Pulicat – A Quick Trip from Chennai

Pulicat (Pazhaverkadu) is close to 60 kms from Chennai and close to the Tamil Nadu – Andhra Pradesh border. It is the second largest brackish water lagoon in South Asia. It can be a one day trip from Chennai – spend close to 4 hours in Pulicat and 3 hours to drive.

We were lucky to come across the tour by AARDE foundation on the occasion of Madras Day 2014 (23rd Aug) and we reserved a place for us @ Rs. 850 per person – including AC bus to Pulicat, breakfast and lunch. The tour guide was one Mr. Xavier from AARDE foundation.

The only thing I knew Pulicat was for boating in the brackish water lagoon and bird-sighting. But unfortunately that is banned now and we couldn’t do that during this trip. But after the tour I realized that there was a lot history attached to this place.

Things to do (or things I did):

  1. Dutch cemetery (1658 AD)
  2. Mosques
  3. Temples
  4. Churches
  5. Fort Geldria – built by Dutch in 1613 AD. There is nothing to see here. The fort, I was told, must have been completely destroyed by the British during 1825 AD.
  6. Boat ride in the lagoon (which is legally banned and we didn’t do it. really!), if you do, you can spot a lot of migratory birds.

How long:

This is a one day trip. 10 hours is more than enough. I would suggest you start early from Chennai(5 AM), boat rides can be really tough if it’s sunny.

For who:

  1. Those interested in architecture and history.
  2. Those interested in bird photography.
  3. Kids(below 15) might get bored.

Checklist:

  1. Water
  2. Hat
  3. Sunscreen lotion
  4. Camera
  5. Goggles

I’ll let the photos speak:

Streets of Pulicat

Street, houses and some vessels used for rain water storage from olden times

Periya Jamia Pallivasal and Arwi inscription

Periya Jamia Pallivasal. Built around 17th century. The right image shows the Arwi (Tamil in Arabic script) inscriptions.

Adi narayan perumal temple

Adi Narayan Perumal temple. The unique feature is the use of Laterite blocks for the construction of this temple. Laterite blocks were only used in Malabar and Konkan coast. Some inscriptions suggest that this temple was built in 13th century.

Samyaeswarar Temple

Samyaeswarar Temple. Left two images are that of the stepped well. The center image is the front view and the right most image is the back door.

Pulicat light house

Pulicat light house

Fishes kept for drying, Pulicat

Fishes kept for drying in the banks of the lagoon, Pulicat

The Dutch cemetery, Pulicat

The Dutch cemetery, Pulicat. 1658 AD

 

One day trip from Chennai – A Series

I did a post on long-weekend trips from Chennai, sometime back. Lot of my friends and family started asking me suggestions for one day trips in and around Chennai, so I thought I will write a post on that. The places I write about are visited by me and that could also be the reason why I might not have written about some places in my blogs. So the experiences I write about are original, just so you know! 🙂

So this is going to be series post. I have a bunch of places in mind and I thought I will split it into series of posts. At the time of starting this series I had visited the following places and these will appear as separate posts in TravelDose.

1. Dakshina Chithra

dakshina chithra photo

2. Mahabalipuram and Tiger caves

mahabalipuram, tamil nadu

3. Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

madras crocodile bank trust

4. Sadras

sadras cemetery

 

5 Long-weekend trips from Chennai

There is a long weekend coming up (Sept 7, 8, 9) and here are a few places that I’ll recommend for you. If you love driving, all these places are definitely approachable by road and believe me, Tamil Nadu state highways are great. If you do not want to drive, take a train or bus(chances of getting tickets is very less)

1. Chennai to Pondicherry (Pondy)

Distance – 160 Kms.

Genre – Coastal

You can take the scenic ECR or you can take the GST. Both roads have their benefits. If you take the ECR route, you can stop by at a lot of places (Dakshina Chithra, Crocodile bank, Mahabalipuram). If you start early morning by around 8, you can see all these places and reach Pondy before sunset. The next day you can roam around in Pondy in a relaxed, no hurry manner and start back from Pondicherry on the third day.

My post on Pondy trip

travel, places near chennai

2. Chennai – Pondy – Pichavaram – Tranquebar

Distance – 280 Kms

Genre – Coastal, Historic

First day morning start from Chennai and reach Pondy, chill out in Pondicherry that day. 2nd day morning start from Pondy and head to Pichavaram, less than an hour away.

Pichavaram has only one thing to offer. Boat ride in the mangrove forest. It is humid and hot during the middle of the day. So if you wish to enjoy this place, you need to go in the morning around 9 and the boat ride with get over by 12 or 1 PM. After that you can have lunch in Chidambaram or head to Tranquebar. Tranquebar (known as Tharangambadi) is popular for a Dutch fort which still stands in a good condition. It has a Dutch governor’s house and a Maritime museum. You can have lunch or dinner at a Neemrana hotel there. You can either stay there (bit costly) or stay in a Tamil Nadu house (property maintained by Neemrana) which is cheaper. OR you can just drive back to Pondy that night. 3rd day morning you can look around Pondy or Chill out there and start from Pondy around 3PM and be back in Chennai by 6 PM.

Tranquebar

 

3. Chennai – Masinagudi

Distance – 600 Kms

Genre – Hillstation

The driving is a bit too much, so if you are a road trip enthusiast and have one more driver with you on this trip, it’s better. Masinagudi is a great place to relax, you can go on a jungle safari or just relax in your resort. On your way back you can even stopby ooty and come.

My post on Chennai to Masinagudi Trip

ooty masinagudi

 

4. Chennai – Rameswaram

Distance – 550 Kms

Genre – Historic, temple town, superb beaches

It is a hidden gem, I would say. Not many know about the beautiful, white sand beaches and Dhanushkodi.

My post on Chennai to Rameswaram trip

rameswaram

 

5. Yercaud from Chennai

Distance – 350 Kms

Genre – Hillstation, Trekking

Amazing place for relaxing, superb weather, fresh air. The best thing is it is not even that far away from Chennai. If you are trekking enthusiast, you should really try this place. Rent out a tent-accommodation at Heaven’s Ledge and rent a guide. He will take you through the coffee plantations, through rivers and show you some superb viewpoints. My post on my Yercaud Trip

yercaud trip from chennai

Go. Travel.



Pichavaram Trip

If you are in Chennai and want to go on a trip for a weekend or a long weekend (say 3 days), Pichavaram + Pondicherryis a pretty good plan.Some facts about Pichavaram first:
  • You should be prepared to spend 3 hours in a boat
  • If you can’t swim and are afraid, don’t worry, the water is only 3 to 5 feet deep
  • If you are afraid of snakes, the TTDC rooms at Pichavaram are NOT the place to stay
  • The last one hour of the boat ride is really boring
  • There are NO crocodiles in the backwaters – So they say!
  • Bonus fact: The Pizza hut in Pondy serves BEER!! 🙂
There are two ways to do a trip – one, do it our way (the wrong way) and the other, learn from our mistakes and YOU do it the right way!Right Way – From Chennai to Pichavaram!It will take 5 hours by car, from Chennai to Pichavaram. That time includes a quick 30 mins for breakfast. The earlier you reach Pichavaram, the better. The reason you might be going to Pichavaram is the boat ride through the mangrove forests. It gets really really hot and humid. So go early, if you start from Chennai at 5 AM, you can reach Pichavaram by 10 AM. Finish the boat ride by 2 PM and head back to Pondicherry.
Or if you can manage the heat (its really hot!), you can start late from Chennai.
Start from Chennai @ 7 AM Saturday. Have a good breakfast at Pondicherry (Pondy) by 9 AM (If you are really hungry, then you can stop at some restaurant on the highway). Have breakfast and start from Pondy @ 10 30 AM and reach Pichavaram by noon. Do what you went there to do and bail out of there before sundown. Leave Pichavaram by 5 PM. Reach Pondy by 7 PM. Book a place, have dinner, take a walk with your girl friend (oops.. getting carried away, are we!). You can start from there Sunday morning or afternoon and reach Chennai by sundown.hope that was helpful!

What we did! The wrong way! 🙂

Will tell you how we went about the plan to go to Pichavaram

We(4 people, 2 could drive) started from Chennai, by car, on Saturday morning at 7:30. The plan was to go Pondy from Chennai via Thindivanam, as the roads are better, bigger. We reached Pondy by 11:30, stayed there till 3:30 and reached Chidambaram (We overshot Pichavaram, which is 6 Kms before Chidambaram) by 5:00. The road is two-lane and have to be careful driving on those. Even though Pichavaram is only 70 Kms from Pondy, it takes one and a half hours to reach.

There is a hotel at Chidambaram to stay. Take that choice if you have to spend the night there, its a much better and safer option than spending the night at the Pichavaram TTDC room. Since we were four guys and didn’t know what Pichavaram had to offer, we started from Chidambaram at 5 30 and went to Pichavaram. That’s a 6 Kms from Chidambaram and then Off-road (almost) for another 10 Kms. It goes through small villages. Picturesque! yes. But safe, no! goats, kids, people in the middle of the road. And the road is 1.5 lane I guess! 🙂

We went to the TTDC guest house. Built right on the banks of the backwaters. Beautiful view! They serve dinner there and the rooms cost INR 400 for 2 beds. Its poorly maintained. The plaster on the wall is peeling off and there was snake in the bathroom. That was the next day morning. Wait… will get there in a while!

We had dinner at the TTDC place. I could see only 4 rooms and only two of those were occupied (that too by us!). We heard that we might get to meet the occasional fox or snake(s). The electricity went off for a two mins, I guess, twice. And THAT IS SCARY. So, Please don’t go with family. FREAKY!! That’s when we realized why there are no occupants.

We were told that the boat trip lasts for 4 hours – 3 hours on the water and 1 hour at the beach.

So we decided to go boating real early @ 7 AM so that we can be back by 11. We were planning on having lunch at Pondy.

A row boat, that can accommodate 4 people + 1 boatman, costs INR 600. Motor boat costs INR 2000 and motor boats are not allowed to go through the mangrove forests, so we were told. We took the row boat and had to “gift” the boatman another INR 400 to take us through the mangrove forest.

It takes close to 1.5 hours to reach the shore. And an awesome beach. It’s a beautiful place to be… worth all the trouble – power cuts, drive, money, snakes. Had lot of shells and some skull too 🙂

You can spend an hour at the beach. It gets really hot. And we hadn’t had anything to eat too. We got only water bottles and cola with us. After spending an hour at the beach, we went back on the boat, which was really boring this time. We reached our rooms by 11 AM and took a quick shower before leaving for Pondy. And as entered the bathroom, from the corner of my eye I could sense some movement at the corner of the bathroom – a snake!! Got my camera out and shot a pic- the sole reason many of you are here at this blogspot!

After a quick shower from another bathroom, we pushed off to Pondy for lunch. We reached Pondy by 1:30. After lunch guys got “carried away”. So, we started from Pondy at 5:30 and reached Tambaram, Chennai at 7 PM. It took us 45 mins from Tambaram to Guindy 🙂

And that was the trip that we did! – Wrong Way BUT FUN!!

and saw a big crab too..

More of Pichavaram pics will be coming up at potofshots.com

cheers

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