Chennai is a culturally rich city mainly due to the influence of great dynasties such as the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Vijayanagar Empire at different points in time. Chennai is a truly cosmopolitan city with people of different religions leaving in peace and harmony. People of Tamil Nadu deeply value their traditions, and have over the years dedicatedly preserved their art forms, dance forms, and history. The towns near Chennai are no different and you can witness a great versatility in terms of language, culture, and cuisines.
Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry is a Union territory in southern India which was ruled by the French till 1954. Pondicherry continues to have some French-speaking people and a few others that speak English with a French accent. The aura of subcontinental aesthetic from France enhanced by Indian artists and designers can still be felt in the houses, restaurants, and hotels around Pondicherry. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville are internationally renowned places drawing a significant number of visitors seeking spiritual solace.
The older part of the town is all ‘French’ in character and most international visitors spend much of their time here. The streets in this section are clean, quiet, and lined with colonial style townhouses. However, when you move over to the newer Pondy, it is the typical South Indian hectic habitat. One can also hire Chennai to Pondicherry taxis and use the same to move around in Pondicherry.
Apart from abundant meditation and yoga, Pondicherry is one of the Indian cities where you can expect authentic French cuisine. Pondicherry occupies about 480 sq Kilometres with unmatched bio-diversity. The town is also dotted with beautiful beaches offering something for everyone such as the beaches, tranquil air, ashrams, breezy shores, alcohol, and food.
Though Vellore is a dusty South Indian town, its aura is distinctly cosmopolitan thanks to the presence of tertiary institutions like the Christian Medical College (CMC) which is one of the finest hospitals in India. Vellore is the home of rich Dravidian culture and heritage. The traditional art and dance forms are still cherished in the city. Bharatanatyam is the most famous dance form of Vellore besides different dance forms such as Devarattam, Kummi, Kolattam, etc.
Vellore sits on the Chennai-Bangalore highway and the main attractions here are the temples and the Vijayanagar fort. About 10 km from Vellore, a temple dedicated to Goddess Mahalaxmi in Sripuram village attracts a significant number of visitors from far and wide. The temple is also known as the Golden temple because it is gilded with 1500 kg of gold which is twice the 750 kg used in the Amritsar Golden temple in Punjab. Vellore should ideally be visited in January during its annual tourist fair.
Irrespective of the faith you follow, Tirupati is an ancient city in the state of Andhra Pradesh that should be visited once in your lifetime. Tirupati is known as the temple town because of the presence of several holy and renowned temples in the region. The Tirumala hills in the Tirupati city are the second oldest rock mountains in the world. Visitors can hire Chennai to Tirupati taxi available in the former city at competitive prices.
Besides the Sri Venkateshwara temple and Sri Veda Narayanaswami Temple, visitors can also enjoy the Talakona Waterfalls, TTD Gardens, Deer Park, and Sri Vari Museum. Most temples have a long history and mystery attached to them. It is believed that idol of Lord Ganesha at the Kanipakam temples increases in size every year. Not just the spiritualism, but the intricate workmanship at these temples is a window into the ancient culture and heritage.