The city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital, is the seat of South Indian tradition. The city itself seems to be a remnant of a simpler time, where South Indian culture is carefully maintained despite the hasty progress of advancing world. Tamil Nadu, very protective of its heritage, is a pretty experience for tourists and visitors, with constructions and sites from almost every period of India’s history.
If visiting Chennai, or living there, do plan a day of relaxation, with a basketful of snacks and a group of loved-ones. This is a list of some picnic spots in Chennai.
Picnic spots in Chennai: Beaches and Lakes
1. Marina Beach
Chennai is home to many beautiful beaches, of which the Marina beach is the biggest and the most famous. This natural urban beach has a promenade which stretches across 6.5 kilometres and attracts thousands of visitors every day. Go horse riding, walk along the beach, or visit an aquarium, when you visit this beach. Be careful of the currents, when you dip your toes in the water.
- Location: Fort St. George to Foreshore Estate
2. VGP Golden Beach
This private beach at Injambakkam, on the way to Mahabalipuram, was once the first choice for many Tamil and Telugu movie shootings for their song sequences, thanks to its beautiful sculptures, greenery and attractive layout. Managed as an amusement park by the VG Panneerdas Group. Get the Statue man (á la Buckingham palace) to talk to you, enjoy the rides in the Aqua kingdom, and visit its Panneer Fort and the Millennium Tower.
- Location: Injambakkam
3. Covelong Beach
This beach is also to be found 40 kilometres on the way to Mahabalipuram, set amidst backwaters and sand banks. This is basically a fishing village, with a beach full of white, shiny sands. You can take a lot of photographs, visit the ruins of the Dutch Fort Sadras, walk along the beach to introspect or indulge in adventure sports on this beach, which is a popular haunt for many visitors from Chennai.
- Location: Covelong
4. Elliot’s Beach
Visit this beautiful beach in Besant Nagar is quiet and considered best for a morning walk. You get to spot flamingos and pond herons on a visit here. You may be spared the trouble of packing a picnic, as the beach has several food stalls and all you need to do is view the sunset and relax at this beach which is not as crowded as the Marina.
- Location: Besant Nagar
5. Muttukadu Lake
This lake is picturesque and perfect for an outing with the family. Here, you can enjoy a variety of activities such as pedal boating, row boating and speed water biking. Open from 9 am to 5 pm, entry here is free and there is plenty of parking available, as well as a restuarant.
- Location: Muttukadu
Picnic spots in Chennai: Cultural and Heritage
6. Government Museum
Visit the Government Museum on the Pantheon Road in Egmore, which is the second oldest museum in the country. The galleries cover many themes including art, anthropology, archeology, botany, zoology and numismatics. First opened in 1854, the museum is an architectural marvel in itself and has the largest collection of Roman antiques outside Europe. Don’t miss the Gallery of Dolls or the Tanjore paintings.
- Location: Egmore
7. National Art Gallery
Located on Pantheon Road in the same campus as the Government Museum, this Art Gallery has a wide collection of arts and crafts. This gallery showcases rock and cave art, bronze sculptures, Tanjore paintings studded with gems as also paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries. This gallery also houses some original paintings of Kerala’s renowned painter, Raja Ravi Varma.
- Location: Egmore
Visit this living museum, at Muttukadu on the way Mahabalipuram, which showcases the culture, traditions, arts and crafts of the four states in South India, namely Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, which included Telangana. You can catch the folk performances of the four states and see the way their houses were designed traditionally. If you ever wanted to see glass being blown into shapes, here’s your opportunity.
- Location: Muttukadu
9. Railway Museum
If you were excited by trains as a child and still carry that fascination to this day, this Railway Museum is a must-visit place for you. Get to see many vintage engine models, miniature rail networks and several scaled and even running models at this museum which is designed to fascinate kids and offers a children’s park for them with joyrides.
- Location: Villivakkam
10. Vivekananda House
This house in Triplicane is where Swami Vivekananda stayed for nine days after his famous trip to the USA. This house has since been converted into a museum which helps the visitors to understand the message of Swami Vivekananda and learn of the immense inspiration and message of his life to the youth of India.
- Location: Triplicane
11. Fort St. George
Built in 1644, this Fort is a relic of India’s colonial era and an architectural marvel which currently houses Tamil Nadu’s legislative assembly. Visit the St. George Museum at the fort for an educational experience, as you get to see the medallions, coins, paintings and letters which belonged to the East India Company’s personnel who lived here at one time. Try to visit St. Mary’s Church which is the oldest Anglican Church in India.
- Location: Fort St. George
12. Valluvar Kottam
This memorial to the famous poet Thiruvalluvar at Nungambakkam is shaped like chariot and measures 39 meters in height. His philosophic message through his work, known as Thirukkural meaning Sacred Verses, is a source of pride to Tamils who worship him as a Saint. This imposing and well-maintained monument is one of the popular destinations for visitors to Chennai.
- Location: Nungambakkam
Picnic spots in Chennai: Entertainment and activities
If you are fond of rides, head to this amusement park at Chembarambakkam which offers 50 rides to visitors of which about 18 are meant for kids. The park is about 13 kilometres from Chennai and built on a sprawling 70-acre land to offer a great time to a family looking for fun and frolic with car rides, slides, water rides and a wave pool.
- Location: Chembarambakkam
14. MGM Dizzee World
This is another amusement park at Muttukadu on the way to Mahabalipuram with amazing rides which offer a great time for kids and adults alike. This park offers even hot air balloon rides which may be a dream come true for many an adventure enthusiast out there. Remember that the adult rides are not really good for kids unless they are the most intrepid.
- Location: Muttukadu
Picnic spots in Chennai: Parks
15. Guindy National Park
Stretched over 2.70 square kilometers, Guindy National Park falls under a protected area in Tamil Nadu. Here you can see lush forests, pristine lakes and lively streams. The Guindy National Park is quite unique in that it is one of the few national parks that is located within the city, which makes it a favourite with the residents and tourists of Chennai.
- Location: Rangeguindy
16. Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Also known as the Vandalur Zoo, located on the way to Kanchipuram, this park is home to 2000 species of animals and plants. Head here to look at different kinds of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and even fishes and insects. Don’t miss the shark aquarium, lion safari and the nocturnal animal house here.
- Location: Vandalur
17. Semmozhi Poonga
Opened in 2010, this recent addition to Chennai’s parks is beautifully landscaped and showcases over 300 species of plants and nearly 80 trees which were already there for many years, with some being over 100 years old. Visit the park to enjoy the beauty of nature and the various varieties of trees grown here, including bamboo and ficus trees from China, and a pond full of ducks.
Chennai is a wonderful city in many ways and offers you an eclectic mix of the old and the new and reflects the influence of times ranging from the times of Thiruvalluvar through the colonial era, to the current day when it is pitting itself against the other cities in India to expand its image as Detroit of India to the second Silicon Valley, by venturing into the IT field. All these influences are reflected in the list of interesting places to visit in Chennai.