MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
The awe-inspiring touch of history is unmistakable the moment you step into the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai through the V Pattabhiraman Gate. This venue has been the spiritual home of South Indian cricket since 1916 when Presidency matches were staged. Since then the stadium has only grown in stature.
Chepauk, the popular name of this venue, hosted its first Test in 1933-34 when Douglas Jardine led England against CK Nayudu’s India. The first-ever Ranji Trophy match, Mysore vs Tamil Nadu, was also played here. In subsequent years, the stadium hosted a number of well-contested Tests matches and one-dayers. The famous tied Test between India and Australia in 1986-87, only the second in the game’s history, was an example of that.
But one batsman has a special connection with Chepauk – Sachin Tendulkar. The Master Blaster unfurled one of his most remarkable innings here against Pakistan in 1999 but a back spasm prevented the batting maestro to complete the job then. He had to wait nearly a decade to make amends.
The Mumbaikar scripted an unbeaten hundred against England in 2008 that helped India hunt down a target close to 400 on the fifth day of the Test. His hundred against Australia in that epic 2000-01 series is also fresh in every cricket lover’s memory for its aesthetic quality and timing.
The pitch for the Test between India and South Africa in early 2008 produced another classic -Virender Sehwag’s blistering triple hundred. Thanks to the innings, Sehwag was welcomed into the exclusive club of batsmen to have scored two or more triple tons, Sir Don Bradman and Brian Lara being the only other members till then.
Situated on the east coast, Chennai was formerly called Madras. It is a perfect mix of old world charm and new age spirit with its cosmopolitan exterior and resolute and traditional interior. The city has some of the finest and most ancient religious monuments of the country. Santhome Cathedral Basilica is one of the major tourist attractions of the city. The name is a tribute to St. Thomas who was buried here. It also has the famous Fort St George, facing the sea in the east of the city, just south of George Town.
Also prominent is the Ramakrishna Math situated at Mylapore, which has lush green surroundings with the facility to meditate. For those who love to take leisurely strolls along beaches, there’s the Marina beach. Don’t forget to visit Valluvar Kottam, the famous memorial of saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, at Nungambakkam. Another not-to-be missed sight is the High Court Building, just north of St. George Fort. Built in 1892, this building is believed to be the second largest judicial complex in the world. The red sand stone construction, ornamental decorations on the walls, stained glass windows and minarets add beauty to this building.
Chennai has some great shopping locations for visitors. It has the Weavers Centre in south Chennai, which provides an exclusive collection of dyed table cloths, pouches and books. George Town is the wholesale area of Chennai, where you can find everything from paper and textiles to cosmetics and decorations. The streets are bustling with energy and spirit. If you are searching for souvenirs, then head to Victoria Technical Institute on Anna Salai Road, a government outlet promoting high-quality Indian handicrafts. It has a wide range of fixed price arts and crafts.
The small stalls and shops lining Sir Thyagaraya Nagar Road, popularly known as Pondy Bazaar, have an array of great fabrics, cheap clothes and jewellery, plus the divine smell of jasmine from the colourful flower stalls. For quality fabrics, including raw and hand-spun silks, Nalli Silks on Nageswaran Road is recommended.
Culture and Entertainment
Chennai is a major centre for music, art and culture in India. For followers of classical Indian dance forms, there is Kalakshetra, an important cultural centre for Bharatanatyam in the south of the city. Chennai is the base for the large Tamil movie industry, home to most of the movie studios. Music Academy is another public venue for Carnatic classical music and Bharatanatyam.
For the foodies, Vaigai Woodlands, formerly Adyar Woodlands, at Adyar junction has great rava idlis and idlis. Try Sanjeevanam on First Avenue. Indira Nagar is a pure vegetarian place, which serves food according to strict Ayurvedic codes. For non-vegetarians, there’s Ponnusamy in Vannandurai on the way to Besant Nagar as well as the original Royapettah, which is just past the Music Academy. These places are excellent value for money. For lovers of Japanese food there’s Akasaka – excellent food – and Dahlia. And for those who want to experiment, try Zara’s in Mylapore. This ultra-cool tapas joint has everything from squid and olives to tortilla and sangria.