As one enters to the 'Gateway of South'- Chennai, the city wraps every visitor in its enticing culture and warmth. Formerly known as Madras, the capital metro is also is the largest city in Tamil Nadu Rich in kaleidoscopic moods; Chennai charms every visitor with its evolving metropolitan culture featuring timeless wealth, arts, architecture, literature and warm culture. Often called as the cultural capital of India, Chennai's foothold is strong in its deep-rooted traditions and long heritage. From historic temples to captivating churches, the city embraces everyone with its fascinating vignette of colours. Tour to Chennai involves a visit to Fort St. George, a stroll to Marina Beach, watching performances of traditional Bharata Natyam or hearing soulful renditions of Carnatic Music. One can find it all in Chennai.
Major Tourist Attractions
Fort St. George
Formerly known as White Town, Fort St. George is the oldest British building in India. It served as a major foothold for East India Company which established this small trading post and converted it into an influential imperial fort. Built around 1653 under the leadership of Robert Clive, Fort St. George occupies a place of pride in Chennai then and now by serving as a Secretariat and Legislative Assembly House. The fort complex also houses St. Mary's Church and Fort Museum. The oldest Anglican church in Chennai is popularly known as the 'Westminster Abbey of the East'.
One of the longest beaches in the world, Marina is the pride of Chennai featuring a wide sandy foreshore. The beach stretches from Fort St. George in the north to Besant Nagar in the south towards a distance of 12 km with 437 metre width. The Indo Saracenic influence can be seen around the beach through the buildings like University of Chennai, Senate House, Chepauk Palace, Presidency College and Ice House. The beach is also known for fishing.
One of the most revered Pallava Temples in Chennai; Kapaleeswarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Gopuram/pillar of this temple represents the classic Dravidian architecture and bronze sculptures.
Guindy National Park
The smallest National Park of India, Guindy features beautiful forests, scrub lands, lakes and streams. Spread over 2.82 km area, Guindy National Park is a home to black bucks, spotted deer, jackals, snakes, geckos, tortoises, birds, butterflies, spiders and the like. The protected area is a thriving place for flora and fauna, attracting 7, 00,000 visitors every year.
Edward Elliot's Beach
Edward Elliot Beach marks the end point of Marina beach shore. Named after Edward Elliot, Governor of Madras, this beach reflects the colonial era exclusive to the British. Karl Schmidt Memorial, Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi temple are prominent landmarks on this beach. One of the cleanest beaches in the heart of the city, Elliot beach is ideal for long walks.
Built in the memory of the immortal Tamil poet-saint Thiruvalluvar, Valluvar Kottam is constructed as a 39 m high temple chariot. Also, the life- size statue forms the part of this memorial. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot.
Sri Parthasarathi Temple
The 8th century Krishna temple was built under the patronage of the Pallavas and enshrines idols of the five avataras of Sri Vishnu. The small temple inside is dedicated to Vishnu's consort,Vedavalli Ammai.
St. thome at the southern tip of Marina features the beautiful stained glass window at the bascilla depicting the story of St Thomas and the central hall that has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. The 3-ft high statue of Virgin Mary was imported from Portugal in 1543.
National Art Gallery and Government Museum
The museums at Egmore, founded in 1857, display exhibits related to archaeology, geoglogy, Anthropology, numismatics, botany and zoology along with sculpture and armory.
Best Time to Visit - September to February
How to Get There
By Air - Chennai is the third busiest airport after Delhi and Mumbai. It is well connected to all major cities in India and World.
By Train - The city has two main long-distance train stations - Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore both connecting it to the rest of the country
By Road - Chennai is very well connected to other parts of India by road through major national highways linking it to Bengaluru, Tiruchy/Madurai, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. With the progress of the Golden Quadrilateral project, driving down from Bangalore is also emerging out as an option.
Drive 60 km south of Chennai to unveil the heritage of rock cut sculpted temples of Pallava Dynasty Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram. Built in the 7th century, this ancient port is a home to sculpted antique monolithic wonders. City of Seven Pagodas, Mahabalipuram temples are famous for five monolith rathas or chariots based on Pandavas. Being a world heritage site, the set of temples showcase the much revered Sea Shore Temple overlooking the Bay of Bengal, Mahishamardhini Cave, the Krishna Mandapam and Varsha Mandapam featuring beautiful reliefs of Vishnu reclining on the coils of seven headed serpent.
The city of thousand temples, Kanchipuram is known as a major pilgrim destination concentrating on Hinduism. One of the seven sacred cities of India, Kanchipuram is also famous for the Kanchi Shankaracharya Matha. Witnessing splendour of Pallava architecture, the city was a major center for learning in South India. Kanchipuram is also famous for hand woven silks and sarees.
Vandalur Zoo, also known as Arignar Anna Zoological Park is the biggest wildlife preserve featuring rich variety of different animals, reptiles and birds. The zoo is also a home to seven white tigers.
Vedanthangal Lake Bird Sanctuary
Located in Kanchipuram District, Vedanthangal Lake Bird Sanctuary is one of the largest in India. Spread over 30 hectare of area, the sanctuary is a seasonal home to over 1, 00,000 migratory birds including pintail, garganey, grey wagtail, blue-winged teal, common sandpiper and many more.
Covelong is a fishing village in India famous for Wind surfing. It served as a port town until Covelong was occupied by French. During colonial times, Dutch built a fort which is presently a luxury hotel known as Taj's Fisherman Cove.
Abode of Lord Vishnu or Balaji, Tirupati famous for its Sri Venkateswara Temple located on the top of Tirumala hills. Known popularly as Saptagiri, Tirumala has seven peaks, each devoted to the hoods of Adisesha, the serpent under whose hoods Vishnu resides in Vaikuntha. The temple draws millions of devotees every year and is known for its huge temple offerings.
Pondicherry Nearby Cities
Tiruvottiyur (9 km), Avadi (20 km), Ambattur (21 km), Muttukadu (36 km), Covelong (48km), Mamallapuram (58 km), Kanchipuram (75 km), Tirupati (113 km), Pondicherry (137 km) Salem (279 km), Thanjavur (282 km), Bangalore (293 km), Tiruchchirappalli (307 km)
Where to Stay