Chennai , formerly known as Madras, this 369-year-old city is the capital of the southern state of Tamilnadu and is India's sixth-largest city in terms of population with an estimated population of 7.45 million (2005). It serves as one of the main gateways to South India and has a thriving local culture and art scene and is one of the major destinations for medical tourism. It is considered as one of the world's fastest growing cities although ranks 13th in terms of cleanliness.It is on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal and has the second longest beachfront of any municipality in the world.
Chennai is gateway to the South, and its culture is distinctly different from that of any other city in India. Tamil tradition and culture are indigenous to this region and is essentially the celebration of the beauty, which is exemplified through dance, clothing, and sculptures.
Chennai is both an orthodox and a modern cosmopolitan city; the culture of the city reflects its diverse population. The traditional arts, music, dance and all other art forms of Tamilnadu grow and flourish here. The food is a unique blend of traditional, to fast foods and filter kaapi. It’s a land of temples and priests.
The architecture ranges from ancient temples to modern high-rises. Music is classical and western, to the growing nightlife in the city. You can find a school for traditional Bharatanatyam or Salsa dance and for music a veena / violin or for Guitar/drums school in almost every neighborhood of the city. Chennai checks reflects its traditionalism every December when the music season is in full swing. Clothes are generally conservative but young people are contemporary.
Traditional Tamil Clothing - Tamil women traditionally wear the Saree or Sari while the men wear veshti, which could be either a white pancha or a colourful lungi with typical South Indian patterns. The saree, being an un-stitched wrap, enhances the shape of the wearer while only partially covering the midriff. In Indian philosophy, the navel of the Supreme Being is considered as the source of life and creativity. Therefore by tradition, the stomach and the navel is to be left unconcealed, though the philosophy behind the costume has largely been forgotten.
This makes the realization of sharira-mandala (the body), where in Angikam bhuvanam yasya or the body is your world unites with the shaarira-mandala (the whole universe), as expressed in the Natyashastra. These principles of the saree, also hold for other forms of wraps, like the lungi or worn by men. The lungi can be wrapped over clockwise or anti-clockwise and can be tied at the back or fixed just along the waist line. It's sometimes lifted till knee and tied at the waist leisurely or just held in hand to speed up walking. In tradition Brahmin homes men wear panchey kachche where it is tied at back by taking it between legs. Similar pattern is seen in women.
Tamil Nadu Cuisine - Rice is the staple diet in Chennai, Dosa, Idli and Uttapam are popular in Chennai. The state of Tamil Nadu has a distinct place in culinary map of the country. Chennai has a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies to offer.
The food here gets its flavor from a host of spices and condiments used in Tamil Nadu.Coconut, tamarind and asafetida are a must for almost all vegetarian recipes. Garam masala is avoided in Tamil cuisine. Gingelly oil made from Sesame seeds is normally used giving it a distinct flavor. Olive oil is usually not popular. Chutneys and mixed spice are served in the lunch and enhance the taste of the meal.
The South India lunch also called meals in Chennai consists of cooked rice served with different kinds of vegetable dishes, Sambar, chutneys, Rasam (a hot broth made with tamarind juice and pepper) and curd (yogurt). The non-vegetarian lunch includes curries or dishes cooked with mutton, chicken or fish. Tamil meals are incomplete without crisp Papads or Appalam.
In Chennai, Chettinad cuisine of Tamil Nadu is particularly famous. This cuisine is hot and spicy and provides delectable variety in mutton, chicken and fish dishes. Chettinad Pepper Chicken is one of the most famous dishes in Tamil Nadu. The Chennai style of Mughalai food can be tasted in the Biryani and Paya. Paya is a type of spiced trotter’s broth and is eaten with either Parathas or Appam.
Breakfast or tiffin in Chennai includes idly (steamed rice cakes), dosai (a pancake made from a batter of rice) and lentils crisp fried on a pan, vadai (deep fried doughnuts made from a batter of lentils), pongal (a mash of rice and lentils boiled together and seasoned with ghee, cashew nuts, pepper and cumin seed), uppuma (cooked semolina seasoned in oil with mustard, pepper, cumin seed and dry lentils).
Most of the breakfast dishes in Chennai are eaten with coconut chutney, sambar (seasoned lentil broth) and milagai podi (a powdered mix of several dried lentils eaten with oil). Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai, is famous for its filter coffee. Most Tamils have a subtle disliking for instant coffee; therefore filter coffee is more popular. The preparation of filter coffee is almost like a daily chore, the coffee beans have to be first roasted and then ground.
The coffee powder is then put into a filter set and hot boiled water is added to prepare the boiling and allowed to set for about 15 minutes. The decoction is then added to milk with sugar to taste. The drink thus prepared is then poured from one container to another in rapid succession to make the perfect frothy cup of filter coffee. An exotic drink that refreshes you and the taste that lingers, served best in "Dabarah" set which includes a steel tumbler and saucer with a rim.
Music - There are many composers in Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa (1480-1564) is known as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music due to his pioneering contributions to Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa is renowned for formulating the basic lessons of Carnatic music. The contemporaries Tyagaraja (1759-1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar, (1776-1827) and Syama Sastri (1762-1827), are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic music due to the quality of Syama Sastri's compositions, the varieties of compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar and Tyagaraja's prolific output in composing kritis.
The compositions of these composers are rendered frequently by artists of today during the music festival season. Chennai Music Festival or December Season is a celebration of classical music and dance of South India held during mid December to mid January in the capital city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The festival is held at a number of venues around the city by various 'sabhas' or organizations. Besides the auditoriums, well-known temple premises and heritage bungalows are being used as venues.
The month long dance and music extravaganza will have performances of eminent artistes from various parts of India. The 'Margazhi festival of Dance and Music' started early back in 1927, to commemorate the anniversary of Madras Music Academy every December, was later adopted by various organizations which held art festivals in different parts of the city. The Tamil month of 'Margazhi' (December) is a sacred month of the Hindus. South Indian classical music (Carnatic Music) which has its roots in devotion to the gods, has been a traditional form of worship from time immemorial.
The city comes alive with the festival which has now developed into a cultural extravaganza with more than 2,000 artists participating in over 300 concerts. The festival also known as 'December Season' attracts expatriate Indians and scholars from around the world as well. Performances include Vocal and Instrumental music, Dance - solo and group, both by junior and senior artistes. Even upcoming artists get a chance to perform along with well-established artists.
The music include classical vocal renditions in various South Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and instruments like Flute, Veena (a large string instrument), Goottuvadyam (similar to Veena but without frets), 'Nagaswaram' (pipe), 'Thavil' (percussion instrument), 'Mridangam' (drum), and even 'Ghatam' (a mud pot).
The season goes on till mid January when the scene shifts to Tiruvaiyaru, near Tanjore, where 'Thyagaraja Aradhana' a week long music festival is held to celebrate the birth of one of the greatest Carnatic composers and one among the trinity of music - Thyagaraja. Information about the tickets and the venues can be had from the tourist office, Chennai.
The weather is cool and pleasant at this time of the year. November- December is the best season to visit the city. Now the music in the motion picture industry has emerged as an important entertainment platform in Chennai, over the years portraying the cultural changes, trends, aspirations and developments experienced by its people.
Dance - Chennai is home to the distinct dance form- the Bharat Natyam. Bharatanatyam is the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body. This is done through its tenets of having a perfectly erect posture, a straight and pout curving stomach, a well rounded and proportionate body mass- to the body structure, very long hair and curvaceous hips. These tenets bring to life the philosophy of Natyashastra, ‘Angikam bhuvanam yasya’ (The body is your world).
This is elaborated in the araimandi posture, wherein the performer assumes a half sitting position with the knees turned sideways, with a very erect posture. In this fundamental posture of the Bharatanatyam dance, the distance between the head and the navel becomes equal to that between the earth and the navel. In a similar way the distance between the outstretched right arm to the outstretched left arm becomes equal to the distance between the head and the feet, thus representing the "Natyapurusha", the embodiment of life and creation.
Climate of Chennai is Tropical.
Chennai is situated in the Thermal Equator zone which prevents extreme changes in temperature. Chennai has mainly two seasons - summer (35-42°C / 95-108°F) Apr-Jun (Highest temperature ever recorded is 45°C / 113°F on 30 May 2003) and monsoon (Oct-Dec). It receives scanty rainfall from the south-west monsoon (Jun-Sep) while rest of India is lashed by heavy rains, but gets its bountiful rains from the north-east monsoon from October through December, thus amounting to about 125-150 cm (49-59 in) of rainfall annually. Rainfalls occur usually from October to December and dried up scrub lands bloom with greenery during this period.
December to February are the mildest months temperature - (19-28°C / 66-82°F). December to March is probably the best time to visit Chennai: the temperatures rarely exceed 30°C during midday and evenings are pleasant.
Climate is humid pretty much throughout the year because the city is on the coast. Summers are very hot and humid. Be sure take along light (not flimsy) clothing. Winter fashion has never been of any use in Chennai, wearing a sweater will leave you drenched in sweat in less than five minutes.
Tamil is the official language in Chennai, and also the first language of most locals. Almost all people speak Tamil, a classical language. Picking up some knowledge of the local language is useful to get by in Chennai as in every city in the world. However, knowledge of English is sufficient for the average visitor to the city. English education is widespread in Chennai .
All educated people in Chennai can speak English while few understand simple English and can speak a few words. All important signboards are in English. All transactions with commercial establishments are in English. The English accent is different, there is a tendency to end sentences and words with and interrogative sentences..
Unlike other major cities in Northern India, Hindi is not widely understood. While there has been a significant increase in Hindi speakers in recent years, most locals will find it difficult to understand when you try to speak to them in Hindi. You are better off speaking English than Hindi in most southern cities except Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Those native to Chennai and its suburbs speak the language of Tamil with a characteristic accent. Due to the proximity of the city to the State of Andhra Pradesh (where the official language is Telugu) and the presence of a sizable quasi Telugu speaking population in the city, there is heavy borrowing of Telugu words into the vocabulary of 'Chennai Tamil'.'Chennai Tamil' is popularly known as Madras Bashai. Another characteristic of Chennai Tamil is that the words are spoken fast, possibly in line with the fast-paced life in Chennai when compared with the rest of the state. Nevertheless, all educated people are taught standard Tamil in school, and standard Tamil is still used in more formal settings as well as in the news.
Entering by Air
Chennai International Airport is the fourth busiest in India after Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore . All international flights arrive at Anna Terminal, while the domestic flights arrive at Kamraj Terminal. The two terminals are on the same road and are 150 m (492 ft) away from each other. Chennai is well connected to London, Frankfurt, Singapore, Malaysia, Middle east, New York, Hong Kong, etc. It is in the process of being upgraded to a world class airport with direct Metro rail connection to the city.
Europe and North America: Lufthansa (Frankfurt) and British Airways (London-Heathrow), fly nonstop to Chennai with connecting service from their European hubs to points in the United States and Canada.
South-East Asia: Thai Airways offers nonstop service to Bangkok. Silk Air, Singapore Airlines and Tiger Airways connects you to Singapore along with many Indian carriers like Indian Airlines and Air India Express. AirAsia connects passengers to Kuala Lumpur, Penang with affordable fares while Malaysia Airlines offers nonstop service to Malaysia. India's very own Jet Airways flies non-stop to both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Cathay Pacific flies non-stop to Hongkong.
Africa: Air Mauritius flies non-stop to Mauritius. Air Austral flies non-stop twice a week to Reunion. Air Seychelles flies nonstop to Seychelles.
Middle East: Nonstop services are available from Chennai to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Dammam, Doha, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat, Riyadh and Sharjah on Air Arabia, Indian Airlines, Air India Express, Oman Air, Emirates, Ethihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian and Gulf Air.
Sri-Lanka: Chennai is a hub for flights to Colombo with Srilankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka (low-cost carrier operated by Srilankan Airlines), Jet Airways, Air India Express, SpiceJet. Chennai is the traveling hub for Colombo.
Domestic: All the major Indian domestic carriers (Jet Airways, Spice, Go Air, Indigo) connect Chennai with multiple flights to points all over India and most use Chennai as a hub for flights to smaller cities in South India. Paramount Airways is a low cost all business class airline that offers flights from Chennai to points in South India. Chennai is also a staging point for flights to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.
The cheapest way to the city is by taking the suburban train into the city which only costs ₹ 5 ($0.08, €0.07). The suburban train connects you to Chennai Park and Egmore, the two main passenger train stations. Note this train does not go through Chennai Central station but Chennai Park station is within the walking distance. This is best if you don't have large amounts of baggage.
You have to exit the airport and walk a considerable distance (~500m) to reach the station "Tirusulam". Tickets bought don't have to be validated but save the ticket in case there is an inspection. It is advisable to take a first class ticket in the train if you happen to reach the airport during peak hours. The general compartments are often over-crowded as they transport regular commuters to work. In peak hours even the first class compartments may also be crowded. Tickets are priced around ₹70 ($1.27,€0.96).
The Chennai metro is also now connected to the airport and the airport metro station is just outside the exit, after crossing the taxi parking. Currently this (blue) line is operational only till Little Mount, halfway to the city center. However, you can interchange at Alandur (for the Green line, to go to either St. Thomas mount railway station or CMBT, the state-run bus terminus of Chennai. Otherwise, use the pre-paid taxi booth. Aviation Express is massively overpriced.
Using the pre-paid taxi to get to the city, each terminal has several booths for several taxi companies when you exit the airport, outside before you meet the crowd. The fares are different for the domestic and international terminals though the terminals are next to each other. You can either choose the standard Taxis (Black with Yellow tops) which are usually the ancient Ambassador cars or the private call-taxi (which can come in any model and in any color).
As in any Indian airport, you will be immediately haggled for transportation with promised offerings of the best price. A firm No should make them lose interest, ignore them if they continue harassing you. It's better to keep small change in hand while paying at the counters. Note the taxi number written on your charge slip (one copy is for the passenger and the other is for the driver to collect the fare from the counter). Make your way to the taxi stand and get the taxi number allotted at the designated desk. The helpful drivers offer to take your luggage and guide you to the taxi that drives up quickly near the allotment desk.
Prepaid and yellow top taxis are not air-conditioned, are of vintages right from 70s and 80s, rickety, prone to stop midway, drivers exhibit rough behaviour, sometimes could be dangerous, demand exorbitant fares, pre-paid may mean nothing and they may demand more when you get down. Keep away from these types. Or know that you can always negotiate. Typical ride into the central part of Chennai cost around Rs.300, to the farthest part of the city shouldn't cost more than Rs.1000.
Online aggregator like Uber and Ola are pretty comfortable and safe. The cars are new and air conditioned.
Entering By rain
Chennai has two main long-distance train stations, Chennai Central (code MAS) and Chennai Egmore (code MS). Both are connected to the Airport by the Suburban rail and to the Bus Terminus by City buses. Central has daily trains from/to Bangalore, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad , Kolkata , Ahmedabad and virtually all other major Indian cities. Egmore has trains which cover all the places in Tamil Nadu and also a few important places outside it.
You can arrive at the prepaid taxi/auto stand and book a cab to transport you to your place of stay.
Many long distance trains to Egmore stop at Tambaram (code TBM) and some trains to Central stop at Perambur (code PER).These are two railway stations which serve the suburban areas of Chennai.
Trains that connect Chennai to major hubs like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are usually booked out days in advance. If you plan to travel by train, consider making an advance reservation, the reservation opens 60 days before the day of travel. The AC compartments in the trains are preferable for new travelers as the sleeper class and sitting class compartments are generally very crowded. A 3-tier AC berth from Chennai to Bangalore or Coimbatore costs around Indian rupee 700 and that to Delhi around Indian rupee 2500 including meals.
Entering By Bus
Chennai has one of Asia's largest bus stations, Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT). Seven different state owned corporations drive buses to and from various destinations within South India. Connected to the Airport and the passenger train stations (Chennai Central and Egmore) by direct buses, it offers a cheap and spontaneous mode of travel. There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore,Tirunelveli. You will get the option of A/C or Non-A/C coaches for cities like Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad.
Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state owned (CMBT - Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus), and private buses (Omni bus terminus). Both these terminus are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/auto-rickshaw driver.
Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the Terminus. Feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination. Always ask for the ticket and carry it until the end of your journey. Conning is very rare.
Once in the city, it's easy to get overcharged if you try to hire auto-rickshaws to get to your destination. While the law requires drivers to use meters, enforcement isn't very effective. It would be more comfortable and hassle free to hire a cab for the duration of your stay, or figure out the city bus routes and the suburban trains schedule.
Entering By Car
Chennai is very well connected and to other parts of India by road. Five major national highways radiate outward towards Kolkata, Bengaluru, Tiruchy/Madurai, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. With the progress of the Golden Quadrilateral project, driving down from Bangalore is an option too. Indian drivers will have no problem fitting into the traffic but international drivers are strongly advised against driving in India. Rules are not really rules and lane switchings happen without any notice.
Moving In Chennai
Getting around the heart of Chennai city often takes time, due to traffic and heavy congestion, more so because of construction work in progress for Chennai Metro. So it is advisable to plan your journey accordingly. Travelling within Chennai is not so cheap by Indian metropolitan standards, and are quite cheap by European and USA standards. As for foreigners, it is safe to wear a mask during traveling by motorcycles as pollution is bit of a concern.
Moving Around By Train
Chennai has a suburban train network. There are four routes:
Western Line: Chennai Central - Arakkonam.
North Line: Chennai Central - Gummidipoondi-Sulurpet-Nellore
South Line: Chennai Beach - Tambaram and Chengalpet
MRTS Line: Chennai Beach - Velachery (MRTS)
Few trains on Western and North Line originate from Chennai Beach instead of Chennai Central. The Chennai Beach - Tambaram/ Chengalpet is the most used line, it takes you from the city to Vandalur Zoo for a getaway. The suburban trains are generally reliable and fast but they were built more for practical purposes of commuting than connecting tourist attractions. Unless you know your destination for sure, check with locals or information desks for the quickest way to reach your destination.
The frequency of suburban trains is generally good and it is advisable to take a first class ticket during peak hours. Trains offer a reliable alternative to quickly reach your destination when compared to buses which might get trapped in traffic jams. The fare in Chennai suburban trains is the lowest in the country and you don't have to compromise comfort for the meagre amount that you pay as in other Indian metros. The lowest second class train fare is Rs.5/-.
Always keep your baggage safe when you are travelling in the suburban railway system. Chennai Central (hub for north and west suburban lines) is opposite to Park Town (MRTS line) and Park (South Suburban line) - These 3 stations make an interchange trio - the highest interchange between suburban lines happens in this zone.
Moving Around By Bus
Metropolitan Transport Corporation(MTC) buses ply throughout the city accessing areas which are not accessed by the suburban trains. These are government-run and extremely cheap.
Chennai has few major termini from where the majority of the buses ply towards the rest of the city.
Normally Bus Fare in MTC range from Indian rupee 3 - Indian rupee 50. Deluxe and A/C Buses are also operated on major routes. Fare for deluxe bus is almost two times as compared to normal bus. For same route, deluxe and normal bus have same number but deluxe buses are being run targeting long distance journey since it will stop at major bus stops only.
So if you find normal buses too crowded, take a deluxe one. Non AC deluxe also have power gates and better suspension which you wont find in normal bus. If you have luggage with you, you might have to pay the cost of an extra person depending upon its size. A simple way of identifying the category of the bus is this: White Display Board - Standard Service,green display board-Express, Blue or LED- Deluxe Service, A/C Service- 2 door, low floor volvo bus.
AC bus run by MTC chennai which run between important routes like Parrys - Tambaram, Parrys - CMBT, Chennai Central - CMBT, Chennai central - Tambaram, CMBT - Kelambakkam/Sirusery, T.Nagar - Kanchipuram, etc. Most frequent AC bus runs between CMBT towards Pondicherry and are known as East coast road (ECR) buses and Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and is very comfortable for intracity travel too.
If you are getting into a bus from Chennai central railway station you can either catch a bus just in front of railway station or you can take the subway to cross the road and get it from the bus stop in front of government hospital.
Bus Route information for MTC Chennai is available online at official site. While official site only provides stage wise info, others have more interactive interface which can ease your life specially if you are new to the city.
Daily and weekly bus passes are available for tourists costing Indian rupee 50 or Indian rupee 300. They can be used on normal and deluxe bus services on all routes within the city. It is worthwhile to purchase the daily pass if you plan to visit more than a couple of sights in a day and it will save you from the trouble to maintain loose change.
The daily pass can be purchased on the first bus you board from the conductor, while the weekly and monthly passes are sold at all major terminus. Recently a hop-on hop-off tour bus has also been organized by the Government. The service covers many of the famous sights along the scenic East Coast Road up to Mahabalipuram.
Moving By Auto-rickshaw
Police demand auto-rickshaw/Tuk-tuk drivers in Chennai to use meter. In fact many of them try to avoid using meter; some try to overcharge and often drive rashly, but that's part of the fun of being in Chennai. They are happy to exploit foreigners and locals alike. The advantage of being a local is that you know when you're being fleeced, and so you'll know when to walk away and find another auto.
The advise is to use auto-rickshaws with meters only. Roughly 50-60% of drivers do use meters. So, If a particular driver doesn't agree - just go away and find another one. Move 100 m away from malls where touts concentrate. You will definitely succeed to catch a metered auto within 5-10 during day time. Maybe the driver will ask Rs.10 or Rs.20 extra. Usually Rs.10 is enough.
Otherwise you can discuss the price with the driver. Often they tell 2-3 times bigger charge. Even so, by Western standards, they are dirt cheap. You'll have no problem once the fare has been agreed and for short trips the Auto is a must.
The upside is that autos are ubiquitous and possibly the easiest form of transportation to locate. Use Auto-rickshaws only for short distances because they are uncomfortable.
Try to find a rickshaw with a working meter.
Don't take the first auto or take the first price, take a least quote and go to the second or third.
Never leave anything behind when you leave.
Negotiate a rate with the driver beforehand; if he doesn't agree, just go to the next auto on the road; there will always be others unless it's very late or very early or you are in a remote area: then be prepared to pay up. Stick to the agreed price, though on many occasions the driver may attempt to ask for more.
Consult local friends beforehand to find out reasonable market prices for the distance you intend to go.
Try to hail individual auto rickshaws in traffic which are heading in the general direction of your destination rather than hiring one parked in their stand as they may gang up to you.
As a general rule, expect to pay about ₹10 to ₹15 for every kilometer (0.6 mi) you travel.
You don't have to pay for any empty return trips that the auto-rickshaw driver has to make once you have agreed upon a fare.
You tell them to go to a landmark near where you want to go, and upon reaching the landmark, ask them to go a little further along a particular road to your destination. They might cite the extra distance travelled and ask for more money. So it is better to negotiate the fare upfront.
If you pay them for petrol, make sure you pay them the remaining fare amount after subtracting petrol charges.
Sometimes Airports and Railway Stations have a tariff chart.
Share autos have emerged in the recent years as an alternative mode of transport in Chennai. They are over-sized three/four wheelers charge slightly more than the bus but way lesser than a regular auto. Likewise they are faster than the buses but slower than the autos. There are four wheelers known as meter taxis, which don't have a meter and are not taxis. They supplement the existing bus services and sometimes operate on routes based on popular demand.
On a side note - if you are fascinated by the idea of going around in an auto, think about all those foreigners, who are riding an auto from Chennai to Mumbai. A Chennai based event management company, Chennai Event Management Services, has been having these auto-rickshaw rallies from Chennai to Mumbai, or Kanyakumari, etc., and has developed a great fan following for the same.
Moving By Taxi
Taxis (locally called "call-taxis" since they must be pre-arranged) can be booked using phone or internet. Since there are so many listed in the phone book already and they are mostly reliable we don't list any. They can be ordered air-conditioned and have digital fare meters, although time-based hire is also possible with some companies. Most companies charge a minimum fare of Indian rupee 100/-(Non-AC)/150/-(AC), which is for 4km (2.4 mile) and for every subsequent kilometer they might charge Indian rupee 12/- or 13/- depending upon the car model that you choose.
Like in other major Indian cities, Uber and its local competitor Ola have pretty much run to the ground the traditional call taxis. These cabs are a boon to a city known for its avaricious and rude autorickshaw drivers, and are probably the best way to get around as a tourist
Alternatively, you can hire a cab for limited time or full-day for your travel reasons within the city for charges ranging between 1200 to 3000 depending upon the car model you choose and the time-duration for which you use the cab. If your trip is time-sensitive,it is recommended that you make the booking about 4 hours in advance and call shortly before your journey to confirm.
However, there is every possibility of you not getting one in spite of advance booking as they book without any planning and ditch the customers at the last minute. A proper system of confirmed allotment at least 45 min prior to the scheduled time (like in Delhi/other cities) is what is required in Chennai. Other car rental companies available in chennai include GetMeCab , BookCab, Clear Car Rental,Cabs24x7, Avis, Chennai Cabs and Hertz etc.
Moving By Car
It is generally not advisable for foreign travelers to drive on their own as they might be unaware of the traffic rules and congestion in the city. Negotiating the Indian traffic is not a part of standard driving lessons and can only be mastered by experience. The roads in Chennai are better maintained than the average Indian road. Rush hour traffic may result in nasty jams. Chennai has three arterial roads: Anna Salai/ Mount Road, EVR Periyar Salai/ Poonamallee High Road, Jawaharlal Nehru Salai/ 100 feet Road.
If you choose to rent a car, it's highly advisable to hire a driver as well. Typical driver fee comes to around Indian rupee 250/- for 4-hour shift and an additional Indian rupee 50 every hour thereafter. Outstation trips cost a driver fee of Indian rupee 750 for a 12 hour journey.
Foreign travelers should keep in mind that both diesel and petrol are used as fuel in India and it varies with the model of the car. Some cars have identical models with only a D badge to indicate diesel. Make sure you find out what type of fuel the car uses from the rental company.
Restaurants, watering holes and discotheques have been opening with increasing frequency and while the absolute numbers aren't much, they're more experimental than most Indian metros. While in Chennai one can drop into one of the following places.
Georgetown in the north of the city is considered the oldest neighbourhood and is associated with the nearby port. The whole area is an intense experience and a hive of commercial activity. Not too many tourists visit this part of the city, which is unfortunate because if Chennai's heart is to be found anywhere, it is here. This is where the Sowcarpet area is located, in addition to one of the city's most famous thoroughfares, Mint Street.
Chennai Marina Beach
Beach Watch Note Although Chennai beaches are both beautiful and inviting, they are not swimming beaches, due to strong under currents present along the shoreline. Swimming should not be attempted there. There are no lifeguards and rescue equipment is not provided at any of these beaches. However there are "beach police" who ride on horses and keep an eye on the people and look out for any trouble. People should avoid wearing swimwear or similar attire in the city beaches as such clothing is not appropriate there and will attract stares.
Chennai has several well known beaches:
Marina Beach, is 12 km long and offers excellent opportunities for walks and has a very wide sandy foreshore. Its width is up to 300 m (985 ft). The Marina of Madras is the second longest urban beach in the world. Along the shore, there are many buildings built during the British colonial rule. The South Beach Road runs past the Madras University, the Senate House, the Chepauk Palace (Nawabs of Carnatica once held their court here). It is the most popular gathering place for locals, especially in the evenings and on weekends. It can also get very crowded at those times. The beach is relatively less crowded in the early mornings and more pleasant. Walk along the Marina in the evening to cool off and eat crispy "sundal" (boilt, spiced lentils), freshly caught fish and Murukku(a type of dry noodles). Watching the sunrise from the beach is an experience by itself. It's not a swimming beach, though you will see people fully clothed taking partial dips.
Breezy Beach- Valmiki Nagar (Thiruvanmiyur)
Edward Elliot's beach, is spread along the coast down south from Marina. It is also the night beach for Chennai youth. This beach is comparatively quieter and it is located near Besant Nagar. At the end of this beach are the Velankanni church and the Ashtalakshmi temple. Good roads, pavements, walking track illuminated sands, makes a visit to this beach a real pleasure. It can get really crowded during the weekends as well.
Breezy Beach is located in the quiet neighborhood of Valmiki Nagar (Thiruvanmiyur) in Chennai. It is smaller and less popular than the Elliot's beach. This beach is not as commercialized as the Elliot's beach, and is hence more quiet and peaceful. Evenings are very pleasant and with gentle breezy here, Lots of tourists are attracted towards this beach. Since the residential area around this beach is occupied predominantly by young professionals working in the IT/ITES industries, this beach has turned into a hot-spot for them. It is less polluted and environment friendly. Those who look for a calm, cool and breezy place to relax, this beach is the best place in Chennai.
Entry into the sanctum-sanctorum (the innermost part of the temple) of old temples maybe sometimes be restricted to foreigners because of the traditional beliefs that only a Hindu can enter the temples. In rare instances, it is forcefully enforced. The best thing to do in such situations is to explore the surrounding structures which are equally fascinating.
Kapaleeswarar Temple (Kapaleeshwara), Mylapore, . One of Chennai's oldest and best-known temples, said to date to the 8th century, although the present structure dates to the 1600s. Notable above all for its soaring, incredibly detailed 37m gopuram (entrance gate). There is a large water tank behind the temple, used for the Thaipusam festival (Jan-Feb), and plenty of flower shops all around. Within easy striking distance of the city centre. The temple also has an Arubathu Moovar festival in Mar and is known for the crowds and color.
Karaneeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple located in the neighborhood of Saidapet in Chennai, India. It is dedicated to the god Shiva.This temple is located next to the Saidapet Railway station. This temple has a 7-storied Gopuram with two prakarams(closed precincts of a temple). The main deity is Lord Karaneeswara (Shiva) and Goddess Swarnaambikai (Sakthi). It is believed that Lord Indra had come here to worship Lord Shiva to cure his curse. Special worships are done to Shiva on Pradosham days. This temple has a beautiful tank. The temple is heavily crowded on Pradhosham days. Annual ten day Brahmotsavam takes place in the Tamil month of Chithirai. During Chitirai thirvizha, people visit the temple in huge numbers and there will be a daily spiritual talk on Thiruvasagam about Lord shiva.
The Parthasarathy Temple at Tiruvallikkeni (Triplicane) as the Britishers called it, is considered be the oldest temple in the Chennai and origins date back to the 8th century AD, the reference of which has been made in the Vaishnavite works of the Alwar saints. The existence of the Tiruvallikkeni village in referred in the Pallava records and before. The temple derived its name from the pond in front of the temple. It was originally built by the Pallavas. The temple was renovated by later dynasties, the Chola and the Vijayanagar kingdom. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The name Parthasarathy has been derived from two Sanskrit words Partha and Sarathy.
The former word refers to Arjuna and the later means Charioteer. Its architecture is a combination of several temple building styles. There are inscriptions of the Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar kingdom on the temple structure. The temple besides being dedicated to Parthasarathy is also revered for Venkatakrishnaswami and to Ranganathar. The temple, when it was built, housed five avataras of the deity Vishnu. The structure, as it stands today, houses the shrines of popular deities like Venkatakrishnan with Rukmani, Balaraman, Satyaki, Anirudha, Pradyumna, Rama, Lakshmana, Barata, Sita, Shatrugna, Varadaraja and Hanuman.
Sri Ramakrishna_Math- Universal Temple , 31 Ramakrishna Math Rd, Mylapore. Swami Vivekananda on his return from the west was requested by the devotees in Madras (now Chennai) to start a Math here. To fulfill their desire Swamiji sent his brother-disciple Swami Ramakrishnananda to Madras in March 1897. After reaching Madras, the first thing Swami Ramakrishnananda did was to set up a small shrine for Sri Ramakrishna at a rented house. He lived there and led a life of renunciation, service and austerities. Slowly he built up the institution as the present Sri Ramakrishna Math and thus Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, came into existence. This is the oldest centre of the Ramakrishna Order in the South.
Srimat Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj, the 12th President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, laid the foundation-stone for this Universal Temple on 1 December 1994 in a grand function. It took five years for the project to take shape as the present grand Universal Temple. On 7 Feb 2000 the temple was dedicated by Srimat Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj, the 13th President of the Ramakrishna Order.
Sri Ramakrishna Math completed hundred years of its service in 1997. The Math is regarded for its spiritual traditions, modern outlook, acceptance of all religions, service as the way of life. With its lushy green surroundings, the Universal Temple is the ideal spot for contemplation and meditation.
Kundrathur sivan temple (vada thirunageshvaram), Kundrathur (Kundrathur bus depot). Sekkizhar built this 1000 year old temple edit
Kumaran Kundram (The Deity of Lord Murugan in Kumaran Kundram is considered to be equivalent to the one in Swamimalai), (Very near MIT Fly over). small hillock at Kumaran Kundram near by Madras Institute of Technology edit
Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas, Santhome High Rd.(email@example.com). 5:AM-9PM daily. In the whole world, there are only three churches built over the tomb of an Apostle of Jesus Christ- the Basilica of Saint Peter built over the tomb of St.Peter in Rome, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela built over the tomb of St.James in Spain and Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas built over the tomb of St.Thomas. Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas is in Chennai, India.
The present National Shrine of St.Thomas is built over the tomb of Saint Thomas the Apostle, who came to India in the year 52 AD. After preaching on the West coast, he came to Chennai (formerly Madras), and attained martyrdom on a hill at the outskirts of the city, today known as "St. Thomas Mount." His body was buried on the spot over which the present Basilica stands. The shrine was restored in 2004.
A valuable work of art kept in the Basilica is an ancient painting of Our Blessed Mother, in front of which the other great apostle of India, St. Francis Xavier, used to pray. There are two new structures today: The Tomb Chapel below the Basilica and Museum cum theatre. The new underground chapel with a separate access outside the church structure, allows pilgrims to pray at the tomb and tourists to visit it, without disturbing the sacred functions in the church. The museum exhibits artifacts connected with St. Thomas and the Basilica, and the theatre is used for screening a short video on the life of the Apostle.
St. Mary's Church, situated in the fort, is one of the oldest surviving churches built by the British in India. This is the first English church in India and the oldest Anglican church in the East.Designed by William Dixon, the then Master Gunner of the Fort, it was constructed under the supervision of the Governor Streynsham Master.
Given the precarious nature of the English presence in India at the time (not to mention later attacks by the French and the locals), the church has a defensive stance- thick walls, castellated parapets and a well within the grounds - to withstand any bombardment or siege). The church was consecrated on 28 October 1680. The tower was completed in 1701; the steeple added in 1710 and the tower was connected to the main body of the church in 1759.
Robert Clive - more famous as Clive of India- married Margaret Maskelyne here in 1753. The first but equally famous wedding was that of Governor Elihu Yale (who was to become the benefactor of Yale College) to Catherine Himmers in November 1680. The interior of the church contains many fascinating plaques and monuments to early British India evoking past glories and lives full of achievement. It also contains the old colours of the Madras Fusiliers, the first European regiment of the East India Company. The glass windows, wall frescos, teak plaques from the colonial times are still preserved. 10AM-5PM daily except closed on F.
St. Thomas Mount, Chennai South. St.Thomas, referred to as Didymus, in the Gospel of St.John is one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He is one of the prime witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. St. Thomas Mount is associated with St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ, who is believed to have been martyred here. The mount is commonly called in Tamil "Parangi Malai" or "Bhringi Malai'.History says 2000 years ago, a saint 'Parangi' lived here ('parangi' in Tamil language is used to refer to a white person). According to local myth, St. Thomas was one of the first Christians to reach India and to preach Christianity.
He is believed to have reached South India in AD 52, and spent the last years of his life in a cave on this hill. Tradition states that Thomas was assassinated by an arrow in AD 72, by persons hostile to him. Thus, the hillock acquired the name St. Thomas Mount. Over time Anglo-Indians predominated in this area. A small relic-filled Church built in 1523 at the summit of the 300 feet high St. Thomas Mount. The place was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to India on 5 February 1986. At the northern foot of the mount, is a gateway of four impressive arches surmounted by a cross bearing the inscribed date 1547. A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the mount. There are fourteen stations of the cross erected on the way to the summit.
The Tamil Baptist Church in Kilpauk is worth a visit. It is a 107 year old monument.
Lutheran Adaikalnathar Church(TELC), Tana Street. Protestant Church which is more than 100 years old edit
St. Matthias Church, Vepery. One of the oldest churches in Chennai which was built by the British. Its also has a Anglo-Indian higher secondary school in the campus which has both boys and girls studying in the school and it's famous for Producing High Standard Students with Capability of Speaking English as native speakers of the Language. edit
Wallajah Mosque, Big Mosque also known as Wallajah Mosque, is situated at Walajah Road in Triplicane, Chennai is a historical landmark constructed by Wallajah family in memory of Nawab Muhammad Ali Walajah, in 1795. It is an imposing structure of symmetry and form of architectural magnificence with an imposing facade. The Mosque stands in extensive grounds, which are being used as a forum for religious and cultural activities. The magnificent grey granite structure is built without steel and wood. This architectural marvel is one of the important mosques in Chennai.
The Nawab’s descendants are still living in a mansion known as Amir Mahal. One distinctive feature of this mosque is that the chronogram engraved in stone and fixed on the inside of the western wall of the mosque is by a non-Muslim, Rajah Makkan Lal “Khirad”, a Persian and Arabic scholar of repute, who was the private secretary to the Nawab. It may be mentioned in this regard that, as far as is known, no other mosque in the world has a chronogram composed by a non-Muslim.
The Mosque has two minarets at the front. The Eid Prayer timing remains the same, 10AM, since 1749 A.D. Adjoining the Wallajah Mosque is the tomb of the great Islamic saint Maulana Abdul Ali Bahrul Uloom, a divine scholar of the days of the Nawab Wallajah. In this enclosure also are the tombs of the late Nawabs of the Carnatic, the Princess of Arcot and other eminent Muslim scholars and theologians. Wallajah Mosque can be reached either from Ellis Rd (backside) or the Triplicane High Rd.
Valluvar Kottam, Valluvar Kottam High Rd, Nungambakkam, Chennai. Valluvar Kottam marks the memorial of one of the renowned poet and saint of the region, Tiruvalluvar. The memorial is shaped like a temple chariot and is, in fact, the replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. There is a 101-feet high temple chariot structure with a life-size image of the poet in it. This chariot is a replica of the temple car of Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. The monument stands as a massive auditorium and was open to public in the year 1976. Over 3,000 blocks of stone were used to create this memorial to Tamil culture. Valluvar Kottam has quite an extensive space.
The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can accommodate about 4000 people. The auditorium is surrounded by granite pillars that have the inscriptions taken from the famous work of the poet. The epic Tiruvalluvar, written by the poet consists of 1330 verses, all of which are inscribed on the granite pillar. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. It stands as a modern memorial to the great poet who represents the glorious culture of the Tamils.
Fort St. George (formerly known as White Town), is located on the banks of the Bay of Bengal. It was established as the East India Company's fortified foothold in Madras and it was from this small trading post (or 'factory' as it was then known) that British influence spread throughout India. 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 the East India Company the region soon developed into a popular trade and commerce centre. The British enjoyed supremacy in the region until 1746, when the French attacked the fort and captured it. After three years, in 1749 the British regained power by signing a treaty with the French. In the meantime they fortified the base in order to repel the invasion of Hyder Ali and the French. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India.
The military architecture is interesting and holds great historical importance. Inside the Fort is the Fort Museum decorated with cannons of Tipu Sultan. There are a lot of interesting artifacts showcased in the museum. Apart from the museum, the southern division of the Archaeological Survey of India is located here. Today, Fort St George is famous for its exotic collection of books in the library and housing the legislative assembly in the secretariat building. The fort in its present form looks more like a mansion, rather any fort.
Various Government offices function inside this building, including the structure which used to be the residence of Robert Clive called the Clive House. St. Mary's Church, situated in the fort, is one of the oldest surviving churches built by the British in India. The tallest flag pole in the country can be seen here, its height is 150 feet. The pole is now made of metal but was originally made entirely of teak wood. Sa-Th 10:00-17:00. Fort Museum: Children <15 yr free, Indian Adults ₹5, Foreign Adults: ₹100
The Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India Freemasons’ Hall is located at 87, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore. It was constructed in 1923 for the troops. The architecture is classical Greek style and houses a lodge room on the first floor where Masonic meetings are held M-F 10:00-17:00 and Sa 10:00-14:00.
Museums and Art Galleries
Government Museum , Pantheon Rd, Egmore. Established in 1857, the Government Museum of Chennai is one of the popular tourist destinations in the city. It is a multi-purpose State Government Museum located in Egmore, which is in the heart of the city, spreading over an area of 16.25 acres of land. Six independent buildings in this Museum campus has 46 galleries. There is an Archaeology Section, Zoology Section, Botany Section, Geology Section, Numismatics Section, Bronze Gallery , Children’s museum, Art gallery and various other interesting sections and galleries.
It is considered to be one of the oldest museums of India, since its inception dates back to the Colonial rule. There is history behind the origin of this Museum. In 1846 AD, the Madras Literary Society debated the proposal of establishing a museum in the then Madras. The proposal was approved by the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London. Chennai Government Museum was handed down with a sprawling complex and the presently maintained by the State Government. The Museum was formally inaugurated on December 5, 1896 by the Sir Arthur Eli bank Havelock, the then Governor.
He named it after the former Governor, Lord Connenmara. The museum was designed by H. Irvin, the consulting architect of the Government of Madras. The Government Museum has a splendid hall, marvelous reading room and striking Teak wood shelf and stands divided into a number of sections. Note that parts of the museum are often closed.09:30-17:00 except holidays. A free guide service is available at 11:00 and 15:00.
National Art Gallery 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 the Victoria Memorial Hall. Built with sandstone and adorned with motifs, the building bears impressions of Mughal architecture.
It is this architecture, not just the gallery collections that make it worth a visit. The gallery exhibits medieval handicrafts, sculptures, metal ware and paintings belonging to various schools of art and eras. The gallery's collections are displayed in four different sections: Tanjore Painting Gallery, Decorative Art Gallery, Indian Traditional Art Gallery and Ravi Varma Painting Gallery. The Tanjore paintings on glass are wonderful.
The miniature paintings from Rajput and Mughal eras are fascinating too. The handicrafts that are displayed belong to the 11th and 12th century Indian handicraft period. The top floor, closed in May 2011, offered additional galleries. Sa-Th 09:30-17:00 except national holidays.
The Birla Planetarium, at Kotturpuram, between Adyar and Guindy, is the most modern planetarium in the country. Adjoining the planetarium is a Periyar Science and Technology Museum which will be of interest to students and other science scholars. Built in memory of B.M. Birla, the well known industrialist and visionary, the Planetarium is considered to be the most modern in the country. Location: Tamil Nadu Science & Technology Centre, Gandhi Mandapam Rd (Behind CLRI). The Science and Technology Centre is open daily except national holidays. Programmes at 10:45-13:45 and 15:45. In English at Noon, Tamil 14:30.
Zoological gardens and eco parks
Arinjar Anna Zoological Park (The Vandalur Zoo), Started in People's Park in 1855, the Madras zoological gardens (later renamed as Arignar Anna Zoological Park after C. N. Annadurai, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state from 1967 to 1969) was moved to Vandalur (a former game reserve frequented by governors of colonial Madras) on the outskirts of Chennai city in 1985 owing to lack of space in the congested heart of the city. Today, the zoo is one of the biggest in South Asia housing more than 170 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Lion safari vehicles, elephant rides, battery operated vehicles are some of the facilities available. The peak time is during Pongal and weekend holidays. The animals are usually housed in their natural settings.
Guindy National Park, Sardar Vallabhai Patel Rd, Adyar, Guindy. M-F 9AM-5:30PM except Tu. The current park area stands close to 280 hectares. Guindy Park happens to be almost certainly the smallest national park in the country and the only park within the city suburbs of India. 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. The dry deciduous forests of Guindy are lined with tree species like Amona Squamosa, Atlanta Monophylla, Feronia Limonia and Azadirachta India. The popular park animals include species like Indian Antelope (Black Buck), Elephant, Spotted Deer, Indian Civet, Jungle Cat, Hedgehog, Pangolin and Jackal. Some rare bird species found in the park include Black Winged Kite, Honey Buzzard, and Pariah Kite.
The park is also home to many reptile and amphibian species. JULY 2016 only childrens park and snake park open. Visits to the National park proper are only allowed with park ranger and the gate is locked. Rs 15, Free below 10 years, 11 to above Rs 5, School Children age 5-12 from government and aided schools Rs 2, children from private schools age 5-12 Rs 10, still camera Rs 10, video camera Rs 75.
Guindy Snake Park, (next to Guindy National Park). M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM except Tu. Founded by one of the prominent wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitaker. 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. edit
Tholkappiar Poonga (Adyar Eco Park), 6 / 103, Dr. D. G. S. Dinakaran Salai, Raja Annamalaipuram, Chennai 2.30PM-4:30PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This park maintained by the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust is the only prominent eco park located within Chennai city limits. Measuring a total of 358 acres, the park covers the estuary of the Adyar river known for its fragile ecosystem. The estuary was restored in various phases starting from 2003 and recently opened for guided public tours. However, prior online booking is necessary in order to visit the park through the Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust website. A maximum of 20 visitors are allowed each day.
The eco park is popular among bird-watchers as various species of pelicans, herons, storks and butterflies are found here. The park areas houses about 172 endemic species of flowering plants. Sculptures of dinosaurs and various animals carved out of naturally available stone are found within the park.
Rs. 20, Children below 12 years: Rs. 5.
Pallikaranai wetland is a freshwater swamp in the south of the city. Being able to retain water throughout the year, it forms an aquatic ecosystem. The marsh acts as a home for many endangered and as a breeding ground for thousands of migratory birds which makes it an ideal place for bird watching. A conservation project is afoot to spruce up the area and build an observation center for visitor's convenience. There have been walks conducted in the marsh by the societies like Madras Naturalists Society. Contact them to find out about their events.
Nanmangalam Reserve Forest is a protected area between Velachery and Tambaram. According to reports, it is home to 85 different species of birds and some rare territorial orchids. Similar to the above marsh, there are no regularly conducted walks, but some photography societies and nature societies organise walks once in a while.
Visit the international headquarters of the Theosophical Society situated at Adyar in the southern part of Chennai. The Adyar Library situated in the society's campus has one the largest collection of Tibetan manuscripts with over 20,000 palm leaf folios. For nature-lovers, a stroll through the vast and biologically rich Theosophical Society Gardens is a must. One of the curiosities is a 450-year old banyan tree.
Go for a ride along Kamarajar Salai, a promenade on the sea front. The road is dotted with some of the finest specimens of Indo-Saracenic and art deco architecture such as the University of Madras buildings, Chepauk Palace, Vivekanandar Illam, Queen Mary's College, Presidency College and the Chennai police headquarters. Among other buildings are the MGR memorial and Anna Samadhi, Gandhi statue and statues of poet Subrahmanya Bharathi, G. U. Pope and Bishop Robert Caldwell.
Chennai Food Tours (Blaffer Food Tours), IIT Madras, Adyar,Directions depend on the tour location, and are mailed prior to the tour. Every weekend. Can be contacted for custom trips if visiting on a non-tour day. South India has contributed numerous dishes to the world! Therefore it is imperative to explore Chennai - the hub of South India - through the gastronomic lens. Chennai Food Tours offer a number of tours - street food, food history tour (very unique), kebab tour - all with the mindset of exploring. Do not leave Chennai without going to this tour!
Nizhal Tree Walks, Ashok Nagar, Chennai. Nizhal has 3 series of walks- the Margazhi walks in December/ January, the Chithirai walks in April and the Madras day walks in August. Nizhal has conducted tree walks to acquaint citizens with the trees around them. Through its tree walks Nizhal has hoped to sensitize citizens to the role played by trees in the environment, the challenges they face and how they can be protected. Walks have also served as forums where tree lovers can network with each other.
The Chennai Trekking Club (CTC)organizes weekend treks and getaways. A lot of cleaning operations, blood donation and photography camps are also organized by CTC. Membership is free and costs are shared equally.
Flora and fauna of Chennai
The southern stretch of Chennai's coast from Tiruvanmiyur to Neelangarai are favoured by the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles to lay eggs every winter. A large number of cattle egrets, pond herons and other waterbirds can be seen in the rivers of Cooum and Adyar. About 75,000 birds migrate to Chennai every year.Marshy wetlands such as Pallikaranai also play host to a number of migratory birds during the monsoon and winter.Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in the city and its neighbourhood by members of Madras Naturalists' Society since its inception in 1978.
Guindy National Park is a protected area within the city limits. Wildlife conservation and research activities take place at Arignar Anna Zoological Park including Olive ridley sea turtle conservation.adras Crocodile Bank Trust is a herpetology research station, located 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of Chennai. It is India's leading institution for herpeto faunal conservation and the first crocodile breeding centre in Asia.
Chennai has three rivers and many lakes spread across the city. Urbanization has led to shrinkage of water bodies and wetlands.The quantity of wetlands in the city has decreased from 650 to only 27 currently.The Chennai River Restoration trust set up by the government is working on the restoration of Adyar river.Environmentalist Foundation of India is a volunteering group working towards wildlife conservation and habitat restoration.
Madras Music Season Organized in December-January every year in an unbroken sequence since 1928, the Madras Music Season is the most important cultural event in the Chennai calendar. The season features Carnatic music concerts, dance programmes, operas, plays and magic shows.
Chennai Book Fair Held usually for two weeks in December-January every year since 1977, the Chennai Book Fair is the second largest book fair in the country after the Delhi Book Fair. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions had more than 700 stalls and over one million visitors. Organized by the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), many important publishers in India participate in the fair. Debates, prize distributions, lectures and film screenings are also held at the venue.
Madras Day' or Madras Week.The Madras Day or Madras Week celebrations are held in August every year to commemorate the purchase of the village of Madrasapatnam by East India Company factors Andre Cogan and Francis Day on August 22, 1639. The celebrations usually comprise of heritage walks, exhibitions, lectures, nature and tree walks, book and postage cover releases and film screenings. Though the celebrations typically last a week, the 2014 and 2015 editions extended through August and into September as well.
The Hindu Lit for Life Held during the Pongal festival (2nd week of January) every year since 2010, The Hindu Lit for Life is an international literary festival organized by The Hindu group of newspapers. The festival typically comprises of group discussions and lectures and The Hindu Lit for Life award is given at the end of each festival.
Music and Dance
Chennai has a lot of Carnatic music Sabhas (loosely translates to "concert house") where concerts are held during the Madras Music season. You will see mostly older celebrities, although occasionally there will be some world-class young virtuosos.
The Music Academy , No. 168, T.T.K. Road,Chennai - 600 014.
Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall , Madras Seva Sadan, No 7, Harrington Road , Chetpet .
VDS Arts Academy , MOP Vaishnava College for Women, Nungambakkam. Music and Bharatanatyam dance concerts throughout the year at 6:30 PM., every Friday, Saturday and Sunday by young artists. Admission: free.
Brahma Gana Sabha , Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, M.Ct.M School, 179, Luz Church Road.
Indian Institute of Music and Arts, R.K Swamy Auditorium, Sir Sivaswamy Kalalaya, 5, Sundareswarar Street, Mylapore.
Kartik Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha Hall, TTk Road.
Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Dr. Nalli Gana Vihar, 20. Maharajapuram Santhanam Road, T.Nagar,(The 49th Art and Dance Festival & Pongal Nagaswara Isai Vizha And the 24th Natya Kala Conference), Indian rupee
Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha , Vani Mahal, 103, GN Chetty Road, (The 25th Isai Iyal Nataka Vizha)
Kalalayaa Art Academy , Kalalayaa Art Academy , 2nd Floor, 100ft Bye Pass Road, Velachery.(Landmark: Opp to Bharat Petroleum Petrol Bunk, Above Nuts & Spices)
Nungambakkam Cultural Academy Trust
Chennai is a major centre of Bharata Natyam with over 1000 dance performances a year. More dance forms are now encouraged and taught like Kuchipudi(Traditional dance form from Andhra Pradesh), Mohini Attam, etc. Some other dances like Odissi Manipuri can be found, but are rarer.
When in Chennai, do not miss a chance to watch a movie. Make sure to book your tickets in advance especially in the weekend, because most of the cinemas will be sold out. Chennai also provides best cinematic experience at lowest cost Rs. 120/- and lesser, which is very less compared to other metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata. There are several cinemas in the city. Check out any local newspaper or websites to get to know the movies running in and around Chennai. Some of the cinema halls are
Udhayam Theatre, Ashok Pillar, Chennai
Devi Cineplex. In the heart of Chennai on Anna Salai. The Cineplex is a huge complex and a great architectural beauty.
Jazz Cinemas. In Phoenix Mall, Jazz Cinemas has a lot of screens and 2 IMAX screens.
Sathyam Cine Complex. Thiru-vi-ka Rd. One of the best theaters. Provides quality food and the main screen is one of the biggest in INDIA.
Escape Cinemas. Express Avenue, Royapettah
Inox. Chennai Citi Centre, R.K.Salai
Mayajaal Cine Complex.
Abhirami Cine Complex, Purasawalkam.
Shanti Cine Complex, Anna Salai
Ega theatres , p.h road, Kilpauk (Features Hindi movies).
Sangam Cine Complex in Kilpauk.
Rohini Cinema Complex, Koyambedu.
Ganga Theatre complex in Kolathur.
Rakki Theatre in Ambattur.
Luxe cinemas, 11-screen multiplex in Phoenix Market City, Velachery
AGS Cinemas OMR,Navalur.
Vetri Theatre, Chromepet.
Chennai has been one of the prominent sporting location in India, with wide variety of sports played almost everywhere right from every street corners to big stadium matches.
M. A. Chidambaram Stadium (Famously known as Chepauk Stadium)
Cricket by itself is a festival in India,every TV in the Mall is tuned to cricket during the match season and the whole city would be tuned in to the sport some way or another.Chennai is an international venue for cricket and is also a home ground for the Chennai super Kings (a famous cricket team).While in Chennai it might be interesting to catch a game and enjoy the electric spirit of Indian cricket.Close to Chepauk there are several sporting good store where you can buy good quality cricket equipment's at low cost
Chennai open is a prominent tennis tournament that happens around January every year, the event has attracted lot of high ranked players such as Rafael Nadal,Carlos Moyá,Leader Paes.The event is well organized with details published online including ticket sales.
Express Avenue, Royapettah High Road. It is the second largest shopping mall in South India and features unique stores like Hamley's, Global Desi and Peekaboo, designer wear like Guess and Diesel and high-street chains like Body Shop, Tie Rack, Esprit and Lush. It has a few fine-dining restaurants and also one of the largest food courts in India.
Spencer Plaza, 769, Anna Salai. Spencer Plaza is the oldest shopping mall in India dating to the 1980s. The present building stands in place of an Gothic-style one which housed the Spencer's, Asia's first departmental store. The original was destroyed in a fire, and the current building dates back to 1983. The new Phase III section even has a mock Indo-Saracenic atrium in the style of the original. One of the earliest shopping malls in India, it has slightly lost its charm with the arrival of swanky new malls, but it is still an excellent place to buy handicrafts, ethnic wear, Indian jewellery and books (it houses the largest Landmark bookstore in Chennai). There is a reasonably good food court on the 2nd level of Phase I and Phase III.
Chennai Citi Center 10, Radhakrishnan Salai. Opened in March of 2006, it houses mostly men's western-wear brands like Adidas, Louis Philippe, Parx and Zodiac. Has a good food court, an Indian restaurant, INOX cinema and a supermarket.
Shoppers' Stop 2, Harrington Road, Chetpet. This is one of the largest department stores in Chennai, and you can buy everything from clothes to shoes to books here.
Ispahani Center Nungambakkam road. An early shopping centre - has a cafe, bar & shops.
Prince Plaza, Pantheon road, Egmore. It has been featured in many movies.
Ampa Mall. A new shopping mall in Chennai with both western and Indian brands featuring in the shops. Most popular for its PVR Cinemas multiplex, Star Bazaar grocery store and one of the few McDonalds in the city. It also has a food court and a boutique hotel.
Pheonix Market City. A new shopping mall in Chennai Located in velachery. Biggest mall in chennai, It houses Satyam Cinemas in the name of luxe cinemas will open 11 screens here which will also house Chennai's first IMAX theatre. Chennai's first Hardrock Cafe is soon to come up here.
Forum Vijaya Mall. A big shopping mall in vadapalani. one of the Biggest mall in chennai,Houses Satyam's 9 screens,chennai's second IMAX will come up here.
Spectrum Mall (formerly known as Grand Venus Mall) is a shopping mall located in Perambur, Chennai, India. It is the first mall in North Chennai.The mall was developed at the site of erstwhile Venus theater on Paper Mills Road in Perambur. The mall is spread over an area of 1,60,000 sq.ft with two levels of retail shopping and a five screen multiplex
Chandra Metro Mall is a shopping mall located at Virugambakkam, Chennai. The Mall with a built up area of 1.43 lakh sq.ft .The mall has a five screen multiplex with a capacity of 1300 seats called as 'Fame National'
Chennai has numerous restaurants, offering an assortment of cuisine. The beach restaurants are well maintained and serve great food during the evenings. The eat outs in Chennai range from budget, midrange and to up-market. There are swanky star quality restaurants, plain open traditional vegetarian or non vegetarian restaurants- where you share a table with strangers, street stalls, tea kadais, fast food centers, western fast food centers, food courts, coffee shops, bakeries. Vegetarian restaurants serve tiffin and vegetarian meals.
There are also a number of restaurants that serve a variety of Tamil, Andhra and Kerala vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. Many of these restaurants have nowadays diversified and offer other Indian and Indianized Chinese dishes as well. Usually the check includes a service charge, written next to 'S.C.' If no service charge is added, it is customary to leave a moderate tip.
All these budget eateries serve only vegetarian food and are very cheap.
DOJO KULFIS, A must visit for Traditional Indian desert - Kulfis, Ice creams, Faloodas, Smoothies & Coolers. Situated in Kutchery Road, Mylapore and Ennore. They supply their products to most of the hotels, restaurants, food courts.
Eat N Drink, 570-N, Anna Salai, Teynampet (next to Courtyard Marriott). South Indian fast food, from masala dosas to uttapam and pongal. Fast, cheap, tasty and hygienic. Rs 20-40.
Geetha Café , Pondy Bazaar. South Indian tiffin.
Hot Chips, T.Nagar and Anna Nagar for budget priced South Indian tiffin, including North Indian chaat (snack) items.
Kebab Junction, Royapettah, NV, opp. Express Ave, (near Melody theatre),
Karpagambal Mess, Mylapore, (opposite the Kapaleeswarar temple). Cheap and authentic South Indian Food.
Komalas, Kodambakkam High Rd. South Indian fast food.
Mansuk's, T.Nagar. Best for Bombay Chaat, Lassi and an unlimited Gujarati Thali.
Palimar, Parsn Complex, Mount Rd, Anna Salai. South Indian cuisine.
Rathna Cafe, Triplicane. also Thiruvanmiyur, (opposite the RTO). For fluffy hot idlis, hot vadai, delicious pongal dripping in ghee and accompanied by sambhar. Quality maintained for more than 100 years. More expensive than Murugan Idli shop.
Sangeetha, at intersection of Valluvar Kottam High Rd and Nungambakkam High Rd in Nungambakkam Chain of vegetarian restaurants. A mix of good-quality and tasty South Indian, North Indian, and "Indo-Chinese" cuisine at very reasonable prices. A chain restaurant.
Saravana Bhavan, Probably Chennai's best known restaurant chain, with 25 branches in Chennai itself (incl. one next to Kapaleeswarar Temple). Pure vegetarian Indian food with high standards of hygiene.
Sanjeevanam, New No. 97, Old No.45, Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam, Chennai;Adyar location: Old No.24, New No.76, B. Venkatarathinam Nagar, Adyar. A popular vegetarian "health" restaurant that cooks its foods using ayurvedic principles. The food is truly delicious, and the concept is that they are cooked with low amounts of oil, using healthy ingredients. The chain also features Ayurvedic and yogic classes.
Sri Krishna Sweets, Mount Rd, Spencers Plaza, Adayar, Anna Salai, also at MG Rd, Shastri Nagar. Indian sweets & salad bar. North Indian "chat" (snack) items.
The Spice Box, Thiruvanmyur. Lunch deliveries and gourmet outdoor catering. Wholesome, innovative lunch-dinner in 6 options is great to try out.
Vasantha Bhavan, (near Vadapalani Bus stand). Chain of vegetarian restaurants.
Mother Cluckers Cafe, 7, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai. Good food on a tight budget. Burgers, Pizzas, Waffles, Pancakes and Thick Shakes. Meal for 2 - Rs 500.
Dynasty, Harrisons Hotel, (Non-Vegetarian) 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai. Good quality Chinese-Indian cuisine.
The Cascade, Quality Inn Sabari, 1. floor, 29 Thirumalai Pillai Road, T.Nagar, Chennai – 600 017.
Texas Fiesta, (Non-Vegetarian) # 17/2, Shaffee Mohammed Road, off Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Chennai 600006. It is owned and operated by a Tex Mex aficionado who fell in love with this great cuisine while in the USA. Favorite dishes include chicken wings, cream of leeks and potato soup, chicken fajita and grilled tenderloin steak apart from burritos, quesadillas and tortillas. Meal for two would cost about Indian rupee
Amethyst, (Vegetarian),Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Road, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, Chennai. Garden and patio cafe and restaurant with a mix of western (pastas, burgers) and Indian fare. Cuisines served by Amethyst are Coffee and International. It is a nice, cozy, romantic place to chill out on weekends. Their cuisine is nice and so is their interiors. Its a colonial house turned into a restaurant. Highly recommendable.
Curry House: (Non-Vegetarian), 2, Block AB, 11th Avenue, Anna Nagar, Chennai. Hyderabadi, Chettinad, and Kerala delicacies. Good tandoori fare of the Non-Veg variety popular among the punjabi's and found all over Delhi is also offered. Open: 12PM to 3PM and 7PM to 11PM. Price range: Meals for two around Indian rupee
Dhaba Express, (Non-Vegetarian) 9, Cenotaph Road, Teynampet, Chennai and Nungambakkam High Road, Chennai. Cuisines served by Dhaba Express are North Indian. They serve Chicken Tikka Masala, Mutton Rogan Josh, Tandoori Aloo (starter), Naans and Roomali Rotis. Valet Parking. Open: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM, 6:30 PM to 1:30 AM. Price range: Meals for two Indian rupee
ECR Dhaba, (Non-Vegetarian) 9/76, Kunnukadu, East Coast Road, Near Muttukadu Boat House, Chennai. Cuisines served by ECR Dhaba are Punjabi.Open: 11:00 AM to 11:45 PM
Coastline, (Non-Vegetarian) 118, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai. South Indian Seafood. Freshly done Interiors, slow service but delicious food. Crab Rasam, Prawn or Fish Biryani. Vide variety of sea food offerings. Must try place. Price range: Meals for two Indian rupee
Aiwo, (Vegetarian), 7 Rosy Towers, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai. Fusion and health foods. Aiwo features a 14-course meal served on a conveyer belt that moves around the room. Various dishes served are supposed to be cooked in olive oil. Healthy tasty food for the health conscious. Resonably priced at Indian rupee
Amaravathi: (Non-Vegetarian), 1 Cathedral Road, Gopalpuram, Chennai. It serves South Indian sea food cuisines and is known for its spicy Andhra food. Their famous Andhra meals, chicken and mutton biryani, Vazahapoo and Keerai Vadi are a must try. Wide range of delicacies includes chilly chicken, chili paneer, momos, soups, burgers, rolls, etc. Punjabi dishes like kadhai chicken, butter chicken, daal makhni, roti, butter naan, paneer butter masala, allu matar etc. Special fish prawns and Amaravathi chicken are the main dishes of the restaurant. Price: Avrg. for 2 persons Indian rupee
Amma, (Non-Vegetarian), No 1 Dr. Giri Road, Near Bharathi Raja Hospital, T Nagar, Chennai 600017, Known for authentic Chettinadu cuisine. Price range: Meals for 2 around Indian rupee
Anjappar, (Non-Vegetarian) J.P. Tower, 7/2, Nungambakkam High Road, Chennai 600034. Speciality: Anjappar Popular Meals: White Rice, Chettinad Chicken, Mutton Gravy, Fish Gravy, Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Porial, Keerai, Curd, Buttermilk, Appalam. Also famous for Spl.Mutton Dum Biriyani,Nattu Koli Biriyani and Chettinaad Fish Masala. Price range: Meals for two Indian rupee
They have other outlets in Chennai: Anna Nagar:Chennai Airport-Food Court- Anna International Airport, : Near Central Station
Annalakshmi: (Vegetarian) 18/3, Rukmani Lakshmipathy Road (Marshall road), Sigapi Achi Building I Floor, Adjacent to Raja Muthaiah & Rani Meyyammai Hall, Egmore, Chennai – 600008. This is a must try expensive South Indian food restaurant. Elegant ambience, friendly service and good food. Filling portions served. Best selling dishes- Elumichai Sevai, Badam-saffron milkshake. Elite crowd. Pricy at Indian rupee
Anupama Southern Spice, (Non-Vegetarian) 25, 1st Floor, G.N. Chetty Road, Thyagaraya Nagar, Chennai 600017. Specialty Andhra Cuisine.
Hotel Coronet, (Non-Vegetarian) 128, Lattice Bdge Road, Adyar, Chennai 600020. This is one of the oldest restaurants in the area. Very reasonably priced, Coronet is known for its great Mughalai food. Their specialties are the mutton korma with parotha, Ceylon egg parotha, and kheema masala. They also serve Kerala Malabar dishes. Modest ambience. Open: 9 AM to Past midnight.
Madurai Appu, (Non-Vegetarian) 40, Sarojini Street, T'Nagar, Chennai 600017. Speciality: Authentic Chettinad Cuisine: Known for its Chettinad Chicken Masala, Chicken and Mutton Biryani. Price range: Meals for two Indian rupee
Cafe Mercara In Chola Sheraton Hotel, 13,Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai- 600086. Coffee Boutique which serves an amazing array of coffees and tea from around the world- Burgers, pizzas, salads and snacks. (5 Star Hotel) Rated Expensive.
Cilantro, Coffee Shop / Restaurant of Le Royal Méridien,1 GST Road, St.Thomas Mount, Chennai-600016. The restaurant serves continental, Indian, South Indian, Italian, Arabic Shawarma’s, Chinese, Thai and a teppanyaki grill of Japanese Cuisine. Open: 24 hrs.
The Residency, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet,Chennai. Lavish buffet and an international a la carte menu. In a gracious setting reminiscent of the Edwardian era. Live music. Open: 12.30 PM to 2.45 PM, 7.30 PM to 11.45 PM.
Grill and Indian Cuisine
Pergola, The Accord Metropolitan Hotel, 35, G N Chetty Road, T Nagar - The highest open to sky restaurant in the city- Featuring Grills/Indian cuisines- Hours of operation 19:00 Hrs- Midnight- Seating capacity 120 covers.
Bella Ciao- Lounge Beach Garden, #4, Shri Krishna Enclave, Kottivakkam, Chennai- 600041, Italian-owned and run, authentic Italian food. The famous wood fired oven pizza, home made pastas, steaks and salads.
Little Italy, Italian Restaurant, Eldorado No 112, Nungambakam High Road, Chennai-600034. Italian classic cuisine with a perfect wine. Chef's favourites: Pizza Mellino, Pasta del Fattore and In Wines- Brunello di Montalcino.
Prego, Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. +91 44 5500 2827. Gourmet Italian dining, replaced Patio
Rhapsody, Courtyard Marriott, 564 Anna Salai,Teynampet. . Authentic Italian restaurant with an attached lounge.
Akasaka, Suraj Towers, Ground Floor, 128 L.B. Road, Behind Jayanthi Theatre, Thiruvanmiyur. Japanese Chef, The ambeince is Japanese- low seating and all that. Own fishing boat, excellent sushi and sashimi. Very Expensive-- figure on over Indian rupee
Arirang Korean Restaurant- Dr Thirumurthy Nagar 91 Main Road Nungambakkam, Nungambakkam, Chennai-600034.
Lebanese and Middle Eastern Delicacies
Cedars, Wallace Garden Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai- 600085. Dim lit ambience is beautiful with exquisite furnishing in Mediterranean style. They serve the most authentic Lebanese, Middle Eastern delicacies and some interesting Mediterranean cuisines.
Don Pepes, 73, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai. Mexican. Located above Hot Breads as an extension, They are best known for their fajitas (sizzlers) and enchiladas (a tortilla wrap with some Mexican rice). Rated Expensive. Open: 12:00 to 2:45 PM, 7:00 to 11:45 PM.
Entree Restaurant, Located in Emall hotel, Express Avenue Mall, Gate No 1, Pattullous Road, Anna Salai, Chennai 600 002.Tele: +91 044 28463333, +91 044 28463358. 100 % Vegetarian multi-cuisine restaurant in Chennai. Serves a delectable fare from all around the world - Thai soup, Mexican main course, Indian spice tadka, French pastry for deserts.
Citrus, Savera Hotels Ltd., 146, Dr. Radhakrishnan Road, Mylapore, Chennai- 600004. Multi-cuisine- featuring Mediterranean barbeque and Norwegian smoked salmon.
Cream Centre, 55, 2nd Main Road, Raja Annamalaipuram, Chennai- 600028.(Near Kaliappa Hospital)Cream Centre offers a wide range of vegetarian food choices- North Indian and Mexican, to American, Italian and even Lebanese.Nachos, Channa Bhatura, American Corn Cheese Ball, Sizzlers & Sizzling Brownie. A specialty here is the Mera Thali, where you have a choice of dishes from which you can make your own thali. Open: 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM, 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM (11:00 AM to 11:00PM on Weekends).
Seasons, The Accord Metropolitan Hotel, 35, G.N. Chetty Road, T Nagar, Chennai- Extensive Buffets featuring cuisines from all over the world- Oriental to Italian, Continental to Indian, and Global A la Carte - Open: 24 Hrs. Seating capacity 65 covers- Breakfast buffet 07:00 - 10:30 Hrs - Lunch buffet 12:30 - 15:00 Hrs - Dinner buffet 19:30 - 23:00 Hrs-
Copper Chimney, 74, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai. (Opposite the Chola Sheraton). Mainly North Indian and Iranian inspired dish. Specialities: Bagani Bahar, Paneer Musselum. Rated expensive. Open: 12:00 to 3:00 PM, 7:00 to 12:00 PM.
The Great Kabab Factory, Radisson G R T Hotel, G.S.T. Road, St Thomas Mount, Chennai, 600016. Specialities: Galoutti Kabab, Tangri and Murgh Malai Kababs, Fish and Mutton Kababs. They serve alcohol and have valet parking. Pricing: Rated expensive. Open: 12:00PM to 2:45PM, 7:00PM to 11:45PM.
Navaratna, Le Royal Meridien, Le Royal Méridien,1 GST Road, St.Thomas Mount, Chennai-600016. Indian restaurant serving Royal Indian Cuisine. Live Ghazal performances. A Private dining room is available for up to 12 persons and an intimate bar for pre-dinner drinks. Rated very expensive. Open: For Lunch from 12.00 Noon to 3.00 PM & For Dinner from 7.00 to 11.45PM.
Tandoor, Quality Inn Aruna Hotel, 4th Floor, 144 & 145, Sterling Road, Nungambakkam , Chennai- 600034. Specialties: North Indian, Punjabi, Tandoori and Mongolian amenities: outdoor seating and valet parking. Serves alcohol.
Kayal, Seafood Restaurant of Le Royal Meridien, 1, G.S.T. Road, St. Thomas Mount,, Chennai 600016. Specialities: Coriander Prawn, Seafood Platter, Kadia Lobster, Prawn Biryani. Nice complimentary garlic bread with butter. Rated very expensive. Open: 7:00 to 11:30 PM.
Dakshin, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, 132, T.T.K. Road, Alwarpet, Chennai. South Indian Cuisines- Dakshin offers the 'rare' pleasures of ethnic coastal and regional cuisines. The choicest cuisine of the four southern states served in a regal setting. Live Carnatic music. Expensive but excellent food- Starters include traditional,kuli paniyaram. Try the Idi Appam or Appam with mutton stew. Desert: Kulfi. Open: 12.30 to 2.45 PM, 7.30 to 11.45 PM. 2827.
Benjarong, 146, TTK Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 600018, The authentic flavor of Thailand. Seating capacity 68 covers. Open: 12.15 PM to 2.45 PM and 7.15 PM to 11.45 PM.
Chennai is a difficult place in which to drink. Government rules state that only establishments with a minimum of 21 bedrooms can obtain a bar/liquor license. Hence there are no standalone bars or pubs here. All the bars that are around are part of a hotel and are far apart. This makes traditional drinking activities like pub crawling an impossibility.
Drinking is a habit of two social classes in India: the lower sections of the society and the highest. As a result, you will either find dingy places or exceptionally classy ones.
Government run liquor stores called TASMAC are all over the place but, in general, not at all a pleasant experience. They usually have rude staff, are filthy and do not have the brand of your choice. Also, they tend to mark up each bottle by ₹5 to ₹10 over the listed price. Go for it if you want a one time war-like experience in order to obtain some booze.
Clubs and discotheques may be thought to be a rarity in conservative Chennai, but there are plenty and the list is growing. Compared to other cities, Chennai has no curfews over closing hours, so theoretically they can be open 24hours, but most clubs and bars close by 3am. Most bars double as night clubs.
Alcove Service Apartments Chennai, Anandapuram ,Off Dr. Ranga Road,Mylapore.Chennai 600004, Single room, ,Independent 3 or 4 BHK Apartments, Air-conditioned rooms, Lounge and dining area and independent bathrooms, TV, fully furnished kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, toaster, mixer, grinder and gas stove; complimentary breakfast, free wi-fi internet
Broadlands lodging house No 18, Vallabha Agraharam Street, (opp. Star Theatre) Triplicane - a traveller's institution which is very popular with the backpacker crowd, leafy courtyard, a rustic feel to the whole hotel, good rooms are situated to the back of the hotel and one of the most recommended rooms are room # 43 and 44 which are roof cottages. Rooms start at 400 for single without ensuite and 450 for single ensuite. Great place to get over your jet-lag and get "acclimatized to india". Walking distance from the beach and 10 minute rickshaw ride to most places you would like to see in Chennai
Old Woodlands ,(a.k.a Royapettah Woodlands/Woodlands Hotel that is next to Woodlands Theatre) in Royapettah.Little known, but an excellent place to stay. The hotel building is at least one hundred years old and stands in the middle of sprawling grounds and surrounded by massive trees. The main building was once the palace of Raja of Ramnad. The auto-rickshaws/taxis will not tell you about the place as the hotel does not pay a commission to middlemen. Pay no more than 40 rupees to get there from the railway station.
Chennai is generally a safer area of India in terms of crime, although pickpocketing, muggings, and robberies sporadically occur. Keep your doors and windows shut and locked at night and do not carry or display large amounts of cash if possible.
It is advisable for women, especially unaccompanied ones, to dress modestly and limit their interaction with unfamiliar local men. Foreigners were generally overcharged by auto-rickshaws simply because they were ignorant of the prevailing fares and are still now. However with recent regulations coming in from 2013, it is compulsory for autos to run on meters. The minimum standard rate is Rs 25/1.8 km, over which Rs. 12.50/km. In the night (10.00 PM o 6.00 AM) the fares are charged 50% extra. It is necessary to confirm whether the driver knows the exact destination. 'Autos', as auto-rickshaws are known in Chennai, are notorious for fleecing customers, tourists and locals alike so before getting into an auto ask if the driver will set the meter on.
Be alert to your surroundings and watch where you step, especially if you get caught in a large crowd where it is difficult to look at what is in front of you. Cross streets extremely carefully as traffic is generally heavy. On major roads, use the underground crossings (locally called "subways"). Avoid using underground road-crossing/ subways in the night or if you notice them to be empty. Traffic signals are frequently ignored by drivers and pedestrians alike, and it is not at all advisable for tourists to try driving in Chennai.
While in Chennai it is advisable to drink only bottled water. Do not trust water from small local restaurants as it may be from the tap, and avoid cold or iced drinks that are not commercially sold (Bigger chains of eateries and juice shops can be trusted to an extent). Eating fresh vegetables and fruits that have sat outside in the presence of insects can also be unhealthy, although bananas and coconuts are usually safe because they are opened only immediately before eating. Hot drinks in restaurants such as tea, coffee, and other local specialties are safe, as are packaged/bottled drinks such as Aquafina water, Frooti (a popular local mango drink) and others. If you have access to a stove, boiling tap water before drinking is also an option. Never eat from roadside shops as the food is prepared in the most unhygienic conditions.
Chennai summers are humid and sultry; it's better to step out with an umbrella, bottled water and some oral rehydration salts (available from pharmacies, the brand name is Electral). These come in handy if you happen to get dehydrated.
Chennai is the medical capital of South East Asia.
BSNL and Airtel Reliance, Tata, are main providers of terrestrial telephone lines in Chennai. You can make long distance calls from one of the many booths that display NSD/ISD i.e. National Subscriber Dialing (National Long Distance) and International Subscriber Dialing (International Long Distance). Calling cards are also available with these providers which are considerably cheap.
Cell phone rates are one of the cheapest in the world. GSM service providers:
BSNL GSM Triband with 3G services
AirTel GSM Triband with 3G and 4G services
Vodafone GSM Triband with 3G services
AirCel GSM Triband with 3G services
Reliance GSM launced in 2009
Tata DOCOMO GSM launched in 2009
Idea GSM launched in 2009 and providing 3G services
MTS CDMA launched in 2009 [www.mtsindia.in]
You can buy a sim card with a photo and a copy of your passport. For making long distance calls Aircel is cheaper with Indian rupee 49 card calls to US and Canada will be Indian rupee 1.50/Min. this will work only in home network. For other destinations Please check with operator.
CDMA service providers are Reliance,TATA Indicom, Virgin Mobile and MTS.
Starter packs and top-up cards can be picked up from numerous outlets. Seemles roming across the country is provided by all providers.
There are several internet cafes from where you can access the internet for sending email or uploading your digital photos.
Reliance WebWorld, incorporating JavaGreen coffee shops, Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road); TTK Road, Alwarpet, Besant Nagar, L.B.Road, Adyar. The TTK Road branch has free wifi if you use the coffee shop.
Sify iway,Several of them in the city
Apart from that you can access Internet provided in your hotel or if you are staying long you can buy Internet packs from all mobile providers.
ATMs are commonplace, you will not be more than 200m from an ATM. Most international credit/debit cards are charged a transaction fee of ₹150 on top of whatever your bank charges except if they have an agreement of some kind with local banks. Major exception to this rule is State Bank of India, which does not add any transaction fee.
Deutsche Bank: #114, Kothari Building, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam - Part of Global ATM Alliance.
BNP Paribas: Prince Towers, 3rd Fl, 25/26, College Road, Chennai 12
American Express: Near Anand Theatre, Anna Salai (Mount Road)
Citibank, Opp Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai, GN Chetty Road, Opposite Citi Centre, Velachery Highway, Nanganallur
ABN Amro: Harrington Road, Opp Residency Hotel on GN Chetty Road, Adyar - Sardar Patel Road, TTK Road
HSBC: Adyar, Mylapore, Pondy Bazzar, Tidel Park, Kadar Nawaz Khan Road, Annanagar, Rajaji Salai, Kathipara Junction
Andhra BANK: All over Chennai
HDFC Bank, ITC Centre, Anna Salai (Mount Road),Anna Nagar(West); All over Chennai
ICICI Bank, All over Chennai
Axis Bank, All over Chennai
Standard Chartered Bank, Haddows Road
State Bank of India, All over Chennai. They have an ATM locator online
Indian Overseas Bank, All over Chennai
Indian bank,All over chennai
Oriental Bank of Commerce, Adyar LB Road, Mylapore,G N Chetty Road, T Nagar
Many hotels will change money for you at the front desk. However, they may not have the best rates.
It is best to change money at the city based money changers than the ones located at the airports. The ones at the airport offer much less for exchanging forex into Indian Rupees and sell forex for a much higher rate than the market rate.
American Express, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
Thomas Cook, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
East Coast Road (ECR)
The East Coast Road (ECR), named for the stretch of coastline which the road abutts, is a two-lane state highway which connects Chennai with Pondicherry. The stretch of road, especially between Chennai and Mahabalipuram, is a popular weekend getout with a number of beaches, resorts, amusement and theme parks and multiplexes.
From Thiruvanmiyur Bus Depot, not inside but on the road in the side. Many buses 24/24.
Some of the important tourist spots on this stretch include:
Marundeswarar Temple(14 kms from Chennai) is a 11th century Hindu temple located barely a few hundred metres into the East Coast Road. that one comes across on the route. The presiding deity is Shiva.
Cholamandalam Artists Village: (21 kms from Chennai) Set up by a group of artists to serve as a recluse for artists of all genres. This village offers the ambience needed for creativity to flow and is inhabited only by artists. The village offers guesthouse facilities exclusively for artists from elsewhere so that they could also benefit from the environment provided by the place. A must visit for those who appreciate the finer things of life.
VGP Universal Kingdom[(23 kms from Chennai) Started in Injambakkam village in 1975 as the VGP Golden Beach, the Universal Kingdom is the oldest amusement park along the ECR and also the first of its kind in Tamil Nadu. Ploughing a lonely furrow for decades, the Universal Kingdom has been facing stiff competition from other amusement and theme parks in the last two decades. Though this has a caused a significant fall in revenues, the VGP Universal Kingdom still maintains a significant though much-reduced presence along the beach. The Prarthana Drive In Theatre and Restaurant:nearby was started in 1991 and advertises itself as the world's first beach drive-in theatre and India's only beachside drive-in theatre.
Kart Attack: 23 kms from Chennai Situated in Akkarai village next to Injambakkam, Kart Attack is the first karting centre in Chennai and the most popular one. It has also been instrumental in creating a few go karting champions also. There is also an RC car race track next to Hot Kitchen Restaurant nearby.
Mayajaal:(29 kms from Chennai) Started in Kanathur village in 1997, Mayajaal, which extends for over 100,000 sq.ft is Asia's largest multiplex theatre. The complex includes movie theatres, bowling alleys, video games parlours and multicuisine food courts. The multiplex is open from 11 AM to 11 PM every day. The MGM Dizzee World, situated nearby is a theme park that offers joy rides, food stalls and other games. It is spread over an area of 27 acres.
Dakshinachitra:(30 kms from Chennai) Dakshinachitra is a museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. It was started by Deborah Thiagarajan, an art and crafts lover in 1996.
Muttukadu Boat House: (35 kms from Chennai) Started in 1984, the Muttukadu Boat House offers rowing, wind surfing, water skiing, and speedboat riding facilities. There are a total of 15 row boats, 27 speedboats and 9 pedal boats besides two high-speed aqua scooters. The boat house is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) and is visited by more than 4,000 people every weekend.
Covelong (36 kms from Chennai), locally known as Kovalam, is a small fishing village that was fortified by the Nawab of Carnatic, Saadat Ali in the 18th century. A former Dutch colony, the fort was taken by the French under General Labourdonnais in 1746. Covelong was conquered by Robert Clive in 1752 and the fort was destroyed. The Beach is separated from the mainland by the canal running from Chennai to Mahabalipuram. The Taj Group of Hotels runs the Fisherman's Cove Resort on a building of Dutch colonial vintage. There is a Catholic church, Hindu temple and Muslim darga on the beach. Sunbathing here attracts much less attention than in the city beaches. Wind surfing is a popular sport on the beach.
Crocodile Bank Trust (40 kms from Chennai) The brainchild of Romulus Whittaker, the acknowledged specialist on reptiles, this center has gained fame as an endeavor for the preservation and propagation of endangered species of crocodiles. The center also houses a large variety of snakes. To get to Crocodile Bank from Chennai (Triplicane), you need to get on the PP19/B/X bus (runs along the beach) to Kovalum, which is the last stop for Indian rupee 14 (75mins/30km). Then at this same intersection, get on 588/C/X bus to Mamallapurum (7Km/7mins) for Indian rupee 14/18AC. The entry fee is Indian rupee 35locals/60foreigners w/ a Indian rupee 20 still camera/ Indian rupee 40 video camera fee. Some people know it as a farm/park rather than a bank if you are asking for directions.
Saluvankuppam (47 kms from Chennai) A fishing village, 5 kms from Mahabalipuram, which is known for a Pallava-era monument known as the Tiger Cave. Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and dating to the 8th century AD, the Tiger Cave is a popular family picnic spot enroute to Mahabalipuram.
Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram: (52 kms from Chennai) The world-famous tourist destination includes two UNESCO World Heritage monuments - the Pancha Rathas and the Shore Temple. The Pancha Rathas are believed to have been the work of the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I (also known as Mamalla) (630-668) while the Shore Temple was constructed by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman II (also known as Rajasimha) (695-722). The Shore Temple is one of the oldest structural temples constructed in Tamil Nadu. The temples are listed as monuments of national importance and maintained by the ASI.
ECR beyond Mahabalipuram
Kalpakkam (67 kms from Chennai) The Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), India's first fully indigenously constructed nuclear power station is situated in Kalpakkam.
Sadras (70 kms from Chennai), or Sadurangapattinam is a former Dutch colony which has a fort maintained by the ASI.
Pondicherry (167 kms from Chennai), a former French colony and administrative headquarters of French India.
Tourism and hospitality
With temples, beaches and centres of historical and cultural significance, including the UNESCO Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram, Chennai is one of the most visited cities in India. The city serves as the gateway to the southern part of India with tourists landing in the city and starting their trip to the rest of the region. Chennai was the most visited Indian city by foreign tourists in 2009 and issued the third highest number of visas on arrival in 2014.
In 2011, Chennai was ranked 41st in global top 100 city destination ranking, with 3,174,500 tourists, a 14 percent increase from 2010.About 830,620 domestic tourists arrived in Chennai in March 2011.Top foreign nationals visiting the city include those from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, France and United States. In 2015, the city received 4,243,700 foreign tourists making it the 3rd most visited city in India after Delhi and Mumbai and 43rd most visited city in the world by foreign tourists.As of 2012, the city had 21 luxury hotels in the five-star category, with over 4,500 rooms in the inventory.
Marina Beach is a famous landmark. It is the second largest beach in the world
Chennai is the base for the Tamil film industry, known as Kollywood. Many film personalities have gone on to become politicians including C.N.Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi, M.G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa.Chennai hosts major film studios, including AVM Productions, the oldest surviving studio in India.
As of 2012, there are 120 cinema screens and multiplexes. Major multiplexes include Sathyam Cinemas, Escape cinemas, Devi, Abirami complex and Mayajaal.Chennai's expansive theatre network stages many Tamil plays of many genres: political satire, slapstick comedy, history, mythology and drama.English plays are popular in the city, along with the more common Tamil-language plays.
Parks in Chennai
Zoo, beaches, and wildlife parks form the primary recreation areas of the city. Chennai has a total coast length of more than 19 km. Marina Beach runs for 6 km (3.7 mi), spanning along the shoreline of the city between the deltas of Cooum and Adyar, and is the second longest urban beach in the world.Elliot's Beach lies south of the Adyar delta. Covelong beach lies along the coromandal coast.
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is a reptile zoo located 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of the city covering an area of 8.5 acres (3.4 ha) and had over 450,000 visitors in 2007. The center has one of the world's largest collections of reptiles and has bred 14 of the 23 existing species of crocodiles and alligators.
The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, one of the largest zoological parks in the world, attracts nearly 20 lakh visitors per year.The city boasts two popular beaches, the Marina and Elliot's. Guindy National Park, a protected area of Tamil Nadu, has a children's park and a snake park, which gained statutory recognition as a medium zoo from the Central Zoo Authority of India in 1995. Chennai is one of the few cities in the world that accommodates a national park, the Guindy National Park, within its limits.The city has an estimated 4.5 percent of its area under green cover.
This enables Chennai residents to go birding. The seven zones of the old corporation limits has about 260 parks, many of which suffer poor maintenance.The city has a per capita park space of 0.41 sq m, which is the least among all metros in India. The eight zones in the newly added areas of the city have about 265 locations that have been identified for development of new parks.The largest among the parks is the 358-acre Tholkappia Poonga, developed to restore the fragile ecosystem of the Adyar estuary.The horticulture department-owned Semmozhi Poonga is a 20-acre botanical garden located in the downtown.
Chennai houses several theme parks, namely MGM Dizzee World and Queens Land.The safety of several amusement parks has been questioned after several fatal accidents occurred.Wonderla is planning to open an amusement park in 2017.Other important recreation centres include Madras Boat Club, which is over 140 years old, and Gymkhana Club, which is famous for its 18-hole golf courses. Built in 1867, Madras Boat Club is the second oldest surviving Indian rowing club.