Situated approximately 18Km away from Chennai in Ponneri Taluk, of Thiruvallur district, Tamil Nadu nestles the Red hill lakes; also known as Puzhal aeri (Lake) in Tamil language. The lake is a big tourist destination. Lying in the valley of the Nilgiri range, this lake is a magnificent sight, with views from the mountains. It is actually a rain fed reservoir which supplies water to Chennai along with Chembarambakkam Lake and Porur Lake.
The thick and lush green forests, beautiful valleys with tea plantations surrounding the lake are the features that attract tourists from all over the world. You may immerse yourself in the aroma of different flavors of tea available here. Though beautiful all year round, a time from September to May would be ideal in visiting this place. The view of the lake is spectacular especially during sunrise and sunset. The chirping of the birds, the small fish swimming in the lake give you a mesmerizing experience.
The Lake District lies close to the Red hills and consists of several natural reservoirs. It consists of eight distinct lakes namely Emerald, Upper Bhavani, Avalanche, Porthimund, Parson’s Valley Lake and the Western Catchments numbered 1, 2 and 3. The view of these lakes is gorgeous and breath-taking. Amenities for fishing have been provided here.
Built in 1876 the reservoir was initially a tank of 500 million cubic feet. There are two masonry weirs in the reservoir. One weir is 178 m long and the other is 220 m long and 15ft deep. They were constructed using laterite stones which were available locally. Over a period of time the weirs had turned porous. The weirs have now been replaced by shutters and in 1997 the capacity of the reservoir was increased to 3300 million cubic feet (93 million m³). The bund is about 5 m long and runs across a distance of 7 km. It provides drinking water to Chennai. It also stores the excess water received from river Krishna, Andhra Pradesh.
The Lake was formerly used for irrigation purposes. It was a military camp during the rule of the British. Thus the lake has been referred as The Camp by the natives. It was also used as an airport for water plans. The lake provided a firm concrete ramp for landing floating vessels and aircraft. One can see the remnants of these now. There was once a big Bungalow with wind mill, pump house, overhead tank, small swimming pool, tennis court and a mini theatre for military use. In order to feed the water plans, there were few huge tanks for oil storage on the earthen bunds of this lake. The earthen bunds are enforced with concrete paths for the movement of heavy vehicles. It was in the year 1868 that the lake was first used to supply drinking water. Since then, it has been quenching the thirst of the people of Chennai. The lake gets its supply of water from Poondi reservoir and Cholavaram Lake through Upper and Lower Channel.
Nearby places of interest includes Padianallurs Angaala Parameshwari temple, Iyyappan temple and CSI church opposite to Iyyappan temple. This place would be of interest to nature lovers and wanderers as it provides a gentle outdoor experience for today’s visitors. The Govind Ballabh Pant Zoo located near this region is one spot you might not want to miss, especially if you are coming with your children. This zoo houses a large number of animals which includes tigers, deer and monkeys.
It takes approximately 47 min (15.4km) from Chennai via Grand Northern Trunk Rd and Guntur-Chennai Hwy. Another alternative route is through Grand Trunk Road which takes around one hour (19.7km). The Red hills bus stop has buses to various cities of Chennai. There are normal, AC, Deluxe and AC Volvo bus services through this route. The Coimbatore airport is the nearest airport to this region. It is about 100km away from the Red Hills. Mettupalalayam, situated 40km away is the nearest major railway station.