The Top 3 Picnic Spots on the GST Road, Chennai

Updated on August 16, 2019
Babu Mohan profile image

I am a marketing professional holding a postgraduate degree in management. I have traveled extensively in Tamil Nadu.

A painted stork feeding its babies at Vedanthangal
A painted stork feeding its babies at Vedanthangal | Source

GST Road (Grand Southern Trunk Road) is the main arterial road connecting Chennai with Central and South Tamil Nadu. It is a busy road with heavy vehicular movement. Despite the constant sound of moving cars, buses and trucks, there are a few peaceful spots dotted with nature to relax along the GST road.

The picnic spots located within a short driving distance from Chennai (and also close to the nearby Chengalpattu Town) are discussed in this article.

3 Beautiful Picnic Spots on the GST Road

  1. Vandalur Zoo
  2. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
  3. Kolavai Lake

Electric car ferrying tourists around the zoo
Electric car ferrying tourists around the zoo | Source

1. Vandalur Zoo

The official name for Vandalur Zoo is The Arignar Anna Zoological Park. This is the largest zoological park in India, with an area of around 1,500 acres. It is on the GST road 9 km south of Tambaram. The abundant green cover makes it such a pleasant place in a city otherwise used to relentless heat during summer.

Most animals are housed in an environment similar to their natural setting. It is still confinement, but we do not see many caged animals here. Even the big cats can roam free in large areas with moats separating them from observers.

How to Go Around the Park

There are two options for going around the park. One can go by foot or take a ride in the electric car. The long walk is good exercise and an enjoyable experience as well. It takes about three to four hours to cover the distance on foot.

If you don't enjoy walking for hours, the electric car will take you around the zoological park in an hour. While aboard the vehicle, however, one is not able to decide the pace. Walking is a better option for reasonably fit individuals who are visiting the zoo for the first time.

A pair of lions at Vandalur Zoo
A pair of lions at Vandalur Zoo | Source

Animals at the Park

Lion Safari is an important attraction inside the park. A caged vehicle takes us to an open area where lions roam freely. The lion safari takes about half an hour to complete. Other large animals in the park include the Bengal tiger, white tiger, leopard, bison, elephant, zebra, giraffe, hippopotamus and many more.

Food Options

There is a restaurant near the main entrance serving South Indian food, and the food quality is acceptable. Snacks and ice creams are sold at many places inside. There is also an outlet selling organic products, and it is worth paying a visit.

Painted Stork at Vedanthangal
Painted Stork at Vedanthangal | Source

2. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Vedanthangal is at a distance of 29 km south of Chengalpattu toll plaza. From the toll plaza, one needs to continue on GST road for 17 km and then take a right at Padalam junction. The village road leads to Vedanthangal. The local villagers rightly believe that the arrival of birds helps in improving the soil fertility, and they have been playing a major part in conservation efforts for centuries.

Many Exotic Birds at One Place

The trees in the middle of the rain-fed lake serve as the ideal nesting sites for the migratory birds. It is said birds from across the world visit Vedanthangal. They come from countries as away far as Australia, Canada, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. These birds are the real globetrotters, and they don't even need passports or visas to fly from one country to another.

While I am no expert or enthusiast at bird watching, seeing thousands of birds in one place is certainly enjoyable. There are many species of birds to spot, such as the Grey Heron, Openbill Stork, Painted Stork, Little Egret and the Spoonbill. Carrying a pair of binoculars could be handy to catch a better glimpse of the avian visitors.

The Nesting Birds at Vedanthangal Lake
The Nesting Birds at Vedanthangal Lake | Source

Food

Snacks, coffee, tea and tender coconuts are sold outside the sanctuary, but for a good meal, one needs to travel a minimum of half an hour before finding a good restaurant. Pack and carry food with you to enjoy a picnic lunch inside.

Best Time to Visit Vedanthangal

The best months to visit are from November to February when the migratory birds visit. But if the lakes stay dry after a failed monsoon, the migratory birds skip their customary stop at Vedanthangal. Though such monsoon failures are rare, it happens once a while. The 2018/19 season was one such monsoon failure. It is still a good idea to visit after confirming the arrival of migratory birds.

Paddle boating at Kolavai Lake
Paddle boating at Kolavai Lake | Source

3. Kolavai Lake

Kolavai Lake is in the district of Kanchipuram. The lake is on the southwest side of Chengalpattu town touching the Chennai suburban regions. The lake has been shrinking in size because of rapid urbanization, but it has stayed a perennial lake. Kolavai Lake is a perfect picnic spot to visit early in the morning to watch the sunrise.

There is a small hill nearby from which one can enjoy a beautiful view of the lake. The railway lines run close to the lake, and it is a visual delight to spot a running train cross the S-shaped bend from the hilltop.

Vast expanse of water in Kolavai Lake
Vast expanse of water in Kolavai Lake | Source

Major Source of Drinking Water

Chennai's water scarcity became major news in 2019 after a failed monsoon in 2018. This lake can become a major boon for the water-starved city as a source of drinking water. It continues to be a perennial lake, though a part of the lake has already been lost to rapid urbanization.

Ecotourism initiatives can help in preserving catchment areas and preventing any further encroachments. For now, it is an offbeat destination visited by nature lovers and photographers.

Distances From Madras International Airport

Place
In Kilometres
In Miles
Vandalur Zoo
19
12
Kolavai Lake
40
25
Vedanthangal Zoo
66
41
A
Madras International Airport:
Chennai International Airport (MAA), GST Rd, Meenambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600027, India

get directions

Starting Point

B
Arignar Anna Zoological:
Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, Tamil Nadu, India

get directions

First picnic spot

C
Kolavai Lake:
Kolavai Lake, Tamil Nadu 603002

get directions

Second picnic spot

D
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary:
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Vedathangal, Madurantakam, Tamil Nadu 603314, India

get directions

Third picnic spot

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Mohan Babu

    Please leave your valuable comments.

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      • Babu Mohan profile imageAUTHOR

        Mohan Babu 

        6 days ago from Chennai, India

        Thanks Liz Westwood for your wonderful comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 days ago from UK

        When I read the title I was thinking of stop off points near the road during a journey. But you have come up with a great selection of stopping places, that have far exceeded my expectations with some lovely illustrations.

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