Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is a major metropolitan as well as cosmopolitan city that is situated on the Coromandel Coast. It is one of the most important cities in south India as well as in the country in terms of commerce, culture, education as well as economics. In fact, it is popularly known as the cultural capital of South India.
Chennai stands out in its ethnicity that is so unique that it is often a desired destination for tourism. Tourists throng the various hill stations, beaches, temples and wildlife here. Those who travel here are left mesmerised by its timeless beauty. Here is a guide to this colonial city.
Besant Nagar Beach
Besant Nagar Beach is also widely known as the Elliot's Beach or Bessie. The beach gets its name from the famous theosophist Annie Besant, who also played an important role in India's freedom movement. The beach is in Besant Nagar inChennaiand starts from the point where theMarina Beachends.
A landmark near the beach is the Karl Schmidt Memorial built in the memory of the Dutch sailor who drowned while saving the life of a non-swimmer. The beach is very popular among the tourists as well as the local population. During weekends the beach is crowded by families who wish to spend quality time with their loved ones. The place is an ideal picnic spot as well because of many good restaurants that line the shores of the beach.
Photo Courtesy: KARTY JazZ
The Kalikambal Temple in Chennai is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Kalikambal who is also revered as Goddess Kamakshi in some parts of India. The present day temple was built in 1640 A.D. after the original one was destroyed. The site of the original temple was near the shore, and it is believed that Portuguese invaders brought it down.
According to a local legend, one of the fiercest forms of Goddess Kamakshi was worshipped at the temple. This form of the goddess was believed to be very aggressive and powerful and was later replaced by her less aggressive and more peaceful form of Goddess Kalikambal. This avatar of Goddess Kamakshi is considered ‘shanta swaroopa' or peace loving.
Photo Courtesy: Rasnaboy
Marina Beach is a popular beach in Chennai and it forms a part of the Bay of Bengal. The beach runs along the length of the Fort St. George located on the northern part of the city and up to the Besant Beach that is on the southern side. The total length of the Marina beach is about 13 km earning it the distinction of being the longest beach in India and the second longest beach in the world.
It used to be very popular among the tourists at one point of time because of its unmatched beauty. However, its waters are now polluted, and the beach has become dirty because of negligence and careless attitude of the tourists. Many volunteers have taken it upon themselves to preserve the natural beauty of the beach by doing cleaning drives every month on the beach. The volunteers also look after the care and protection of the nests of the Olive Ridley turtles.
Photo Courtesy: L.vivian.richard
San Thome Church
The San Thome Church was built in Chennaiin the 16th century by Portuguese traders who invaded India. They built it as a minor basilica, but the British later rebuilt it in 1893 giving it the status of a cathedral. The new structure was given a Neo-Gothic look that was very popular among the British architects of the 19th century.
According to Christian mythology, St Thomas was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ who arrived on the shores of Kerala directly from The Holy Land sometime during 52 A.D. and stayed on in the place until 72 A.D. San Thome basilica is now an important church in the region and comes under the Madras-Mylapore catholic Archdiocese since it is a Roman catholic church. It is one of the important pilgrim centers for Christian of India.
Photo Courtesy: PlaneMad
M.A. Chidambaram Stadium
TheM. A. Chidambaram Stadiumwhich was formerly known asChepauk Stadiumis the popular cricket stadium here. The stadium was established in 1916 and it the oldest continuously used cricket stadium in the country. It is the home ground of the Tamil Nadu cricket teamand the successfulIndia Premier League team Chennai Super Kings.
Photo Courtesy: Srinivasan G
The Parthasarathy Temple in Chennai is dedicated to the Hindu God Krishna and is located in Triplicane. The temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century and has been mentioned in glorifying terms in the works of the Alvar saints. The word Parthasarthy is a Sanskrit word that means the ‘Charioteer of Arjuna'. Lord Krishna played the part of Arjuna's charioteer during the epic battle of Mahabharata.
Within the temple are housed the different avatars of Lord Vishnu; Krishna, Narasimha, Rama and Varaha. There are separate entrances for the shrines of Lord Rama and Lord Narasimha. The temple is famous as being the oldest structure in Chennai. Many tourists throng to the temple because of this reason. Besides this, the temple is also famous for the beautiful and intricate carvings on the towers and pillars of the temple.
Photo Courtesy: Roberta Romero
How to Reach Chennai
By Air: The Anna International Airport in Chennai regularly sees the arrival as well as departure of domestic and international flights. The city is well connected to other airport cities as well as towns in India.
By Rail: The city of Chennai has three railway stations. These are the Central, Egmore and Tambaram Railway Stations. Chennai is one of the major cities covered by the Southern Railways and is well connected with the rest of the country via regular and direct trains that go as far as Delhi.
By Road: Chennai is a metropolitan city and is thereby well-connected to other main cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. State run buses as well as private luxury buses regularly provide transport to many people. Private cab services are also available from Chennai to other parts of the state.
Photo Courtesy: Sarath Kuchi