South of The Dune (15 km) lies Puducherry, an ex-French colony with its quaint colonial houses and numerous restaurants. Puducherry offers a variety of exciting experiences, from spiritual learning at the Aurobindo Ashram, to shopping in the street bazaars to cultural evenings in Alliance Francaise.
Just 8 km to the south is Auroville, a unique international township with people from 44 different nationalities living and working together. This utopian concept is the realization of the dream of Mirra Alfassa, a French disciple of Sri Aurobindo, known as “The Mother.”
To the north is the ancient Pallava port of Mahabalipuram, famous for its magnificent shore temple, it’s rathas (stone chariots) and it's numerous talented stone sculptors.
To the west, lies Gingee, an ancient fort set amongst a landscape of granite chaos. Further west (50 km) is the town of Thiruvannamalai wich is famed for its very large and ancient temple and the sacred hill called Arunachala, symbolizing the element fire. At the foot of this hill, lived one of the greatest seers of India, Ramana Maharshi.
Trips can be organised even further to Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Swamimalai, Karaikudi, Madurai etc... All of these places offer a unique insight into Tamil culture.