Chennai is the capital city of Tamil Nadu and one of the biggest cultural and economic centers in South India. Located in the south-eastern coast off the Bay of Bengal, the city is one of the leading commercial centers of the country. Credited for its booming economy, Chennai has a thriving automobile hub with the presence of major automobile manufacturers from around the world. It is the fourth largest metropolitan city and is well-connected with other major cities in India. Chennai is also the cultural hub of South India, famous for its literature, art and architecture.
History of Chennai
Chennai was previously known as “Madras” – a term which came from Madraspattinam, a fishing village north of Fort St. George. It was only in 1996, the name was changed to Chennai. The places around Chennai have been for centuries an important administrative and economic center. The Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas have ruled the place for a long time before it became a part of the Vijayanagara Empire during the medieval period. Later, in the 18th century, the British took over it and built many monuments including Ripon Building, Fort St. George, St. Andrew’s Church, Chennai Central Station and Victoria Public Hall.
Places to Visit in Chennai
Chennai has a lot of natural and historically important places to be visited. There are beaches, temples, museums and monuments to be seen in the city.
Marina Beach is the first longest natural urban beach in the world with a shore length of 13 kilometers. It is the most crowded beach in the country with an average footfall of 25,000 people during weekdays and 40,000 people during weekends. Swimming is prohibited because of the strong undercurrents in the sea. Games like beach cricket, football and volleyball are played in the beach. A lot of street food stalls are also in place to satisfy the hunger pangs of visitors.
Fort St. George
This is the first British fort in India established in 1644. Primarily set up to strengthen the trading activities of Englishmen in the country, the fort is now the seat of Government of Tamil Nadu. It houses the Legislative Assembly of the state and other official buildings.
St. Thomas Mount
St. Thomas Mount is believed to be the place where St. Thomas the Apostle was martyred. The hillock is very close the Chennai International Airport. There are a total of 160 steps that lead to the top of the mount with 14 crosses mounted along the way.
The Kapaleeshwar Temple is built in honor of Lord Shiva in a Dravidian style of architecture. The presiding deity is worshipped in the form of a peacock. There are four yearly festivals in a calendar year with Arubathimooval festival – held during the months of March to April – being the most prominent among them.
The Government Museum in the neighborhood of Egmore in Chennai is one of the most popular places to visit in the city. It is the second oldest museum in India, after the Indian Museum in Kolkata. Established in 1851, the museum has the largest collection of Roman antiques outside Europe. The place is known for housing some of the rare works of famous artists like Raja Ravi Varma.
How to Visit Chennai
The best time to visit Chennai is between the months of November and February. The city being the capital of the state is well-connected with all major cities and towns. The connectivity is extremely well laid out with roadways and railways carrying thousands of passengers in and out of the city every day. Major cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam are connected by road, rail and air. Railways and airways are more sophisticated and connect Chennai with almost every part of the country.