Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXIII No. 22, March 1-15, 2024

Going Walkabout in Madras

-- by T.K. Srinivas Chari

It all began with a walk from Thiruvanmiyur to Besant Nagar along the beach shores in early-mid 2023. A year later, we’re hoping that that beginning – which has taken us all over town and more – will one day take us trekking in the Himalayas. A tall order, yes… but what the heck, one lives in hope. Never mind that our first Saturday walkabout along the sandy beaches had us dodging (ugh!) excrement now and again. And in this day and age when two supra VIPs actually took some time off from what must have been heavy duty conferring to sit at the beach in the neighbourhood at Mahabalipuram!

The second week saw my school buddy and I set off to the Tholkappia Poonga. We were not in the least bit disappointed. Dark deep woods, right inside the metropolis! By the way, we laid down three conditions for our walking ventures – avoid crowds, go to unexplored places, and slip in true-blue, legit filter coffee before or after our peregrinations. What constitutes the aforementioned coffee, and where it can be had is another story. Suffice it to say that the following for nammathu kapi (as one brand would have it) is spreading. As the duo grew to a trio, the coffee too grew to include idli-vada-pongal. The latter is an occasional treat. We had literally bumped into a third compatriot at the Eco Park on our third outing. The Eco Park serves as our fallback when there is not enough time to look further. Likewise, the Tower Park. As for the technicalities, we’re frequenting circuits that cover at least a kilometer. So it’s easy to walk a minimum of 5 km in a day.   

We hit pay dirt with our find of the Adyar River trail in Manapakkam, a straight stretch of 2.9 km one way. The walking trail is a narrow rugged path with the turbid waters of the river running on one side and a bit of open space on the other bordered by a compound wall. There’s a semblance of trees and plants with wildflowers on either side. There’s no getting away from the downside of a growing city. At the end of the trail is a landfill but thankfully not stinking. We saw some buffalos airing themselves in the waters. Perched on the cattle were white birds. Which ones? I plead ignorance. There are birds aplenty if you know where to look is what I understand. There is an Army establishment on the route and the roar of planes overhead indicates an airport nearby. The walk seems fairly popular among the athletic of the neighbourhood residents. During our last visit there we also sighted the Chief Secretary of the Government, the Commissioner of the Corporation, and their entourage. 

Another find is the Sengandhal Poonga which has Gopalapuram on one side and Anna Salai on the other. We discovered to our great surprise that the Horticultural Society grounds next to the St George’s Cathedral is an extension of this park.

May Day Park.

The broad Marina walkway along the sands is another spot on our roster. We break one of our conditions pertaining to the crowd but overlook it because we easily cover a distance of 5.5 km walking from Lighthouse to beyond the Marina swimming pool and back. Metro work at one stretch entails walking in a single file. 

Marina Beach.

Another charming pick is the grounds of the Theosophical Society. Extensive and hush-hush. You can get a peep into the Society’s spotless beach. Even here, at one corner, there’s no escape from the repelling sight of plastics that are washed ashore. Entry to walkers is regulated by handing out passes. Far away from TS is the Madhavaram botanical garden. We were turned away here one early morning because we didn’t have passes as it is open to all only later in the morning. No amount of pleading and prodding would move the conscientious watchman. Finally, a phone call from a regular to the watchman at the back gate got us in. We’ve also walked at a still-developing park with a paved path around a water body in Kolathur. Not recommended in the height of summer where there’s nary a tree around. The Pallikaranai marshland walk we’ve been to takes one along three paths shaped like a T together covering 1 km.

The smallish Kotturpuram Tree Park and Shenoy Nagar Thiru-Vi-Ka Park have us spinning rather than walking. The former is green as green can be. The latter is more of an amusement park these days. Also among finds is a tiny park tucked away in a corner of 15th Main Road in Anna Nagar. Yes, we swirl like dervishes here but we could count the number of other visitors on the fingers of one hand and besides, it is choc-a-bloc with plant life. 

On our yet-to-go-to list are the Chitlapakkam Neervanam, St. Thomas Mount, and the Tirusulam Hills.

Beyond the reaches of our city, we did a bit of huffing and puffing up the Sholingur hill temple braving the ever-growing family of monkeys. Our offering to Yoga Narasimha Swamy was appropriated in the wink of an eye by a plucky one. We were the better for it, for my friend’s hands were free to put a big kumbidu to the Lord. In the offing is the 14 km walk (girivalam or giri pradakshina) around Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai.  

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share


  1. Prasad Narayan Rege says:

    Extremely enriching conversations enroute served as fuel on the besides the cameraderie of the past 50 years together. Super write up Chari! Aptly describes our experiences.

  2. Pankajavalli S says:

    So many places to walk in namma madras! No excuses then. Thank you for taking us along on your walks through your witty narrative,

  3. Jyotsna says:

    Great going Chari!! Keep walking and you will discover lovely places… in and around our lovely city!

  4. Balaji Rangan says:

    Brilliant article, takes me back to my days in chennai circa 1981 to 1984 plus my sojourn from the army while on annual leave. I hope the authorities take notice and develop chennai into a world class urban city, replete with parks and trails and water bodies. Meanwhile look forward to many such articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Updated