Chennai, one of India’s most populous cities, is located in the southern region of the country. It is also the capital of the Tamil Nadu state.
Since Chennai is located along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, the weather is hot and humid most of the year.
The commonly spoken language in Chennai is Tamil; however, English and Hindi are also widely spoken.
The economy in Chennai is multi-faceted, ranging from automobile and software services to textiles and clothing apparel. The city also boasts a thriving tourist industry.
Formerly known as Madras, the city has a rich history and a vibrant culture.
Apart from many temples, the city also has churches, a testament to the by-gone British colonial era. Before the British arrived in Madras, the Dutch and the French were ruling the city.
Chennai offers a thriving city life. With various beaches, malls, shopping areas, and restaurants, you will find that the city has a lot to offer.
Here is an interesting fact for avid book readers: Chennai houses Asia’s largest library. The library is home to more than 1.2 million books (more on this later).
If you are planning to visit Chennai soon, there are various ways to get there. Airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, offer direct flights to Chennai. Such long flights often have one-stop in between.
Apart from this, you can take a local flight from anywhere in India to Chennai. The flights take no more than a few hours.
If you are in the mood for adventure and exploration, you can take a train to Chennai as well.
Traveling via train takes longer, of course, but it provides you the opportunity to discover the landscape and view the countryside.
For traveling within the city, the local trains offer convenience. Moreover, they are economical.
When traveling to and within Chennai, keep in mind that there may be travel restrictions due to COVID-19. So plan your trip accordingly.
Nonetheless, Chennai is a must-visit place if you are planning a trip to Southern India. Here are seven places that you should visit in Chennai.
7 Places to Visit in Chennai
Whether you are spending a few days in the city or are just transiting through it, the following sites are a must!
Mylapore is Chennai’s oldest neighborhood; some say that it is about 1,500 years old. Within Mylapore, you will find many temples and historical monuments.
1. Kapaleeswarar Temple
The oldest temple is the Kapaleeswarar Temple, which is about a thousand years old.
It is an iconic landmark that leaves all visitors in awe. The temple is a religious site, but it also hosts cultural events.
2. Velleeswarar Temple
If you visit the Kapaleeswarar Temple, then do not miss out on the Velleeswarar Temple, which is located nearby.
Some of the important deities placed in the temples are Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, and others. The temple is around 300 years old.
3. Gurubaran Tanjore Art Museum
The museum showcases Tanjore paintings. These paintings are notable for various reasons.
One reason is that it uses rich colors and often a gold foil. These paintings depict different scenes as well as deities.
Moreover, it uses glass beads and precious stones. These paintings are made on silk fabric and are local to the region. You can even purchase some of the art pieces.
4. Santhome Church
The Portuguese built the Santhome Church in the 16th century. It is also known as St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica.
It is believed to have been made over the shrine of St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus, who was buried in Mylapore in 72 AD.
When you enter the church, you will notice the most striking feature: the contrast between the white interior and the wooden pews.
For more information regarding the history and significance of the Santhome Church, you can visit the official website.
Apart from these historical sites, Mylapore offers a rich cultural experience.
In addition to the local restaurants, where tourists can try the local cuisine, you can roam around the streets for an immersive experience.
It will take you a good part of the day to visit the various sites in Mylapore.
5. Marina Beach
Spanning over 13 km, Marina Beach is India’s largest beach. Since the climate in Chennai is humid throughout the day, the best time to go to the beach is at dusk or early in the day.
You can also avoid rush during these hours. During this time, you can enjoy the cool breeze coming from the sea.
There are several activities that you can enjoy apart from swimming. Horseback riding is a popular activity. You can also enjoy local snacks from vendors along the beach.
While most people go to the beach for a dip in the water, swimming is not advised on Marina Beach.
6. Fort St. George
The British constructed the fort to curb the spread of Dutch and French influence in the city. The fort was built in the 1640s, primarily for a trading post.
Some say that it was the first British building constructed in India. The St. Mary’s Church is inside the fort.
Also, the Wellesley House (named after one of the Governor General’s of India). The fort is used as a government building; it recently opened to the public.
7. Anna Centenary Library
An eight-story modern building, Anna Centenary Library is not a place where you would find most tourists.
The library contains books from various categories and even offers books for the visually impaired.
Moreover, it has a giant children’s collection, which is bound to attract children. There is no entry fee for the library; hence, tourists can visit it for free.
Chennai offers a unique experience for tourists. Remnants of the British colonial era are visible in the city’s architecture and the local population.
But what is more striking is the city’s historical landscape, which predates modern civilization. To say that the city offers the perfect mix of culture and history is not wrong.
This story is brought to you in partnership with Cathay Pacific.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Friday 19th of March 2021
Hi ! Thanks a lot for this very thorough article, it's a nice selection! Cheers from France !