Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

India is a country with a rich and vibrant culture. Bustling cities meet old-world style in a graceful tangle of crowds, scents, culture and tradition.

Chennai, one of India’s most interesting cities, has long been thought of as a cultural capital of India, thanks in large part to its rich heritage, culture and tradition. This huge metropolis, India’s fourth largest, traces its roots to the 17th century, when it was an outpost for the East India Company trading outpost and British military garrison.  Even today, British influence is keenly felt here.

Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

Chennai has so many lovely places to visit, among them Marina Beach. This silvery sand palace is the second longest beach in the world and offers beautiful views, relaxing waves and a variety of water activities including beach volleyball, surfing and fishing, making it an extremely popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The 20 acre Semmozhi Poonga park is also filled with scenic landscapes and lush greenery, showcasing over 500 varieties of trees, plants and vegetation from all over the world, and making it a natural fit for nature lovers. The Huddleston Gardens of Theosophical Society, a birdwatchers’ version of heaven,  also plays host to one of the widest varieties of migratory birds in the world.

The nearby city of Mahabalipuram, one of India’s oldest, is known for its assortment of stone-carved monuments and ancient temples. Mahabalipuram began its existence in the first century CE as a seaport under the Pallava dynasty. Today, these antiquities are recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.  Of particular note is Arjuna’s Penance, a 43 foot high open-air rock relief of intricate and detailed sculptures carved into two large rocks that are purported to tell the centuries old tale of Arjuna.

Further south on the coast you’ll find the former French colony of Pondicherry, often referred to as the  “Europe of India.”  Tourists here enjoy the beaches and French colonial ambience.    Located a short distance from Pondicherry lies Auroville, a township specifically designed as a universal town where people could come from all over the world to live together harmoniously.

Barbara Noble

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