Travel Chennai

Trip to Chennai Chennai formerly known as Madras is the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India. Chennai is considered the present gateway to the South of India.

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Chennai city is only about 350 years old. It is fourth largest city of India. It is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is 34th largest metropolitan area and the 2nd longest seashore in the world. Madras was one of the first outposts of British East India Company. It was founded in 1639 when the British East India Company was granted land to build a trading settlement by the local ruler. The British on settling developed it into a major urban center and naval base. By the 20th century, it had become an important administrative center, as the capital of the Madras presidency that was not governed by any of the princely states. After independence, it became the capital of Madras state, and when the states were reorganized on a linguistic basis, it became the capital of Tamil Nadu. In 1996, the Tamil Nadu government renamed Madras to Chennai.

SIGHTSEEING IN CHENNAI

Freemason’s Hall: It is an elegant architectural monument in Chennai. It is the largest fraternal order in the world. The fraternity is responsible for the establishment of Masonic homes, schools, orphanages and providing aids in other forms to its constituent members. The construction of Free Masons Hall at Chennai commenced in 1923. The double storied hall makes up the headquarters of the Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India. The structure has been given a symmetrical shape and composes of four circular chambers. The interiors are beautifully adorned with motifs, Italian tiles and marbles.

Valluvar Kottam: It is the memorial of one of the renowned poet and saint of the region, Thiruvalluvar. The monument stands as a massive auditorium on a dry lake that was filled with the garbage and debris. The auditorium was thrown open to public in 1976. The memorial is a revered place in the city as it is considered to bear the impressions of the Tamil culture.There is a temple structure near the auditorium that rises to a whooping height of about hundred feet. The temple houses the life size image of the poet. The structure has been built in the shape of a chariot with its plinth displaying the 133 chapters of Thirukkural. The memorial is open for public access on all days, except on Fridays and National Holidays.

Ripon Building: It homes the popular municipal complex. This building was founded in 1909 by Sir Gilbert John Elliot M.K.M Bart and Carl Minto who happened to be the Viceroy and Governer General of India at that time. The building has been named after Lord Ripon, who made great contributions regarding local self government. In 1913 the municipal corporation of Madras started functioning from the Ripon Building. Ripon Building houses Nehru Stadium, Victoria Public Hall, Moore Market and a number of parks and gardens. The complex is a medley of Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian architectural styles. The ground floor is laid with marble and the ceiling above stands as high as 5.6 meters. The foundation too stands to about 5.3 meters. Some 20 meters from the terrace is the popular West Minister Quarter Chiming Clock that was installed in 1913 by famous company Oakes and Co.

Theosophical Society: It was founded by Annie Besant in the year 1875. The spiritual movement was originally formed in the state of America. The society originated from Chennai city and within a short span of time spread to the whole sub continent and beyond. The society is located along the Adyar River. The primary objective of the society was to revive the Hindu culture that had been badly ravaged by the colonial rule. The campus of the society is replete with forests. Amidst these grounds are located the buildings and popular worshipping places. The key feature of the campus is the presence of a very huge banyan tree. The tree alone covers some 40,000 sq. feets of area. The Theosophical Society Head Quarters lie on the banks of Aidyar River, in the campus. The environs contain a number of residential houses, Hindu Temple, Jain Temple, Church and a Buddhist Temple. The place also provides for a library bearing rich collections of manuscripts on all major faiths and sacred books. The Buddhist shrine contained in the campus is one of the key attractions.

Fort St. George: It is an important monument holding the secrets of historical events in the city. The establishment of Fort St. George marked the birth of the new city that is Madras, in the year 1640. The fort was named after St George who is believed to have preached in the region. The British East India Company, after buying the land from the Nayak of Vandavasi in 1639, led the establishment of what was called the Madrasemen, the permanent settlement of the company. One year later they built the fort as a commanding post in the region. With the increased trade activities of East India Company the region soon developed into a popular trade and commerce centre. The British enjoyed the supremacy in the region till 1746, when the French attacked the fort and captured it. After three years in 1749 the British regained the ruling power by signing a treaty with the French. In the meantime they fortified the base in order to sustain the invasion of Hyder Ali and the French. The fort in present Chennai houses the Tamil Nadu Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. The fort in its present form looks more like a mansion, rather any fort. St George’s Fort also houses one of the oldest British Churches in India. The church called St Mary’s was built in the year 1680. Besides other attractions, the museum contains the portraits of the British high officials of that time.

Doveton House: It stands in the classic European style in the Nungambakkam region of Chennai. The house was built by a renowned architect named Benjamin Roebeck. It represents European style of building during the time of its construction. The facade is marked with pillars, very typical of the colonial structures. The house presents the typical European style house that was primarily built for Eorupean Officers. The Doveton House was acquired by many British officers including Lt. General John Doveton, after whom the place got its popular name. The house was constructed in the year 1798 and John Doveton acquired it after 39 years in 1837. Many prisoners are said to having been detained in the house during British occupation. In 1916 the Doveton House was set on yet another course when Women’s Christian College was shifted to the place.

Pancha Mandapams: It literally means five memorials. The memorials are dedicated to five great freedom fighters of the nation. The personalities include Mahatma Gandhi – father of the nation, C. Rajagopalachari – first Governer General of India, Kamaraj – former Chief Minister, Bhakavatsalam – again former Chief Minister and the martyrs of the freedom struggle. The memorials are quite distinctive in appearance. The Gandhi Mandapam (memorial) has been fashioned in the form of a typical gopuram temple style. The pink color of Gopalchari’s memorial makes it stand out from the rest. Then there is Kamaraj memorial which is provided with a spinning wheel (Charkha) at the top.

Kamaraj Memorial House: It is dedicated to one of the premier leaders of the city, M.G Ramachandran Kamaraj. The memorial was inaugurated on 15th July 1978. The veteran rose to the power as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu thrice. The great leader rose out of the poverty and led the state to new heights during his political career.The daily visiting hours are from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

Anna Square: It is located towards the north of the Marina Beach, some 30 km away from the city. It is a memorial dedicated to the great leader of Dravidian movement, Arinzar Annadurai. Adjacent to the memorial of Annadurai is one more memorial, that of Dr. M.G. RAmachandran. Like Annadurai, Ramachandran was a poineering leader of the Puractchi Thalaivar MGR. It is this movement that led to the establishment of AIADMK, one of the leading political parties in Tamil Nadu. The park at Anna Square is spread over an area of about 510 hectares. Besides the memorial the park features include a small safari park, a nocturnal animal house, an aquarium and a museum.

Vivekananda Illam: It is a historical landmark that stands on the Marina Beach, Chennai. The place, formerly called as Ice House, served as primary building of Tudor Ice Company. The ice company that operated from 1842 to 1874 used it to as a storage place for the ice. The building was constructed, as such, so as to prevent the melting of the ice during its storage. In the year 1930 the building was taken by the government and it was not until 1963 that the building was re-christened Vivekananda Illam. Vivekananda Illam is considered as a revered place by the disciples and devotees of Swami Vivekananda. The building houses statue of Vivekananda and a gallery that feature his life. The building also contains a section dedicated to the Indian culture. The monument is open on all days, except Wednesdays. It is open from from 9.00 a.m to 6.30 p.m with two and a half hours break at 12.30.

MGR Film City: It is located in the southern outskirts of Chennai city. The much famous complex is situated in the Tharamani region of Adyar Township. The Canal Bank Road provides the means of the access into the film city. MGR Film City is a recently built complex featuring the sets and studios of Tamil Nadu Film Industry. It is named after its founder, M.G. Ramachandran. MGR Film City is the only institution of its kind to be maintained by the government and providing free public access. The film city is worth visiting. The Tamil Nadu film industry is the highest movie making industry in the country.

Raj Bhavan: It is Governor’s Residence, located in the Guindy Park, Chennai. This place serves as the official residing place for the Governor of the Tamil Nadu, one of the south eastern states of India. The house serving as governor’s residence is not an architectural marvel by any means. But the occupation of the house is important enough to place it in the attractions list.

Parthasarathy Temple: The temple is considered be the oldest of its kind in Chennai. It was originally built by the Pallavas. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple origins date back to the 8th century A.D., the reference of which has been given in the Vaishnavite works of the Alwar saints. The Parthasarathy Temple bears impressions of the popular historic dynasties like Pallavas, Cholas and Vijaynagar.

Kapaleeswarar Temple: It is one of the most visited temples in Chennai. The temple is a fine example of the Dravidian culture. The temple structure is about 300 years old.  It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple houses the shrines of Kapaleeswar (Shiva) and Karpagambal (Parvati). The temple architecture reveals the Dravidian traits, with its carved gopuram measuring about 37 meters in height. Kapaleeswaram is provided with a Shiv Lingam, which is believed as having been installed by the Brahma, to do penance. The lingam is known Kapaleeswarar. A small shrine of Parvati in the form of peacock is contained within the courtyard. There is one more courtyard that houses the shrines of 63 saints. The inscriptions on the temple structure are some seven and a half centuries old. The structure was renovated by the Vijayanagar kings in the 16th century A.D.

ISKCON Temple: The temple is one of the many popular worshipping places established by the ISKCON society in the region of India. The deities to this temple were donated by a patron and the worship started from late 1983. . The temple is the most frequently visited one in the capital city of Tamil Nadu. The deities worshipped in the temple include those of Rukmini and Krishna. The image of deity Satyabhama, one of the eight wives of Krishna, is also housed in the temple premises.

Vadapalani Temple: Vadapalani is one of the most frequently visited temples in the Chennai city. The temple is located near Andavar Koil Street in the Vadapalani area of city suburbs. Vadapalani temple is one renowned worshipping place in Tamil Nadu. This temple is primarily dedicated to Lord Muruga.

Ashtalakshmi Temple: It is a recently built temple that stands on the shores of Bay of Bengal. The temple is grounded on the southern tip of a popular beach of Chennai that is Elliot’s beach. It is considered as the only temple featuring the eight manifestations of the Goddess Mahalakshmi. The temple was built in the year 1976 and features various characteristics of Dravidian temple architecture. It features a blend of ancient Dravidian architecture and the contemporary style of temple building. The temple witnesses a great fervor during popular festivals like Navratri, Deewali and Pongal.

Thousand Lights Mosque: The Thousand Lights Mosque is located in Chennai. Capital of Tamil Nadu. In the beginning of 19th century the place where the popular mosque stands used to be the assembling place of Shias, a sect of Muslims, in the month of Moharram. The Arcot family built a mosque in 1820. The place derived its name after the illumination of about 1000 oil lamps. The mosque is treated as an important shrine. The mosque has been renovated many times after its construction. Some important features of the mosque include its structure, a library, burial ground and a guesthouse.

St. Mary’s Church: It is the oldest surviving institutions established by the British in India. The church also happens to be the first Anglican Church in Chennai. The church is sometimes described as the Westminster Abbey of East. The church was built during 1678 to 1680 A.D. The original structure of the building was given by William Dixon. This structure features a rectangular building of dimensions 60 feet and 90 feet. The structure was designed to with stands the time ravage as well the attacks and invasions.

St. Andrew’s Church: The monument is one of the best Georgian architecture buildings in South India and Asia at large. It is sometimes called as ‘The Queen of Scottish Churches in the East’. It was consecrated in the year 1821. It was built for the Scottish Community that had settled in Chennai. The church foundation was laid by Doctor John Allen in the year 1818. East India Company under the banner of Major Thomas Fort de Havilland and Colonel James Caldwell were responsible for the construction of the church. The church construction plan was borrowed from an existing structure called St. Martins’s Lane. St. Andrew’s Church thus portrays the brilliance of Georgian Architecture.

Government Museum: The museum is one of the prime attractions in the city. It is one of the first government sponsored museum in Indian sub continent. The museum is one great tourist destination in Chennai besides popular temples and monuments. This museum contains some of the priced collections in Asia. The museum makes up a grand repository encompassing art gallery, theatre and public library etc. The museum complex has been divided into various sections based on certain defined fields. These sections include Geology, Archeology, Anthropology, Numismatics, Botany, Zoology and Sculpture. The galleries of the museum house real treasures and are worth a peek. There are four galleries in all, which are- Hindu Sculpture Gallery, Bronze Gallery, Amravathi Gallery and the National Art Gallery. The bronze sculptures are exceptional featuring masterpieces like bronzes of Nataraja, Durga, Ganesha, all belonging to the Chola Empire.

National Art Gallery: It is integral part of Government Museum is situated on the Pantheon Road. The building of National Arts Gallery was built in the year 1907. This magnificent red sandstone building was designed by Henry Irwin and built by T. Namberumal Chetty. The building represents a typical Indo-Saracenic structure and was initially famous as Victoria Memorial Hall. Built with sandstone and adorned with motifs, the building bears impressions of Mughal architecture. The structure as well as the gallery collections are key factors responsible for the much credited tourist place. The gallery exhibits medieval handicrafts, sculptures, metal ware and paintings belonging to various schools of art, all from the past.

Cholamandal Artists’ Village: It is situated on the East Coast Road, eight kilometers south of Chennai city. The place represents an important arts centre in the state of Tamil Nadu. The place features a calm and serene environment, ideal for the artists at work. There are small cottages which serve as the residential places for the artists of the community. Two art galleries at Cholamandal Artists’ Village exhibit the works of the resident artists. The galleries feature great collection of paintings and sculptures that are on sale. There is an open air theatre meant for performances by the artists. The Guest House, donated by the German Government, provides for the accommodation at Cholamandal. The place is fast becoming a great destination of cultural exchange.

Nageswara Park: It was opened for public in 1940. It has lush green lawns, sidewalks, fountains; furnished benches, garden lights and a specific area for kids. The park grounds are provided with a variety of trees like Capsia Fistula, Lapostromea, Neem, Palms and Tabulia. There are varieties of ornamental and medicinal plants also cultivated in the park.

Snake Park: This famous snake breeding park lies in the Guindy area of the city suburb, Adyar. It was founded by one of the prominent wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitaker. The park was established in the year 1972 with the intention that is to preserve the endangered reptile species in the sub continent. The park features the breeding and captive place of many Indian snake species. It is maintained by a trust called Madras Snake Park Trust, which was established at the same time when park was. The park secured the recognition as Medium Zoo from the Central Zoo Authority in the year 1995. The park houses a number of snake species, lizards, crocodiles and turtles. The park breeds more than 30 species of Indian snakes. Some of the most sought after species include King Cobra, Indian Rock Python, Reticulated Python, Adders and Vipers. In addition to the snakes the park also breeds species of lizards, crocodiles and turtles. The museum in the park premises contains preserved specimens of many reptiles and amphibians.

Guindy National Park: This Park happens to be the smallest and the only park within the city suburbs of India. The park features amazing bio diversity. The flora and fauna contained in the park make it one of the best tourist destinations in Chennai. The park is inhabited by more than 20 species of trees, about 14 varieties of shrubs and more than 14 species of woodland mammals. The place also houses many species of rare birds and amphibians.

Marina Beach: It is a beautiful laid out beach that lies along the eastern coasts of Tamil Nadu. The beach has the distinction of being the second largest beach in the world and the largest in Asia. The beach territory is spread well over an entire 12 km stretch and is well provided to inculcate various beach activities. As a tourist destination, the beach offers ample opportunities for swimming, wind surfing, fishing, sun bathing and more. To add to all this, there are various memorials and parks at Marina. It was Governor Grant Duff who initiated the developmental works at the beach and named it Marina Beach. From tourists perception the visit to Marina Beach is just inevitable. Marina Beach hosts a number of activities. A good number of beach tourists can be seen swimming, surfing and playing beach volley ball along Marina.

Covelong Beach: It is famous for its clear waters and serenity. The beach is one of the best for people who like to dip and dive. Swimming and wind surfing are popular activities of the tourists. The beach environs are quite fruitful for those who seek meditation. The beach houses the adorable fishing settlement. There are other attractions of the bygone era like an old fort, church and a mosque. Not very far from the beach is the tourist hotspot Mahabalipuram. The tourists who come to Covelong Beach, generally makes to the place of Mahabalipuram.

Elliot’s Beach: It is known for its serene atmosphere. The beach is lined with food stalls and small shops that cater to the beach visitors. The northern part of the beach sees maximum concentration of the visitors. Besides the golden sands and the chill of the water, Elliot’s Beach also houses some popular shrines. The Velankani Church and the Ashtalakshmi Temple make up the popular sites on the beach. These pilgrim places are located on the northern end of the beach. The Schmidt Memorial dedicated to a Dutch sailor, who lost his life while saving a drowning fellow, is one among the many conspicuous landmarks on the famous beach.