Tourist Destinations

Chennai Tour

Area: 181.06 km2
Altitude : 60 m above sea level.
Rainfall : 129 cm
Language : Tamil and English
Climate : Summer- Max. 37, Min. 22.1
Winter : Max. 32, Min. 19.8
Best Time To Visit : Throughout the year (Preferably October to March)
STD Code : 044

History of Chennai

The vibrant history of the city of Chennai which was previously named as Madras, traces back to 368 years and Chennai was originally a tiny fishing village. The region surrounding Chennai has served as a significant administrative, military, and economic centre dating back to the 1st century. It has been ruled by renowned South Indian kingdoms like the Pallava, the Chola, the Pandya, and Vijaynagar empires.

On 22 August 1639, Francis Day of the British East India Company acquired a small strip of land in the Coromandel Coast from the Vijayanagara King, Peda Venkata Raya (a.k.a. Venkata III) in Chandragiri. The region was under by the Damerla Venkatapathy, Nayak of Vandavasi.The permission was granted to build a factory and warehouse for their trading activities. A year later, Fort StGeorge was built, which gradually became the nucleus around which the colonial city grew. In 1746, Fort St George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of Mauritius, who ransacked the town and its outlying villages.

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1749 ensured the reacquiring of British regained control over the town and consequently equipped the base to endure further attacks from the French and Hyder Ali, the powerful Sultan of Mysore. By the late 18th century, the British had occupied most of the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to establish the Madras Presidency, whose capital was Madras and under the British patronage only the city of Madras or contemporary Chennai evolved as a major urban centre and naval base.

Chennai is the only Indian city to be attacked by the Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden. After independence in 1947, the city attained the status of the capital of Madras State, which was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969. From 1965 to 1967, Chennai was an important base for the Tamil agitation against the imposition of Hindi and in the recent past in 2004, the city of Chennai was lashed the shores of the city causing death to thousands of lives.

Chennai Overview

Chennai previously known as Madras is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is ranked as India's fourth largest metropolitan city and 34th largest metropolitan area in the world. It is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the third largest commercial and industrial centre in India, and is known for its cultural heritage and temple architecture.

Chennai has a rich colorful history traces back to 368 years and region surrounding Chennai has served as an important administrative, military, and economic centre dating back to the 1st century. Chennai has been predominantly ruled by South Indian kingdoms remarkably the Pallava, the Chola, the Pandya, and Vijaynagar empires. The town of Mylapore which presently forms a part of the metropolis was once a major port of the Pallava kingdom.

Chennai is situated at 13.04 N 80.17 E on the southeast coast of India and in the northeast corner of Tamil Nadu. It is located on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. The city possesses an average elevation of 6 meters (20 feet), its highest point being 60 m (200 ft). Two rivers amble through Chennai, the Cooum River (or Koovam) in the central region and the Adyar River in the southern region. Chennai lies on the thermal equator and it primarily comprised of coastal region which prevents extreme variation in seasonal temperature. For most part of the year, the weather is hot and humid and the hottest part of the year is late May and early June.

Chennai is the abode of various nearby tourist destinations and it is also the hub for south Indian classical music and dance performances it is a favorite for those who are keen on experience the true flavor of south Indian culture. For the shopping freaks, Chennai also offers a host of choices and excellent quality of silk saris are the specialty in Chennai. For its wide spread popularity as a tourist destination, Chennai has evolved as a city with various ranges of tourist accommodations catering to the varying requirements and budgets of visitors.

Festivals in Chennai

Just like the other Indian places, Chennai also celebrates a number of festivals. The festivals are mainly based on the agricultural activities and according to the position of the stars and planets. Pongal is one of the famous festivals celebrated in the month of January. It is celebrated to mark the harvesting of crops by farmers. The other festivals include:

- Arubathimoovar Festival: - Chithirai Festival:
- Dance Festival - Mamallapuram:
- Kanthuri Festival:
- Kavadi Festival:
- Music Festival:
- Mahamagam Festival: - Natyanjali Dance Festival:
- Summer Festival:
- Tourist Fair
- Tayagaraja Festival:
- Velankanni Festival:
- Karthigai Deepam:
- Navratri:
- Saral-Vizha:

Sightseeing in Chennai

Sightseeing in Chennai remains incomplete without a visit to Fort St. George, founded by the British administration and now hosting the offices of the Tamil Nadu Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly.

Doveton House, once used as the residence of the English officials, reflects the grandeur of the colonial regime as well as the beauty of the Romantic period. This house got its name from Lt. General John Doveton who was the soldier-in-charge who supervised Tippu Sultan's sons when they were kept as hostages in Madras.

Sightseeing in Chennai also includes St. Thomas Mount where St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ, is said to have been martyred. St. Thomas Mount also has a Church built by the Portuguese in 1523.

For Sightseeing in Chennai, also visit Thousand Lights Mosque, which radiates architectural splendor and is a famous pilgrimage site for the Shia community in the country.

Snake Park is a central location for breeding of endangered pythons in the country, which was founded by the wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitaker. This park, another site for Sightseeing in Chennai promotes propagation of information about the reptiles, which are otherwise perceived with fear and myths.

Things to Do in Chennai

Among the various things to do in Chennai, shopping can be an intriguing experience for the tourist because Chennai is one of the major trade centers of south India. Chennai is a fantastic place to shop for an interesting variety of items which primarily includes traditional bell metal items, bronze icons, and stone sculpture, as well as other crafts of the southern region. The city of Chennai is particularly noted for the beautiful Kancheepuram hand woven silk sarees. These sarees are legendary for their temple borders and rich zari (gold thread) pallavas. Intricate traditional motifs and vibrant colors with contrasting borders make these sarees an irresistible combination to most of the Indian women. One can also try out shopping some of the exquisite souvenirs for their near and dear ones in silver, copper, bronzed and wood available in numerous government emporia and private stores. Even the jewelry made from uncut precious stones makes exclusive gift items.

While shopping takes care of the daytime, the sparkling night out destinations comprising of discoth?es ,bars , pool parlors, lounges and nightclubs in Chennai promises of constant recreations to brighten up the entire night. The fascinating display of lights and colors and the full blast of the music is enough to make one feel relaxed after a long hard day. HFO (Hell Freezes Over) is the most happening discotheque in Chennai.Zara?s at 74 Radhakrishnan Salai is considered one of the popular places which remains stuffed with younger generations particularly during the weekend. It is a tapas bar which is very famous for its 'Spanish short eats', great cocktails and funky music.

Features of Museums and Art Galleries in Chennai:

- The museums enclose galleries of Archaeology, Anthropology, Art, Numismatics, Botany, Zoology, Geology, Children's Museum and Chemical Conservation.

- The archaeology section provides exquisite collections of sculptures, architectural pieces and bronze figures.

- The other exhibits in the museums are Hindu Sculptures, Buddhist Sculptures, Jain Sculptures, Hero Stones, Memorial Stones and Sati Stone, Inscriptions, Hindu, Buddhist and Jain bronzes, Industrial Art and Copper Plate Grants.

- The pre-historic antiquities are displayed in the anthropology gallery. The anthropology gallery features Musical Instruments, Ethnology, Physical Anthropology, Arms, Folk Arts and Indus Valley Materials.

- The numismatics gallery in the museums delves into some facts of ancient history. - The numismatics gallery showcases ancient coins, medals and stamps.
Botany galleries have sections on Systematic Botany and Economic Botany.

- The zoological galleries exhibit spectacular and outstanding displays. The zoological galleries enclose Foreign Animals Gallery, Flight in Animals Gallery, General Zoology Gallery, Reptile Gallery, Bird Gallery, Mammal Gallery, Coral Gallery, Invertebrate Gallery, Fish Gallery and Amphibian Gallery.

- Chennai is also dotted by several art galleries. The art galleries have an exquisite collection of traditional and modern paintings and sculptures. The traditional paintings of Tanjore, Rajput, Moghul, Kangra, Deccani schools and modern paintings in Oil, Tempera, Water Colour, Graphics and Acrylic mediums are the special features.

- The art galleries also feature Indian Traditional Paintings, Indian Miniature Paintings, Tanjore Paintings, British Portraits, Contemporary Indian Paintings, Ravi varma Paintings, Modern Paintings and Modern Sculptures.

- Art camps are arranged t provide a platform for the artists to interact.

- The art galleries provide an opportunity to the artists to exhibit their works at international shows.

* Birla Planetarium in Chennai
* Government Museum in Chennai
* National Art Gallery in Chennai
* Tamilnadu Science and Technology Centre in Chennai

How to Reach Chennai

By Air: Chennai is served by the Chennai International Airport which consists of the Anna international Airport and the Kamaraj Domestic Airport. The airports are situated at Tirusulam which is 7kms south of Chennai. On the international level, Chennai is linked with cities in South Asia, Middle East, South East Asia, Europe and North America. More than 30 international flights operate from Chennai to destinations like London and New York. Airlines to International destinations include Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways. The domestic destinations like Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi are linked by airlines like Air India, Sahara, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways from Chennai.
By Rail: Getting to Chennai by train is a breath taking experience as one gets to enjoy the scenic beauty on the way. Chennai enjoys the services of two railway terminals. The Chennai Central Station handles most of the traffic from the neighboring states like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Coimbatore. The Indian Railways takes care of the train network to Chennai.
By Road: Getting to Chennai by Road is more fun and convenient primarily due to the five major national highways that branches out to cities like Bangalore, Trichy, Kolkata and Pondicherry. The main hub of road traffic to Chennai operates from the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus. The bus terminus is the hub for inter state buses. Government and private bus operators operate from Chennai to all the major places within and outside the city boundary.