The city that for a long long time was Madras is still hot and fiery as "Chennai" which is what it has been called since 1996. At once the centre of classical dance, classical Carnatic music and a vibrant polity, Chennai is finding its feet as a hip and urban centre where its young drinks-after-dinner executives are as happy as the arts and culture aficionados.
Once a tiny a tiny fishing village, today Chennai city is a busy metro, somewhat congested and polluted, but colourful as always. Larger than life "heroes" from 70mm celluloid beam out of even larger hoardings and if they can ‘grin and bear it’ so can you. The Tamilians love and revere their screen gods and it shows in their habit of electing them to top governmental posts, whenever one stands for elections.
Beaches and temples, bars and pubs versus spicy Chettinad cuisine, shopping for saris or hip clothes in designer boutiques - Chennai has it all. Travel to Chennai and discover how tradition and modernity seamlessly blend into each other in Chennai!
How to Reach Chennai?
By Air : Chennai’s Anna International airport is on many international air routes. Chennai is a major stop in the domestic circuit and all the domestic carriers service Kamraj National Airport. From the airport you could take a prepaid taxi or auto rickshaw to your hotel or downtown. If taking an auto rickshaw, be sure to fix the rate before getting in. There are private taxis available too, but these will charge more then the prepaid taxis.
By Rail : Southbound trains are exceptionally clean though it would take a (good) while longer than by air. Several trains run from the east, west and north to the main railway station, Chennai Central. Trains from Egmore Station will take you to places in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala. From both stations you can take a taxi, auto rickshaw or bus to your destination in the city. Please note that since buses are crowded it may not be a good idea to take one if you have luggage.
By Road : Chennai is well networked by road and you could drive in conveniently and comfortably by your own or a rented car. Catch any number of state-owned or private buses, or hire a taxicab for the ride.
Best Time to Visit Chennai
Located on the coast of south east India, Chennai has a hot and humid climate for most of the year so the best time to visit this historic capital of Tamil Nadu is the winters (November to February).
Winters are a pleasant time in Chennai. The temperatures are a little lower as compared to the summer months. The average temperature ranges from 28 to 32 degree Celsius during the day and drops down to an average of 20 degree Celsius at night. This is the perfect time to be in Chennai. December and January are the peak months for travel to Chennai. Tourists storm this metropolitan city in these months because of the various festivals and activities taking place during this time. If you want to avoid the peak rush then it will be a good idea to travel in the months of October, November, February and March as you will just have managed to escape the peak months but will still be able to enjoy a good holiday atmosphere with a pleasant climate.
The summers are very hot and humid with the temperature rising to a maximum of 42 degree Celsius during the day but drops down to a minimum of 25 degrees Celsius at night. It is advisable to avoid visiting the city during this season. It is almost impossible to bear the hot, humid climate and the strong rays of the sun. Summer is the off season for tourists as the climate doesn’t allow many tourists activities like sightseeing; to take place. Chennai gets some amount of rainfall at the end of summer. However if you happen to be in the city during this season make sure to carry umbrellas or put on hats and consume a lot of liquids to beat the heat.
Pongal is one of the main festivals in Chennai celebrated over a period of 4 days. It is the harvest festival celebrated with decorated cattle, processions and colorful Rangolis. A sweet porridge is made out of the newly harvested rice and is eaten by everyone including animals. InDecember Chennai hosts a Music festival and performances are delivered by the prominent and famous musicians of Tamil Nadu. Chennai holds many dance and cultural festivals. Whenever you visit the city do not miss a chance to see the beautiful expressive dance, Bharat Natyam, a classical dance, trademark of Tamil Nadu.
Things to do in Chennai
Chennai with its popular beaches, museums and temples boasts plenty of options in its things to do list. For sightseeing amongst the most popular places in Chennai is Fort St. George. While taking a walking tour inside this fort you will notice that most of the fort's built-up spaces are occupied by the offices of the state government and Indian military forces. You can further explore the fort by visit St. Mary’s Church (the oldest Anglican Church in India), old barracks, bungalows and end your tour in Fort Museum that is opened from 10 am to 5 pm and is closed on Fridays.
The second popular thing to do in Chennai is visiting Marina Beach. Considered as second longest beach in the world the quiet of this place can be enjoyed before 7 am. Walk alongside the waterfront and feel the cold water. Hungry? Snack on Sundal (boiled gram mixed with onion salt and mint chutney), the Molaga bajjis (large chillies dipped and deep fried in basin flour) or fried fish available at various stalls and with hawkers at the beach.
You can head towards east of Raj Bhavan and visit Memorials of Gandhi, Bhaktavatsalam, Rajaji and Kamaraj. For kids activities try amusement parks, Birla Planetarium or museums.
For religious travellers there are numerous temples that add verve to the city attractions. Adding up to the beauty of the city is the gorgeous Church of our Lady of Expectations, an old church built by Portuguese in 1523. At last if you want to soak in the spirit of traditional side of Chennai walk down the streets of Mylapore. Considered as is a cultural hub this place is situated in the southern part of the city. Go for a little shoppingspree. You can buy nice jewellery, hindu religious goods, artefacts, traditional snacks, coffee powder and classical music albums. Walk easy through the streets and immerse in the colourful sights and sounds. Try and make a conversation with some senior citizen sitting at his doorstep, they share good and interesting old stories and legends about the area.
Places Near Chennai
Chennai has its fair share of nearby places to visit, if you want to make foray out of the city.
V.G.P. Golden Beach Resort is about an hour’s drive out. It’s extremely popular with the locals and tourists. The beach is clean, the Art’s Centre sells seashell craft, and there is plenty of entertainment: an arcade for kids and folk-dance performances.
Muttukadu (36km) has been `developed’ into a picnic spot. It’s a centre for water sports and there’s a windsurfing competition on in Feb. There is a training programme for learners.
Take an excursion to Romulus Whittaker’s Crocodile Bank (44 km) on the way to Mahabalipuram keeps the croc crop up. Croc and alligator babies are hatched here before being returned to their natural habitat at sanctuaries across the country.
Covelong (48 km) has a five star beach resort that serves up windsurfing, an ancient Catholic Church, and the ruins of a fort.
Kanchipuram (75km) and Mammalapuram (Mahabalipuram - 58 km) are important temple towns. The rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram that have been fashioned as chariots, the two-spire shore temple, the silk and thousand temple town of Kanchipuram are ideally close to Chennai and yet destinations in themselves.
Vedanthangal is 85 km away set in a marshy 30 hectares is a haven for migratory birds. Nov. to Feb. is when cormorants, pelicans, swans, the blue winged teal, herons, spoonbills, the white ibis, sandpipers, and darters flock here in droves.
Hotels in Chennai – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Chennai ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.