|Chennai formerly known as Madras is the largest city in southern India located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is fourth largest city of India and capital of Tamil Nadu. Its name was officially changed to Chennai in 1996, but the older name Madras is still widely used. |
The city is a leading commercial and industrial center in India, and has a diverse cultural heritage. From traditional vegetarian fair to fast foods, from nine-yard sarees to the latest in fashion, from ancient temple architecture to modern high-rise - with Indo-Saracenic and Victorian as stops along the way - from classical music and dance to discos throbbing to heady beats, Chennai has them all and many more vivid contrasts that are a pleasant surprise. And perhaps the most striking of them all is that here is a modern metropolis with beaches, parks and even sanctuaries in the heart of the City. Chennai offers a wealth of nature and a rich historic past to visitors in the ambience of a city with every modern facility.
Chennai is a gracious city that has a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks, historic landmarks and tourist facilities which make it a convenient entry point or base to start your tour of Tamil Nadu and South India. Where religion is concerned, history has certainly left its mark on this city, which is believed to have been the place of St. Thomas, in the out skirt of the city. There are a number of churches in Chennai that are connected with the life and times of this apostle. There are also several ancient temples around the city, and within the city itself are two magnificent temples - a temple in Triplicane and another in Mylapore.
How to Reach Chennai:
Chennai is an international arrival point and an important domestic airport. The Anna International Airport is well organised and not too heavily used, making Chennai a god entry or exit point. There's rarely more than one plane on the ground at any given time. Right next door is the relatively new Kamarajar Domestic Airport
The Chennai city is well connected to all the major cities in Tamil Nadu and other neighboring states through an excellent road network. Interstate buses operate at regular intervals from Chennai. Many private operators are available for domestic and interstate transportation.
Chennai is the headquarters of Southern Railway and well connected to all the major cities in India through a wide network of railways. Trains operate from Egmore Junction to different parts of the state while interstate trains originate from Chennai Central Station.
The reservation office (Phone 91-44-8251564/55) is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 2pm and 2.15pm to 8pm: Sunday from 8am to 2pm. At Egmore station, the booking office is in the station itself, and is open the same hours as the office at Central station.
Chennai is basically a tropical city and humidity prevails normally between 62 to 86%. Proximity to the sea brings in cool breeze much to the relief of the scorched Chennai. Normally Chennai records in a day 36.5 C maximum and 20.8 C minimum. April-May being the summer in Chennai. When the mercury sometimes shoots upto 42 C. Winter spreads over November-January. The monsoon lashes the city at different spells between July-August & September - November. However, the rainy days restricted to a few days to a couple of weeks during these monsoon periods, that makes the situation pleasant for a tourist. Average rainfall is 1215 mm
Attractions in Chennai:
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.
Guindy National Park & Snake Park
These parks are adjacent to each other. The Guindy National Park is 1 km from the Guindy station. The Snake Park with its lizards, crocodiles and turtles is quite interesting. It is well maintained with generous enclosures. Information boards debunk many myths about reptiles. The parks are open daily, except Tuesday, 8.30 am to 5 pm.
The temple of Sri Parthasarathy at Triplicane, is one of the two famous and ancient shrines in Chennai, the Capital city of Tamil Nadu State near the famous Marina Beach. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams, is said to have renovated by a king of Pallava Dynasty. "Brindaranya" is the traditional Puranic name of "Thiru-Alli-Keni" now popularly known as "Thiruvallikeni" or Modern "Triplicane", situated on the sea-shore about two miles from Fort Saint George. Some of the other name for this great Kshetra Triplicane include "Kairavini Brindaavanan" and "Thulasivana
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.
Originally called Ice House, this landmark was re-christened Vivekananda Illam in 1963. This was in remembrance of Swami Vivekananda's brief sojourn here. (in 1897 when he delivered seven historic lectures at Chennai).
The building served the Tudor Ice Company, which used it for storage of ice from 1842 to 1874. Its structure was such that Ice could remain without melting for long periods. The Government took over the building in 1930 and it has been renovated recently, with a statue of Swami Vivekananda installed. Today, it houses a Gallery of 150 rare photographs on the life of Swami Vivekananda. It also houses a section on India's cultural heritage and on the history of the building itself.