The ultimate Tamil Nadu coastline roadtrip itinerary

Road trips in Tamil Nadu are an incredible variation, as the city is surrounded by picturesque landscapes and amazing places. Many of these places are virgin to the human touch, and the roads that lead away from this city are yearning for you to get on your wheels and measure their spread. Tamil Nadu is ideal for a road trip, as the roads are studded with exciting adventure sports, theme parks, and abundant views of the plains and the ocean. Coastal Tamil Nadu is full of treasures waiting to be discovered. This Tamil Nadu roadtrip itinerary will make your next trip unforgettable.

coastal tamil nadu road trip
Tamil Nadu roadtrip itinerary

7 Days of natural wonders & cultural delights

We have curated a list of the unknown gems of coastal Tamil Nadu covering over 1149 km in 7 days. We start the itinerary from Chennai, the state capital, travel through the temples of Mahabaleshwar, stroll through the French lanes of Pondicherry, immerse in the spirituality of Chidambaram and Thanjavur, take a pit stop at Karaikudi, explore the beaches of Rameshwaram and finally return to Chennai. All you need is to pack your bags, book a Savaari from Chennai and get exploring! And what better way there is, than hitting the roads?

Day 1 – Travel from Chennai to Mahabalipuram

Famous for its intricately carved temples and rock-cut caves, Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram as it is famously known, is a historically important and well-loved destination located 58 km from Chennai. Once the abode of the famous demon king Mahabali, Mahabalipuram was later renamed Mamallapuram. 

Mahabalipuram is a true testimony to rich Dravidian art and temple architecture and harbours about forty monuments in varying degrees of completion. It is believed that the Shore Temple had seven pagodas built back in the 6th–7th centuries. Apart from the historical sites and structures, Mahabalipuram boasts of other places of interest that include lighthouses, pristine beaches, temples and even museums. From ancient temples, spell-binding sculptures, and rocks reading epic poetry to mind-blowing mysteries, Mahabalipuram is an ideal escapade for all kinds of travellers – be it family vacationers, solo travellers, couples or even backpackers, and is a must visit in your Tamil Nadu roadtrip itinerary. 

Driver suggested things to do in Mahabalipuram

  • Camp at the beach, light a campfire and enjoy the amazing views
  • Visit the Kadumbadi village and experience the quaint life of rural Tamil Nadu
  • Take a Fishing Safari offered by many local service providers
  • Go surfing in the Mahabalipuram beach
  • Purchase stone sculptures and miniature monolithic rock-cut carvings from Mount Road and Arjuna Penance

Driver suggested places to visit in Mahabalipuram

  • Shore Temple
  • Mahabalipuram Beach
  • Five Rathas
  • Arjuna’s Penance
  • Krishna’s Butterball
  • Alamparai Fort 

Cuisines to relish in Mahabalipuram

  • Sweet and Sour Fish fry 
  • Prawn Butter Masala
  • Chicken Spaghetti 
  • Crab Masala 
  • Grilled Calamari

Day 2 – Book a Savaari from Mahabalipuram to Pondicherry

Located 94 km away from Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry is a love child of Indian and French cultures on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu. The Pallava and Chola dynasties reigned Pondicherry during the Pre-Colonial period, which was followed by the rule of the Naikship of Gingee, which was later conquered by the Sultan of Bijapur. The prospering trade of Puducherry attracted the French and the predominant feature of the town was laid by the French pioneer Francois Martin in the form of a French settlement in 1674 A.D. 

Now the old Bouganvellia-draped French-style houses, churches and even the newly built French-style shops, and brightly coloured cafes and restaurants give Pondicherry an exotic character. Sun-kissed beaches, unearthly ashrams, elaborate museums, plush family parks, and chic clubs offer you an experience of a lifetime, and is a must visit in your Tamil Nadu roadtrip itinerary. 

Driver suggested things to do in Pondicherry

  • Explore the exotic avifauna at Osudu Lake. 
  • Take a bicycle ride through the town. 
  • Try out all kinds of water sports at Karaikal Beach
  • Visit the Cluny Embroidery Center
  • Take a guided Scuba session
  • Gorge on delectable local food
  • Shop for bohemian stuff at Casablanca
  • Ferry Ride to Paradise Beach

Add these Pondicherry tourist attractions to your itinerary

  • Paradise Beach
  • Sri Aurobindo Ashram
  • Auroville
  • Promenade
  • Serenity Beach
  • Arikamedu
  • The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Driver suggested cuisines to try out in Pondicherry

  • Pondy Moussaka
  • Pineapple Sheera
  • Medu Vadas
  • Soybean Dosa
  • Khow Suey

Day 3 – Take a Savaari from Pondicherry to Chidambaram

Located 64 km away from Pondicherry, Chidambaram is a tiny town tucked away along the Bay of Bengal in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu and is home to the most iconic Shiva temple in India. Chidambaram, the name of the city and the temple literally means “atmosphere of wisdom” or “clothed in thought”, The temple architecture symbolises the connection between the  arts and spirituality, creative activity and the divine. 

With several other important temples dotting the landscape, beautiful beaches, rivers, canals, backwaters and widespread mangroves, Chidambaram is so much more than just a temple town, and is a must visit in your Tamil Nadu roadtrip itinerary. Apart from the many pilgrims that visit the Chidambaram Nataraja temple, every year, researchers from across the globe come here to research the temple’s many mysteries.

Add these Chidambaram tourist attractions to your itinerary

  • Visit the Pichavaram Mangrove Forests
  • Shop souvenirs and local handicrafts products at Khadi Handicrafts shop
  • Discover nature in its purest form at Pichavaram backwaters
  • Enter the hallowed gateway of Annamalai University campus.
  • Take part in Margazhi Urchavam(chariot festival).

Driver suggested places to visit in Chidambaram

  • Thillai Nataraja Temple
  • Thillai Kali Amman Temple
  • Pichavaram Mangrove Forest
  • TIrunallurpperumanam Temple

Day 4 – Take a Savaari from Chidambaram to Thanjavur

Located 128 km from Chidambaram, the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur is one of the important UNESCO heritage sites of India. The name Thanjavur is derived from “Tanjan”, a legendary asura in Hindu mythology. The city rose into prominence during the rule of the Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola empire.

Also known as Tanjore or the city of temples, Thanjavur has a lot of cultural value and is known for its famous Tanjore paintings, antiques and handicrafts, textiles and saris, and its Carnatic music. This is a place where you can constantly witness the magnificent and dynamic cultures of the past and present breathing life into and living in every day, giving the area a unique and glorious identity.

Driver suggested things to do in Thanjavur

  • Get spell bound by the ethereal Airavatesvara Temple
  • Cleanse your sins at the Thirunallar Temple
  • Relive History at Thanjavur Royal Palace Museum
  • Marvel at the displays of Tanjore Art Gallery
  • Bask Natural Bliss of Siva Ganga Garden
  • Collect ancient wisdom at Saraswati Mahal Library

Add these Thanjavur tourist attractions to your itinerary

  • Brihadeshwara Temple
  • Gangaikonda Cholapuram
  • Shiva Ganga Garden
  • Vijayanagar Fort
  • Thanjai Mamani Koil
  • Alangudi Guru Temple
  • Bangaru Kamakshi Amman Temple
  • Schwartz Church
  • Saraswathi Mahal Library

Driver suggested cuisines to relish in Thanjavur

  • Thavala Adai
  • Paanagam
  • Ashoka Halwa 
  • Manga Curry
  • Thiruvarur Kadappa
  • Kozhakatta

Day 5 – Travel from Thanjavur to Karaikudi

Located 105 km from Thanjavur, Karaikudi used to be a powerful heritage hub of South India. Much of Karaikudi’s history was established around the 18th century when the Chettiars- a trading community – settled here. Emboldened by the wealth gathered through trade, these Chettiars built huge palatial homes that were adorned with artifacts and materials imported from far and wide.

Karaikudi draws visitors with its gorgeous temples and lip-smacking Chettinad delicacies, and is a must visit in your Tamil Nadu roadtrip itinerary. Explore the narrow alleys and step into the magnificent mansions built by the Chettiar men who once traded everything from rice to diamonds overseas. When in Karaikudi, don’t forget to try Chettinad cuisine; some of the popular dishes include ‘Idiyappam’, ‘Paal Payasam’, ‘Chicken Chettinad’ and ‘Palkatti Chettinadu’.

Driver suggested things to do in Karaikudi

  • Appreciate the crafts at Sri Mahalakshmi Handloom Weaving Centre
  • Celebrate Sevvai Perum Tiruvizha at Koppudai Amman Temple
  • Shop at Kallukatti Main Bazar
  • Learn more about hand-made tiles at Athangudi
  • Have a Chettinad feast at Indrani Mess

Add these Karaikudi tourist attractions to your itinerary

  • Shri Sai Paani Baba 
  • Chettinad Palace
  • Athangudi
  • Ariyakudi
  • Kandanur

Driver suggested Chettinad cuisines to try out in Karaikudi

  • Kara Kulambu
  • Mor Kulambu
  • Vatha Kulambu
  • Crab Curry
  • Mahilampu puttu
  • Idiyappam
  • Paal Payasam
  • Palkatti Chettinad
  • Chicken Chettinad

Day 6 – Travel from Karaikudi to Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram temple

Located 140 km from Karaikudi, Rameshwaram is a small island and a pilgrimage center connected to the mainland via the famous Pamban Bridge. The town of Rameswaram and the famous Ramanathaswamy Temple find mention in the Hindu epic Ramayana where it is said that Lord Rama, the King of Ayodhya offered prayers to Lord Shiva here in Rameswaram after his victory in the kingdom of Lanka. 

Also, Lord Rama along with Lord Hanuman and his monkey clan built the famous Ram Setu across the sea to be able to reach Lanka and free Sita from the clutches of the demon King Ravana. Since time immemorial, Rameshwaram has been on the list of Hindu pilgrims and travelers who choose to visit this holy place in India at least once a year. 

The beautiful architecture of the temples and the timeless beauty of the beaches are bound to fill you with an absolute sense of wonder. A ride across the human-made Pamban Bridge is one of the most awe-inspiring experiences in India. Another major point of interest in Rameshwaram is the famous Dhanushkhodi Beach. Until recently, the beach was well-known for a temple and a church which, however, got washed away in a cyclone in 1964, leaving behind ruins. Rameshwaram tourism is not just about the temple and worship. Head down to the farthest point of southern India and explore its untouched beauty.

Add these Rameshwaram tourist attractions to your itinerary

  • Visit the beaches in Rameshwaram
  • Visit the Kalam House Museum
  • Visit the Ghost Town of Dhanushkodi 
  • Go Kite Surfing 

Driver suggested places to visit in Rameshwaram

  • Rameshwaram Temple
  • Dhanushkodi Temple and Beach
  • Jatayu Tirtham
  • Agnitheertham
  • Lakshmana Tirtham
  • Villoondi Tirtham

Day 7 – Travel from Rameshwaram to Chennai

Located 559 km away from Rameshwaram, Chennai, the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu is spread across an area of around 1189 square kilometres on the Eastern Coastal Plains. A road trip from Rameshwaram to Chennai gives you the opportunity to take several significant detours like Madurai and Trichy. Before travelling to Chennai, stop in Madurai to seek blessings at the Meenakshi Temple, one of India’s oldest and most important temples. Or you can also stop at Trichy and visit the famed Ranganathaswamy Temple, as well as pick up souvenirs such as silk saris, sandalwood carvings, and more, so you can take more than just memories with you to Chennai.

Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu and one of the largest metro in the country, is a city that balances ancient architecture and modern urban trappings. Chennai’s amazing amalgamation of classical Tamil aestheticism with a new layer of cosmopolitan culture is undoubtedly a treat for any traveller who chooses to explore this coastal metropolitan city. Chennai, founded by the British in 1639, has become a major tourist attraction as well as the centre of Tamil politics, economy, and culture. Beautiful beaches, a jumble of architectural wonders in the form of temples, and a plethora of eateries serving delectable local and international fare – there are numerous points of interest in Chennai that will fill you up with experiences for a lifetime.

Driver suggested things to do in Chennai

  • Walk through the Government Museum
  • Spot constellations at the Birla Planetarium
  • Explore the Snake Park
  • Stroll through the Semmozhi Poonga
  • Explore history at Fort St. George
  • Enjoy the views at Nettukuppam
  • Enjoy walks on the Marina Beach
  • Admire the Cholamandal Artist Village
  • Visit the Eliot Beach

Add these Chennai tourist attractions to your itinerary

  • Marina Beach
  • Government Museum
  • Nagalapuram Waterfalls
  • Thousand Lights Mosque
  • Ashtalaxmi Temple
  • Valluvar Kottam
  • Kanchipuram
  • Mylapore
  • Elliot’s Beach
  • Guindy National Park
  • Birla Planetarium

If you live in Tamil Nadu or are visiting this beautiful state you can explore the landscape thoroughly with this road trip itinerary. Renting a chauffeur-driven car in Tamil Nadu with Savaari will make this journey of capturing the charm of the state drenched with history and culture seamless, hassle-free, and extremely comfortable. This is our homage to Tamil Nadu, and an attempt to motivate people to embark on a road trip and fall in love with the state all over again.

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Swati Deol

About the author

Shabari, a modern-day wanderer, seeks out the hidden stories within the world's serene landscapes and vibrant cultures. She views each person as a living, breathing tale, a unique signature in the grand narrative of existence. With an insatiable curiosity for local customs and traditions, Shabari explores the rich drapery of humanity wherever her journey leads. Her passion is to unravel the secrets of tranquil temples, scale majestic mountains, and share the ancient wisdom they hold. Join Shabari on her quest for solace amidst the world's quiet corners and let her writing transport you to the heart of these captivating adventures.

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