The capital of Tamil Nadu and formerly known as Madras, Chennai is a metropolitan city of India ranked high in the socio-economic indexes of the country. With a coastline along the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is a city attached deeply to Tamilian culture. Unlike, Delhi or Mumbai where the influx of outsider’s have diluted to an extent the Punjabi or Maharashtrian essence, Chennai on the other hand, in spite of in migrations has held on steadfast to its roots.
An important center of politics and learning, Chennai is also famous for its beaches and historical, religious monuments. Here is taking a look at some of the main tourist attractions of the city.
WHAT TO SEE
Places to see
Marina Beach: The beach road stretches with significant statues and pointers along the way, such as, the Gandhi Statue, Labor Statue and Kannagi Statue each set against the background of the vast sea. The Marina Beach is the most popular beach of the city that witnesses throngs of people on hot summer nights. The beach is made alive by the numerous vendors, selling food, snacks, toys, games and local snacks. Horse riders roam about on the sandy beach inviting children and adults for a ride on the animal. Another popular beach called the Beasant Nagar Beach or Edward Elliot’s Beach is also a favorite amongst Chennaites.
Lighthouse: An iconic landmark, the Chennai Lighthouse on the Marina Beach is one of the rare lighthouses that have an elevator inside. Opened to the public recently, one can climb to the top and take in the view of the surrounding city landscape.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park: The zoo is a well maintained, well planned area and a lovely visiting spot for animal lovers. The car ride within the zoo premise is a great way to see all the wildlife without having to walk much.
Dakshina Chitra: A center for showcasing arts and handicrafts of all kinds of southern India, the Dakshina Chitra is a great place to visit for the connoisseurs of art. The center has 18 historical houses each with a contextual exhibition in store.
Guindy National Park: This Protected Area is home to many animal and bird species, such as, deer, monkey and peacocks and is a local crowd puller on holidays. It is one of the few national parks in the country that are situated very much in the middle of the city landscape.
Chennai Snake Park Trust: India’s first reptile park, and located near the Guindy National Park is a haven for reptile enthusiasts.
St. Thomas Mount: The St. Thomas Church is located below this small hillock within the city and close to the Chennai Airport. The mount is a peaceful place to sit and picnic and watch the planes zoom by above.
Semmozhi Poonga: Recently constructed by the horticultural department, this botanical garden boasts of more than 500 plant species. It is also home to some of the rare, exotic flora and medicinal plants.
Anna Memorial: Also called the Anna Samadhi on the Marina Beach is a memorial built to honor the former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai. The memorial arch is a landmark location and there is also a museum on the northern side. Adjacent to the Anna Memorial lies the MGR memorial in honor of Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran , along with the memorial of the last Chief Minister J.Jayalalitha.
VGP/Snow World/Click Art Museum: One of the most famous amusement parks, VGP is a favorite haunt for families on weekends and holidays. Recent incorporations of the Snow World and Click Art Museum add to the activities and fun.
National Art Gallery: Known to be one of the oldest art gallery the National Art Gallery houses paintings from Rajasthan, Thanjavur, Kangra and Deccan as well as many sandalwood sculptures.
St. Thomas Basilica: This beautiful church built by the Portuguese is a tomb of Saint Thomas one of the 12 apostles of Jesus.
Mahabalipuram: At a distance of about 60km is the temple town of Mahabalipuram. Due to its proximity to Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a considered one of the most important tourist destinations and is world renowned for its rock and temple architecture. The Shore Temple, Pancha Rathas, Tiger Caves, Krishna’s Butter Ball (gigantic boulder resting on an incline) are some of the sites that are worth visiting. The Mahabalipuram beach is of course, the best way to unwind your day after exploring the caves, carvings, temples and shopping outlets.
Chennai has shopping malls and outlets of various kinds. There are many malls that act as hubs for not only shopping, but movie watching and children gaming areas. For experiencing the local shopping one must visit T.Nagar, Sowcarpet, Pondy Bazaar and Mylapore.
Chennai is where you get some of the best quality south Indian food. Idli, dosa, vada, pongol, uttapum, appam and others are staple foods that are found in hotels and restaurants. Afternoon meals, a generous serving of sambhar, dal, vegetables, pickle, curd and unlimited rice is a wonderful fulfilling meal. Not to forget the piping tumbler of hot coffee that goes after any snack.
Places around Chennai
Pondicherry – This beach town with its French influence is a great weekend destination from Chennai.
Yercaud – A wondrous hill station located in the Eastern Ghats, Yercaud is mountainous area sublime with the greenery around.
Kolli Hills – A quiet and yet non commercialized hill station, Kolli Hills will mesmerize you with its plantations and rolling topography.
Yelagiri- Another hill station, visit Yelagiri for boating, adventure sporting and to enjoy the fresh air.
Chennai takes its politics, movies and language seriously and is proud of its culture and traditions. The inscriptions and boards in Tamil, the craze for its superstars and hero worshipping or feeling strongly about local political and social events the people of Chennai are cultured and hold local and national pride above all things.