Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is the fourth largest city in the country, and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in South India. A city that has a rich cultural history, Chennai perfectly balances its heritage with its thriving modern lifestyle. A metropolis with a heart, Chennai’s skyline is famous for its towering skyscrapers which form a scenic vista along the coast, but the heart of Chennai still remains in the multitude of old temples and churches dotting various parts of the city. Steeped in rich South-Indian culture, Chennai is a city that has a plethora of dimensions that one can explore, and regardless of where you go, the city has an old-world charm to it that refuses to be overshadowed.
The beach has a wide shore area. Apart from a scenic view of the sky and water meeting, there are a good number of wholesale stores on the beach road. For a fitness enthusiast, it is ideal to go for walk along this beach road in the early mornings. There are washrooms and toilets in the place. However, cleanliness is an issue. There is a great improvement over the years, but the scope remains large for further green initiatives. There is free parking facility as well.
The metropolitan capital of Tamil Nadu - Chennai; is located on the south-east coast of India and offers travellers the best of both the sea and the land - with its beaches, heritage temples and churches. The city is also known fondly for its many culinary delights and is a shopping haven providing both traditional and cosmopolitan options. Chennai assumes a significant position in defining both the cultural history storehouse as well as the modern early morning dream that India is. With so much of the past and future to sustain, Chennai provides the tourist with a complete experience with little left unchecked. From beaches to historical monuments, temples, shrines to churches, Chennai is a modestly holistic destination. To name a few attractions, we have the Marina beach, a Portuguese church, Kapileswara temple and much more. A synonym to the automobile capital of India, Chennai is a city with diverse experiences to offer.
Marina Beach is the longest natural urban beach in the country. Bathing and swimming is illegal at Marina beach since the undercurrent in the region is very strong and there are no lifeguards stationed here. Apart from enjoying on the beach, there are many historical monuments built at the junction of pathway stand. Some of them include Annadurai and MG Ramachandran memorials, statues of heroes from Tamil culture, Indo Saracenic buildings, monuments of Tamil scholars, patriots and famous personalities including Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose. One of the most remarkable effigies is the Triumph of Labor by Debiprasad Roy Choudhary. Various stalls of food items including murukku, sundal, ice-cream and other South-Indian snacks are located in its vicinity to curb the cravings of the foodies. An aquarium, situated near the beach, comprises of some of the most astonishing and splendid range of tropical sea and fresh water fish. It gives you a chance to be familiar with the aquatic life and see what God has blessed the sea life of Chennai with. And then south to its location is situated the Ice House, which was used for storage of ice brought from great lakes in North America during the time of British. The sun is unforgiving, carry sun-screen and stay hydrated.
Accessible from all over the country and has excellent transport facilities.
Temperatures are very high from March to October. Most of the people do not speak Hindi and English, knowledge of basic Tamil may be required. Auto drivers are known to charge higher rates to non-locals
Chennai is ideal to be used as a base for people looking for a trip to South India. Chennai is also suitable for beach lovers.
If you’re a nature lover, or even if you just want to escape the bustle of the city and find some peace and quiet, a visit to the Pulicat Lake (and Bird Sanctuary) is a must. Home to a vast variety of rare species of birds, including egrets, herons, flamingos, and sandpipers, this lake is one of the most famous bird sanctuaries in the country. Tourists can opt to go on boat rides and cruises and watch a beautiful sunset amidst the melodious chirping of the birds.
The city of Madras, started out its journey towards becoming modern day Chennai - capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, manufacturing hub of the country and hence the ‘Detroit of India’ ; as a part of the famous Vijayanagara kingdom. The 400 year old city thus has a colorful history which has contributed to its rich heritage, grandiose architecture, culture and traditions. It has been ruled by all major South Indian dynasties such as the Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas and the Vijayanagaras. Due to its ideal location on the Bay of Bengal coast, it tempted not just the British, but also the Portuguese and the Dutch before them. The Portuguese were the first to come in 1522, and constructed the beautiful church Sao Tome. The land was part of the Vijayanagara kingdom when the British arrived, who quickly established their supremacy over the city, with the support of the diminished Dutch and Portuguese forces. The Madras Presidency was thus established in South India in the late 18th century. The development of railways and ports thus made the city an important linchpin for the British, and it was the only Indian city to be bombed by the Germans during the First World War. Following India’s independence in 1947, the city was named as the capital of Tamil Nadu. Madras also played a major role in the Tamil agitation against the Centre’s attempt to impose Hindi as the main language for communication in the 1960s. In the 1980s, the city was engulfed in political violence during the Sri Lankan civil war. In 1998, the city was renamed Chennai, in honor of Damarla Venkatadri Nayaka, who was the chieftain of Chennapatnam when the British arrived in India over a century ago, thus retaining in its name a legacy of its historical roots.
Chennai is famous for being one of the best shopping destinations in the country, and be it street shopping or shopping in the classiest of malls, Chennai has everything you could possibly need. If you are someone who loves shopping, then Chennai won't leave you disappointed. T Nagar, also known as Thyagaraya Nagar, is the most famous shopping district in the town, and you buy anything starting from trinkets and junk jewellery to expensive Chennai Silk Sarees.
Some of the important and famous shopping destinations in Chennai are Pondy Bazar, Anna Salai, T-Nagar, Anna Nagar, Egmore and Mylapore. For the people looking for high-end branded shopping, there are also several malls in Chennai like the Spencer Plaza, Chennai Citi Centre, Express Avenue and Phoenix Market City.
Despite being a metropolitan, Chennai's nightlife is not as happening as you would expect it to be. Though the nightlife scene has been improving in the recent years, yet most of the bars and pubs only regulate in high-end hotels due to some regulations. The bars and pubs are prohibited from regulating after midnight. Some of the mid-range hotels also have drinking room where you can have a nice time. Some of the famous bars and nightclubs in Chennai are The Westminster, Zara's 10 Downing Street, The Leather Bar, Pasha and Elixir. Make sure to dress neatly as most of these places have a strict dress code.
Read more about Nightlife in Chennai
Day 1 - Reach Chennai by morning. Start your sojourn South-Indian style by having Chennai's famous idlis, vadas, and dosas at one of the popular restaurants like Sangeetha's or Murugan Idli shop. Team it up with a glass of steaming hot filter coffee. Next, head out to Mylapore to get a flavor of traditional Tamil culture which includes the famous Kapaleshwara temple, and shops selling local artefacts and jewellery. In the evening, pay a visit to the bustling Marina beach and perhaps even catch a local performance or play if you're lucky, in addition to the beautiful sunset!
Day 2 - Take a day trip to Dakshinchitra museum, located around 25 km to the south of Chennai city. After a scenic ride along the ECR coast, revel in the museum's portrayal of South Indian culture, art, and craft. Further, explore some local South Indian cuisine for dinner at restaurants in Alwarpet or Adyar.
Day 3 - Devote this day to satisfy your shopping cravings by visiting some of the city's famous shopping areas like T. Nagar and Pondy Bazar, where you can find traditional Kancheevaram silk and other local goodies. For a relaxed afternoon and evening, take a ride through Guindy National Park, and check out the Government Museum and the Birla Planetarium. If time permits, a stroll through IIT Madras would offer you glimpses of deer and peacocks amidst the lush green foliage of the campus. End your trip with an experience of Chennai's nightlife at Besant Nagar beach with a dinner and drink at one of the lovely restaurants there like BOATs (Based On A True Story).
Chennai’s local cuisine consists of traditional South Indian food such as sambar, dosas and idlis. Ranging from street side stalls to upscale restaurants, you can enjoy a complete gourmet experience in Chennai.
Chennai like any sparkling city that is constantly growing and expanding in all its spheres, fosters a cuisine that provides countless options. The city has a vibrant street food culture as well as well laid out and flattering fine dining experiences. While you can try a number of cuisines and foods here, one must not miss what Chennai is known for- traditional and authentic South-Indian cuisine. Hence do not miss the filter coffee as well as items like Idli, Dosa, Appam, Vada, Upma, Sambhar, Parotha, Chettinad Chicken, Pepper Chicken, Chicken Stew, Sweet Pongal, Kesari, Payasam and much more. Read more about Street Food in Chennai.
Here is a list of some amazing Cafes in Chennai
How can I make the most of a winter trip to Chennai? Is the cold harsh? I don’t mind travelling to the outskirts of the city.
There are no 'winters' as such in Chennai. Temperatures rarely drop below 20 degrees, so the cold will not be much of a problem for you in planning your trip. Apart from that, there are numerous places you could visit in Chennai. The Marina beach is a must. If you're an artchitecture junkie, then check out the Santhome Cathedral Basilica. Or you could visit the Arignar Anna Zoological Park 30km from the city and explore the wildlife of the region. Also, Snake Park and Crocodile Bank are quite interesting places.