Chennai, India

Present day Chennai formerly known as Madras is the capital of  Tamil Nadu in South India. It is considered the present gateway to the South of India. This city is only about 350 years old. It is fourth largest city of India. It is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is 34th largest metropolitan area and the 2nd longest seashore in the world. Madras was one of the first outposts of British East India Company.

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Chennai was founded in 1639 when the British East India Company was granted land to build a trading settlement by the local ruler. The British on settling developed it into a major urban center and naval base. By the 20th century, it had become an important administrative center, as the capital of the Madras presidency that was not governed by any of the princely states. After independence, it became the capital of Madras state, and when the states were reorganized on a linguistic basis, it became the capital of Tamil Nadu. In 1996, the Tamil Nadu government renamed Madras to Chennai.

Chennai is a culture city with intact ancient traditions despite its significant economic growth in the last 15 years. Chennai city is a spacious open to skies, green and airy with several vestiges of rural past. The city sticks to the leisurely tempo of life of yesteryears. Chennai still retains the charm, culture and traditions of the past. Being the capital of Tamil Nadu, the preferred language of communication amongst the locals is Tamil. However, English is widely spoken as the language of business.

Chennai is home to a host of Tamil culture art forms including dance, literature, sculpture, music and cinema. Chennai is an important center for Carnatic Music and hosts cultural events in which scores of talented artists perform. The city has a vibrant theatre scene and is an important centre for the Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form. The Bharatnatyam and Carnatic Music draw visitors and aficionados from the world over. The Tamil film industry, one of the largest film industries in India is based in the city.

Chennai’s economy has a broad industrial base in the car, technology, hardware manufacturing and healthcare industries. The city is India’s second largest exporter of software, information technology (IT) and information-technology-enabled services (ITES).

Chennai Climate

Chennai has mainly two seasons – summer Apr, May & June and monsoon. Climate of Chennai is humid throughout the year as it is situated on the coast. Summers are very hot and humid. It receives little rainfall from the southwest monsoon (June to September), but gets its bountiful rains from the northeast monsoon from October to December, thus amounting to about 125-150 cm of rainfall annually.

Chennai – How to Reach

There are major international airlines that have regular direct flights to Chennai. Almost all other international airlines have direct flights to either Delhi or Bombay to which Chennai is well connected by air, rail and road. There are daily flights from Chennai to Mumbai and Delhi. Chennai is very well connected to all major cities of India by air, rail and road network.

Chennai Sightseeing

Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, enjoys glorious past and rich cultural heritage. Formerly known as Madras, the city has a number of monuments. These monuments are very significant for tourists.

Fort St. George: St. George Fort is located on the banks of Bay of Bengal. The British built Fort St. George in 1640 AD. This place achieved its name from Saint George, the patron saint of England. Fort St George was completed on St George’s day in 1640 (April 23rd) and hence was named after the Patron Saint. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. It is a military architecture marvel, which was erected as a trading post. The fort houses Saint Mary’s Church and fort museum. Saint Mary’s Church the oldest Anglican Church built in 1680 and the tombstones in its courtyard are the oldest British tombstones in India. It serves as the legislative and administrative seat of the state at present. Govt. Museum will be closed on Fridays.

Freemasons Hall: It is situated in the Egmore area of Chennai. It is the living example of the cultural and traditional heritage. The construction of this building was completed in the year 1923.

Government Museum: The Government Museum of Chennai is one of the most popular sightseeing attractions of the city. It is one of the oldest museums of India. Formerly known as Pantheon Complex in British period. It houses the Government Museum, Connemara Public Library and the National Art Gallery at present. The museum consists exhibits such as contemporary artifacts, prehistoric findings and sculptures etc. There are sections for zoology, anthropology and geology impress also. Buddhist sculptures found in the Amaravathi section depict the events recorded in the life of the Buddha.

Kamaraj Memorial House: It was built in the memory of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri Kamaraj. An ideal leader of the Dravidian movement, affectionately called Anna. His speech in Tamil has enchanted millions.

ANNA Memorial: the memorial for ARINZAR ANNADURAI – Adjoining to this memorial lays another for leader Dr. M.G. Ramachandran leader of AIADMK movement, Both of them are situated at the northern end of the Marina Beach. Both these leaders are still living in the hearts of Tamil Nadu people

MGR Memorial: MGR Memorial is a yet another memorial in Chennai. It is dedicated to the former actor cum politician of Tamil Nadu, MGR Ramachandran, commonly know as Puractchi Thalaivar MGR. The monument is situated at T. Nagar and is easily accessible from all parts of the city.

Senate House: Senate House of Chennai is definitely a worth watching monument in Tamil Nadu. It is located at the campus of University of Madras, near the Marina Beach. It is truly an architectural marvel and was constructed under the supervision of one of the greatest architects of the 19th century.

Thousand Lights Mosque: Thousand Lights Mosque is a well-known worship place for the Muslims in Chennai city. The mosque is popular for its name, architecture and historical and religious importance. Light House a massive tall structure situated at south end of the Marina Beach beckons the visitors in the evening and adds glory to the golden sands. All India Radio (AIR) radio broadcast station is located opposite to the lighthouse.

Valluvar Kottam : Valluvar Kottam is a monument built to pay homage to Tamil Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar. The monument is in the shape of a temple chariot and contains a lively and splendid statue of the poet.

War Memorials: A visit to the War Memorials of Chennai is the best way to discover the heroic past of India. The memorials are dedicated to the soldiers who laid their lives for the sake of the nation.

Marina Beach: It is the second longest beach in the world with a stretch of 4.5 kms. It is the longest beach in the world after the one in Brazil. A walk along the Marina is soothing. The old buildings on side of Kamarajar Salai, a main road along the Marina, would remind you of the good old British days.

San Thome Basilica: It is situated at the south end of Marina Beach was named after Saint Thomas. It is believed that he had visited Madras in 52 AD and killed at St. Thomas Mount outside the city in 78 AD. The Portuguese built it in 16th Century and it was made a basilica in 1896. The beautiful stained glass window at the basilica portrays the story of St Thomas and the central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. In the cathedral is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin Mary, which is believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543

Theosophical Society: This society was formed to facilitate and encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science. It is situated in beautiful sylvan settings in Adyar. The society was founded by Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olott in USA, and later moved to Adyar in 1882. There is a 95-year old library which has a very good collection of rare Oriental manuscripts written on palm leaves and parchment apart from shrines of all faiths.

Elliots Beach: Elliots Beach is situated along the coast down south from Marina. It is the night beach. At the end of this beach are the Velankanni church and the Ashtalakshmi temple. Though the church is much smaller than the original one at Velankanni it attracts its own share of pilgrims. The Ashtalakshmi temple dedicated to goddess Lakshmi looks quite different from the usual South Indian temples as it is a modern granite tier construction, not even 20 years old.

Birla Planetarium: It is located near Adyar and Guindy. This modern planetarium is housed in a hemi-spherical theatre. The latest astronomical phenomena are brought back to life in simulated environment. Periyar Science & Technology Centre situated near enables the visiting public to understand scientific and technological inventions through working models.

Adyar Banyan Tree: It is one of the largest trees in the world. It measures 238ft from north to south and 250ft from east to west. The total area exceed 59,500 sq ft. This tree is a unique specimen. It has been the centre of many notable gatherings of the Theosophical Society.

The Snake Park: It is situated at Guindy, houses a variety of reptiles. Cobras, Pythons, Kraits, Adders, Vipers, Monitor Lizards and giant Turtles are some of the special ‘draws’ at the Park. Snake Park is closed on Tuesdays.

Kapaleeshwarar Temple: It is built in the eight-century Pallavan architecture style, the Kapaleeshwar Temple located in Mylapore in Chennai. The Hindus regard it as one of the most sacred sites in the South India.

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