This metropolis is often called the cultural capital of India for its deep-rooted traditions and long heritage.
Chennai is a city younger than its image. More than any other city in India, it is a true reflection of this country’s diversity. In a time span of just over 350 years, Chennai has blossomed into a charming city that has a large heart and is very welcoming. It is city that encourages all forms of development, both modern technology and the traditional arts and crafts, and it embraces a series of paradoxes. It was in 1639 that Francis Day and Andrew Cogan, agents for the English East India Company, acquired a strip of land on lease from the Vijayanagar King.
They built the Fort St.George, which remains of the city’s important landmarks and serves as the Government Secretariat today. It was built to set up a factory that served as a nucleus for British settlements that began to be formed. Surrounding villages like Triplicane, Purasawalkam, Egmore and Chetput slowly merged with the new developments, to form Chennapatnam, as it was known.
The city was called Madras till 1996 and then renamed Chennai. Today this buoyant metropolis is a blend of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern.
Spread over 200 square kilometres with the Bay of Bengal on the east, the city is the gateway to the rest of South India. There are verdant green patches found amidst the high-tech, high-rise buildings.
With a population of around six million, it is India’s fourth largest city. From before days of Independence to present , the people of Chennai have played an important role in shaping the country’s political destiny.
Chennai’s Pride Chennai’s newest pride is the Tidel Park, the home for the Information Technology Industry. It is spread over 1.28 million sq.ft. of built up area. The Tidel Park is an architectural marvel and houses several large national and international software companies in its premises. The City of Grace And Peace.
Places of Tourist Interest
Fort St. George Fort st.George occupies pride of place and prominence in Chennai. This bastion derived its name form St. George, the patron saint of England. The State Legislature and the Secretariat are located inside this fort . The St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in India built in 1680 is situated here. The tombstones in its courtyard are some of the oldest British tombstones in India. The weddings of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale, who later founded the famous Yale University in the U.S.A were solemnised in this ancient prayerhouse.
The Marina Beach, the pride of Chennai is the second longest beach in the world and has a wide sandy shore. Situated on the beach, are the Samadhis or memorials dedicated to C.N.Annadurai and M.G.Ramachandran, both former Chief Ministers of the state. They attract thousands of visitors everyday. Some of the most beautiful buildings in Chennai such as the University of Madras, the Senate House, Chepauk Palace, Presidency College and the Ice House are located on the beach drive.
Santhome Cathedral Basilica Santhome at the southern end of the Marina gets its name from St.Thomas, the apostle of Jesus who is believed to have come to India sometime during 52 A.D. It is believed he was killed on St. Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD and his remains interred in Santhome beach where a church was later built.
Several years later, another church was built further inland and his mortal remains were transferred here. Chennai’s newest pride is the Tidel Park, the home for the Information Technology Industry. It is spread over 1.28 million sq.ft. of built up area. The Tidel Park is an architectural marvel and houses several large national and international software companies in its premises.
Memorials of Gandhi, Rajaji, Kamaraj & Bhaktavatsalam.
These four memorials are situated east of Raj Bhavan, the Governor’s Residence.
Vivekananda House & Museum The state government had leased this building Sri Ramakrishna Mission. It is an imposing structure on the Marina along the South Beach Road. It was constructed in 1842 to store ice blocks imported from the USA by the Tudor Ice Company and the business continued until 1874, when the ice began to be produced locally. This is why it is called Ice House. Later Bilagiri Iyengar purchased this building in 1885 and called it “Castle Kernon.”
In 1897 Swami Vivekananda visited this city and stayed in this historic building from February 6 to 15 in 1897 on his way to Calcutta, after his acclaimed speech at Chicago for the Parliament of Religions. The Government took over the building in 1930 and in 1963 it was named after Vivekananda. On the eve of his Centenary Celebrations, in 1999 the building was renovated and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu unveiled the sage’s statue on the 20th December 1999. Photographs depicting the historical happenings associated with his life and books about him and his own written works are on display and sold here in the Museum.
|Chengalpattu The TTDC provides boating facilities to the tourists in the beautiful lake at Chengalpattu.
Pulicat It is India’s second largest brackish water lagoon, and is located 60 km north of Chennai. The Pulicat Lake is a breeding ground for rare birds. It consists of about 16 island villages and 30 adjoining the lake. The lake offers a good potential for eco- tourism. The principal birds that visit Pulicat lake are the flamingo and heron. About 15,000 of these birds visit Pulicat every year. Mamallapuram It is about 60 kms from Chennai.The monuments of Mamallapuram date back to the Pallava period of the 7th-8thcenturies. It is also a beach resort offering wide range of hotels to stay. Tourists are charged a one-time Entry fee for all monuments:
Vedanthangal (85 kms) This is a bird sanctuary for migratory water birds. It is about 85 kms from Chennai.
Season: November- March.
Entry Fee: Adult Re 1.00, Child 0.50 paise.
Gudiyam Caves (75 kms) Situated 10 kms from the Poondi Reservoir at Alikuzhi Ghats, it is believed to be a pre- historic hominid habitation. There are about 16 rock shelters that are naturally formed like canopy-like structures in the reserved forests. It is the right kind of expedition for trekkers and nature-lovers.
Amusement Parks Around Chennai There are many Amusement Parks around Chennai. They areKishkinta, nearear Tambaram Little Folks, Mayajal, MGM DizzyWorld and V.G.P. Golden Beach on the way to Mamallapuram. Dash and Splash, and Queens Land near Poonamallee.
|Fort Museum It houses rare exhibits of weapons, uniforms, coins, costumes, medals and other artefacts and memorabilia of the British period. The flagmast at Fort St. George is the tallest in India.
|The Island Ground This is one of the lungs of this teeming city. It is situated on an island formed by the River Cooum. This ground is the venue for Trade and Tourist Fairs that are held periodically and seasonally.
The High Court It has decorative domes and corridors reminiscent of Indo Saracenic architecture. Adjacent to Parry’s Corner, it is another prominent landmark of Chennai. Built in 1892, the High Court of Chennai is one of the largest judicial complexes in the world.
|Theosophical Society The world headquarters of the Theosophical Society was formed to facilitate and encourage the study of comparative religions, philosophy and science and rational thought. It is situated in the beautiful and sylvan surroundings of the Adyar River. This society was founded by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott in the U.S.A and transferred to Adyar in 1882. Apart from shrines of all faiths and the peaceful Garden of Remembrance, there is a 95 years old library which has a very good collection of rare Oriental manuscripts written on palm leaf and parchment.|
|2.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.||Sunday.||2491 2904 / 2491 8431.|
|Kapaleeswarar Temple In Mylapore, there is an 8th Century Pallava Temple. The temple ‘Gopuram’ or tower is made in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. Dedicated of Lord Shiva, this temple has some beautiful sculptures, among which the bronze idols of 63 Saivaite Saints or the Nayanmars. They adorn the outer courtyard. Also in 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 derives its name Mayilmeaning peacock in Tamil and Oor meaning town. Mylapore is the hub of the Arubathumoovar festival dedicated to the 63 Nayanmars held in March-April every year.|
|5.00 a.m. – 11.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. – 9.30 p.m||24941670|
|Elliot’s BeachFollowing the road along the coast down southward from the Marina one reach the Elliot’s beach. This long stretch of the coastline has the Velankanni church at one end. Built on similar lines to the church in Nagapattinam this church too attracts a large number of pilgrims. The Ashtalakshmi temple, which houses different forms of Goddess Lakshmi is another favourite place for devotees and tourists.
Birla Planetarium The Birla Planetarium, at Kotturpuram, is situated between Adyar and Guindy, is the most modern planetarium in the country. It houses a fully computerised projector that depicts the heavens on a hemispherical dome. The Planetarium presents to the public and students audiovisual programmes on various themes in astronomy.
Adjoining the planetarium is the Periyar Sceince and Technology Museum, which is of interest to students and other science enthusiasts. Timing : 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
|English Programme : 10.45 a.m.,1.15 p.m.and 3.45 p.m.
Tamil Programme : 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.
|Adult :Rs. 20.00
Child : Rs. 10.00
|St. Thomas Mount A top the 76 metre high hill is believed to be the place where St. Thomas was martyred. An old church, built by the Portuguese around 1514 is located here. Among the interesting relics in the church is an old stone cross that the apostle is said to have clutched in his hand while dying. The blood-like stains on the cross have given it the name Bleeding Cross and the mystic stains on it have to this day been found to be too deep to be removed. On the wall above the altar is an oil painting of the Madonna that was brought to India by St. Thomas and is believed to be one of the seven that were painted by St.Luke.
Ripon Building This huge Indo-Saracenic building is named after Lord Ripon, who was the Governor General and the father of Self-Government in India. This building is the seat of the Chennai Corporation, the oldest city Corporation in India.
The Govt. Museum , National Art Gallery & Connemara LibraryThe Pantheon complex was built before 1789 and was a place of assemblage for the British. The Government bought it in 1830 and later several new buildings were added to it. Today this complex houses the Government Museum, the National Art Gallery and the Connemara Public Library.
The Government Museum was established in the year 1857 and has the country’s best collection of South Indian bronzes, both ancient and modern. Among which beautiful bronze icons of Nataraja, Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. The museum also has geology and anthropology sections. The Amaravathi Gallery contains the rare second century marble sculptures, depicting important events in the life of Gautama Buddha. The sculptures were unearthed from the Buddhist ruins at Amaravathi and are housed here. The bronzes from the 10th and 13th centuries and handicrafts from the 11th and 12th centuries also are seen here.
The National Art Gallery exhibits several beautiful paintings that include 16th and 18th century ones from Rajasthan, the Mughal period and 17thcentury Deccani art.
|9.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.||Friday.||28193238.|
Connemara Library Ph: 28193751.
|Kottam This memorial to the immortal Tamil saint philosopher 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 39 metre tall chariot. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall and corridors of the chariot. The auditorium at Valluvarkottam is said to be the largest in Asia and it can accommodate about 4000 people. The latest additions in this complex are paintings depicting themes from Thirukkural.
|Guindy National Park The Deer Park, comprising 595 acres, is situated adjacent to Raj Bhavan. It was originally a part of the Governor’s Estate. This is the only National Park in the world to be situated within a Metropolis. It is botanically the only one of its kind to carry even today, vegetation that is truly representative of the natural thorny scrub jungle of southern dry zone.Interspersed with more than 30 trees species that include a number of centuries-old gigantic banyan trees. This park with a network of roads, footpaths, nature trails, lakes and ponds, offers good opportunities for viewing wild life
The main attraction of this park is fauna such as the rare Indian Antelope popularly known as the Black Buck found nowhere else in the world. This is also a sanctuary for the endangered animals like the Spotted Deer, White Buck, Bonnet Monkey, Small Indian Civet Cat, Jungle Cat, Jackal, Common Mongoose and the Common Palm Civet Cat. The bird life is also equally interesting. You can see the King Fisher, Blue Jay, Golden Backed Woodpecker, Crow Pheasant, Yellow Wattled Lapwing, Redwattle Lapwing, Blue Faced Malkoha, Shrikes, Koels, Doves, Munias, Parakeets, Grey Partridge, Tailor birds, Robins, Drongos, Quails, Bird of Paradise Flycatcher and the Stone Curlew can be seen here.
|Children’s Park Within the limits of the Guindy National Park is the Children’s Park. Play for recreation and animal houses sheltering various animals are available. There are a large number of specimens of reptiles and an aviary with different species of birds.|
|9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.||Tuesday||22301328||Adult : Rs. 2
Child : Rs. 1
Snake Park This is situated adjacent to the Children’s Park within the Guindy National Park. It houses an impressive collection of snakes. Demonstration of the extraction of venom is an absorbing activity here. The King Cobra,Python,Turtle,Tortoise and the Monitor Lizard are some of the popular reptiles that can be seen.
|8.30 a.m. to 5.30p.m.||Adult: Rs. 5.00
Child: Rs. 2.00
Arignar Anna Zoological Park Animals can be seen in a large open island type enclosure with simulated natural environment. The attractions are the Noctnimal House, Safari Park, a Walk- through Aviary, the Pre-historic Animal Park, Zoo-education and interpretation, Prey-Predator enclosures and an Aquarium. Battery operated vehicles are available to take visitors around the Zoo, apart from Elephant Rides and Lion Safari vehicles. The popularly called the Vandalur Zoo as it is located in Vandalur, 30 km south of Chennai.
|8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.||Rs. 5.00||Tuesday||22751089|
|The Temples in and around Chennai There are a number of temples situated in the city and suburbs of Chennai that are worth a visit for its architecture splendour and sculptural marvel. The most popular temples are the Devi Karumariamman Temple; at Thiruverkadu; Kamatchi Amman Temple at Mangadu; Marundheeswarar Temple, Thiruvanmiyur; Sri Jaganath Temple, Kanathur; and the Jain Temple, in Vepery.
There are several Murugan Temples in and around Chennai. Some of the more popular temples are at Kundrathur, Thiruporur and Chrompet.
The Vishnu Temples are at Thirumazhisai, Tiruninravur and Thiruneermalai, Masilamaneeswarar Temple at Thirumullaivayal, Nithya Kalayana Perumal Temple at Thiruvidanthai; and the Thiruvudaiamman Temple at Melur.
The Anjaneya Temple, the Raghavendra Temple and Raja Rajeswari Temple at Nanganallur, the Sri Devi Vadivudai Amman Temple at Thiurvottiyur and Sri Sai Baba Temple at Vettuvankeni are some of the other famous and popular temples in Chennai and the suburbs.
The Crocodile Bank(44 Kms)Not far from Mamallapuram, there is a crocodile breeding and research centre that is run by the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust. This bank houses several species of Indian crocodiles and alligators from India and around the world. These reptiles are bred in captivity and are kept in their natural habitat in open pools and can be viewed by the public from a safe proximity. This farm breeds crocodiles to augment the crocodile population of wildlife sanctuaries.
|8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.||Rs. 20.00||Monday||954114-272447.|
Kovalam(40 Kms) This seaside village offers a unique environment. Within the precincts of this fishing village there is a Dargah and a Catholic church that attract pilgrims from Chennai and neighbouring districts.
|Dakshinachitra (35 Kms) True to its tradition of preserving its rich cultural heritage, Tamil Nadu can boast of an Art Village. It is otherwise called DakshinaChitra. Situated near Muttukkadu on the way to Mamallapuram it was founded by the Madras Craft Foundation. Dakshina Chitra has models of traditional handlooms and the replicas of the kinds of houses of the four south Indian states. Kancheepuram silk weavers and other craftsmen and the weavers work here demonstrating their skill and dexterity in their specialities. To the joy of the visitors, the weavers, potters and the other craftsmen give live demonstrations of their crafts and art. The centre showcases the heritage of the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.|
|Accommodation Available in Chennai|
|Welcome Group Chola Sheraton||28110101|
|Welcome Group Park Sherton||24994101|
|GRT Grand Days||28150500|
|Aruna (Delux) Inn Chennai||28259090|
|Ampa Crystal Inn||23741999/23743369|
|Blue Star International||25350001|
|Dee cee Manor||28158833/28158899|
|Hotel Pritha Garden||26383012|
|Hotel Nest Inn||28192919|
|Maharaha Joy (Mogappair)||26258966|
|Picnic Hotel(P) Ltd.||28389715/23/34/25|
|Radha Park Inn||24757788/24756644|
|Shrilekha Pvt Ltd.||28530522|
|Sornam International||25353060(10 lines)|
|Hotel Lake View||24746779/3716039/3716040|
|Picnic Park(P) Ltd.||25389022|
|Sai Ram Nallamani||28588405|
|ComfortInn Marina Towers||28585454|
|Government of Tamil Nadu Tourist Office||25368358|
|Tourist Information Centre, Central Railway Station||25353351|
|Tourist Information Centre, Egmore Railway Station||28192165|
|Tourist Information Centre, Domestic Terminal, Airport||22560569|
|Tourist Information Centre, International Terminal, Airport||22560437|
|Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, Head Office||25383333|
|Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, Sales counter,Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25389857|
|Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, Sales counter, LLA Building , Anna Salai, Chennai.2||28411177|
|Govt. of India Tourist Office, 154, Anna Salai, Chennai.2||28460285|
|Foreigners Regional Registration Office||28275424|
|Shastri Bhavan Annexe||28288210|
|Uttranchal Tourism Office, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25363524|
|Himachal Pradesh Tourism, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25385689|
|Kerala Govt. Tourism Bureau, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex Chennai.||25382639|
|Kerala Tourism Devt. Corpn. Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25369789|
|Rajasthan Tourism, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25365554|
|Uttarpradesh Tourism, C-in – C Road , Chennai||28283276|
|West Bengal Govt. Tourism, Wallajah Road , Chennai.2||28532346|
|West Bengal Youth Hostel, Wallajah Road , Chennai.2||28530293|
|Orissa Tourism, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25360891|
|Tourism Corpn.of Gujarat Ltd. Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex Chennai.||25366613|
|Andaman Nicobar Islands Tourism, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex||25360952|
|India Tourism Devt.Corpn.CinC Road , Chennai||28278884/2825100%0|
|Jammu and KashmirTourist Office, North Usman Road , Ch.17||28235958|
|Andhra Pradesh Tourism Centre, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex,Chennai||25381213|
|Delhi Tourism, Tamil Nadu Tourism Complex, Chennai.2||25364444|
|Pondicherry Guest House||24838170/24831332|
|Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam||24343535|
|Archaeological Survey of India||25670396/25670397|
|Income TaxOffice, (Foreign Section)||28272011|
|King Institute (Yellow FeverVaccination)||22341026|
|Poompuhar Sales Emporium||28267643|
|State Information Centre (Govt.of Tamil Nadu)||28591393|
|Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment Department||28279407|
|Youth Hostel, Indira Nagar||24420233|
|Music college, chennai.28||24937217|
|Iyal Isai Natadaka Mandram, Chennai.28||24936848|
|Automobile Association of Southern India , Chennai||28521162|
|Connemara Public Library||28193751|
|Youth Hostel Association of India||24890976|
|Chennai Airport – Information/Reservation/Arr.&Departure||140/141/142|
|Southern Railway Information/Reservation/Arrival & Departure||1361/1362/1363|
|State Transport Corporation||24794705|
|Andhra Mahila Sabha||24938311/21/31/41|
|Railway Retiring Room ( Central)||25353337|
|Railway Retiring Room ( Egmore)||28192527|
|The Salvation Army Red Shield Guest House||25321821|
|TTDC Youth Hostel, Chennai.3||25389132|
|YMCA, Guest House||25324257/58
|Austria , 114, Uthamar Gandhi Road, Chennai.||28334556|
|Britain, 27,Anderson Road, Chennai.||28273136|
|Denmark ,8, Cathedral Road, Chennai||28118140|
|Germany 22 C-in-C Road, Chennai||28210810|
|France , 40, College Road, Chennai||28266561|
|Finland , 752, Anna Salai, Chennai.||28524141|
|Greece , H3, 72, Harrington Road, Chennai.||28269194|
|Indonesia , 5, North Leith Castle Road, Chennai.||22341095|
|Japan , 60, Spur Tank Road, Chennai.||24323860|
|Malaysia, 6, Sri Ram Nagar,Chennai.||24982306|
|Norway, 44,45, Rajaji Road ,Chennai.||25232981/25232982|
|Philipines, 97, Anna Salai,Chennai.||22354063|
|Singapore , 2nd floor, Apex Plaza , 3 N.H. Road , Chennai.||28471591|
|Spain, 8,Nimmor Road,Chennai.||24942008|
|Sri Lanka, 9D, N.Habibullah Road, Chennai||24987896|
|Sweden, 6, Catedral Road, Chennai.||28112232|
|Russia, 14,Santhome High Road,Chennai.||24982320|
|Turkey ,202, Linghi Chetty Street, Chennai.||28270687|
|Netherlands , 4th Main Road , Chennai. 85||24473309|
|Mauritus, 145, Sterling Road, Chennai.||22346693|
|Belgium , 88, Anna Salai, Chennai. 32||22350877|
|Hungary, 28, Rajaji Salai,Chennai||25231265|
|Iceland , Bharia Mansion 4th Lane, 3, N.H. Road , Chennai. 34||28331946|
|Korea , 114/117, Uthamar Gandhi Road, Chennai.||28237307|
|Sarathy Travels||4211221, 9444443223|
|Madura Travel Services (P) Ltd.||28193858|
|Sita World Travels||28278861/62|
|Trade Wings (P) Ltd.||28524921|
|Travel Corporation India (P) Ltd.||28362585/28362566|
|Aeroflot Soviet Airlines||24330543|
|Alitalia- Italian Airlines||24349822/24349254|
|Cathay Pacific Airlines||28522418|
|Garuda Indonesian Airlines||28269752|
|KLM Royal Dutch Airlines||28524467|
|Lufthansa German Airlines||28525095|
|Malaysian Airlines System||25219999/22562088|
|North West Orient Airlines||28524437/22560084|
|Royal Nepal Airlines||24330444|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines Services (SAS)||24346157|
|Andaman Nicobar House||26549295|
|Anna University Guest House||22301427|
|Chennai Port Trust Guest House||25362201|
|State Guest House, Chepauk||25366920|
|State Guest House, Chindadripet||28454499|
|TNHB Guest House||24354032|
|West Bengal Youth Hostel||28530457|
|World University Service Centre||28362251
|Fairs & Festivals|
|All India Tourist & Industrial Fair is held during Jan-March. World Tourism Day (27th September)|
|India Leather Fair is held between Dec-Jan, every year.|
|Various Special Fairs at frequent intervals depending on the season and the festival.|
|Arubathumoovar Festival||Kapaleeswarar Temple||(Mar-Apr)|
|Vaikuntha Ekadesi Festival||Parthasarthy Temple||(Dec-Jan)|
|Kandhashasti Festival||Kanadaswamy Temple||(Oct-Nov)|
|Annai Velankani Festival||Velankanni Church||(Aug-Sep)|
Music Concert & Dance performances at various halls and sabhas throughout Chennai (Dec-Jan) every day.
|Post & Telegraph Offices|
|The General Post Office, Chennai 600 001. Ph:25312011|
|The Head Post Office, Anna Salai, Chennai 600 002. Ph:28542947|
|Beside the above, Post &Telegraph offices are located in each Postal division. Internet facilities are available in some important Post Offices and Private Cafes.|