Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is situated on the Coromandel Coast of India. It is a major cultural and commercial hub visited by traders and tourists throughout the year. The city is considered to be the ‘Gateway to South India’ and is located on the Bay of Bengal. From long and sandy beaches to ancient temples, historical museums to buildings of colonial architecture from the days of the British Raj, and planetariums to amusement parks - Chennai is a city rich in traditions which has also seen dynamic development and growth. Built out of a fishing colony, it is, today, a bustling metropolis. The Tamil film industry is based out of here. It is also a major center of learning and cultural revival. Dance forms like ‘Bharatnatyam’ thrive in the city, enjoying local patronage.
Air connectivity to Chennai
Chennai is well-connected by air to the rest of India and to cities across the world. The Chennai International Airport serves the city and is situated at Meenambakkam. It has two terminals - domestic and international, which operate out of one terminal building. Domestic airlines like GoAir, Air India
, Indigo Airlines, SpiceJet and Jet Airways, and international airlines like Thai Airways
International, Oman Air, Emirates
, Etihad Airways, British Airways, Lufthansa
, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines
fly out of Chennai. The airport was the first in India to have the domestic and international terminals located adjacent to each other. It is designed for passenger comfort to ensure seamless journeys. There are ATMs, child care rooms, conference rooms, lost and found service, duty-free shops, medical and health scan facilities, rest rooms, prayer rooms, luggage carts etc., available in the airport.
Railway Link to Chennai
The Chennai Central
and the Chennai Egmore Railway Stations
provide railway connectivity to the city. The Chennai Central Station is one of the most important railway stations in South India. Along with Chennai Beach, it is also a hub for the Chennai Suburban Railway network. Chennai Central serves the north and west-bound trains from Chennai. The Chennai Egmore Station connects to South India. The Tambaram Suburban Railway Line also passes through this station.
Places to stay in Chennai
Accommodation is not difficult to find in Chennai. If you are temple-hopping and are on a backpack budget, choose the three-star ‘FabHotel Venture Park’
at Thoraipakkam. The rent per night is about Rs. 898, after discount. Head to ‘Treebo Angson’ for free Wi-Fi and a complimentary breakfast service. The rooms are priced at Rs. 3,199 per night at this hotel in Thiruvanmiyur
. The ‘ITC Grand Chola’ will set you back by about Rs. 12, 324 per night. Book your stay here if you are looking for exclusive services and five-star facilities
Eating out in Chennai
Chennai offers the foodie in you the opportunity to experiment with diverse cuisines and regional food. Head to ‘Hotel Saravana Bhavan’ for filter coffee and South - Indian breakfasts. ‘Amethyst’ is an outdoor venue (around a verandah) where the ambience is as great as the food. Have a meal at ‘Peshawri’ - it is ITC’s signature Northwest-Frontier restaurant. If you are a meat-lover, ‘Copper Chimney’ will not disappoint you. For authentic Kerala food, ‘Ente Keralam’ is your best bet. Try the appam, the fluffy rice pancake, at this eatery - it is the house specialty. Sample the Chettinad cuisine at ‘Raintree’. The dishes are spicy and delicious. For traditional meals served on banana leaves, ‘Junior Kuppanna’ is the place to visit.
Shopping in Chennai
There is something in Chennai for everyone. From designer luxury goods to street-shopping, you will not run out of options. Shop like a local for sarees at ‘Nalli’ at T-Nagar. For clothes which are budget-friendly, head to ‘Sowcarpet’. You will attract wholesale prices here. At Ritchie Road, the shops sell electronic goods. For street-shopping, Pondy Bazaar is another popular draw. You can buy shoes and clothes here. Parry’s Corner is a wholesale market for household items. The Phoenix Mall and the Express Avenue are lined with designer outlets and luxury brands.
How to get around in Chennai
It is easy to travel around Chennai as the local transport connects to most parts of the city. Buses ply to all major stops like Parry’s Corner, T-Nagar, Central Station etc. Prepaid taxis are available both at the airport and at the railway terminals. The prepaid taxi kiosks are inside the airport terminals. The suburban trains are efficient and economical. However, they tend to be crowded during rush hour. Auto-rickshaws are also available. Fix the rate before embarking up on your trip as most of them do not ply on the meter. The Chennai Metro is partly operational. The Green Line plies from CMBT South to St. Thomas Mount and the airport. Car rental agencies are useful for hiring non-AC or air-conditioned vehicles, as per your choice.
Places of Sightseeing
Tour the Marina Beach at Chennai. It is a natural beach which spans about 6.5 km along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The Kapaleeshwarar Temple
is popular with tourists and locals alike. This is a temple of Lord Shiva, built in Dravidian style. Fort St. George is a must-visit - it is the first English fortress to have been built in the country and dates back to 1644. To view Indian arts and bronzes, head to the Government Museum. It also has a children’s area. The Birla Planetarium of Chennai hosts a number of astronomy shows. Spend an afternoon here. For a fun outing with family, visit Queensland. It is an amusement park with thrilling rides. To learn about the life of Swami Vivekananda, tour the Vivekanandar Illam. This museum is dedicated to the life of the sage.
When to visit Chennai
Chennai is hot and humid throughout the year. It lies close to the sea and enjoys tropical-monsoon weather. The best time to visit is between the winter months of November and February when the weather is relatively cooler. The daytime temperature hovers around 25 degrees Celsius in winter. The summers are harsh with the sun beating down. The temperature climbs to the late thirties (by the Celsius scale) between March and June. The weather is oppressively humid in summer. This time of the year is not suited for outdoor activities. The monsoons set in by mid-June. Evening sea breezes are pleasant during this time.