Tired of the traffic? The noise and the hustle and bustle of the beast with one-way streets and diversions, thanks to Metro Rail and associated construction work? With bumper-to-bumper traffic, empty stretches of road exist only in our imagination. So where do you go for a quiet drive and solitude within the city? Sudhish Kamath combs the city for deserted roads and finds quite a few.
It’s the most beautiful sight when you look at it from the coffee shop at the Leela Palace, MRC Nagar. The broken stretch of bridge over the bit where the sea meets the backwaters of the Adyar estuary. The way to the bridge doesn’t show up on Google Maps. So if you think you can arm yourself with a smartphone and find your way to the bridge, you’re sure to lose your phone before you head back. Crime rate used to be extremely high in the area and the police have been monitoring the stretch since through regular patrols.
Given how remote it is (you have to ride/drive for a kilometre at least past a fishing hamlet behind Thalapakatti Biryani, Besant Nagar beach), it is a favourite among film production units, given the narrow bridge extends to nowhere. The fight between Madhavan and Suriya in Mani Ratnam’s Aayitha Ezhuthu was shot there.
It helps to know names of the influential in the area if you get stuck there with a mysterious flat tyre and are suddenly surrounded by dangerous looking men. I once got away saying I had come to meet ‘Ravi’ to enquire about permissions for shooting there. You get one of the most beautiful and dramatic views of the city from the middle of the broken bridge and look at what’s left of the structure that was swept away by strong currents in 1977.
Best time to go there: Sunrise/Sunset
Where else in the city can you see deer cross the road? The picturesque roads inside IIT are reason enough to make friends with the residents. The air is so fresh that many drive kilometres to IIT just for a morning walk.
It’s said that temperatures are at least a couple of degrees cooler inside the campus. With frequent speed breakers and monitoring entry of people (you cannot drive in without an entry pass), the authorities have ensured that nobody overspeeds in the woods.
This is simply the best place to go cycling, far away from the chaos of engines and traffic in the city.
Best time to go there: Evenings
St. Thomas Mount
This road would take you all the way to the top of the hill. Monitored by the Army and the police quite regularly, this access road is about 50 years old and takes you to one of the most vantage points in the city if you want to watch the planes take off from the runway. Driving through this stretch of winding road uphill is quite an adventure. You get a bird’s eye view of the entire city, given that this is among the highest points in the city.
Best time to go there: Before sunset/ after sunrise.
Boat Club Road
Tucked away under a canopy of trees and a quiet neighbourhood, this classy piece of road is one of the city’s best kept secrets, located right at the heart of the city.
It connects one of the most premium pieces of real estate in the city to Chamiers Road and is a favourite among joggers and health freaks.
Given that the Madras Boat Club moved to its current location way back in 1892, this is one of the city’s oldest, breeziest and quietest neighbourhoods and continues to be so.
The views from the Madras Boat Club are breathtaking enough for you to make friends with members or take up rowing.
Best time to go there: Early mornings/ evenings
While there are plenty of lanes frequented by lovers, Besant Nagar’s 4th Avenue Link Road that connects Besant Avenue Road and Third Avenue is one of the quietest and narrowest lanes preferred by romantics. Located opposite the Theosophical society, the road is often used as a shortcut for those who want to cut across Besant Avenue Road through the bylanes.
With at least a couple of blind spots, this is a quaint old lane that is perfect even for a long walk or jog.
And there are all the lanes that connect East Coast Road to the beach (from the backyard of Kalakshetra Colony to Muttukaadu), that are often deserted and also dangerous, with numerous incidents of mugging and harassment reported. And many more scarily unreported.