With the Tamil Nadu government’s announcement declaring November 5 as a public holiday, the state now has a four-day weekend. TNM tells what you can do around your city.

Chennai what are your long weekend plans Here are our suggestionsDutch cemetery in Pulicat/ WikimediaCommons/ Destination8infinity/ CC BY-SA 3.0
news Travel Thursday, November 01, 2018 - 15:48

In a move that has surely brought cheers to many in the state, the Tamil Nadu government has declared November 5 -- that frustrating Monday between the weekend and Deepavali day -- as a public holiday. This now makes your Deepavali weekend is a four-day holiday. If you can afford to, like braving your boss, take Friday off, too, and your official weekend begins on November 2 and ends on November 6. If not, try asking work from home.

If you’re in Chennai, however, you can now officially divide your time between sleeping in, in this cosy monsoon weather and head out for a short holiday. Because why celebrate the festival of lights in the city when you can choose some of the idyllic locations in and around Chennai?

Tharangambadi/ Tranquebar 

This old-world Danish town, which is about 280 kilometres from Chennai, is everything you need to break away from the drab of city life. There is history, there is countryside calmness and plenty of sea-breeze. Now with the onset of northeast monsoon, there could not be a better time to visit this coastal hamlet. Tharangambadi, or Taranquebar if you want a fancy name, is speckled with places to visit if you are into history and architecture. There is Fort Dansborg, the Zion Church (oldest Protestant church in India), the Tranquebar Museum, New Jerusalem Church that was built 300 years ago in 1718 and the 700-year-old Masilamaninatha temple to choose from.

If you would like to just hole up for three days and watch the waves whisper mystical stories from the past, the Bungalow on the Beach, a 17th-century colonial house reimagined into a resort, is your best bet. And 15 kilometres to its south lies Karaikal, another town that is part of the Union territory of Puducherry. Should you choose to channel your inner beach bum this Deepavali, rest assured, there is no dearth of beaches in both Tharangambadi and Karaikal.

Tarangampadi Fort Ruins/ Wikimedia Commons/ QiNi/ CCBYSA4.0

Yelagiri

About 228 kilometres south-west of Chennai lies the picturesque hills of Yelagiri that offers the best for the adventure seeker in you. Head to Jalagamparai Waterfalls, a five-kilometre downhill trek from Yelagiri or go boating in Punganur Lake, an artificial body maintained by Elagiri Hills Development and Tourism Promotion Society. If you are interested in science, then you might want to visit Vainu Bappu Solar Observatory at Kavalur near Yelagiri, one of the largest in the region, owned and operated by Indian Institute of Astrophysics. It is interesting to note that in 1988, a new minor planet was discovered from here and was named 4130 Ramanujan, after the scientist. This was the first such discovery from the country in the 20th century.

Yelagiri Hills/ Wikimedia Commons/ mckaysavage/ CCBYSA2.0

Yercaud

This picturesque hill station is located in Salem district, Tamil Nadu, on the Eastern Ghats. Whether you want a busy trekking weekend or just laze about on a hammock, Yercaud is the perfect scenic spot for you, located about 360 kilometres from Chennai. Even as you behold the acres of coffee and orange plantations, you can take a stroll to the Lady's Seat, Gent's Seat and Children's Seat -- all natural rock formations that offer a splendid view from the hilltop. For a dose of history, you could also visit the ancient shrine in the hills, a short walk from the lake. Given that it is monsoon season now, you will also be able to enjoy the 300-foot Kiliyur Falls in all its majestic glory.

Yercaud Panorama/ Wikimedia Commons/ Mithun Kundu/ Multi-license GFDL, CCBYSA4.0

Pulicat

This is another Dutch legacy that lies at about 50 kilometres north of Chennai, closer to Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh. Pulicat is not just a historical town but home to hundreds of birds and fish. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars if you’re into bird watching. The Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, most well known for its flamingos, is best to visit during the winter months from October to March. While it is unfortunate that this second largest saltwater lake is losing its biodiversity, Pulicat still remains a scenic destination that’s worth a visit. You might also want to visit Fort Geldria, the first Dutch fort in India, and the old Dutch cemetery when you re at Pulicat.

Pulicat Lake/ Wikimedia Commons/ Manvendra Bhangui/ CCBYSA2.0

Vellore

Vellore might be a college town but it sure has a number of places you probably haven’t been to. You can’t miss the Vellore Fort, a 16th-century masterpiece left behind by the Vijayanagara rulers. The State Government Museum inside the Fort has a treasure trove of exhibits ranging from 400 BC  bronze double sword to ivory chess boards. The Assumption Cathedral and the 150-year-old St John's Church inside the fort and the Big Mosque that contains the largest Arabic college in India are must-visit places in Vellore. Amirthi Zoological Park and the Delhi Gate (part of Arcot’s fortification) are other places you might want to visit.

Vellore Fort/ WikimediaCommons/ K S Sai Krishna/ CCBYSA4.0

Puducherry

The easiest option for a Chennaite to fall back on, of course, is Puducherry. Adoringly known as Pondy, this Union Territory, located about 160 kilometres down the East Coast Road in Chennai, is a former French colony. If you haven't been here before, then you may want to visit the classics first: the promenade by the beach, the museum near the Lieutenant Governor’s residence, the neatly-lined and colourful French quarters, Aurobindo Ashram, Manakula Vinayagar Temple, St Lourd Church and the bustling Goubert market. However, if you have been here before, then you know you have to take advantage of the relatively low cost of the alcohol. You could also hit a few French cafes along White Town and MG Road. For the adventurous, there are also scuba diving lessons in town.

Aerial View of Rock Beach/ WikimediaCommons/ KarthikEasvur/ CCBYSA3.0

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