Madras, or Chennai as it is now called, is known
as the Gateway of Southern India. The East India Company developed
Chennai as one of the major trading centres in India. Chennai has
a blend of Dravidian and Gothic architecture in its buildings. The
city might have grown but it has never lost its traditional grace
and charm. The Tamil society might have incorporated English culture
but the Dravidian roots are as strong as ever. Chennai is the epitome
of tradition, culture and life-style of Southern India. But like
the rest of India, Chennai has over the years, developed its share
of urban style and modernity. Accommodation and transportation are
cheap and efficient. It is very likely that the temples that you
will visit in Chennai are unlike any other that you have seen before.
Visit the 4.5 km long Golden Marina beach,one of the longest beaches
in the world.
Unlike Mumbai, the Chennai port is not a natural harbour. Nevertheless,
this man-made port is very modern and efficient in handling cargo
and other traffic. Today Chennai is the fourth largest city in India
and commands a major share in the trade from the South.
Chennai was developed after 1639 when the East India Company established
a fort and trading post at the small fishing village of Chennai.
Over the past three and a half centuries, the small fishing village
has grown into a bustling metropolitan city which is especially
known for its spaciousness which is lacking in other Indian cities.
Various churches and some impressive buildings remind the visitor
about the long and inseparable association the city has had with
the British. Chennai was also an important centre of Pallavan culture
long before the British came here and the traces of which can be
found in the various old temples.
Place to See
Fort St. George
Built by the British East India Company in 1653, the fort has now
grown into a metropolis. The fort presently houses the Secretariat
and the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu. The fort museum presents
a fascinating collection of various memorabilia from the period
of British Raj including a 'Clive's Corner.' The towering flagstaff
of the fort is the tallest in India.
St Mary's Church
The Oldest English church in India was built during 1678-80.
Situated inside the Fort St. George, this church was constructed
during the time of Streynsham Master, when he was the governor.
It was designed by William Dixon and has four feet thick outer walls
and solid curved bomb proof roof. The major attraction of the church
is a huge painting of the Last Supper in the Raphael style brought
The ancient temple is situated at Mylapore in the southern part
of Chennai. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is a typical example
of the Dravidian architecture. This temple has 120 ft high gopuram
(Portal tower) which was built in 1906 and is adorned with stucco
figures. In addition, the bronze images of the 63 Saivaite saints
are carved on the outer yard of the temple. The famous 'Aruvathi
Moovar' festival attracts lakhs of tourists and visitors every year.
The pride of Chennai, the Marina beach is the second longest
beach in the world. Stretching over 12 kms in length, the beach
is known for its natural beauty and houses the Samadhis of two former
chief ministers of Tamil Nadu. Several historic buildings stand
on the other side of vast stretches of sand.
High Court and Light House
Built in the year 1892, the High Court building is an important
landmark of Chennai. The imposing Indo-Saracenic building has a
beautiful dome and stained glass arches and minarets. The tallest
minaret of the building rising 160 feet, has the Light House which
was erected in 1894. The Light House offers panoramic views of the
harbour and Georgetown.
Situated on the Pantheon Road in Egmore, this museum was established
in 1857. It is the first Government sponsored museum, which was
gifted to the Government in 1851 by the Madras Literary Society.
This museum has the most beautiful bronze collection, a good collection
of South Indian musical instruments, numismatic and arms.
The Birla Planetarium is situated at Kotturpuram between Adyar and
Gunidy. Everyday the planetarium presents two programmes based on
various themes of astronomy - positions of constellations, moon
panaroma, galaxies, comets, occurrence of solar and lunar eclipses
etc. The planetarium is closed on Mondays.
Located close to Basant Nagar, the beach offers a good alternative
to beach lovers who prefer to avoid the crowd of Marina Beach. The
Elliot's Beach is the place which was used by former governors for
sea bathing and relaxation. Major attractions near the beach are
the Ashta Laxmi Temple and a church.
Kalakshetra meaning 'Temple of Art' is located beyond Elloit's beach
at Thiruvanmiyur. It is a school of classical Indian music and dance
like the most popular Bharatanatyam and Kuravanji. Kalakshetra was
founded by noted dancer Rukmini Devi in 1936 to train and encourage
Fairs & Festivals
Literally, 'Arubathimoovar' refers to the 63 saints of Shiva canonized
for leading exemplary lives of devotion and penance. Bronze figures
of these 63 saints adorn the magnificent Kapaliswar Temple at Mylapore,
Chennai. Once, every year, they are carried in a colourful procession
through the streets of Mylapore.
Celebrated in Madurai a spectacular re-enactment of the marriage
of the Pandiyan princess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar. You can
witness an ancient legend unfold right before your eyes as Lord
Vishnu rides to his sister's wedding on gleaming real-gold horse
Dance Festival - Mamallapuram
Sit before an open-air 'stage' created 13 centuries ago the incredible
monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallavas, next to the sea in this
ancient city of Mamallapuram. Watch a very unique dance event where
traditional dance forms of Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali
and Odissi, presented by the very best exponents of the art besides
A truly secular festival where devotees flock to the shrine of saint
Quadirwali, believed to do equal good to people of all faiths. One
of the descendants of the Saint is chosen as a Peer or spiritual
leader and is honoured with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival,
the Saint's tomb is anointed with sandalwood - and later the holy
sandal paste, renowned for its healing powers, is distributed to
Dancing in a hypnotic trance to the rhythm of drums, devotees of
Muruga carry the 'Kavadi' a flower-decked decoration, all the way
up the Palani Hills to fulfil their vow. According to Hindu mythology,
Idumban is said to have carried two sacred hillocks on two ends
of a pole laced on his shoulders
How to Reach
: Chennai has domestic as well as international
airports. The Kamaraj Domestic Airport and the Anna International
Airport are located at Tirusulam, at a distance of 20 km from the
: The city of Chennai is also well connected
to all the major cities in India through a wide network of railways.
The main railheads are Madras Central and Egmore.
: The city of Chennai is also well connected
to all the major cities in Tamil Nadu and other neighboring states
through an excellent road network.