One of Tamil Nadu‘s most popular hill stations, Kodaikanal is also a great destination for those interested in hiking and trekking and boasts of a number of great trails. The three most popular trekking routes near Kodaikanal are the Mountain Beauty trek, Dolphin’s Nose trek and the Echo Rock trek. However, trekking activity isn’t restricted to Kodaikanal and the region surrounding the hill station is also home to a number of hills and reserve forests that offer several breathtaking trekking routes. The most popular among these is the Palani Hills Reserve Forest, which is located at an elevation of nearly 2,500 metres and is home to some of the toughest trekking routes in the state.
Chennai is in many ways the racing capital of India. In fact, it was in this city that both of India’s only two F1 drivers, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, started their racing careers. The city is home to a full-fledged racing track in Irungattukottai near Sriperumbadur, which hosts a number of local racing events that both amateur and professional racers can take part in. The track, run by Madras Motor Sports Club, is also popular for motorcycle racing and draws a large number of racers from across the region.
Tamil Nadu’s Western Ghats region is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the region has always been popular as a tourist destination and well-known for its scenic beauty, recent years have also seen a spike of interest in adventure activities such as mountaineering. The hills in the region surrounding Nilgiris and Coonoor are particularly popular for rock-climbing. However, this activity isn’t regulated in the state and hence, it is advisable to go only through recognised service providers. There are a number of popular providers that offer activities like rock-climbing, rappelling and bouldering in Coonoor, such as NALS Outdoors India.
In recent years, Chennai’s East Coast Road has become an important destination for adventure sports like go-karting, ATV riding and jet-skiing. The stretch between Chennai’s Sholinganallur and Mahabalipuram is now home to several up and coming destinations such as Kart Attack and ECR Speedway for go-karting, Wild Tribe Ranch for ATV and indoor adventure activities and Beach Adventures near MCBT for jet-skiing. Prices for activities at these facilities can vary anywhere between Rs. 100-1,000.
Jungle-trekking is now one of the most popular buzzwords in adventure tourism and has picked up a lot in recent years in Tamil Nadu. One of the most popular destinations for jungle-trekking in the state is the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in the Nilgiri sub-cluster of the Western Ghats, which draws trekkers from all across the country. A defining characteristic of the Mudumalai WS is its dense jungles with thick vegetation that are perfect for jungle-trekking. Mudumalai is home to a large population of tigers, leopards and elephants and is also a birding hotspot, making it a fascinating destination for jungle-trekking.
In recent decades, Chennai’s off-roading enthusiasts have turned the region around the city into a popular off-roading hub with several destinations and clubs now organising regular off-road events and competitions. Venues for these events vary and past events have taken place in areas such as Semmencherry near Chennai and the bed of the Palar River near Mahabalipuram. The city is home to a number of popular off-roading clubs such as Terra Tigers, which organises regular off-road events for both members and non-members.
Tamil Nadu’s eastern coast has seen a tremendous upswing of interest in surfing and the beaches to the south of Chennai are truly at the centre of this phenomenon. Kovalam, in particular, has earned its spot on the global map for surfing thanks to its immensely popular annual surf festival. Mahabalipuram is another destination that is popular for surfing thanks to its large swells that are conducive to surfing. Both of these destinations have a number of surfboard rental shops and travellers can also take part in surfing classes at places like the Bay of Life Surf School in Kovalam and Mumu Surf School in Mahabalipuram.
While the terrain in a number of regions in Tamil Nadu is perfect for rock-climbing, the activity isn’t regulated in the state, leading to safety concerns. However, to compensate for this, a number of great rock-climbing arenas have come up in recent years in cities such as Chennai and Coimbatore. This is primarily thanks to increasing awareness and interest in alternative fitness options in these cities. Some of the most popular indoor rock-climbing arenas in Tamil Nadu include Fit Rock Arena in Chennai and the NALS Climbing Wall in Coimbatore.
Paragliding is one of the most popular adventure activities in the world and Tamil Nadu has a number of destinations that offer it. The most popular destination for paragliding in the state is the hill station of Yelagiri near Vellore, which offers one of the best paragliding experiences in South India. The hill station is located almost equidistant from the two major cities of South India, Chennai and Bengaluru, and attracts a large number of adventure enthusiasts. Paragliding in Yelagiri usually takes place in the pre-monsoon months of June to August, with take-off being from a maximum height of 2,000 feet. Providers, such as TemplePilots in Yelagiri, also give week-long paragliding courses that are tailored to different age groups.
Being a coastal city with a wealth of marine life, Chennai has always been a great destination for sports fishing enthusiasts. However, the activity has seen a spike in interest in recent years with the opening of several new service providers. The waters around Chennai are home to several exotic species of fish including barracuda, barramundi, king mackerel, yellowfin tuna and the giant trevally. Some of the most popular providers for sports fishing in Chennai include Barracuda Bay Sports Fishing and Blue Waters Sports Fishing.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu’s Queen of the Hills, has always been popular for its natural beauty and holiday vibe. However, this hill station has recently also become a hub for adventure activities, such as mountain biking, with the opening of the new Mountain Bike Park near South Lake. The park is built upon the hilly and rugged terrain of the Western Ghats and makes for a thrill-filled biking experience with steep curves, bends and tough inclines. Run by the Tamil Nadu government in collaboration with TI Cycles, a popular bike brand in India, the park also regularly hosts mountain biking competitions and events.