By Rebecca Martin
Get that heritage feel
Be prepared to spend at least two hours at the if not more at this well-preserved Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram, which is a definite must-see. Overlooking the shore of the Bay of Bengal, the temple is dedicated to Lords Shiva and Vishnu and its statues display different scenes from the Mahabharat. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another place worth visiting is Dakshin Chitra, a heritage village where you can engage in varied cultural activities. You can try your hand at weaving and pottery or witness different cultural shows or learn about the types of houses in South India. With a host of activities on offer, plan to spend your entire day here.
Visit Loyola College
Located in Nungambakkam, in the heart of Chennai, Loyola College is one of the oldest Jesuit colleges in India. It was started in the year 1925 and is recognised as the best college to pursue a degree in Commerce, in Chennai. The 100-acre campus consists two football fields, one tennis court, a volleyball court, a basketball court and a hockey court. You can take a tour around the college and the campus, which also houses animals and a dairy farm. Visit the campus church and take in its breathtaking gothic architecture. Soak in the serenity and peace. The campus also has other institutes like a Teacher Training institute, Engineering college and a Management college. You will need approximately an hour to tour the entire campus.
Hit the beaches
With a beautiful promenade, Marina Beach is perfect for an evening stroll or a run in the morning. The beach is clean and the evenings see a flurry of activities; several stalls sell street foods like gola, butta and bhajjis; there are giant wheels and other carnival games like shooting the balloons, throw the ring etc. While the current is unpredictable, swimming may not be ideal at this beach, but you'll still find plent of people here on weekends. The best thing to do is just enjoy a picnic snack or take a stroll along the shore. But if you want to avoid the crowd, Besant Nagar Beach is perfect to walk, relax and eat. If you can swim well, you might want to try the catamaran ride at Kovalam Beach. You are taken in a fishing boat to the middle of the sea, with a life jacket, of course. A rope is let out and you jump in the middle of the sea, where you can float around and relax for an hour or so before you are lifted back into the boat and brought back to the beach. A truly relaxing experience, it is one of the best ways to start your weekend. It starts from around 9 am till about 4 pm and one boat can accommodate approximately 20 people.
For the foodies
Foodies, head to Saravana Bhavan in Anna Nagar, for their speciality dosas. A must try is the Ghee Roast dosa. Their green and white coconut chutneys complement their super-crisp dosas, which simply melt in your mouth. While they have several branches all over Chennai and in other parts of India, you'll find Saravana Bhavan branchees even in New York, San Jose, Paris, London and Dubai. If you're in the mood for idlis, Murugan Idli is where you should be at. You could also try Sangeetha's which serves one of the best for South Indian breakfast of idli-vada and pongal combination. Wash it down with a heady filter coffee.
For the shopaholics
You can't leave Chennai without shopping for Kanjeevaram. Your choices are plenty—Nalli Silk Sarees, Pothy's, Kumaran Silks, RMKV. The price ranges from a few thousdands to a lakh or two or more. If gold is on your mind, head to GMT for uniqe designs and patterns. If you are looking for coloured pearls, head to Narayan Pearls or if temple jewellery is what allures you, take a walk down Pondy Bazaar. Try your hand at being a local and wear a mogra in your hair.
With inputs from Srini Nagarajan
Images by Rebecca Martin