Posted 21 October 2022
Why Chennai is South Indian paradise waiting to be discovered
Chennai, the capital of Indian state Tamil Nadu, is known as the Detroit of South Asia for its leading automobile industry. It is one of the most loved cities for tourists as they get to experience everything in one place. With splendid coastline, vibrant culture and music and colonial heritage, Chennai has earned its name on the global travel list.
From churches and historical temples to a plethora of shopping options, Chennai is a significant centre for art, culture and literature. One can also witness influences of French colonialism, Portuguese rule and the British in the city.
Here are the best reasons to visit Chennai:
Places to visit
- Marina Beach: Marina Beach is famous for being India’s longest beach and the only second in the whole world. Located in Chennai, it is one of the major tourist attractions in the city. It was made in the 1880s in an Italian style. It extends to almost 12 km. Tourists can witness several stylish colonial-era buildings across the road of the beach.
- San Thome Basilica: San Thome Basilica is the shrine of Saint Thomas located in Chennai. Built by the Portuguese in the year 1523, the structure is a Roman Catholic Basilica with a height of 183 feet. It was constructed in medieval Gothic style. The church was constructed over the tomb of a supporter of Jesus. It is believed that Saint Thomas came to Chennai to preach in 52 CE.
- The Fort Museum: The Fort Museum, also known as Fort St. George Museum, is located in the Fort St. George complex. The museum is significant as it showcases an account of the past. The museum boasts colonial-era souvenirs and paintings. Fort St. George is the first settlement of the British in India. It was founded by the British in 1639.
- Kapaleeshwarar Temple: Kapaleeshwarar Temple is located in Mylapore which is known as the cultural heart of Chennai. Mylapore was once the Pallava Port. The temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, was built around 300 yr ago. One can witness the Dravidian architectural style at this temple. This magnificent Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a must-visit tourist attraction in Chennai.
- National Art Gallery: National Art Gallery is located inside the Government Museum Complex. Established in the 18thcentury, the art gallery has rare paintings and sculptures for the exhibition. Recognised as an important heritage building in the city, the National Art Gallery was opened to the public in January 2021 after restoration. The colonial building has Indo-Saracenic style architecture.
- Parthasarathy Temple: Located in the Thiruvallikeni area of Chennai, Parthasarathy Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple has historical significance as it was built by a Pallavas King named Narasimhavarman I. Known as being the oldest temple in Chennai, Parthasarathy Temple has idols of five different forms of Vishnu namely Rama, Krishna as Parthasarathy, Yoga Narasimha, Ranganatha and Gajendra Varadaraja.
- Arignar Anna Zoological Park: Located 38 km from the Chennai Railway Station, Arignar Anna Zoological Park is the largest zoological garden not just in Tamil Nadu but in the country too. The park is also a rehabilitation and rescue centre for animals. Sprawled over 510 hectares, the zoological park is nestled in a dry forest which is perfect for animals for breeding. It is because of this reason that the park has animals like tigers, jaguars, elephants, lions, panthers and giraffes among others in abundance. Tourists can go for elephant safaris in the park. It is the perfect place for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
- Guindy National Park: Guindy National Park is one of the smallest national parks in India. Located in Chennai, this national park houses a plethora of animals like chital, blackbuck, jackal, spotted deer, hyena, hedgehogs, bonnet macaque and common palm civet. Guindy National Park sees a footfall of around 7 lakh tourists every year. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Chennai and is located just opposite IIT Madras.
Chennai culinary affair
Chennai is one of the most loved cities for food. Some of the delectable local food options in Chennai are:
- Idli: Idli is the staple food of the state and is available at almost every corner of its streets. It is one of the best and healthy food options available in Chennai. Made with rice, idli is often served with sambar and tomato and coconut chutney.
- Chicken Chettinad: Chicken Chettinad is one of the favourite dishes for non-vegetarians. If you are in Chennai, then try this chicken speciality. The highlight of this dish is that it is cooked in coconut oil with the flavours of authentic Tamil spices. This chicken dish will definitely satisfy your taste buds.
- Podi Dosa: Podi Dosa is one of the best dishes of Tamil Nadu cuisine. It is a South Indian delicacy that you cannot afford to miss. The main ingredient of the dish is rice for the dosa batter and then you are good to go. It is an easy recipe and is available almost everywhere in Chennai and in Tamil Nadu. Podi means a spicy powder and then it is sprinkled on the dosa to make it flavourful. Dosa is commonly served with coconut chutney and sambar. Also, Dosa is one of the most sold street foods in Chennai.
- Vada: Vada is one of the best street foods in Chennai. It is prepared with Bengal gram mixed with spices. It may not be a healthy option as it is deep-fried but it’s a delicious South-Indian food option and can be addictive. The vada is dipped in sambar and served with coconut chutney. It is known by different names in different parts of the country.
- Idiyappam: It is a noodle-like dish made with rice flour and tastes totally different from noodles. Idiyappam is served with coconut milk and curry. The dish is a popular street food of Chennai and is conveniently available at every food stall in the city.
- Uthappam: After dosa, uthappam stands at rank two for being the most sold street foods in Chennai. The main ingredient of this dish is rice. However, it is also topped with varieties of vegetables such as tomato, capsicum, onion and cabbage. Like most of the south-Indian dishes, it is also served with sambar and coconut chutney. Tourists can gorge themselves on this dish at Saravana Bhavan and Ratna Café in Chennai.
- Puttu: Puttu is a popular South Indian breakfast dish. The main ingredient required for making Puttu is rice. Grounded rice is steamed in a vessel that is in a cylindrical shape. Puttu is garnished with grated coconut and served with a curry or sweet dish. The curry need not be a vegetarian curry but can be of fish, chicken or mutton too. Some of the places where you can try lip-smacking Puttu in Chennai are at Maplai, Nair Mess or under the North Usman Flyover.
Festivals of Chennai
- Pongal: Pongal is a harvesting festival celebrated in some of the southern parts of India to thank the Sun God and Indra for a good harvest. It is one of the major festivals of Tamil Nadu. The festival is celebrated annually in the month of January. Pongal maintains positivity and unity among the people who celebrate this thanksgiving harvest festival. It is a five-day celebration. One of the important characteristics of Pongal includes good South-Indian food and family time. A special dish with the same name Pongal and ingredients including rice and jaggery is prepared on the occasion. The dish is first offered to God and then served to the family members.
- Natyanjali Dance Festival: Natyanjali Dance Festival is an annual festival celebrated in all parts of Tamil Nadu, including its capital city Chennai. Dancers and performers from all over the country come to the city to perform. The dance is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Some of the dance forms performed at the festival are Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Pung Cholam, Odissi and Manipuri.
Silk sarees and gold jewellery might be the first ones to come to your mind while talking about shopping in Chennai. Things that tourists prefer to take back with themselves from Chennai are Kanchipuram sarees, Kaapi maker, Tanjore painting and artefacts.
Some of the famous places where tourists can get these items are the Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar, Khader Nawaz Khan Road and malls like Express Avenue and Phoenix Market City.
Travel tips for Chennai
- Learn a few words in Tamil for a hassle-free journey. While people speak in English, speaking a few words in Tamil might help you bargain your way.
- Chennai has serious smoking laws. So, beware of smoking in public places in Chennai.
- Bus and metro are the most convenient modes of transportations in Chennai. Use an auto if you know Tamil, else auto drivers can be a little tricky.
- Always carry a water bottle with you as Chennai is extremely hot. Even in the winter season, it can be hot during the daytime.
- Don’t wear anything too revealing or anything short in Chennai to avoid unwanted attention.
How to reach Chennai?
- By air: Chennai International Airport serves the city of Chennai and is located 19 km from the city centre. Some of the major airlines operating from the airport are IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air India, Go Air, Vistara and AirAsia India. IndiGo operates over 90 non-stop flights to Chennai and other major cities of India and the world.
- By rail: Chennai Central is the main railway station that serves the city. This railway station connects Chennai with major cities of the nation via several trains like Chennai Express and Charminar Express.
- By road: There are different options for visitors to reach Chennai by road. Government and private companies run several buses connecting Chennai to the other parts of India.
Chennai experiences a tropical climate that is wet and dry. For most of the months of the year, the weather in Chennai is hot and humid. May and June are the hottest months of the season with the maximum daily temperature rising to 38°C and minimum temperature going down to 20°C
Best time to visit Chennai
The perfect time to travel to Chennai is during winters. October to February is the ideal time to visit Chennai. The weather is pleasant during these months and makes it possible for tourists to go out and explore the city. The summer season is relatively not ideal for touring Chennai.
Chennai is one of the dominating IT and auto hubs and educational centres of India. Also, Chennai’s culinary landscape impresses one and all, making it one of the most loved cities for its food options. With so much to offer, Chennai has something for everyone. So, plan your itinerary accordingly.
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