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Location : Tamil Nadu
Languages : Tamil, Telugu, English, Kannada
Area : 174 square kilometers
Temperature Range : Summer- 27.6 deg to 37.3 deg; in Winter, 21.0 deg to 28.2 deg
Major Attractions : Temples and Churches
Best Visiting Time : Winter season
Chennai, a hub of film industry and a perfect amalgamation of ancient and modern, is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. This 4th largest city of the country is also considered as the gateway for entering South India. Changed enormously in form and style since independence, the city is a prime tourist attraction. Earlier called Madras, the history of the town is not very old. Pristine beaches, lovely shores, and myriad architectural monuments are what Chennai is all about. An epitome of art, craft, music, and dance, the city's rich cultural heritage is reflected in manifested in different forms.
Chennai was a small village until 1639 when the place was selected as a settlement by the British colonial rulers. From there on, the city started flourishing and expanding both in size and style. It became an important trade center. It retained the elements of its past and imbibed new ones from its occupiers. Since past 2000 years, the city has remained a major hub of spice trading, sea farming, clothing merchandise. In 16th century, Chennai was visited by Portuguese and later by Dutch colonizers. Later, it saw the establishment of permanent settlement by the British who established a mighty George Fort here. During their rule, it became on of the important hub for British Imperial power.
Highlights of the City :
Perfect Blend :
You would love to visit the city that has preserved its old form and also assimilated modernity without any reluctance. Here, you will traditional vegetarian cuisines as well as fast foods; ethnic attires worn by its inhabitants as well as trendy and classy look showcased in the attires of the younger generation; temples as old as its history and modern towering hi-tech skyscrapers.
Film Industry :
Chennai is the center of South Indian film fraternity, As you visit the place, you will see a plethora of billboards that can be strewn all over the city. It is where the cellular phantasies come to reality. There are several film studios and massive sets that help to realize the vision of a director onto big screen.
Climatic Conditions :
Lying close to equator, the city' s climate remains hot throughout the year. In winter season, the temperature falls a bit; if you can't bear the scorching summer heat, winter is a good time to visit the city, though there is not much difference in the temperature range in both the seasons.
Among several Marina Beach is most popular among the tourists. Known for its glistening sand and crystal clear waters, this beach is stretched over a length of 12 kilometers. Frequented by a large number of tourists every day, the beach is a perfect place to unwind your energies. Watching sun rise above the horizon and watching it dipping on every evening is a pleasant experience that no other site can boast to match with. Soak yourself under sun or relax over the sands; it is an ideal place to loosen up.
Elliot's Beach is a favorite among the younger generations. Here, you can walk past promenade or eat at the restaurants located on the shore. Covelong Beach located enroute Mahabalipuram from Elliot's Beach. Here, you will see a fort set up by nabob of Karnataka.
Government Museum :
Instead of being the single museum, it is the congregation of a number of museums comprising of six buildings, and forty six galleries. The subjects depicted here belong to different themes like natural history, zoology, archeology and numismatics. Spend time here watching unique paintings of Amravati or engage yourself in noticing the superb art works displayed at National Art Gallery.
Places to Worship :
Kapaleeswara Temple :
This oldest temple of Chennai is an epitome of Pallava architecture that is built in Dravidian style and attracts you by its sheer beauty and elaborate carvings. A structure built in Mylapore, the temple carries the images of Nayanmars that are exhibited at the courtyard. Apart from its marvelous architecture, there is much more to squeeze out from here. Soak yourself in the bath of Arupathu Moovar festival which is celebrated in the month of March.
Sri Parthasarathy Temple :
It is the temple of antiquity that is another marvel of Pallava architecture. Located at Triplicane, this temple worships Lord Vishnu in all his five incarnations.
St. Thomas :
If you arrive at Chennai from Meenambakkam airport, you can directly head towards this church. A structure by Portuguese, this fort was constructed in 1523 AD.
The entrance to this admirable building is built in the shape of curves and is surmounted by a cross. Look for the oil paintings that form part of altar and chancel. At Easter, the grandeur of the church increases manifold; at this time the devotees congregate to offer prayers.
Santome Cathedral :
Yet another attraction at Chennai that is a renowned Christian pilgrim spot. Named after St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Lord Christ, this basilica is a site worth visiting.
Big Mosque :
An elegant building by Wallajah family, the mosque is a depository of the memories of the nabob.
Other Notable Buildings :
Valluvar Kottam :
Most of us know about Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar; Valluvar Kottam is a monument built to cherish his memories. Inside, you will see a giant auditorium that has the accommodating capacity of about 4000 people at a time. The chapters of Thirukural, a book by the genius poet, have been depicted as bas- relief here. The Kottam has been built in the form of a chariot and looks elegantly beautiful from outside.
Birla Planetarium :
Indulge yourself in observing various aspects of astronomy here; there are several different themes that are illustrated via audio visuals.
Rippon Building :
The fulgurant glory of the monument is depicted in its white hue; the building carries a huge importance, it being the headquarter of Chennai Corporation.
St. George :
Built in honor of St. George, the fort faces sea and during the rule by colonizers, it gained prominence as the one of the mightiest structures ever built. The walls are six meters in height; these were built in order to defend against the attacks. In addition to this fortified structure, there are other buildings in the vicinity that you can pay visit.
Chennai's popularity as a wishful tourist destination lies in the presence of its several parks and zoological gardens; these recreational spots allow you to explore nature in its wildest form.
Snake Park :
You have the privilege of watching the most ferocious and poisonous members of reptilian family. Monitor Lizards, vipers, and Kraits are some of the deadliest species that are found here.
Amusement Parks :
These are perfect picnicking destinations, spend time here with your family and indulge yourself in different sorts of entertainment. Dolphin City, MGM dizzy and Kishkinta are the amazing recreational venues that make your vacation to Chennai a pleasurable experience.
Anna Zoological Park :
It is the biggest one in entire South East part of Asian continent; here you will find a vast expanse of undulating terrains and lush green forests. The wildlife is protected inside the walls of moats; the animals are provided with naturally simulated environment.
Festivals and Fairs :
Arubathimoovar Festival :
Celebrated in the month of March/ April, this festival involves a glittering procession that comprises of images of Nayanmars that are taken out. The idols are made up of bronze and are the figures of the sages who spent their lives worshipping Lord Shiva.
Dance & Music Festival :
An epitome of the lavish entertainment, this festival is participated by a large number of people from Tamil Nadu and nearby areas. Visit Chennai in December or January when this grand festival is celebrated with full gaiety and enthusiasm.
Dakshinachitra Festivals :
A culture-exhibiting art and craft of South, the festivities are a reflection of the life styles adopted by different communities. The backdrop formed by rural houses and ancient crafts paints an awe-inspiring picture.
A distance of 58 kilometers from Chennai, lies magnificent Mahabalipuram, a historic town famous since centuries for its royal grandeur. A mirror of the glorious Pallava kingdom that is responsible for the construction of this town, Mahabalipuram is famous among the tourist for its shore temple and exquisite mandaps.
One of the corners of the Golden Triangle that adorns Coromandal Coast, Kanchipuram is a popular tourist hub. The artists whose diligent hands weave lovely silk and present one of the finest creations in the form of saris have earned Kanchipuram the distinction a major silk house. The refined Dravidian architecture that can be seen in the form of its temples, gopurams, and other structures is matchless.
A distance of about 152 kilometers, Tirupati is a highly venerated places of worship for South Indian devotees. Here Lord Tirupati is worshipped with full devotion and the place draws pilgrims in large number. The prime attractions that will catch your attraction are statue of Krishandevarai, Pratima Mandap, Tirumalanyaka mandap and many more.
This town near Chennai has a profound influence of French architecture on it. Once inhabited by Aurobindo Ghosh, the place attracts the tourist by a number of churches, beaches, and museums.
Crocodile Bank :
A unique destination that houses about 5000 species of crocodiles, alligators etc. is an attraction that draws your attention in a peculiar way.
Shopping at Chennai can be a wonderful experience that allows you to buy handicrafts and handmade items. Visit one of the art emporiums and take away with you some of these exclusive pieces of decorations. Silk is the other commodity for which the city is quiet popular. There are many silk centers like Srinivasa Silk, B.M. Silks that are known for their silk clothing. Bronze icons, bell metals and sculptures are the other items that are worth buying.
Dining Options :
Chennai has several continental restaurants that are present here and serve the guests with multiple cuisines. It is up to you where do you want to dig your forks.
Other Entertainment Options :
To experience the city life, there are so many arenas that offer the best of night life and relax. Pubs, bars, discos are the nice option for chilling out.
All sorts of accommodation options are available for the tourists. Weather it is a budget hotel or a luxury suite, all are present under one roof.
Chennai is counted as the 3rd most visited cities of India that is frequented by tourist from countries like USA, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka etc.