Chennai’s East Coast Road is one of the most scenic routes in the city and has been a favourite for late-night long drives for decades. However, what many fail to realise is that the East Coast Road (ECR) is a lot more than just another beautiful road to drive through; instead, it is a destination unto itself with several attractions that deserve a visit. So, if you’re up for an ECR adventure that includes more than just a long drive, here’s every amazing stop you can make along the way.
VGP Golden Beach and Theme Park
One of the oldest amusement/theme parks in the city, the VGP Golden Beach Resort is perhaps the most popular landmark along Chennai’s East Coast Road. Located at the edge of the city in Injambakkam, the VGP Universal Kingdom amusement park attracts large crowds on the weekends and boasts several new and exciting rides and attractions. The resort is also home to a number of restaurants and drinking options and is one of the most visited commercial attractions in the city.
Cholamandal Artists’ Village
If you are an art lover driving along the ECR, then the Cholamandal Artists’ Village is one stop you should definitely make. One of the most important art destinations in the city, it is impossible to talk about the artistic heritage and culture of Chennai without mentioning Cholamandal, the largest artists’ commune in the country. The sprawling campus was founded in 1966 and was the centre of the Madras Art Movement that lasted from the 50s to the 80s. The Village is also home to a gallery that houses some of the important artworks to have come out of Chennai’s art scene.
If it is possible anywhere in Chennai to find an empty and quiet beach that you can have all to yourself, it is along the East Coast Road. With several quiet and lesser-known beaches flanking this scenic highway, taking a turn towards the sea at any point will probably lead you to a peaceful and mostly empty beach. The most popular and stop-worthy sandy destinations along the ECR are the Akkarai and ECR Beaches. Located in Sholinganallur at the edge of the city, these two beaches might not have the street food or flea-market chops of Marina or even a wealth of restaurants and cafés like Elliot’s, but they offer something you won’t find in any other beaches within the city, which is peace and quiet.
Offroad Sports/Go Karting
Driving along the ECR is in itself quite a pleasurable experience. But if you’re looking for some excitement and speed without endangering your life, your best option is to stop by one of the several offroad attractions along ECR. The most popular among these are Kart Attack and ECR Speedway for go-karting and Offroad Sports ECR for everything else from Jet Skiing and ATVs to even paintball.
Madras Crocodile Bank
Popularly known as Croc Bank, the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is not only one of the best-known attractions along ECR but is also an extremely important wildlife venue in all of Chennai. Declared a medium zoo in the 90s, the sprawling Croc Bank campus is home to over 2,400 crocodiles and over 4,000 reptiles in total, making it one of the largest reptile conservatories in the country. While visiting the Croc Bank just to witness the majestic reptiles is a worthwhile affair, a highly recommended activity is visiting it in the late evening for the night safari, where visitors can tour the Croc Bank with guides and torches in the dark and witness the crocs at their wildest best.
A museum dedicated to the accumulated culture of all four southern states of India, the Dakshin Chitra is one of the most culturally fascinating destinations in all of Chennai. A visit to this museum is akin to taking an actual short tour of the features of the four states. Located right on the East Coast Road in Muttukadu, Dakshin Chitra is not only a great cultural attraction, but it is also a great option when it comes to shopping for handicrafts, ethnic and tribal jewellery and souvenirs.
Kovalam (Surf School)
One of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches in this region of the Coromandel Coast, Kovalam Beach lies less than 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Chennai along the ECR and is best known for being a great surfing destination. It is also home to Chennai’s leading surf school, the Bay of Life Surf School, which provides professional training in surfing and also has surfboard rentals. Kovalam is also home to a number of excellent restaurants and hotels, including the award-winning Taj Fisherman’s Cove.