The city, formerly called Madras, goes back to ancient times. Its first modern era time is 1644 when Fort St George was founded by the British. It is now the capital of Tamil Nadu state. The Quality of Living Survey rated Chennai as the safest city in India. Chennai attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. As such, it is termed "India's health capital". In 2015 Chennai was named the "hottest" city (not a climatic term here)(worth visiting, and worth living in for long term) by the BBC, citing the mixture of both modern and traditional values.
This is a famous Jain temple. The temple lies just 9 kilometres away from the city, at Polal village, near the Redhill Lake on the Grand Trunk Road.A class of the archaeologists and scholars believe that the temple originated during the reign of the Pallavas in the time span of the 4th to 8th Century A.D. It is confirmed by examining some of the inscriptions scribbled in the temple as well as at some adjoining Hindu Temples. These inscriptions reflect that the renovation of the Adeeswar temple was conducted in the twelfth or thirteenth Century A.D. It also raises possibilities that some of the kings gifted parts of their lands for its maintenance.
The temple was built in eleventh century AD and is home to some unique, rich inscriptions of that century, giving an insight into the architectural characteristics of the style adopted by Chola Kings, who dominated those times. Lord Kandaswamy is another name for Shiva (many Indian gods have more than one name).The temple has an idol of Muruga, son of the Lord Shiva, standing on five different positions, called by distinct names like: Nrutta Skandar (dancing Muruga), Brahma Sastha (created from Brahma), Balaskandar (child Shanmuga), Sivagurunathar (as teacher to Siva) and Pulinthar (vedan hunter). The temple is situated in Cheyyur, a quiet village 30km from Chennai. Access by bus or taxi. Train to Chingleput & thereafter by road.
Though the clear picture about who built the temple is not known, it is commonly believed that the temple was originally built by Pallavas in the seventh century CE due to its reference in the hymns of the Nayanmars; however, the architecture of the temple seems to be just 300-400 years old. The scholars have concluded that the original temple was built at the seashore in 7th century by Pallavas and was destroyed by Portuguese. The temple existing today about 1 km far from the shore was built by Vijay Nagar kings during 16th century. The peaceful Kapaleeswarar Temple of Chennai is believed to be one of the oldest and most revered holy places of the city. The shrine of Lord Shiva, Kapaleeswarar temple is situated in Mylapore, a suburb of Chennai. The temple is an emblem of Dravidian style of architecture with giant gopuram (tower).
Siuated in Triplicane area of Chennai. It was originally built by Pallavas in the 8th century and later renovated by Vijayanagar kings in 11th century. The holy water from the nearby tank is said to be more sacred than the Ganges. The temple is dedicated to Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, in his role as Arjuna's charioteer in the great conflict of the two families in the Mahabharata. Various other incarnations of Vishnu have statues within the temple.
In the Vadapalani region of Chennai. This temple officiates as many as 7,000 marriages a year. The Eastern wall of the temple has 108 postures of Bharatnatyam, the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu. The prime diety of the temple is Muruga.
This is in Mylapore region of Chennai. A must! A beautiful modern building in classical style. A great place to meditate during the day. (Please check times; the temple closes at lunch time). A fifteen minute meditation inside the temple will leave you recharged for the day!
South Indian Dance & Music Festivals
This is held from mid December to mid January. It shows first of all Carnatic music. The performances primarily swivel around the songs of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages, demonstrating the magic of the instruments like Flute, Veena, Goottuvadyam, Nagaswaram, Thavil, Mridangam, and Ghatam. Concerts are held in various locations in the city. (See daily newspapers).
Travel & Tourism Fair
Held in January, in The Island. The fair displays many rurally manufactured goods and is good for buying souvenirs. In Addition there are many government stalls with information about many tourist activities in Tamil Nadu.
As throughout Tamil Nadu, this is celebrated in Chennai, although Chennai is far from the rural roots of the festival. Over four days.
Monuments in Chennai
These are notable buildings, mostly classical ie pre 1900:
- Freemasons Hall
- Fort St George
- Kamaraj Memorial House
- MGR Memorial (MGR was a beloved actor and later Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu).
- Senate House
- Thousand Lights Mosque
- War Memorials
- Valluvar Kottam
It proudly stands as the second oldest museum-after the Indian Museum of Kolkata which was set up in 1814-and is also one of the leading museums in South Asia. Some parts of the museum are over 100 years old. The Museum grounds comprises of six buildings and 46 galleries, covering the total area of about 16.25 acres. Objects in the museum have been sub divided into the categories geology, archaeology, zoology, anthropology, numismatics, botany and sculpture. The huge main hall of the Museum Theatre was built for the theatrical performances and comprises of more than 600 seats and a spacious stage. In the English period before Independence the hall was used for plays. Nowadays it is used for various art workshops and seminars.
The National Art Gallery and Contemporary Art Gallery are both worth a look.
This is along the coastal area of Chennai. Very popular with locals. It is several km long. Horse riding is popular on the beach. Beware of food cooked in oil - the oil is re cycled and may be too strong for a foreigner's stomach! There are several monuments on the beach including ones to MGR and Mahatma Gandhi.
These receive mixed revues from tourists; some love them, others hate them.
Recently opened. Top brands in the shops and many eateries.
The oldest mall in India. Rebuilt on the original Spencer Department Store. More than 400 shops...popular with the younger set.
This is Chennai's largest shopping mall at 900,000 sq ft. It has the largest gaming arcade in South India along with shopping, business and leisure outlets.
Chennai's airport is 5kmm from the heart of the city. There are domestic and international terminals. Flights to international destinations and major cities within India.
Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore cover destinations in Tamil Nadu and beyond.
By far the best times to come to Chennai are January and February (max Temperature 20 °C) with very low rainfall. March-October max temperature 32-37 °C.