It's summer and there is so much you can do. Check out all that's on offer on the East Coast Road, you will be surprised.

Here's a road that takes you along the coast for almost 170 kilometres. But the best part of the drive down this road is not just the glimpse of the sea but the places of interest you can visit at regular intervals. Check out the East Coast Road popularly known as ECR. This is one place you can never tire of.

This summer if there's a day you have nothing to do head straight to the ECR. A day trip from Chennai to Mahabalipuram and back can be easily covered in 10 hours. That is, not just driving down but sightseeing too.

8.00a.m.: Leave home, head straight to NH 45A. With many breakfast options here's a chance to explore the ones that will make you come back for more.

Tip: Try Thanjavur and don't forget to binge as lunch could be late.

9.00a.m.: Cholamandal Artists' Village is situated in Injambakkam. You will find it is an ideal destination for art lovers. Founded in 1966, by K.C.S. Paniker, it now houses budding artists and is an important art destination. It is the largest artists commune in India and the artists here have been credited for the Madras Movement of Art (1950s to 1980s). You will need about 45 minutes to look around and savour the atmosphere.

10.00 a.m.: DakshinaChitra – Next stop is a centre that is known for its living traditions of art, folk performing arts, craft and architecture of India. Comprising all the four Southern states, what started as a project has now become an important tourist destination. It was started to provide a place where the many cultures of south Indian states could be showcased.

Tip; Do not miss the Kili Joisiayam and the basket weavers.

11.30 a.m.: Muttukadu – A kilometre away and you arrive at this boating centre run by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). It is an excellent picnic spot. The backwaters are developed by the TTDC and it provides an ideal spot for water sports.

Tip: Do not miss the boat ride and or a trip on a speedboat.

12.30 p.m.: Madras Crocodile Bank Trust – Five kilometres down the road and you will hit the Croc Bank. This is a centre for herpetology. A breeding and preservation centre you will not only see amphibians but also get to learn a lot about them. The Croc Bank is one of the largest reptile zoos in the world and also one of the oldest non-government environmental organisations in Asia. The main aim of the Bank is conservation of reptiles and amphibians on the Indian subcontinent.

Tip: Pose with a baby crocodile and feed the hungry crocs.

1.45 p.m: Mahabalipuram – The next stop is a little distance away – almost 14 kilometres. You will arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since you will be famished by now first on the cards is lunch. Let your palate experiment while you're there and try the coastal cuisine or the Continental favourites. Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast and faces the Bay of Bengal. It was a well established sea port during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty. It was the second capital of the Pallavas – the rulers of Kanchipuram. Here you can visit the Shore Temple, the many rock-cut caves, temples made from a single rock, bas-reliefs and more. Take a walk around the place and find out for yourself what this “open-air museum” has to offer.

Tip: Watch the stone carvers on your way, shop for sarongs or hammocks.

5.30 p.m.: Head back to Chennai with a bag full of memories of the day trip you've just had!

Keywords: East Coast Road

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