I am a marketing professional holding a postgraduate degree in management. I live in Chennai and have traveled extensively in Tamil Nadu.
Chennai is one of the most densely populated cities in India. It is well known as a hub for automobiles and information technology. The city is more cosmopolitan thanks to its white-collar workforce from around the world.
Chennai city finds its breathing room in its parks and beaches. The parks help in reducing the effects of pollution and supplying fresh oxygen to this concrete jungle. I have covered the major parks in the core city, except the ones in Adyar.
Top 8 Parks in Chennai
- Semmozhi Poonga
- Natesan Park
- Panagal Park
- Anna Nagar Tower Park
- Chetpet Eco Park
- Nageshwara Rao Park
- Kotturpuram Tree Park
- Pallikaranai Wetland
1. Semmozhi Poonga
The name "Semmozhi Poonga" means "Classical Language Park". This place used to be an iconic drive-in restaurant for a century before it got converted into a park in the year 2010. It is a welcome change, considering how outdated the earlier drive-in restaurant was. Heritage lovers might disagree with me on this.
The park is on Cathedral Road near the Gemini flyover. It shares one side of a compound wall with the busy Anna Salai. The park is spread over 20 acres, and once inside, it is possible to forget that you are in the middle of a densely populated city.
It is a well-maintained park where one can easily spend two hours or even half a day. The park resembles a jungle full of trees and many flowering plants. The pathways are well-laid, and the landscaping is aesthetic. There are plenty of seating arrangements for those who love to sit and spend hours soaking in nature.
There is a canteen inside where you get items such as snacks, ice creams and coffee. Most Chennai residents may not have visited this park; it remains a hidden jewel despite its central location.
2. Natesan Park
This is a park on the Venkatanarayana Road near the main shopping place in T. Nagar. It is a small park (just 4 acres) and a favorite spot for morning walkers. There are people hanging around in the daytime since the large trees offer adequate shade from the relentless sun.
3. Panagal Park
This is another park in T. Nagar right in the middle of the busy shopping streets. People from all over the world throng T. Nagar to shop for garments and jewellery. Panagal Park is a green oasis amid the concrete jungle.
If one wishes to take a break between shopping sessions, Panagal Park is within walking distance of most shops. In the olden days before television, people used to visit the park to listen to the public radio.
4. Anna Nagar Tower Park
This park is in the residential locality called Anna Nagar, spanning over 15 acres. The Anna Nagar Tower is a 12-story tower with a cyclic ramp spiraling to the top. Visitors are not allowed access inside the tower because of many instances of suicides. The park is still worth a visit for its greenery and to have a glimpse of this impressive tower from close quarters.
5. Chetpet Eco Park
This was created in 2013 as an ecotourism initiative to save Chetpet Lake. A small park was created around the 15-acre lake. People visit this park to enjoy boating on the lake, go for a walk or just have a whiff of fresh air. There are thousands of residents who pass through this area with no idea that such a lake or park exists.
6. Nageshwara Rao Park
This park is on Luz corner in Mylapore at the heart of Chennai. Spanning over 4 acres, the park is a favorite place for morning walkers. The park is active with musical programs and civic forums scheduled on most weekends.
7. Kotturpuram Tree Park
This park was developed jointly by Chennai Corporation and Nizhal, the "tree NGO". The involvement of this NGO has made this park a nature lover's delight with its lush green surroundings. Developed on the banks of the Adyar River, the park's walkways are well laid out.
The park is open till 8 pm for the benefit of evening walkers. Snakes are a common sight here, according to regular walkers here. I saw a baby snake cross two feet ahead of me during my only visit.
8. Pallikaranai Wetland
It is a freshwater marsh in Chennai and the only surviving wetland ecosystem in the city. It has shrunk in size because of rapid urbanization. Chennai Corporation has been treating the marshland as a dump yard for decades. Restoration efforts began after the same was declared as a protected forest in 2007.
The best way to reach the Pallikaranai wetland is to take the Thoraipakkam-Pallavaram road. One can park on the roadside and watch the birds from the pavement. Efforts are underway to promote tourism by creating viewing decks and towers.
Bird Watching at Pallikaranai Marsh
We can watch the birds only from far and cannot get close enough at Pallikaranai. It is advisable to carry a pair of binoculars or a terrestrial telescope before visiting the wetland. Early morning hours are better for birdwatching as one can avoid the scorching sun.
We can spot many species of birds such as herons, openbill storks, painted storks, egrets, Purple Swamphen and Flamingoes. The only way to save the remaining wetland is by promoting tourism. Bird-watchers and ardent nature-lovers visit the wetland at present, but Pallikaranai Marsh has yet to emerge as a regular tourist attraction.
Picnic Spots on the GST Road
The city is blessed with natural attractions in its outskirts. The 3 main such attractions on the GST road are Vandalur Zoo, Kolavai Lake and Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. If you wish to know more, please read Picnic Spots on the GST Road, Chennai.
© 2019 Mohan Babu
Please leave your valuable comments.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on October 15, 2019:
Thanks Liz Westwood for your encouraging words.
Liz Westwood from UK on October 15, 2019:
This is a very well-structured and interesting article. You give a great range of suggestions for parks to visit in the area.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on October 06, 2019:
Thank you Cheryl E Preston for your valuable comments.
Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on October 05, 2019:
This is great info and the pictures are beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to share.