, Closed on Friday & on National Holidays
Entry Fee: Rs. 15 for Indians, Rs. 250 for Foreigners, Camera: Rs. 200 for Indians & Rs. 500 for Foreigners

At a distance of 4 km from Chennai Central Railway Station, Governement Museum is a museum situated on Pantheon Road in Chennai. This is one of the oldest museums in India, and among the top tourist places to visit in Chennai city.

Established in 1857, Government Museum is the second oldest museum in the country after the Indian Museum in Kolkata. The museum is located in what is known as the Pantheon complex, or 'public assembly rooms.' Situated in the Egmore suburb of Chennai, it is built in the Indo-Saracenic style. It is the third-largest museum in the world, and with 0.6 million visitors in 2018.

It is particularly rich in archaeological and numismatic collections. It has the richest collections of bronze idols, 500 of them dating to 1000 BC, in Asia. The museum has the largest collection of Roman antiquities outside Europe. Among them, the colossal Museum Theatre is one of the most impressive. .....

Museum & Gallery

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 9 AM - 5 PM, Closed on Fridays & National Holidays
Entry Fee: Rs. 15 for Adults & Rs. 10 for Children

At a distance of 3 km from Chennai Central Railway Station, the National Art Gallery is situated inside the Government Museum Complex on Pantheon Road in Egmore, Chennai. This is one of the oldest art galleries in India and also one of the must visit Chennai Tourist Places.

The National Art Gallery was built of sandstone in the year 1907 by T. Namberumal Chetty. Earlier known as Victoria Memorial Hall, the National Art Gallery was built during the celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in Indo-Saracenic style, designed by architect Henry Irwin. It has been identified as a Heritage site by the CMDA.

The National Art Gallery consists of four different sections, which include Tanjore Painting Gallery, Decorative Art Gallery, Indian Traditional Art Gallery and Raja Ravi Varma Painting Gallery. The miniature paintings from the Mughal era, handicrafts from 11th and 12th centuries and Rajput paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries are also on display. Portraits of various .....

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins - 1 Hr
Timings: 8.30 AM - 5.30 PM
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Adults & Rs. 5 for Children

At a distance of 7 Kms from Chennai Central Railway Station (located in Vaikuntapuram, less than 1 Kms from local Kodambakkam Railway Station), Valluvar Kottam is a monument built to pay homage to Tamil Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar.

Inaugurated in 1976, the memorial is the form of 101-feet high temple chariot and is the replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. A 33m tall life-size statue of the saint has been installed in the chariot. Another amazing attribute of the auditorium is that it is not supported by a single pillar and stands without any support.

The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. All the 1330 verses of the poet's epic are depicted on the granite pillars, which surround the auditorium. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can accommodate about 4000 people.

Timings: 8.30 AM - 5.30 PM

Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Adults & Rs. 5 for Childre .....

Beach

Duration of visit: 2 Hours
Timings: 24 Hours
Entry Fee: Free Entry

At a distance of 4 Kms from Chennai Central Railway Station (located at Kamarajar Road, near local Chepauk Railway Station), the famous Marina beach is the second longest beach in the World and runs to a length of 13 Km. This is one of the top tourist places to visit in Chennai city and also one of the popular attraction not to miss in a Chennai tour packages.

Situated on the beach, the Anna Park, named after the founder of D.M.K Anna durai and the tomb of M.G. Ramachandran who was a film star (both were former Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu) and the Statue of Labour is a splendid sculpture depicting the efforts of a team of labourers who are at hard manual labour.

The beach can be ideally visited in the early mornings or in the late evenings when the area becomes a virtual ground with food stalls and other entertainments.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM - 9 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3 km from Chennai Central Railway Station, MGR Memorial is a memorial structure situated within the picturesque surroundings of the Marina Beach in Chennai. It is one of the popular places of sightseeing in Chennai.

The memorial was built in the memory of M.G. Ramachandran, India's first actor cum chief minister and that too for three consecutive terms until his death. Considered as one of the greatest political leaders and actors of the state, his followers idolize him as Puratchi Thalaivar (Revolutionary leader). He was honoured with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India after his death. Spread over 8.25 acres, the memorial is located adjacent to the Anna Memorial and has the highest number of visitors along the seafront.

The memorial was built in 1988 and was inaugurated by Janaki Ramachandran, wife of M. G. Ramachandran, in May 1990. The memorial was remodeled and the whole complex was laid with marbles and opened in 1992 by J. Jayalalitha .....

Overnight Stay in Chennai

DAY 2 : VISIT MAHABALIPURAM & TRAVEL TO PONDICHERRY

Travel from Chennai to Mahabalipuram

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Indians, Rs. 250 for Foreigners & Rs. 25 for Still Camera

At a distance of 2 km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, the Shore Temple is an ancient temple situated on the shore of Bay of Bengal in Mahabalipuram. It is one of the most photographed monuments of heritage in India, and among the must-visit Mahabalipuram tourist places.

Shore Temple was built in the 7tcentury CE by Pallavas during the reign of Narasimhavarman. It is one of the oldest temples in South India constructed in the Dravidian style and depicts the royal taste of the Pallava dynasty. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'. It is one of the must include places in Mahabalipuram trip.

Shore Temple is a structural temple built with blocks of granite. It is so named because it overlooks the Bay of Bengal. The Shore Temple .....

Museum & Gallery

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 1 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (situated in East Raja Street), the Sculpture Museum is famous for its elaborate collection of sculptures and images of god and goddesses of Hindu mythology. There are more than 3,000 sculptures can be found in this museum. All the sculptures bear the historic significance and the tales of the by-gone days. In the display of the museum there are sculptures made of wood, metal, brass and cement. There are creations of ancient artists to the contemporary ones.

Not only Hindu mythology but the Buddhists sculptures and images too, exist in the temple town. The monolithic statues, the Rathas (chariots), sculptured relief and their miniature can be seen in the museum.

Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM on all days

Beach

Duration of visit: 30 Mins - 1 Hr
Timings: 24 Hrs
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2 km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, the golden sandy Mamallapuram Beach is a serene beach situated near the Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. It is identified as the one of the most pristine beaches in Tamilnadu, and among the must-visit places during your Mahabalipuram tour.

Lies on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, the Mahabalipuram Beach is a picturesque place bounded by the shimmering sea and rolling hills. The beach stretches for about 20 km and comprises some rock-cut sculptures which are pleasing to the eyes. It is a perfect place to relax and give yourself a break from the hustle-bustle of city life. This is one of the famous Mahabalipuram places to visit for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts as well.

This charming beach is one of the perfect places .....

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 0.5 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (on Mada Koil Street), Arjuna's Penance or Bhagiratha's Penace is the name of a massive open air bas-relief monolith dating from the 7th century CE. Measuring 96 feet long by 43 feet high, the bas-relief is also known as The Descent of Ganga. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

In one interpretation, a figure in the bas-relief who is standing on one leg is said to be Arjuna performing an austerity Tapas to receive a boon from Shiva as an aid in fighting the Mahabharata war.

The bas relief is situated on a rock with a cleft. Figures within the cleft are said to represent the River Ganges and Shiva. This provides the basis for an alternative interpretation, rather than Arjuna, the figure performing austerities is said to be Bhagiratha.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 0.5 Kms around Mahabalipuram Bus Station, there are 14 rock-cut carves and Mandapams in and around Mamallapuram. Mythological scenes are depicted on these architectures. These caves have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

Following three are important Mandapams:

1) Krishna Mandapam - This is the biggest among the Mandapams and is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The sculptures inside this Mandapam beautifully picturize the myth of Lord Krishna during his brave and energetic adulthood.

2) Mahishasuramardhini Mandapam - The battle between goddess Durga and the buffalo headed demon, Mahishasura is beautifully inscribed.

3) Varaha Mandapam - the side walls have large sculptured panels depicting Vishnu as Varaha, the boar, holding up Bhudevi, the earth goddess.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of nearly 0.5 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, Ganesh Ratha Temple is located towards the north of the Arjuna's Penance. It is a temple carved out from a rock to resemble a chariot and is built in Dravidian style of temple architecture. It was once dedicated to Lord Shiva. But when the original lingam was removed, the temple came to be known as the temple of Lord Ganesh.

It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 0.5 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (on Mada Koil Street), Krishna's Butter Ball is a huge boulder near the Ganesha Ratha. It rests precariously on a narrow rock base. Legend has it that several Pallava Kings attempted to move it, but all the kings and their elephants could not shift the boulder even by an inch.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Entry tickets of Shore Temple can be used here

At a distance of 1.5 Kms from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) - five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

An interesting aspect of the rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled - each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone.

The Pancha Rathas shrines were carved during the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. Each temple is a monolith, carved whole from a rock outcropping of pink granite.

Overnight Stay in Pondicherry

DAY 3 : PONDICHERRY SIGHTSEEING

Start Pondicherry Sightseeing

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 5.45 AM - 12.30 PM and 4 PM - 9.30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, The Manakula Vinayagar Temple is one of the famous ancient temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is a popular pilgrimage site in Puducherry.

Manakula Vinayagar Temple was in existence before the French came and settled in Pondicherry and the idol of Lord Ganesha is locally known as Vellakkaran Pillai. The French Jesuits and missionaries tried to demolish the temple several times, but every time local population saved the temple.

Facing the east near Bay of Bengal, the temple was known as Bhavaneshar Ganapathy, now called as Manakula Vinayagar. In Tamil Manal means sand and Kulam means pond near the sea. The temple is spread over an area of about 8000 sq. ft with outer mandapam, raja gopuram and outer enclosure. Measuring 18 feet in height, the gold plated kodikambam is a spectacular highlight of this temple. The outside wall of the temple depicts various forms of the Ganesha with its timelines and locations. The rich architectural .....

Miscellaneous

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 8 AM - 12 PM and 2 PM - 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a famous spiritual community (ashram) located in Pondicherry. Founded by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) in 1926, it is one of the major highlights of Pondicherry and is visited by thousands of people from all over the world. The ashram is also the place of Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

The Aurobindo Ashram is one of the most visited tourism sites in Pondicherry. This ashram comprises several buildings and there are around 1,200 members along with 400 students living in this center.

The serene Aurobindo Ashram comes alive during the festivals. Thousands of tourists, followers and visitors come here. Despite the large crowd the members maintain discipline within the complex, restoring its peaceful environment. The ideals of the ashrams are based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and Mira Alfassa. The ashram contains a library, printing press, playground, art gallery, a dispensary/nursing .....

Museum & Gallery

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 10 AM - 5 PM. Closed on Mondays and National holidays.
Entry Fee: Rs. 15

At a distance of 3 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, Pondicherry Museum is situated in the Bharathi Park and is known for its unique collection of sculptures. It is one of the popular places in Pondicherry Sightseeing.

This museum has an excellent gallery with sculptures and has the remains of archaeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman settlement. This gallery is known to have artifacts belonging to Cholas and Pallavas rule of Pondicherry and Karaikal. Burial urns, French furniture, terracotta figures, crockery, guns, swords, paintings, mirrors and several other things dating back to different periods are preserved here.

The painting section includes Tanjore and glass paintings, colonial prints and contemporary oils, pastels and water colors. It has bronze statues of several gods and goddesses along with handicrafts, art work and temple lamps. The ground floor of the museum has a palanquin .....

Park

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 10 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 1.5 km Pondicherry Bus Station, the Botanical Garden is located south of the New Bus Stand and is one of the top Pondicherry Tourist Places. The Botanical Garden along with Aquarium was established in 1826.

The Botanical Gardens is spread over an area of 22 acres in the center of the city. The garden is a famous retreat for locals and tourists. It is spread with pruned trees, flower beds and fountains. Perrotet was responsible for transforming the place into a botanical garden. His memorial can be seen inside the garden premises. He introduced many exotic plants from all over the world. In 1960, after the Transfer of Power from the French, the garden became the hub of horticultural development in Pondicherry.

There are 28 plots in the Botanical Garden and each one has separate theme. Other attractions of the Botanical Garden include Children's toy train, musical fountain, aquarium .....

Lake & Backwaters

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Entry Free. Boat ride cost varies.

At a distance of 6 km Pondicherry Bus Station, Chunnambar Boat House also known as Plage Paradiso is famous for its backwaters and it's a popular boating venue and is. Located on the Cuddalore main road, the backwater is situated at a point where the Chunnambar River meets Bay of Bengal. Paradise beach is usually reached by boat from Chunnambar Boat House.

Chunnambar Boat House is ideal for boating and also a great picnic spot. The backwater houses a nice resort managed by the Pondicherry Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (PTTDC), known as Chunnambar Beach and Backwater Resort. The resort offers a range of fun and entertainment options include trekking, yachting, backwater boat trips and beach games. The boating options include motor boats, speed boats, sail boats, rowed boats, water scooters, paddled boats and pedaled boats. Accommodation facility is available on tree top houses.

Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM. Ferry .....

Beach

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 9 AM to 4 PM
Entry Fee: Free Entry. Need to take boat ride to reach the beach and cost varies.

At a distance of 8 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, Paradise Beach, also known as Plage Paradiso, is an isolated beach located at Chunnambar. This is one of the most famous Pondicherry Beaches and also one of the best places to experience Pondicherry Tourism. Paradise Beach is another popular attraction not to miss in a Pondicherry tour packages.

The beach is extremely attractive as the sands are very clean and the water is crystal clear. The Paradise Beach is situated close to Cuddalore main road and it houses the famous Chunnambar resort.

Visitors have to cross the Chunnambar backwaters by boat to reach Paradise Beach. These boats leave from Chunnambar boathouse around 6 km from Pondicherry. The beach has shelters and palm trees for shade and protection from the sun and rain. There is one small bar which serves .....

Overnight Stay in Pondicherry

DAY 4 : PONDICHERRY SIGHTSEEING & TRAVEL TO CHENNAI

Resume Pondicherry Sightseeing

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM - 12 PM and 4 PM - 9 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2.5 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple located on M.G.Road is believed to be the oldest temple in Pondicherry, dating back to 970 AD.

Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple is also famous for its Dravidian architectural patterns, front gopuram and sculptured towers. The idol can be seen in standing form, majestically 5 feet tall.

The temple also houses a sannidhi for goddess called as Perundevi thayar. There is a mirror room in the temple. The Varadaraja Perumal temple houses assorted avatars of Lord Vishnu which are present in divyadesams.

The idols of lord Rama, goddess Sita, lord Lakshmana, lord Hanuman, Lord Navaneetha Krishna, Sri Santhanagopala and Sri Venugopala are present in the temple. The temple also houses two great Vaishnava Acharyas, Nikamanda Mahadesikan and Manavalamamuni. This temple is also famous for first rice feeding of children known as Annaprasana.

Sri Ramanavami festival, Vaikunta Ekadasi, .....

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 7 AM to 6.30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2.5 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, The Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the highly revered religious places in Pondicherry and is located on the south boulevard of the town.

It is one of the 21 Basilicas in India and only one in Pondicherry. This church was established in 1908 by the French missionaries and attained the status of basilica in 2011. This Catholic Church is one of the finest churches of Pondicherry.

The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an excellent example of Gothic architecture. The structure is 50 meters long, 48 meters wide and 18 meters high and is held by 24 columns. One can see the biblical words on entrance written in Latin along with the images of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mother Mary carved in the entrance door.

It contains rare stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ and saints of the Catholic Church. A striking statue of Madonna is placed at the right side of the high altar. The statue .....

Park

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 7 AM - 8 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3.5 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, The Bharathi Park, also known as the Government Park is situated in the central region of the old colonial town of Pondicherry.

Government Park was once the location of the first French garrison and Fort Louis which were destroyed by the British. In 2006 the park was renovated and several new sections were included to make it more attractive. It is a beautiful and peaceful park ideal to spend time with family or for a morning / evening walk.

The Aayi Mandapam or the Park Monument is a famous monument which lies at the center of the park. At one point, Aayi Mandap was the main water source for Pondicherry town.
The Mandapam is an imposing structure that flaunts brilliant Greco-Roman architecture. The presence of flowerbeds, well-manicured lawns and beautiful fountains around the monument make it an attractive place.

There is a wonderful children's play area with several playground equipment. This park is surrounded .....

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 15 Mins
Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3.5 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, French War Memorial on Goubert Avenue is located in French Quarter (White Town). It was built in 1971 to commemorate the brave soldiers who laid down their lives during First World War.

The memorial has four stark white columns with a life-size statue of a soldier leaning on a rifle. On the memorial there is an inscription that says, 'Aux combattants des Indes Francoises morts pour la patrie, 1914-1918' which means French fighters of India who died for their country in 1914-1918.

The memorial is a popular tourist attraction in Pondicherry. There is a small garden built around the monument. The Memorial is beautifully illuminated on the Bastille Day which is celebrated on 14th July.

Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 24 Hrs
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2.5 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, The Statue of Mahatma Gandhi is located on the beach front of Pondicherry. Built by the famous sculptor Roy Choudhary from Madras School of Art and Crafts, it is one of the major landmarks in Pondicherry. It is surrounded by eight exquisitely carved monolithic granite pillars which were brought from Gingee Fort.

The statue stands 4 m (13 feet) high is the 3rd biggest Mahatma Gandhi statue. It was inaugurated on January 26, 1965. The square in front of the statue referred to as Gandhi Thidal, plays host to various cultural and musical activities through the year.

There is a tunnel below the Gandhi statue which is believed to be leading to Gingee Fort. There were some efforts to explore the tunnel. But, after a few people died of suffocation, the tunnel was closed.

Beach

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 24 Hrs
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3.5 km from Pondicherry Bus Station, Promenade Beach is one of the popular beaches in Pondicherry along the Bay of Bengal. It is a 1.5 km long stretch between War Memorial and Dupleix Park. This is one of the top places to visit in Pondicherry.

This beach is called by multiple names like rock beach due to rocks along the beach, Gandhi beach because of statue of Mahatma Gandhi and also as Promenade beach. Popularly this beach is also called Pondicherry beach because of its close proximity to the city.

It's a long stretch of rocky beach with benches and wide pavement for morning and evening walks. It is adjacent to Goubert Avenue, the historical section of the city which has several beautiful colonial buildings. This long stretch has statues of Jeanne d'Arc Dupleix, Mahatma Gandhi and War Memorial. There is also a 27 meter .....

Travel from Pondicherry to Chennai