Chennai Breaks Dakshina Chitra

Chennai Breaks – Dakshina Chitra

Written by Poorna & Brinda

Continuing the series on weekend breaks from metros………this time it is from Madras or Chennai…….

What do you do when you are stuck in concrete jungles a.k.a our metros and want to get a dose of culture and experience rural milieu? 

You are lucky if you are staying in Madras or Chennai as is being called now. When we talk about Chennai, the fist thing that comes to mind is Marina beach or Carnatic music and of course Tamil movies. You can also spend a lazy afternoon exploring the great heritage of South India and linger on the less crowded beach. 

For that you head to East Coast Road for a nice drive – not sure it is the same east coast road of yesteryear when it was pleasure to drive and pay a visit to Dakshina Chitra – the open air architectural heritage museum of South India. The place oozes rustic charm and brings out the best in vernacular architectural heritage of the region.

Spare two hours to go through the place. More if you want to deeply explore the art and architecture. The place has been lovingly built by Madras Craft foundation. We visited the place first time when it had just thrown open the doors and keep doing so whenever we cross it during our journeys on the east coast. Some surprises await us every time we go there. Today, the place is not only the hub for architectural heritage, it has become a cultural hub as well.

Heritage homes of the region are reconstructed here using the materials sourced from demolished structures. Thus, you have orthodox Syrian Christian theravad house with a well next to the kitchen so that the lady of the house doesn’t have to go out side to fetch water!  A Tamil Brahmin house which is Spartan or the house of Chettinad merchants with Burma teak pillars and exquisite carved doors. You will be surprised at the variety in the architectural designs in these buildings. Each house depicts the character and culture of the community. For example, you will find a large verandah in a Chettinad house, which was being used extensively where the merchants would meet their workers on a daily basis. 

Houses from all the states in South India
Chettinad House
Textile weaver house
Basket weaver house
Brahmin Agraharam
Village temple

Dakshina Chitra also organizes art exhibitions, cultural events, and workshops. There is a nice amphitheatre, which can be rented out for a performance as well.  Look out for schedule in your local media.

If you are looking for a getaway to a quiet place where you can come back enriched about our heritage, head to Dakshina Chitra this weekend…..

Travel Tips

Getting there

By Road – You can catch city bus plying between Chennai and Dakshina Chitra. These are some of the buses, which ply from Chennai city.
Some bus routes that will take you to Dakshina Chitra are:

·       From Poonamalee: PP49 via K.K.Nagar
·       From Parry’s Corner: 188A, 118, PP19, 19E and19G
·       From KK Nagar: PP49, 19
·       From T.Nagar: 19B
·       From Valsaravakkam: PP49

If you are driving or hiring a taxi it is a one-hour drive to the centre.

By Train – There are no train services.

Best time to visit – Winters are the best season to visit East coast of India. Sun will be fiercest between 11 AM and 3 PM.

Other Information

a)   It will be good to leave early in the morning when the sun has not come up and be there when  Dakshina Chitra opens. You can have breakfast on the way in any of the restaurants on East coast road. 
b)  Don’t go to Dakshina Chitra as a sight seeing tourist. Do it leisurely savoring the ambience. Try and understand the architecture and get some cultural insights behind the architectural design of these houses.
c)  Check out the timings for folk dance and puppetry shows in the centre. You can plan your visit accordingly. 
d) The famous Crocodile Conservation centre of Madras Crocodile Park as it is popularly known is close by. You can club this along with the visit to Dakshina Chitra.
e)  Many theme parks cluttered East Coast Road. If you are going with kids visiting any of them will not be a bad option.
f)     You can watch master craftsmen making pottery, glass ware etc.
g)  Dakshina Chitra also conducts workshops and course in art, architecture and culture. You can visit their website for more details.
h)   The centre is open from 10 AM to 6 PM. There is a small entry fee. You can check that on their website.
i)     You can also go around the craft centre and buy some exclusive crafts there.
j)  Dakshina Chitra can also be a good stopover if you are driving to Mahabalipuram or Pondicherry from Chennai.
k)   The centre also has a restaurant which serve light eats.

Useful Links

     Dakshina Chitra

Related posts

Magnificent Mansions of Chettinad

Post Script

For those who are interested in vernacular architecture and heritage homes of south india, there  is another amazing place near Manipal in Karnataka. This is called Hasta Shilpa Heritage village, a brain child of Mr Vijayanath Shenoy. 

Unfortunately it is not open to public now and only research students and donors are allowed entry. For more details check out the link below.

Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village, Manipal

Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends if it can be of help to them. You are welcome to add more information to this post. If you need more information on Dakshina Chitra, you can write to me at




About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

1 Comment

  • Its a nice information about Dakshina chitra Architecture in chennai. Thanks For sharing the post. SelectCiti provides more information about Top architects in Chennai.

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