So Finally after a haitus of 2 years since our epic Bangalore – Bhutan RoadTrip we started on the Bangalore- Chennai Trip. Chennai was not the first choice but since we wanted a destination on the plains , as my wife was planning to Drive too and she wanted to avoid the hills. Also my mothers old request to visit a particular church in Chennai. To keep both happy 🙂 , I decided to club this and give Chennai a visit. My elder sons 1oth Board exams were just over and he too needed a break for few days to simply “chill and relax” but he too wasn’t keen on a very adventurous trip. So it was decided Chennai / Mahabalipuram.
We started from Bangalore to Chennai which is a distance of approx. 350 kms. using the Bangalore – Hosur – Vellore – Sriperumbudur – Chennai Route. The roads are excellent as we started out early, to avoid the Bangalore Office Traffic and very soon we reached “Murugan Idli Shop” for breakfast. Surprisingly there was waiting period as lot of folks seemed to have “hit the road” back again for leisure travel. But the wait was worth it . The idli, dosa and the coconut sweet dish was hot and appetizing. A must try for all.
Very soon we started on for the destination and as we crossed some beautiful scenery of Krishnagiri and later towards Vellore, things started getting hotter. The Pleasant Bangalore weather gave way to heat and humidity and the car AC in full. Must tell that I hardly use the Car Ac when in Bangalore and driving alone.
Nevertheless clocking some reasonable speed , we closed on Sriperumbudur, which is the industrial hub of Tamil Nadu with many companies manufacturing units located there. Chennai is the “Detroit of India” as cars from companies like VW, Ford, BMW are all manufactured here. Sriperumbudur is also very distinctly etched in my childhood memory as the place of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination ( PM of India) by a human bomb. Nevertheless we moved towards Chennai and Anna Salai , where our Hotel was located. Surprised the Roads dint have many pot holes and lanes were pretty much planned and traffic few but not very organized. Two wheelers and autos were maneuvering their vehicles like Rajnikanth’s googles but roads without potholes so unlike Bangalore, was a pleasant change. We reached by 230 pm having left the home at 630 am and pretty standard driving with breakfast and ( Daber Jal – coconut water ) stops.
The Hotel was nice and after checking in we took some rest and since it was the hot Chennai noon we decided to explore the city later in the evening. Anna Salai is pretty much the center of Chennai with T-Nagar close by and Marina Beach pretty close too. We ended the day with some local sightseeing and a customary visit to Marina beach in the late evening.
Lot of places from Museum to Temples to Churches adorn Chennai and the local markets like T-Nagar Market, Usmaan Street, Pondy Bazaar, Etc are good to spend your 2-3 days in Chennai. We also made a quick stop to Mahabalipuram which is around 60 kms of pleasant driving from Chennai. Of course I wanted to look and feel the local business there and help local community in their daily livelihoods hence visited the Shore temple and the Shell Museum in Mahabalipuram. The beach is also good but being a little too hot for comfort we did not venture into the beach there. A quick drive to Pondicherry is also possible but preferably a night out in Pondicherry can be a better plan rather then a day-in and out plan.
I also wanted to promote “Active Travel” during all my RoadTrips hence did my customary 5k Run at Marina Beach on one of the days. The early morning sunrise and the morning fresh breeze of the sea was very satisfying. The hordes of morning walkers and runners including some local fishermen who thronged the beach side gave a very nice vibe and allure to the city lines. There is always something very romantic or lively about cities on sea beaches like Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Goa, Mangalore, Vishakhapatnam etc .It may be hot and humid but there is that early morning breeze and late evening breeze that makes the city vibrant and livable.
Along with my “Active Travel” quest, there is also the “Responsible Travel” search during my travels , to help local small businesses , specially post pandemic as many lost their livelihoods . Ssure enough the small tea joint outside our hotel and the walk-in small café close to our stay was the regular joint we frequented for our evening chai and light dinner. Here we met two unique gentlemen. The Tea Café close by was always greeted to us by a elderly gentleman who served the Tea and after the first visit knew our regular order. My observation that in Chennai most men who were working were elderly contrasting to Bangalore. Having set up a conversation with him, got to know that this 73 year gentlemen is originally form Mangalore ( to my MIL’s pleasant surprise who started off in Tulu and Konkani ) . His son ( a computer engineer ) and DIL are working and settled relatively well but did not support their father much and hence he took this work to support himself. I was happy that my regular chai and my MILs konkani made him smile for 2-3 days and enjoy our company. The second encounter was the small dinner café close to our hotel called “chit chat”. While we like the small cozy and light dinner / dessert place.. I got to chat up with the person who was handling our order and also the table. Initially he seemed to be diligently doing his work at this small cozy place with dedication and service. But later got to know that this simple person handling our order and table for the last 2-3 days was actually working here for the last 3 months only. He was the ex- Chennai billiards champion and now a billiards coach for young snooker players but due to pandemic since this sport and coaching had stopped, he took up a temp work to settle his bills and take care of family but seemed pretty satisfied doing this now. He said – its new and nice to learn this too. His simple, non egoist and down to earth attitude towards work and labor humbled me. I am used to candidates negotiating every lacs of rupees for a better offer / salary even after getting 20% / 30% hikes on their current Salaries and here were these 2 gentle man going about their lives in simple ways. What a contrast life can be. Don’t know who is more happy.
Anyways , the 3 days trip in Chennai was incomplete without some local shopping for kids and mommies and someone suggested a value shopping mall for women called “Saravana” stores. We found it very interesting and a great value for saree shopping which my mother was very happy , specially the price :).
Everyone happy in their own ways , boys got the perfect bed and breakfast to relax and laze around, we got time to see a new place and culture and I got to drive. All good and that was the end to the small but nice Chennai break.
Try Chennai and explore the rich culture of the city and its vibe. Try a Road Trip to Chennai.