Chennai is arguably the modern cultural centre of Southern India but there is a lot of old history in the vicinity too. Here are some perfect destinations that would satisfy those who love Indian heritage.

The Monuments of Mahabalipuram

The temples of Mahabalipuram are captivating, to say the least. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and with the backdrop of the Bay of Bengal, the temples and sculptures complete an alluring image. There are around 400 monuments and structures in Mahabalipuram, built over many years during the height of the Pallava dynasty.

Rathas are chariot-shaped temples that can be seen in Mahabalipuram. The five-ratha group of temples is dedicated to the five protagonist brothers of the Mahabharata. These ornate temples sit on the beach. Mahabalipuram is also home to some cave temples full of intricate relief work and friezes. Some of the famous cave temples here are the Ramanuja and Koneri cave temples. The Shore Temple is probably the most recognizable of Mahabalipuram’s many treasures. Its towers jut out with exquisitely detailed sculptures and carvings, a hallmark of South Indian temple architecture.

The rock reliefs of Mahabalipuram chronicle religious stories in fascinating detail, including stories from the Mahabharat, an epic that is a central theme in Mahabalipuram. The Descent of the Ganges is the most famous of these relief works.

Chennai to Mahabalipuram is a scenic 60-km drive south on the East Coast Road. Many travellers are opting to hire a car and drive it themselves. This assures complete privacy and total control over the stops and pace of the journey while also creating more space.


Further down the East Coast Road is an enigma of a place. Pondicherry is a town famous for its baguettes and its gopurams, its backpacker culture and its stately monuments. The French have left but several aspects of French culture remain an integral part of Pondicherry. One can explore the many streets of the French quarters, typified with quintessential European architectural designs made for the steamy coastal climate.

The ocean facing promenade is a great place to be during the evenings. It is a place with many monuments – some prominent ones are the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the French War Memorial, the AayiMandapam and the statue of Dupleix. One can grab a bite at the famous Le Café, a restaurant set up in an impressive heritage building right on the promenade.

Pondicherry also has many temples. Some of the most revered ones include the Kammatchiamman Temple, the ManakulaVinayanagar Temple and the VaradarajaPerumal Temple. The Eglise De Notre Dame Des Anges is a sea-facing church looms over the finely laid-out courtyards and townhouses of the French quarters.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus Basilica is one of the architectural highlights of a Pondicherry trip.

Travelling in Freedom

With app-based rental platforms like Zoomcar, registered users can hire cars in Chennai at any time of the day. One gets to choose from a wide range of cars and 24/7 on-road support adds convenience to the whole road trip experience. The shores of Southern India have many tales to tell. Make a plan, round up the friends, get behind the wheel and hit the East Coast Road.