The part of India we live in is not a highlight according to the guide books. Nevertheless, we spent a few days of our fall break hitting some of the highlights of our region. Just about an hour south of us is Mahabalipuram which contains a number of sites that collectively are a Unesco world heritage site. We had already gone there once but didn’t have time to see all of the historical sites.
We then went to Pondicherry which is less than 2 hours south of us. Pondicherry is a different jurisdiction than our state of Tamil Nadu and has a French heritage. So liquor is more available, restaurants are more diverse and even the architecture is different (to a degree). We spent quite a bit of time just perusing the antique shops, relaxing, reading and decompressing. then when we left the area we drove inland instead of heading straight back to Chennai. We drove to the city of Tiruvannamalai where in the following days over a million pilgrims walk around the mountain near the city and temple that is part of Hindu mythology.
We realized that there is enough to do within just a few hours from each spot to actually have a significant cultural and historical experience right here in the state we’re in.