Posted on 11th Apr, 2015
Most of us cruise on the scenic East Coast Road connecting Chennai with southern Tamil Nadu. We often stop at Mahabalipuram and then cruise to Pondy. But ECR has many surprises all around. There are many attractions off ECR within a few kms from Chennai. Taking a diversion to visit these places and exploring them would make your journey more memorable. These largely unknown destinations would serve as perfect weekend getaways from Chennai.
1. Sadras Dutch Fort, Kalpakkam
Kalpakkam is popular for its nuclear facility. But on the seashore of Kalpakkam lies the remains of a 17th century Dutch fort, in a village named Sadras. Sadiravasagan Pattinam was its original name, which the British couldn’t pronounce, hence renamed to short and sweet Sadras, similar to Madras.
The fort was originally built to protect commercial interests of Dutch traders who were doing business in the region, but eventually became a war zone due to conflicts with British East India company.
The Dutch fort here doesn’t have much left, except couple of storage facilities, a well and a burial ground, within the remains of fort walls. The fort is maintained by ASI and is open to visitors between 7AM to 6 PM (9AM on week days). There is no entry fee.
2. Jagannath Temple, near Mayajal
After passing ECR toll booth, just before Mayajaal, a left turn can take you to this beautiful temple of Lord Jagannath. Whole complex is an attempt to be a lookalike of Puri Jagannath temple.
Temple complex is open to visitors between 6.30 AM to 12.30PM and between 3.30PM to 7.30 PM. It also houses nice sculptures and flowers.
3. Alamparai Fort ruins
Alamparai is another fort that is in the ruins. Only a part of its fort walls are now intact, rest have fallen apart fighting the wind and waves over centuries.
Diverting from ECR to Alamparai is tricky. After some 40 kms from Mahabalipuram, you need to take a left turn at Kadapakkam. Drive straight and after the bridge, turn right.
Apart from the ruins of the fort, Alamparai backwaters is good for a decent swim. Local fishermen offer unsecured boat rides on their fishing boats, for a fee. Climbing the steps at a corner of the fort gives a scenic view of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you might find some movie shoots in progress as well.
4. Pichavaram Mangrove Forests
Further down south, near the town of Chidambaram, lies Pichavaram Mangrove forest. Pichavaram is about 220kms from Chennai and about 10kms off ECR near Chidambaram. It is maintained by Tamil Nadu tourism development corporation. A boat ride takes you inside the Mangrove forests- riding below the them is an experience to cherish. See the pictures for yourselves.
Pichavaram boat rides open at 8.30. Do go in the morning half as crowd increases by noon.
Shrinidhi Hande is an IT professional and blogger. Shrinidhi has been blogging since 2006 at www.enidhi.net and writes primarily on travel, automobiles and product reviews. He is currently based in Chennai and enjoys indulging in adventures, long drives, photography, reading and more.
Road Trips, Chennai, Weekend Getaways, Sadras, Alamparai, Pichavaram Mangroves