fishing village, Chennai, is now a
sprawling capital city of Tamil Nadu. People of Chennai are deep rooted in their
cultural moorings and traditions, even though modernity has its own impact.
Chennai is airy, spacious with verdant green and beaches. With a population of 6
million people, Chennai is a vibrant city ever growing, expanding and changing
Popularly regarded as the "Gateway to the South", Chennai presents culture that is distinctly
different from that of northern India. Music, dance and all other art forms of
the South are cherished and nurtured in this city which, though industrialized,
continues to be traditional and conventional in many ways.
Chennai has rich
traditional and civilization and it is blend of the old, and the new, vibrating
ceaselessly to keep pace with the rest of India, as bouyant metropolis of the
third most industrialized state.
People of Chennai are
deep rooted in their cultural moorings and traditions. From traditional
vegetarian fair to fast foods, 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, 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 is a city that has a clear skyline, long
sandy beaches, parks, historic landmarks and tourist infrastructural 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
outskirts 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 Chennai, and, within the city itself are two magnificent
temples - a temple in Triplicane and another in Mylapore.
Places of interest
Fort St. George occupies a place of pride and prominence in Chennai. It was
built in 1640 AD, by the British East India Company under the direct supervision
of Francis Day and Andrew Cogon. This bastion achieved name from St. George, the
patron saint of England. The fort houses St. Mary's Church and fort museum. St.
Mary's Church the oldest Anglican church in India built in 1680 and the
tombstones in it's courtyard are the oldest British tombstones in India. This
ancient prayer house solemnised the marriages of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu
Yale, who later founded the Yale University in the USA.
High Court :
With the decorative domes and corridors reminiscent of Indo-Saracenic
architecture and the adjacent Parry's corner are the important landmarks of
Chennai . This area is always crowded and active. Built in 1892, the High Court
of Chennai is believed to be the second largest judicial complex in the world.
The Marina Beach :
Marina Beach, the pride of Chennai is the second longest beach in the
World and has a wide sandy foreshore. Situated on the beach, the Anna and
MGR Samadhis which are memorials of the most popular former Chief
Ministers of the State attract good crowd everyday. An aquarium is also
located on the Marina Beach. Some of the most beautiful buildings in
Chennai such as the University of Chennai, Senate House, Chepauk Palace,
Presidency College, and Ice House are located on this beach drive.
Sri Parthasarathy Temple :
This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple was originally built by the
Pallavas in the 8th century AD. Though additions were later made to it by the
Chola and Vijayanagara Kings.
Kapaleswarar Temple :
Not far from Triplicane,in Mylapore, there is yet another 8th Century Pallava Temple. The temple
(tower) is in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. Dedicated to
Lord Shiva, this temple has some most beautiful sculptures, along with the
bronze idols of 63 Saivaite Saints (Nayanmars) which adorn the outer courtyard
are rare specimens. Also is the courtyard under the old Punnai tree is a small shrine depicting Goddess Parvathi in the form of a Peacock,
worshipping Lord Shiva. It is from this legend that Mylapore derived its name -
''Myil" meaning peacock and 'Oor' meaning
town. Mylapore swarms with life during the Arubathumoovar festival that is held
in March-April every year.
San Thome Cathedral Basilica :
San Thome at the southern end of Marina derives its name from St Thomas, the
apostle of Christ who is believed to have come to Madras sometime during 52 AD.
He was killed on St Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD. and was
interned in San Thome beach where a church was later built. Several years later,
another church was built further inland and his mortal remains were transferred
from the old church to the new one. In 1606 the church was rebuilt as a
cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica. The beautiful stained glass window
at the basilica portrays the story of St Thomas and the central hall has 14
wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. In the cathedral
is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin Mary which is believed to have been brought from
Portugal in 1543.
Guindy National Park :
The Deer Park 595 acres in extent, situated adjacent to Raj Bhavan was originally a part of the
Governor's Estate. Now it is fragmented and the major part is a thickly forested
game sanctuary where the spotted dear and the black buck roam about and a wealth
of smaller fauna thrive. This is the country's only Wild Life Sanctuary within a
city's limits. Raj Bhavan, the Governor's mansion, occupies one end of the park,
and at the other is the beautiful forest-girt campus of Chennai's famous Indian
Institute of Technology, one of Asia's foremost technical educational
institutions. In between, and edging the road, are a famous Cancer Institute, a
Children's Park with its own mini zoo and mini-railway, a Snake Park, rich in
reptiles, and Memorials to Gandhiji, Rajaji, the first Indian Governor-General,
and Kamaraj, a great national leader. Latest addition to this array of memorials
is that of Bakthavatchalam, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Opposite the park are the Anna University of Technology,
whose nucleous was the oldest technical school in the East, and the Central
Leather Research Institute. To the east of the Park as well as at the back of it
sprawls the campus of the Central Institute of Technology. Not far way is one of
the country's finest Race-courses.
In Thiruvanmiyur, beyond Elliot's beach, is Kalakshetra or 'Temple of Art'. It
was founded in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale to train, encourage and revive
interest in Bharatanatyam which is the classical dance form of the state.
MGR Film City :
Set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the sprawling Tharamani area, MGR Film
city houses various locations and settings for film-shooting besides dubbing and
re-recording theatres. The software city is coming up nearby.
Birla Planetarium :
The Birla Planetarium at Kotturpuram, between Adyar and Guindy, is the most
modern planetarium in the country. Adjoining the planetarium is a Periyar
Science and Technology Museum which will be of interest to students and other
Valluvar Kottam :
The standing memorial to immortal Tamil Poet-Saint Thiruvalluvar is shaped like
a temple chariot and is, in fact, the replica of the temple chariot in
Thiruvarur. A life-size statue of the saint has been installed in the chariot
which is 33m. tall. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been
depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. The
auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can
accommodate about 4000 people.
The Government Museum :
National Art Gallery, Gallery of Contemporary Arts and Children's Museum also
lie in the Museum Complex.
General Enquiry Tel-131
Reservation Enquiry Tel- 135/132
City Office Tel- 8553039/8555200
Reservation Tel- 8555200/201
Flight Arrival /Departure Tel- 140
City Office Tel- 855353