Mahabs and every single place you can drive to from Chennai
Even though Tamil Nadu has extended its lockdown till October 31, intrastate travel is relatively easy to undertake. At the moment few places, such as Ooty, are out of bound for tourists but for most part, you don’t require an e-pass to travel anywhere within Tamil Nadu, which makes it particularly convenient for those of us who want to get out of the city.
After the famed visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mahabalipuram saw considerable rise in tourist footfalls for some months before the lockdown came into effect. Six months later, the coastal temple town is open again and requires no e-pass. It didn’t take long for Chennnaiites to head down to Mahabs as the town opened its doors to tourists. You could do the same too and even explore certain sections of the Shore Temple, which have been opened for tourists.
Puducherry too has withdrawn the e-pass requirement for interstate or intrastate travels. Earlier, the union territory had sealed its border with Tamil Nadu because of the rise in the number of coronavirus cases. Only essential travel was allowed into the UT and that too with an e-pass. However, with the lockdown easing out, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has removed the e-pass directive and is welcoming people from outside of the UT. However, you will need to enrol yourself at the nearest Primary Health Centre in the neighbourhood.
Yelagiri is one of the few places in Tamil Nadu that requires an e-pass. To visit Yelagiri, you will be required to have all your documents verified and collect an e-pass from the district collector’s office before you decide to head over to the hill station. Yelagiri has started allowing the entry of state transport buses and inter-district trains from last month itself and home-stays, resorts and hotels have reopened for tourists.
Though not in Chennai, Horsley Hills has been welcoming tourists for some time now. The hill station that is often called the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh may well serve as a great alternative to the original, which remains largely out of bounds for tourists. Horsley Hills, on the other hand, has been open since early June when the Andhra Pradesh Minister of Tourism, Culture and Youth Advancement, Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao announced that all restaurants and tourism would resume in the state while following Covid-19 regulation norms.
After being shut for a good part of the year, Kodaikanal is now welcoming tourists. However, you cannot simply drive up to Kodaikanal as you would have done in the past. You will need to apply for an e-pass from the district administration to visit it. Kodaikanal has been opened following an appeal from the tourism industry to open up activities and tourist sites. Some, such as Rose Garden, Bryant Park, and Chettiar Park are now open though you could well check into a great hotel and have a good time by taking socially distanced walks.