Travel

Before sunrise, after sunset: Chennai calling

A view of the Kapaleeswarar Temple. Photo: R. Ragu   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

6 AM: Start your morning in typical Chennai fashion at the Marina Beach. Sit down by the sea and watch the sun come up, while early risers walk the sandy.

Alternatively: Stroll along Thiruvanmiyur Beach or relax under the canopy of trees at Theosophical Society (Adyar). Or if you're up for it, head to Kovalam for some surfing lessons.

8 AM: This month, Chennai plays host to numerous Carnatic music concerts, replete with canteens serving the choicest of South Indian food. Make breakfast a carb-filled affair by indulging in ghee-laden pongal, crisp vadais, fluffy idlis and round it off with a tumbler of filter coffee.

Alternatively: Rayars Mess (Mylapore) for oversized vadais and Mysore bondas; Ratna Café (Triplicane) for ghee podi idli, or L’Amandier (RA Puram) for a bistro buffet breakfast.

9 AM: If you have strayed into a sabha for breakfast, make sure you stay for a concert. The kutcheris that take place in the morning or late evening usually feature big names. The SaRiGaMa app is a useful guide to navigate through them.

Alternatively: Immerse yourself in history at the Government Museum and plough through books at the Connemara Public Library (Egmore). Both are open by 9.30 a.m. Or, climb the 46-metre lighthouse at Marina Beach (open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) for a bird’s eye-view of the city.

11 AM: Make your way to the three-century old CSI St. Mary's Church at Fort St. George where the visitors’ book, dating back to 1903, bears the signatures of George V, Queen Elizabeth II, Princes Charles and Andrew.  

Alternatively: Visit the San Thome Basilica (Santhome High Road) that hosts the tomb of St. Thomas, who reportedly visited Mylapore in the 2nd Century. Feeling athletic? Run up 134 steps to reach the top of St. Thomas Mount, where Chennai spreads out before you, in all its splendour..

1 PM: After you’re done admiring the city from one of its best vantage points, it is time to fuel up. Try meals at Junior Kuppanna at T. Nagar, which includes its legendary brain fry.

Alternatively: Biryani and the iconic Chicken 65 at the 63-year-old Buhari (Anna Salai); Kerala prawn biryani at The Marina (Nungambakkam)or South Indian Thali at New Woodlands Hotel (R.K. Salai).

3 PM: Shop at the Pondy Bazaar Hawkers Complex at T. Nagar, which stocks a variety of clothing, accessories, and second-hand books. Make your way to the crowded Ranganathan Street and North Usman Road to pick up silk saris, stoles, and dress materials at Nalli, Pothys, and the multi-storied Saravana Stores through its mad rush of people.

Alternatively: Purasawalkam has also emerged as a popular shopping district. Pantheon Road (Egmore) stocks reasonably-priced cotton materials. George Town, where you get just about anything wholesale, is about 10 km away and worth a visit, as this 375-year-old city was born here.

5 PM: There's nothing like the sights and smells of Mylapore, with its flower stalls, vegetable vendors and maada veedhis (alleys). Visit the Kapaleeswarar Temple that follows the Vijayanagara architecture style and observe the intricate wood, stucco and stone carved sculptures. Help yourself to orange-coloured bajjis served through a small window at Jannal Bajji Kadai on the same street.

Alternatively: Wander along Peyazhwar Koil Street (Triplicane), probably the only remaining agraharam in the area and don’t miss the 8th Century Parthasarathy Temple.

7 PM: Superstar Rajinikanth's latest film  Lingaa has hit the screens. And when in Chennai, it’s mandatory to experience the phenomenon along with crazy fans armed with whistles, confetti and posters. Sathyam Cinemas (Royapettah), Sangam Cinemas (Kilpauk) and PVR (Aminjikarai) have regular shows.

Alternatively: Watch a movie under the stars at Prarthana (ECR), the drive-in theatre.

9 PM: Before you wind up for the night, have some pre-party drinks and dinner at Hotel Ranjith's rooftop bar in Nungambakkam.

Alternatively: Unwind at the Wild Garden Café at Amethyst (Royapettah) with waffles and a cup of coffee. Or head to Nair Mess (Triplicane) for chicken chukka. Kabab Corner (Greams Road) for Achari kebabs soaked in mango pickle.

11 PM: Finally, pub-hop your way through the city’s throbbing night life at one of Chennai’s spirited bars. Q Bar, the rooftop bar at Hilton (Guindy) gives you a 360-degree view of Chennai, of glinting traffic and car lights as crowds surround you in dance.

Alternatively: If it’s a laid-back vibe you prefer, try the Irish pub, Moon and Sixpence at Hablis Hotel (Guindy).

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 6:27:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/before-sunrise-after-sunset-chennai-calling/article6708061.ece

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