Testimonials

  • Excellent service. Excellent People - Ann Sharkey, UK
  • Very well organized trip. Our driver Ashok was excellent. - Laura Berick, US
  • Thank you for looking after us so well. All guides and representatives were outstanding - John Basil Petrof, Canada
  • Shall recommend your services to all my friends. All the best - John Cody, Australia
  • Very professional people. All guides and reps were good. No force shopping which I liked the most - S. Holland, Canada
  • Thank you for taking good care. All my group members were happy and pleased with your services.- Julien Brian, Australia
 

Chennai City Information

Chennai City Info

City : Chennai

Fact File

Area : 174.00 sq. km
Altitude : Sea level
Population : 3,841,396 (1991)
Languages : Tamil and English
Best time to visit : November–February
STD Code : 044

Introduction

Capital of the south-eastern state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is one of the four major metropolitan cities in India. Today, it is hard to believe that a place that was till 1639 just a small fishing village would become such an enormous and beautiful city. Situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is perhaps the most peaceful and green metropolis in India. Chennai has a number of attractions for the tourists to see. One of them is the beautiful Marina beach, where the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal mingle with the golden sands. The city also has its share of forts and palaces reminding the tourists the glory of bygone eras.

Sightseeing

Chennai was developed as a British trading post, and as such, most of its attractions have a distinct colonial influence. Stretched over an area of 13 km, Marina beach is the second longest beach in the world. The St. George Fort, built in 1653, is currently used as the state government’s secretariat. Santhome Cathedral was built around 14th/15th century and is another colonial structure worth visiting. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kapaleeshwar Temple is the oldest temple in Chennai. Another important temple in the city dedicated to Lord Krishna is Parthsarthy temple.

Excursions

While you are in Chennai on a planned holiday, be sure to take some time off and visit the places around. There are ancient temple towns like Mahabalipuram and Tirupati (in Andhra Pradesh), traditional townships and villages that specialise in crafts like Kanchipuram, and golden beaches like Covelong.

Chennai Sightseeing

Parthsarthy Temple

The temple was built in the 8th century by the Pallava kings of South India. It was renovated by the mighty Vijayanagar kings in the 16th century. The temple, situated in Triplicane, another beach in Chennai and one of the major harbours during Pallava time, is famed for the beauty of its gopuram (arched gateway) and its architecture. The entire locality is fashioned around the temple.

Kapaleeshwar Temple

This temple was constructed in the 13th century and is a living example of the architectural skills of the Dravidians. Situated in the Malaypore area of Chennai, the temple is the nucleus of the local tank market and residential quarters around it. The main entrance facing east is painted in red, blue and yellow with Puranic legends sculpted on the sanctum sanctorum.

Santhome Cathedral

Built over the tomb of apostle St. Thomas, the Santhome Cathedral is an important pilgrimage centre. According to legends, St. Thomas arrived in India from Palestine in AD 52 and died after 26 year. The church was built after a millennium, probably by the Persian Christians, and his remains were moved inside. The church was refurbished in 1606 and made into a cathedral. Again, in 1806, it was rebuilt as a basilica. There is a museum in its premises with a 16th-century map of South Asia.

Fort St. George

The most powerful symbol of the British Empire in its early days in India, Fort St. George was the first piece of real estate for British in India. For many, it is still unclear that why Sir Day (the founder) choose this place to build this important fort, leaving many other picturesque locations on the vast coastline of the Bay of Bengal. The fort has a grey granite exterior unlike the Mughal forts that has lavish ornamentation and luxury. It housed barracks for the British army, a parade ground, and the oldest church of Chennai—the St. Mary’s Church.

Marina Beach

The beach extends from Fort St. George all the way to Mahabalipuram. The beach looks spectacular at dusk when the setting sun casts iridescent glow and peddlers sell everything from ice creams to roasted peanuts to balloons. You can also read your future from the fortune tellers and palm readers who lure the visitors by various means. Don’t try to show your swimming skills here as the sea can get quite rough here.

National Art Gallery

Built in 1906, the gallery is situated in a splendid Indo-Saracenic edifice. The building was initially known as Victoria Memorial Hall and was designed by Henry Irwin. The eminent historian Tillotson described it as one of “the proudest expressions of the Indo-Sarcenic movement”. There is a good collection of old paintings and sculptures including Tanjore paintings on glass; Rajput and Mughal miniature paintings; Deccan paintings from 17th century; and handcrafts, metalware, and ivory carvings from 11th and 12th century.

Other Attractions

The Snake Park situated in the Guindy National Park in the Raj Bhavan Estate has a large collection of snakes and many other reptiles.

The Theosophical Society was founded by Madam Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott in New York in 1875 and moved its headquarters to Chennai in 1882. The society is set in large and tranquil gardens with several shrines of different faiths and a Serene Garden of Remembrance.

Kalakshetra, located around 1 km from the Theosophical Society, was founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale for the revival of Indian classical arts and crafts traditions.

Chennai Excursions

Mahabalipuram

Just out of Chennai, roughly 55 km away, is the world-famous town of Mahabalipuram. The Pallava dynasty of Southern India, one of the major lines of kings to rule in India after the Gupta period, made this lovely seaside village their second capital. The place blossomed under the creative forces of that time between the fifth and eighth centuries. Today, the shore temple, the largest bas-relief in the world called Arjuna’s Penance and the famous and beautiful mandapams are what identify this sleepy town.

Covelong

Replete with historical monuments such as forts, churches, mosques, and a lovely beach, Covelong is a place where you can experience the history of Tamil Nadu as a whole. If you are in Chennai, don’t miss out on a visit to this place.

Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram, also close by, is a destination that is visited by almost all tourist to Chennai. In fact, along with Chennai and Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram forms the famous Golden Triangle of the Coromandel coast. Although a dusty, dreary township of Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram finds place on the global map because of the wonderful craftsmanship of the Kanchi weavers, the makers of what is perhaps the finest silk fabric in the world.

Tirupati

Situated in the Chittoor district in southern Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is the abode of the legendary Lord of the Seven Hills. Tirupati is one of the most famous shrines in the country where an uninterrupted worship of the Lord has been carried out for over thirteen centuries. Even today, Tirupati draws enormous crowds throughout the year. The main attractions are the Pratima Mandapam, which has the statue of Sri Krishnadevaraya; Tulabharam, the scales upon which materials for offerings are weighed; the Tirumalanayaka Mandapam, which is replete with beautiful carvings; and Dhwajastambham, and others. Tirupati is situated at a distance of around 152 km from Chennai and connected by road, rail, and air.

 

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