Travel Tips: What to see in Madras (Chennai)

October 20, 2017

Chennai (formerly called as Madras) is the capital of Tamilnadu state and the 4th largest metropolitan city of India. With its extensive history, traditions and unique culture, it’s often perceived as the gateway of south-India. With it's miles long Coromandel coast off the Bay of Bengal, it's also one of the most beautiful cities of the country. As the first British settlement capital in India, Madras still retains many anecdotes and grandeur of colonial architecture.

Me as a person who’s lived and known the city for more than 10 years, I truly admire the city and just love the people. However it’s also my obligation to give some cautions before I boast about the attractions of the city.

So some spoilers below 😈: 

  • It’s not really a touristic city – many locals might oppose this, but according to me Chennai doesn’t really have many jaw-dropping tourist attractions. Blame the people& government, we completely failed to treasure the tourism in Chennai.
  • It is HOT!! – means truly HOT, temperature can go upto 45degree centigrade in the summer days and 30+  even in the late evenings (which may be unbearable to many of you, combining with it’s very level of humidity in the air). You should always check the weather even if you plan to visit Chennai in Dec/Jan.
  • It’s CROWDED! – even as per Indian standards, it’s hugely populated. So be ready for the noise & pollution the city can create.
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Considering the above, if you still get a few days in Chennai, I’d recommend the below places to see.

1. Marina Beach:

Undoubtedly, Marina beach is one of the foremost identities of Chennai. This 13 Kilometers long magnificent beach tributes itself as the second-longest urban beach of world. It’s sandy shore that is loved by people of all ages and hard to be missed by anyone visiting Chennai !

The enchanting sunrise and set are beautiful to watch from here. The palm trees all along the shore may compel you to go for a long-relaxed walk. Apart from the beach itself, you get to see many historical memorials and remarkable statues the “Triumph of Labor”.

Everyone can test their horse riding skills and enjoy many south-Indian snacks on the stalls all along. There’ so much to feel & experience here, than mere sight seeing.

Some Tips / Hints:
  • Don’t ever attempt to swim. You may get tempted by some local boy’s heroics; but it’s not for the stranger to the sea! Wave currents can get extreme anytime and become dangerous.
  • Parking is really big deal; there's not enough arrangements made and not so safe too (you notice a few scratches in your car next day). It’s best to go by an auto-rickshaw / taxi or by public transport (bus/metro).
  • I see that some areas of the beach is getting filled with litters; best to avoid those regions. 
You can also consider to visit the Eliot’s beach in Besant Nagar area, which is comparatively smaller area, but more calm and clean.

2. Tamilnadu Government Museum

This is one of my favorites! This brilliant museum is located on the outstanding British-constructed Pantheon Complex. The museum complex is magnificent, houses exhibits in 6 buildings with over 50 galleries. It houses artifcats across a huge era and categories – you get to see things from arts, history, paintings, science to puppetry and fiber optic sculptures.

Myself as a fan of old Tamil history, always get mesmerized with the Bronze Gallery (in building#3) as it contains the illustrates of 6-7th century Pallava empires, followed by many bronze sculpulteres from many other dynasties like #chozhas, #cheras and #pandiyas.

3. Fort St. George

Fort St George is the first fort of British in India, was established in 1653 (and went thru’ multiple renovations thereafter). It’s believed that Gen. George planned this building facing the sea – to monitor a few fishing villages and trades/merchant activities on the shore.

Currently, this building serves as the Tamil Nadu's Legislative Assembly & Secretariat, but the "Fort Museum" is open for public which displays an interesting trade & military collection of British colonial retro.

4. San Thome Cathedral, Kapaleeshwarar Temple & Thousand Lights Mosque:

The Church is an architectural masterpiece, was originally constructed by Portuguese and later revamped by the British, with a lot of Indian architecture influence. You’ll get to see peacocks and lotus on altar of this unique church.

Mylapore Kapaleeshwarar temple and Triplicane Parthasarathy Temple are a few remarkable Hindu shrines, both has an impressive and intricate architecture, have survived all the Portuguese, French, and British invasions, making close connection to the history of madras.

The multi-domed Mosque in the Thousand Lights area is another key attraction, not just as a religious place, but also for it’s beautiful architecture.

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There are many more parks, zoo, large amusement parks and shopping areas which I am not listing here. Because I don’t find them any special, they are same as in every metropolitan city.

Tags: #tamilnadutourism #besantnagarbeach #EliotsBeach #marinabeach #madras #chennai #santhomecathedral #kapaleeshwartemple #chennaicity #thousandlightsmosque #FortMuseum #geminiflyover #fortstgeorge

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