Chennai formerly known as Madras is the capital city of Tamil Nadu state and is the fourth largest metro city in India. The city grew up around the English settlement of Fort Saint George and gradually absorbed the surrounding towns and villages. However, despite the strong British influence, Chennai has retained its traditional Tamil Hindu culture and effectively blended it with the foreign influence. The city is widely spread in about 180 Sq. Kms. It is a major trade center, being well linked by road, rail and air to important cities besides being a sea port. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted.
Chennai, is a journey into timeless India, a kaleidoscope of moods. rich in the treasures of history, from temples and shrines to forts and palaces, the landscape of the past lives easily with the present. Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamil Nadu. Retaining much of its traditional charm, this 350 year old city is the gateway to the south, providing many a fascinating vignette of southern heritage.
Fort St. George: It is at Kamarajar Road. It is the first British fort build around 1653 by the British East India Company. It has a 20 feet thick wall. The present structure, a fine example of 17th century British military architecture, was mostly built in 1966. The country&39s tallest flagstaff is here, thought to be over 300 years old. The 24 black Charnockite pillars are those reclaimed by the British in 1762 of the original 32 which once formed the colonade of the present Secretariat building. It remains the symbol of the British Raj. Now it houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. The best time to visit is on a Sunday.
High court: Entry - Monday to Saturday from 10 to 5 with guided tour Rs.10. It is situated at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Road, just north of St.George fort. It is an example of Indo Saracenic architecture. It is one of the largest judicial complex in the world. The red sand stone construction, ornamental decorations on the walls and minarets add beauty to this building. The compound has a pyramid shape tomb which belongs to the only son of Elihu Yale, who died in infancy.
Marina Beach: Lining the east of the city is the famous Marina beach, at Kamarajar Road, 3 Km away from Madras. This is supposed to be the second longest beach in the World and runs to a length of 12 Km. On the beach there is the Anna Park, named after the founder of D.M.K (Dravida Munnetta Kazhakam) Anna durai and the tomb of M.G. Ramachandran who was a film star and the charismatic Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The beach can be ideally visited in the early mornings or in the late evenings when the area becomes a virtual ground; with food stalls and other entertainments.
Government Museum Complex: It is situated in Pantheon road. This is not for its exquisite collection of more than 2000 Indian bronzes and Amaravathi marbles. Three great buildings of architectural value - the Museum Theatre, the extension hall and the Connemara Public Library are in this complex. The present Museum has several sections, four galleries- Hindu sculpture gallery, the Amaravathi gallery, the Bronze gallery and the National art gallery constitute the main attractions. Visit : Tuesday to Saturday from 0930 to 1700.
Fort Museum: It is at Fort St. George. Museum has 10 rooms displaying the documents of Indian History. The old uniforms, coins, padlocks, old prints and palanquins are displayed here. The banquet hall upstairs has a collection of paintings of the governors and officials of the British regime. Timing : Saturday to Thursday from 1000 to1700.
St. Mary&39s Church: The church is at Fort St. George. Entry - free. The oldest masonry church was consecrated in 1680. It has a building with its three arched aisles and bomb-proof roof. The marriage of Governor Elihu Yale (of Yale University fame) was the first to be performed at this church.
St. George&39s Cathedral: It is at 222 Cathedral road. Visit : Daily 0800 to 1800. It is a white colonial church, with a beautiful garden. It is the headquarters of the church of South India. It has a 130 feet spire with its interior very light and airy with stucco walls. The decorated roof and many fascinating tablets and tombs add to beauty of the spire.
Basilica of San thome: This Cathedral is at the end of Kutchery Road, Mylapore. It is believed that the Apostle Saint Thomas lived his last years in South India. This Cathedral was originally built in 1504. It was rebuilt in 1890 with a 180 ft basilica. It is believed that St. Thoma&39s body was entombed inside this neo-Gothic structure.
Church of Our Lady of Expectation: The church is at Saint Thomas Mount, Alandur. Visit : Open for 24 hrs. There are about 130 granite steps, which leads to the church. It was built in 1547. From the church yard we can see the entire city of Madras. It is believed that the Apostle St. Thomas was martyred while praying in front of a cross engraved in the natural stone base.
Parthasarathi Temple: It is at Peter&39s Road, Triplicane. Visit : Daily from 0630 to noon and 1600 to 2000. It is one of the oldest temple in Madras, built by Pallavas in the 8th century and rebuilt by the Vijayanagar Kings in 11th century. The temple is dedicated to Krishna, one of the incarnations of Vishnu. It has a coloured gopuram and several shrines with beautiful carvings. There are many stalls selling flowers, puja articles, small idols, musical instruments and jewellery around the temple.
Sri Kapaleswarar Temple: This temple is situated near Kutchery Road, Mylapore. This ancient Siva temple is a delightful introduction to Dravidian temple sculpture and architecture. The magnificent 37 meter tall gopuram is one of the main attraction of this temple. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the inner courtyard. The outer courtyard has several bronze statues. Timing : Daily from 0400 to 1200 and 1600 to 2000.
Guindy National Park: This is the countries only Wildlife Sanctuary within a city&39s limits. This park spread over an area of 27.6 sq. km. Raj Bhavan, the Governor&39s mansion, occupies one end of the park, and at the other is the beautiful forest - girt campus of Chennai&39s famous Indian Institute of Technology. The nearest rail head, airport and town is Chennai, at a distance of 5km. The park was set up in 1976.
Anna Zoological Park: The sprawling 1,265 acre Anna Zoological Park is the biggest in South Asia. It contains a superb collection of tropical mammals, birds and reptiles amongst others. Timings: week days 11 am to 7 pm. Sunday and Holidays 10 am to 8 pm.