Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamil Nadu state. Chennai has the Bay of Bengal bordering its east, the state of Andhra Pradesh on its northwest, the Kanchipuram on its south and the states of Kerala and Karnataka on its western side. Chennai is a gracious city that has a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks, historic landmarks. Chennai, the Gateway to South India, is about 350 years old. It is both the Commercial and Cultural Capital of South India. Chennai is a vibrant city that has managed to strike a beautiful balance between the modern and the traditional, a metropolis with a distinct old - world charm. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted. A great deal of industrial expansion has taken place in Chennai recently, with the mushrooming of engineering plants, car-assembly plants, educational institutions, and textile manufacturing units. Export oriented zone are promoting Textiles, Leather Goods, Chemicals, Automobiles, Computers, Granite, Hardware, Shipping, Sanitaryware, Paint Machinery & Machine Tools, Garment & Sea Food Export, Plastic, Rubber, Conveyors, Equipment, Hydraulics, Lubricants, Electronic Components, Timber Clearing & Forwarding, Packing, Hotel & Travel Industry Jewellers, Handicrafts. The people of Chennai are simple, educated and hospitable. Most people in Chennai understand English. Aroma of festivity dwells in the air of Chennai. Being a cosmopolitan city, almost all the religious festivals are celebrated here. Being situated at the tropical zone, Chennai normally has a very hot and humid climate. Chennai is a city that is growing, expanding and changing vigorously.
|Chennai at a glance :|
|Area (square km)||172.00 sq km|
|Population (census 1991)||42,16,268|
|Altitude||0 ft. Sea Level|
|Climate Summar:||Max 37°C Min 21.10 °C|
|Climate Winter :||Max 32°C Min 19.81°C|
|Warmest Months||March - October|
|Coolest Months||November - February|
|Languages||Tamil is the main language. Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi are some of the other widely spoken Indian languages. English is also used for business purposes.|
Chennai is one of the four major international airports of India. The Kamaraj Domestic Airport and the Anna International Airport are located at Tirusulam, 7kms south of Chennai. The city has representation of almost all airlines of the world. Many major international airlines have regular direct flights to Chennai. Domestic airlines operate daily flights to all major cities of the country from the domestic terminal.
Chennai is connected by rail with all major towns and cities in India. Major Railway Stations: Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore. Trains operate from Egmore Junction to various parts of the state while interstate trains originate from Chennai Central Station. Chennai is the headquarters of Southern Railway and is well connected by rail with the important towns and cities within and beyond the state.
Chennai is connected by good network of roads with all important places in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India. State transport buses and private buses connect Chennai with the major towns and cities within the country. For local transportation local trains, city buses, auto rickshaws and taxis are also available.
There is a sea line to Andaman and Nicobar islands.
|Distance from Chennai to :|
Tirupporur (place of the sacred war) is one of the 33 major temples of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Lord Muruga, situated 25-km away from Chingleput and 45-km from Chennai. This temple enshrines Skanda in several forms relating to legends from the Skanda Puranam. The foremost of these is the depiction of Skanda as a warrior, "Samhara Subramanya". He is also enshrined in the form of a child, expounding the meaning of the oneness of creation Om to his father Lord Shiva. Nearest airport is Meenambakkam in Chennai; it operates both national and international flights. The nearest railway station is at Chennai, which is a major junction.
The Valluvar Kottam, on the corner of Kodambakkam High Road and Village Road, Chennai, is a standing memorial to immortal Tamil Poet-Saint Thiruvalluvar. It is shaped like a temple chariot. A life-size statue of the saint has been installed in the chariot which is 33m. tall. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can accommodate about 4000 people. It stands as a modern memorial to the great poet who represents the glorious culture of the Tamils. Thirukkural, are inscribed on the granite pillars that surround the auditorium and it has got no pillars for support. Over 3,000 blocks of stone were used to create this memorial to Tamil culture.
It is at Peter's Road, Triplicane. It is one of the oldest temples in Chennai, built by Pallavas in the 8th century and rebuilt by the Vijayanagar Kings in 11th century. The temple is dedicated to Krishna, one of the incarnations of Vishnu. It has a coloured gopuram and several shrines with beautiful carvings. There are many stalls selling flowers, puja articles, small idols, musical instruments and jewellery around the temple.
Visit : Daily from 06.30 to 12.00hrs and 16.00 to 20.00hrs.
Sri Kapaleswarar Temple
This temple is situated near Kutchery Road, Mylapore. This ancient Siva temple is a delightful introduction to Dravidian temple sculpture and architecture. The magnificent 37 meter tall gopuram is one of the main attractions of this temple. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the inner courtyard. The outer courtyard has several bronze statues. Timing : Daily from 04.00 to 12.00hrs and 16.00 to 20.00hrs.
Vadapalani Temple The Vadapalani temple is dedicated to Lord Muruga. It is at Kodambakkam. This temple attracts a large number of devotees. The Shiva temple at Tiruvotriyur - 12 kms north of Chennai is associated with Pattinathar ( a great devotee of Lord Shiva). Innumerable legends are woven around Sundarar.
Sri Guru Nanak Sat Sangh Sabha
Sri Guru Nanak Sat Sangh Sabha located in Chennai was established by Lieutenant Colonel Gill (former Director General of Prisons) in the year 1949. Guru Nanak Sat Sangh Sabha helps to establish social, cultural and spiritual contact among Sikhs in Chennai. Few years ago the Gurdwara was reconstructed by pulling down the original structure. The site of the Gurdwara is remarkably peaceful. The Sikh families gather here and conduct prayers on the occasion of the birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Arjun Dev and Baisakhi (New Year in the Sikh calendar). Teachings from the Guru Granth Sahib (the Holy Book of the Sikhs) are read on these occasions. A free Langar (community kitchen) called "Guru ka Langhar" is run at the Gurdwara. In a Langar, all are treated as equals, no demarcation is made between poor and rich. A free medical centre offers services to the poor. Every Sunday, the congregation participates in Pujas, Kirtans and the Langar. There are also prayer services in the morning and evening. Daily prayer starts with recitation from the Granth Sahib, after which Kirtans are sung.
The Wallajah Mosque referred to as the "Big Mosque" was built by the Wallajah family in 1795 in memory of the Nawab. The present Prince of Arcot is closely associated with this shrine even today Hidden behind the modern buildings on Triplicane High Road, this renowned place of worship for Muslims is a marvellous granite structure. The mosque was built of grey granite rather than wood or steel.
Thousand Light Mosque
Close to the Anna flyover on the Mount Road in Chennai lies the Thousand Light Mosque on 3 acres of land, donated by Nawab Wallajah. It is referred to as the Thousand Light Mosque because of the legend that over one thousand lamps had to be used to light up the Assembly Hall, which stood at this same spot. Renovated a couple of times this century; it has two 64' tall minarets and a separate place of worship for women. This multi-domed mosque, with sayings from the Holy Koran (also spelt as Quran) painted on its walls, comes alive during the annual Moharram. The mosque houses a library, a burial ground and a guesthouse.
Christ The King Church
Christ the King church is located in Chennai in the middle of Loyola College campus. A fine example of Gothic architecture, which was designed and built by an Indian Mason commissioned by French clergymen. Its pointed arches, ribbed vaults, rose windows, three-aisled nave and the flying buttresses are a worthy testament to the Gothic style. The Loyola Chapel was built in 1933. Covering an area of 150 feet by 60 feet, with stained glass windows, this church is a captivating sight, inside as well as outside. A spire, which is 157 feet high, has a stairway leading to the cross standing on top. A regular mass is offered everyday for the students and people in the neighbouring areas. The church does not conduct any other services for the public. S.A Gnanpragasam Pillai, who did not have any formal training in civil engineering or architecture, designed it. He was responsible for planning, designing and building the whole of Loyola College.
Church of 'Our Lady of Light', popularly known as the 'Luz Church' is located in a tiny corner of Mylapore in Chennai. This church is also known as the 'Kaatu Kovil' (Church located in a forest) locally and is believed to be the oldest church in Chennai. The now busy Luz area was in early days supposed to have been filled with mangroves, where St. Thomas is believed to have once rested. According to the legend prevailing a group of Franciscan missionaries were coming on a mission to preach the good news in the land of India. But when the boat neared the Coromandel Coast, they were stranded out on the rough seas, as they were unable to locate the shore. Anxiously they beseeched Mother Mary. Then a mysterious light appeared and they were guided to the shores of Mylapore, then a village. Having landed at the shore, they found that the light led them still further and disappeared at the place where the church stands today. They built the church at the very spot where the light vanished in gratitude to 'Nossa Senhora de Luz (Our Lady of Light)'. Luz means light in Portuguese. Thus was born the name Luz, by which the whole surrounding area of the church is known". One can find that the Gothic arches and flying buttresses, baroque ornamentation and elegant classical lines, have been heavily influenced by European style. The Luz Church is a fine example of the Portuguese, impressive attempts to replicate their great churches in faraway lands. The main feast of the Church is celebrated on August 15th. The feast is celebrated with a grand mass and car procession.
Santhome Cathedral Basilica
Santhome Cathedral Basilica is situated on the southern tip of Marina in Chennai. It is a towering basilica built on the spot where St. Thomas (an apostle of Jesus Christ) was buried. It is the church of the Archbishop of Chennai - pastoral head of the Catholic community in the region. Santhome Cathedral Basilica is built in Gothic Style. Beside, the beauty of its rising spire it has a brilliant stained glass depiction of St. Thomas' encounter with the resurrected Christ. One can find some relics and a fragment of bone of the saint in the crypt below the altar. It offers excellent views from the 55m steeple.
St. George's Cathedral
It is at 222, Cathedral road. Visit : Daily 8.00 to 18.00 hrs. It is a white colonial church, with a beautiful garden. It is the headquarters of the church of South India. It has a 130 feet spire with its interior very light and the airy with stucco walls. The decorated roof and many fascinating tablets and tombs add to beauty of the spire.
St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church, which also called `The Queen of Scottish Churches in the East' is located on Poonamallee High Road in Chennai. This church is considered to be the most beautiful neo-classical church in India. St. Andrew's Church is a magnificent building lying almost in the middle of a large, spacious compound - which provides a backdrop of trees and greenery - presents a lovely profile of Georgian architecture in the midst of mundane business life. Nearly one hundred and seventy five years ago, the Kirk steeple rose up majestically, providing spiritual solace for the early Scottish community in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India. Conceived and executed by Major Thomas Fort de Havilland and Colonel James Caldwell, the Kirk is modelled along the lines of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. The church was consecrated in 1821 and since then, has been in the care of a long line of devoted pastors. The architectural details of the church are exquisite and fascinating. An arching dome coloured with Lapis Lazuli crowns the remarkable circular interior. The dome represents a blue night-sky studded with golden stars. Adding to the splendour are sixteen fluted Corinthian columns that preserve its beauty and balance. An annular arch around it also supports the complex construction of the dome. The superb artistry of exquisite mahogany woodwork is one of the Kirk's many charms and glories. The warm, rich and quiet hues of treasured stained glass at the altar are another. The colonnaded portico gives an impression of great strength and power, lending to the whole an awesome grandeur, reminiscent of Solomon's Temple. Another brilliant manifestation of the continuing vitality of the church is its great tradition of music. This has enormously enhanced the character and atmosphere, preparing people's hearts to listen to God's message. Enshrined in the memory of the congregation are the maestro's, the Late Victor Paranjothi and the Late Padma Shri Handel Manuel. St. Andrew's Church a creation of the British Raj in India, which is now a part of India's National Heritage. Though the structure has been described as "the Noblest Christian Edifice in Hindustan (India)", it means so much more to the people who worship in it, and to various others who derive comfort and relief from it. St Andrew's has also been a hub of activity that has entered a decisive phase of reaching out to the poor and deprived of society, considering community development as a vital part of Christian worship and transforming lives in many households. Various projects have undertaken by the authorities of the Church like the Riber Memorial Day Care Centre and Community Development, the Asha Project among the developmentally disabled, the work among Leprosy patients, the Kosapur Tamil Church and Clinic, the work of Evangelism and the village project at Thirupalaivanam - have sought to help disadvantaged brethren.
St. Mary's Church In The Fort
St. Mary's Church is the first Anglican Church in Chennai, located in the premises St. George Fort. St. Mary's Church was built in 1678-80 and it is also the oldest surviving British Church in India. St. Mary's Church is often described as the Westminster Abbey of the East. During the tenure of Governor Streynsham excavations for the Church building began and its construction was completed in 1679. The Church was christened St. Mary's as its foundation was laid on the Annunciation day of the Virgin Mary (the feast observed by Christians to mark the day when Mary was told of God's plan that she would be Mother of Jesus). St. Mary's Church was built largely from personal donations. The original building was about 60ft. by 90ft. Its outer walls were 4ft thick and its roof 2ft. thick and bomb proof. The original structure of the building, which William Dixon built and Edward Fowle embellished, was in rectangular shape made with brick and polished in lime, with a bomb proof, curved roof. Few additions made later include the Sanctuary, Steeple (1710), Tower (1701) and the Vestry. The Spire to the Church was added in 1795 and was designed by Colonel Gent. The interior of the Church has beautiful wooden work and stained glass arches. In 1985, artisans, from Karaikudi, undertook a major restoration work.
A huge painting of The Last Supper drawn by an unknown artist is only one of the attractions to the visitors. The tombstones, memorial tablets on the six detached pillars and the Church Records bring back memories of the city's past. The Church also has the earliest register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials in the country. The Visitors Book, dating from 1903-1947, is also an interesting piece from the past. Today Church has become a monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. One can find reminders in the Church of Clive, who was married here in 1753, and of Elihu Yale, the early Governor of Chennai who later founded the famous American University bearing his name.
Little Mount & Mount of St.Thomas
A Rock-Hewn Cave on Little Mount is believed to be the place where, in AD 72, the mortally wounded St.Thomas sought refuge. Near the modern Church of Our Lady of Good Health is the older Blessed Scrament Chapel built by the portuguese over the Cave. Inside the cave is the opening through which the fleeing saint is said to have retreated, leaving behind a still visible imprint of his hand near the entrance. At the rear end of the caves is the Masonry cross before which St Thomas is said to have prayed. Legend claims that the spring originated when st Thomas struck the rock with his staff to provide water for his thirsty congregation. About 3km southwest of Little Mount is the 95-m high Mount of St Thomas or Great Mount. A flight of 132 steps leads to the summit and the Church of Our Lady of Expectations built by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. The most important relic here is the ancient stone cross embedded into the wall of the alter is said to have been engraved by the saint himself. This is the legendry "bleeding cross" that miraculously bled between 1558 and 1704. Below the eastern flank of the Mount is the Cantonment area, with its shady streets lined with 18th century neo-classical bungalows.
Velankanni is located 12-km south of Nagapattinam, which is one of the most popular pilgrim spots in southern part of India. Velankanni is also called as the Mecca of Christians. The shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Health, the Madonna of Velankanni and it is located on the shore. This church in honour of Virgin Mary is popularly called as 'Sacred Arockia Madha Church' and is visited by people of all faiths and religions. The church has an imposing facade with tall spires and the wings present the shape of a cross. In a niche in the alter is enshrined the statue of Our Lady of Health. Many bring with them small gold and silver replicas of parts of the body to donate to the church. Velankanni is particularly crowded during the festival period in August-September. There is a small church museum, which has a display of the offerings made by those whose prayers were conceded. Velankanni being an important tourist place is easily accessible. It can be accessed from Tiruchy, Chennai and Thanjavur by rail.
Marina beach situated to the east of Chennai (Madras) at Kamarajar Road, 3 Km away from the city centre. The beach covered with the silver sands is said to be the longest beach in India and one of the longest in Asia, extends to a length of 13 Km, from Fort St. George all the way to Mahabalipuram. There is a drive along the beach circumscribed with palms and casuarinas running the whole length of Chennai. Silver sands, an excellent surf and a shimmering clean blue sea, this in a nutshell, is Marina beach. Close to the Marina beach is the Aquarium which has some of the most exotic collection of Tropical sea fishes and fresh water fishes. The Aquarium gives a opportunity to have a rendezvous with the aquatic life. The Ice House, which was used to store ice brought from great lakes in North America, is South to the Aquarium. A stroll circumscribing the beach bordered with a green lawn entices you to go on a leisurely walk. At the conjunctions of this promenade stand beautiful statues of Tamil scholars, patriots, and noted personalities. Of these, the Statue of Labour is a splendid sculpture an evidence of the industrious team of labourers who are at strenuous, manual work. The sea in this region is not considered safe for swimming, as the currents are turbulent.
Some of the most beautiful buildings in Chennai such as the University of Madras, Senate-House, Chepauk Palace, Presidency College, P.W.D office and Ice House are located on the beach drive. At the other end of the beach is the new lighthouse. In between, sentinels on the promenade, are several statues of Tamil scholars and two splendid bits of sculpture- the Victory of Labour and the Mahatma Gandhi.
Aquarium: Close to the Marina beach is the aquarium, which has some of the most exotic collection of tropical sea fishes and fresh water fishes. The aquarium gives a chance to have a closer look at the aquatic life. The Ice House, which was used to store ice brought from Great Lakes in North America, is south to the Aquarium.
Anna And MGR Samadhis: Situated on the beach, the Anna and MGR Samadhis, which are the memorials of the most popular, former Chief ministers of the state, attract good crowd everyday.
The charming spot of Covelong is at a distance of forty kilometers from the capital city of Tamil Nadu Chennai. The sea and the surf here are gentle. The village is renowned for its fishing activities. The environs, ambience, peace, tranquility and the infrastructure at the Covelong beach come together to make it one of the most popular beach resorts on the Coromandel Coast. For all the adventure seekers the breathtakingly beautiful beach of Covelong has an amazing world of sports activities like windsurfing, swimming and other water sports. The beautiful beach of Covelong lies in the lee of an ancient Dutch fort. A few walls of the fort remain in the form of ruins. In its own way Covelong reveals the history of the state of Tamil Nadu. The ancient Catholic Church is a must visit amongst the many religious monuments at Covelong. The embracing destination Covelong is well connected and easily accessible.
Chunnambar is a famous beach resort located in Ariyankuppam, 7-km from Pondicherry , on the route to Cuddalore. The beach at Chunnambar is located near the mouth of the backwater. The sand is pristine and the water is clean. It's an ideal place for sun bathing and beach sports. Chunnambar is the right mixture of fun, sports, calm, romance and beauty. One can swim, row a boat, stay on a tree house and watch the sunrise, have a picnic at the beach and play Beach Volleyball, go Trekking, or even Fishing. It has a fully functional water sports centre and a breathtaking pool amidst the backwaters. Chennai is the nearest airport with both domestic and international terminus. The nearest railway stations are at Cuddalore and Pondicherry . Cuddalore railway station is connected by rail directly from Chennai via Villupuram. Pondicherry railway station has only few trains, which run between Pondicherry and Villupuram. The nearest railway junction is at Chennai . There are regular buses from Cuddalore and Pondicherry to Chunnambar Beach.
Located in Besant Nagar, Chennai, Following the road along the coast down south from Marina one will come to Elliot's beach where one can spend a few hours relaxing. This beach is lined with fast food joints, small stores, and a few shrines. It is a popular hangout for the younger generation these days. Four decades ago, Elliot's beach was the favourite haunt of foreigners seeking a secluded beach to sun bathe at. At the end of this beach are situated the Velanganni Church and the Ashtalakshmi temple.
Though the church is much smaller than the original one at Velanganni it attracts its own share of pilgrims.
The Ashtalakshmi temple dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi (also spelt as Laxmi) looks quite different from the usual South Indian temples as it is a modern tier construction, not even 20 years old.
VGP Golden Beach Resort
A short 20-minute drive from Chennai City, VGP Golden Beach Resort offers a serene and relaxing atmosphere in today's stress-driven world. Located on the World's second longest beach, it attracts over two million visitors every year. This unique resort is designed like a mini township and offers cottages of different designs, which reflect the culture of traditional India but provide worldly luxuries. The 80 cottages which are spaced in 20 acres land are ideal for conferences, management seminar packages etc. The VGP Golden Beach Universal Kingdom - Amusement Park has been a trailblazer in the field of fun, frolic and entertainment. It has a charm of its own with cool breeze and beautiful pathways flanked by shady trees amidst green lawns. Regular cultural shows, folk and contemporary dances organised add to the special cultural touch. Special additions for sight seeing such as Jurassic Park and Aquarium offer education with fun. All resident guests can use the swimming pool, located by the seaside, at no extra cost. Its unique stretch of spotlessly clean golden sand is a warm invitation to sun- bathers and surf beckons the sea-bather. The V.G.P. Art Center, a part of the resort complex, sells the merchandise ranging from seashells to rural handicrafts. Ecstasy Land is an integrated complex offering Banquet and Conferencing facilities, dance floor for discotheques, stage with open-air seating, Bar and an almost private beach. It is probably the only such beachside complex in Chennai City, unrivalled by any other hotel or resort. The "Pandian" and "Golden Chakra" halls are ideal for board meetings, sales conferences, product launches, cocktail parties, receptions, lunch and dinner meets, accommodating 100 to 150. VGP Golden Beach Resort offers an array of food outlets to satisfy the palate of its highly varied clientele. The Rain Forest Restaurant offers multicuisine fare - authentic Indian, Chinese and Continental with Bar facilities. Beachfront coffee shop serves all time favorites in South Indian and fast food, light meals and beverages. A free pass provides entry into the VGP Universal Kingdom Amusement Complex for all the residents of the resort. Special discount entries are available for school children.
On the border between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh lies a small spot of paradise called Tada. So small a spot, it is not even on the map. Just a 95-km ride from Chennai, one can come face-to-face with rural India, connected by dust roads or even worse, badly laid roads. The main attraction of Tada is that it has got nothing, except the wilderness. The experience of camping out is what draws people there. Tada is complete with a waterfall, small hillocks, ideal for climbing (for any inexperienced climber) and greenery all around. An ideal trip would be an overnight stay. The road from the last village towards the hillocks is nothing but a sand pathway with huge boulders and rocks strewn around, and so it is better to go on motorbikes, a long ride from Chennai. A word of caution - it will take a lot of guts and skill to get to the 'base-camp' on the motorbike. If there is one thing that's close to 'infrastructure' in Tada, it is the huts, rented by the lone watchman. They are ideal picnic spots, located near the stream. You can camp for the night here. The surrounding hillocks and its valleys provide unlimited picnic spots all along the stream. The stream, at shallow points, provides ideal spots for splashing about in the water.
Guindy National Park
Guindy National Park is an ideal picnic spot for a day spending with your family. This National Park encompasses a snake park and a children's park as well. Guindy Park boasts of over 24 varieties of trees, for example, Amona Squamosa, Atlanta Monoplylla, Feronia Limonia, Azadirachta India, etc. to mention a few. Also more than 14 varieties of shrubs are also found in the park. The main faunal attraction of this park is the occurrence of rare Indian Antelope popularly known as the "Black Buck", found nowhere in the world except India. Over 14 types of mammals like Elephant, Antelope, Spotted Deer, Jungle Cat, Toddy Cat, Indian civet, etc. can also be seen here. The park also accounts for over 37 varieties of birds, like the King Fisher, Blue Jay, Golden Backed Woodpecker, Crow Pheasant, Yellow Wattled Lapwing, Red Wattled Lapwing, Blue Faced Malkoha, Shrikes, Koels, Doves, Minivets, Munias, Barkets, Parakeets, Grey Partridge, Tailor Birds, Robins, Drongos, Quails, Beak Paradise, Flycatcher, Stone Curlew and so on. There are also many kinds of amphibians and snakes to add to the variety that is already available. In earlier days it was actually a hunting preserve. Later it was known as "Guindy Lodge" and it belonged to a British citizen named Gilbert Rodericks. In 1817, the owner died with the property heavily mortgaged. Then in 1821, the Government of Madras purchased it for a sum of Rs. 35,000/ or 10,000 pagodas (pagodas being the gold currency at that time). Later in 1910, it was declared as reserved forests. In 1947, it became the permanent residence of the Governor (400 hectares) and was called "Raj Bhavan". The then Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru permitted a small area to be cordoned off as a park for children. In 1958, it was actually handed over to the Forest department. The land nearby was allocated for Gandhi Mandapam (1954), IIT (1961), Guru Nanak Educational Society (1970), Rajaji Memorial (1974), Kamaraj Memorial (1975) and Cancer Institute (1977).
Founded by wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitaker, the Snake Park, at Guindy, Chennai, houses a variety of reptiles. Cobras, Pythons, Kraits, Adders, Vipers, Monitor Lizards and giant Turtles are some of the special draws at the park. It is well maintained with generous enclosures. Information boards debunk many myths about reptiles. Madras Snake Park Trust (MSPT) was established in 1972 by a group of naturalists in the Guindy National Park. For the first two decades since its inception, the Snake Park was known to the world as one of the reputed tourist centres of Chennai city. The Snake Park has now been recognised by the Central Zoo Authority as a "Medium Zoo" in view of the heavy visitor support. The Snake Park utilises the expertise of the Irula tribals by employing them as they are considered to be knowledgeable and efficient snake catchers in this part of the country. Lecture-demonstrations, by the hour, in Tamil, Hindi and English, helps inform and educate visitors. For the adventurous, an opportunity is given to handle the snakes at these demonstrations. Equally interesting is the venom-extraction demonstration.
Adjoining the Snake Park is the Children's Park, which is a huge park with Deers, Peacocks, etc. It has playgrounds, slides and swings for the kids. One can also enjoy Elephant and Pony rides on weekends. This park also has a sizeable collection of birds.
Timings: 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.
Closed On: Tuesdays.
Anna Zoological Park
Situated in Vandalur, about 35-km from Chennai, the Anna zoological park is one of the latest and modern zoos of India and the biggest in South East Asia. Spreading over an area of 510 hectares of dry evergreen forests with gently undulating terrain, the specially created open island type enclosures with wet and dry moats and enclosures with hidden walls and simulated natural environment make the animals, feel in their natural environment. The Anna zoological park situated in the outskirts of Chennai was created out of the Reserve Forests of Vandalur. The forests are of dry deciduous and dry evergreen scrub type. It was in the year 1855 the first Zoo in India was established in Chennai; later on in 1979 it was shifted to its present location at Vandalur. After initial constructions the zoo was opened to public in 1985. After the zoo was inaugurated in 1985, it has undergone a lot of improvement, with new animals making their home and breeding and more and more features like the Jurassic Park, Nocturnal section, reptile section, aquarium, etc. More than 170 species of mammals, aviaries and reptiles are exhibited. Lion safari vehicle, Elephant ride, battery operated vehicles are some of the facilities available inside this park. Apart from the range of animal life, there's plenty of environment information to be picked up by everybody. Near every enclosure, there are stone boards talking about the zoological name, its feeding, mating and breeding habits and seasons apart from the place where it is endemic. Trees have placards with their botanical names and other details. A library is also open to public on Mondays and Fridays.
Timings: 8.00 am to 3.00 pm
Closed On: Tuesday.
Entrance: School students are given half concession on production of a letter from the concerned school Headmaster. Private vehicles are not allowed inside.
Pulicat Lake, an ecologically fragile salt-water lagoon, about 60-km north of Chennai, is the second largest lagoon in India. It is situated on the route taken by migrating birds, tempting them to stop for a break. The lake is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a strip of land, in which the town of Pulicat is located. The lagoon is protected as a wildlife sanctuary because of its rich biodiversity. It boasts 65 different species of fish, 30 varieties of terrestrial and aquatic birds and a host of small mammals and reptiles. Flamingos are the most frequent visitors to the lake, about 15,000 of them visit every year. Pelicans, Kingfishers, Herons, Painted Storks, Spoonbills and Ducks are some of the other birds that show up at Pulicat Lake every year. The town of Pulicat is also an interesting spot, with its Dutch cemetery dating back to the 17th century. A few centuries ago the town was an important center for woven and colorfully printed cotton fabric. An Old Danish fort built in 1609, now reduced to shambles, can be seen here. Only the moat is clearly distinguishable now. A dilapidated church and cemetery can also be seen in the town.
Pulicat Lake is a quiet picnic spot for nature lovers and bird watchers. This unpolluted lake is a far cry from the clutter of city life, but at a reasonable distance. Birds on the lake can be seen from the Shar Road, Vedurupathi and the National Highway 5 from Chennai.
An isolated, attractive picnic spot in the Eastern Ghats is the Elagiri Hills, at an elevation of about 1,000 metres. A salubrious climate; scenic surroundings and a quaint Murugan temple are some of the attractions of this place. Located quite near to Chennai, this serves as an ideal location for a weekend where one could organize one day or two days' trekking. A church with exquisite craftsmanship and a beautiful park adorn these hills as an ideal tourist spot. There is a small lake for boating. The trek route from Elagiri Hills to Jalagambari Water falls at the downhill takes a couple of hours and is recommended for starters. Another trek route to Jalagambari, runs through villages, will take about four hours. This trekking trial is recommended for normal trekking. A trek through the forest to reach the peak is a little tedious. The nearest airport is at Chennai. It is situated 25-km from Jolarpet Junction, on Chennai - Coimbatore rail track. Elagiri is part of Javad Hills of Eastern Ghats. One can reach Alangayam, a village situated at the foot of the hills. From Vaniyambadi, buses go to Alangyam, from where a Ghat road leads to top of Javad Hills, surrounded by thick sandalwood forests. This steep road leads to Kavalur, where an Astronomical Observatory is situated. By trekking, one can reach the southern part of Javad Hills and reach Polur, a Taluk headquarters, which is about 30-km from the temple town of Thiruvannamalai. Kishkinta
Kishkinta, the first theme park in India is located at a distance of 28-km south of Chennai at Tambaram. Navodaya Mass Entertainment opened this amusement park. The attractions at Kishkinta represent a wonderful blend of tomorrow's technology and all-time fantasies. Shady trees, sunken water holes and the abundant greenery are a real treat to the eyes and one can relax and unwind very easily in such surroundings. Among the various exciting rides and attractions here, some are the hi-tech ones like space shuttle, wave pool, white water, Kiddies Kingdom, 3D Theatre, Arabian Nights, Bumper car, Water scooter, Go-Kart, Video Games, Rainwater lake and the Boating Lake.
Dolphin City And Little Folks
Dolphin City and Little Folks are two great amusement complexes situated on the East Coast Road (New Mahabalipuram Road), 46-km from Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. These amusement parks offer a wide range of entertainment like the Giant-Piano, Toy Train, Rainbow Fountain, Slide-into-pool, Cartoon show and Paddle-Pool as well as an open-air theatre. Leisure activities in Dolphin City and Little Folks include - American Sea Lion performance (First of its kind in India), Under Water View, Leisure Boating, Slide Swimming pool, Open Air Theatre for variety entertainment, Chuck Wagon, Disco Scooter, Tea Cup, Space Ship, Dragon Ride, Chuck Chuck, Animal Simulator, etc.
Weekdays: 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays: 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Prime Time is an extravagant indoor amusement park situated near Annanagar, Chennai. It is exclusively for children packed with bumper car rides, play pens and all sorts of new games.
Dash 'N' Splash
Situated 30-km from Chennai on the Chennai - Bangalore highway, just 3-km before Hyundai Car Factory and 12-km prior to Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperambadur, Dash 'N' Splash offers to all age groups a variety of water sports. This fun-laden water park has a wave spiral and free fall slides and flumes from a height of 12ft to 35ft. The Park is open from 10.00 a.m. till dark and a free bus service is available on all Sundays.
Located on Pantheon Road, between Egmore and Anna Salai, the Government museum is a grand repository of ancient historical treasures. It is the first government-sponsored museum in the country opened in Chennai in 1851.The building originally belonged to a group of eminent British citizens, known as the "Pantheon Committee", in charge of improving the social life of the British in Madras. The present Museum has several sections, four galleries- Hindu sculpture gallery, the Amaravathi gallery, the Bronze gallery and the National art gallery constitute the main attractions. Rare collections of Buddhist sculptures from Amaravati along with relics of the Pallava, Chola and Pandya eras can be seen here. The finest collections of bronzes of the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva - Nataraja, Durga, Ganesha from the Chola Empire are a pride of this museum. Within the complex lie an Art Gallery, Department of Natural History, a Museum Theatre and a Public Library. Especially impressive are the Arms gallery, its pre-historic collection, its philatelic collection, its antique jewellery and the musical instruments collection. Closed on: Sunday and Monday
Timings: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Vivekanandar Illam on the Marina Beach, Chennai, built 158 years back, has a long and interesting history. It was meant to store ice and hence it got its popular name, the Ice House. Eventually this house became a silent spectator of a series of diverse historical events, some of which have lifted this building to a status of an outstanding historical and cultural monument.
Mr. Frederic Tudor, the 'Ice King', built three houses in Kolkata , Mumbai and Chennai to keep ice under proper insulation so that it could be stored for months together. Amongst the three buildings the one at Chennai alone stands today. It was built in the year 1842. Tudor maintained his business in Chennai from 1842 upto around 1880. After the invention of making ice by 'steam process' in India, his business collapsed. Then the Ice House was sold to Mr.Biligiri Iyengar, a prosperous advocate of the Madras High Court. He remodeled the house adding circular verandahs and provided it with many windows to make it fit as residential quarters. Also he named the house 'Castle Kernan,' as a tribute to his friend, the famous Justice Kernan of the Madras High Court. Apart from being his residential quarters, this house served as a shelter for poor and educationally backward students. The structure failed as a residence, probably because of inadequate ventilation. Castle Kernan acquired historical and cultural value after Swami Vivekananda's stay there. Being a disciple of the great Swami, Biligiri Iyengar offered Castle Kernan for the stay of his Master. Swami Vivekananda was taken there in a grand procession along with some of his western devotees (J.J.Goodwin, Capt. and Mrs. Sevier etc.), some eastern disciples (Swami Sadananda etc.) and two of his brother monks (Swami Shivananda, Swami Niranjanananda). Even after the passing away of Sri Biligiri Iyengar in 1902, Swami Ramakrishnananda continued his work here till 1906. In 1906 this property was brought to sale by auction by the mortgage. The Government took over the building in 1917 and it has been renovated recently, with a statue of Swami Vivekananda installed.
A colourful and vibrant exhibition of paintings, 43 in all is a delight to the connoisseur and lay for its sheer beauty and artistry. They portray India from Vedic times to the advent of Sri Ramakrishna.
The photo gallery is set in a large circular verandah with 120 exhibits on the epoch making Swami Vivekananda - from his days as an itinerant monk to his conquest of West through his life and works. On display are rare photos elegantly laminated with bi-lingual (English and Tamil) subtitles and scripts. Students and admirers of the Swami Vivekananda will revel at these as it helps them recall the momentous incidents connected with his life.
Swami Vivekananda's Room
On the 2nd floor is the room where Swami Vivekananda stayed from 6th to 15th Feb 1897 after his triumphant return from the West. From here he proclaimed his Mission and inspired thousands of men and women to consecrate their lives for the emancipation of our motherland and mankind in general. The room commands a breath-taking view of the beach.
Timings: 9.00 am to 12.30 pm and from 3.00 pm to 6.30 pm
Closed on: Wednesdays
One of the greatest Tamil poets, Subramanya Bharathi was born in Ettayapuram (around 600-km from Chennai), in 1882. He was skilled enough to write verse even at the early age of seven. The last years of his life were spent in a house in Triplicane, Chennai. This house was bought and renovated by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1993 and named 'Bharathiyar Illam' (Home of Bharathiyar). It is a must-see place for those eager to know more about one of the greatest Indian poets ever. It was opened to public on 2nd October 1993. The house takes us back to the life and times of Mahakavi Bharathi. Photographs of Bharathiyar, his family, and his friends are displayed here. His hand written verses are framed and displayed. There is also a letter from Mahatma Gandhi (in Tamil) to mark the occasion of the opening of Bharathiyar Mani Mandapam in Ettayapuram, in 1947. Bharathiyar's letters to his friend Nellaiappar are also displayed.
Timings: 9.45am to 5.45pm
B.M. Birla Planetarium located at Kottur in Chennai, houses a modern fully computerised projector, which depicts the heaven on a hemispherical dome. The planetarium presents to the visiting public and students audio-visual programs on various themes in astronomy. The planetarium plays home to the most modern, sophisticated and versatile GM II projector. The accompanying special effects projector recreates some of the most awe inspiring heavenly phenomena on the specially perforated aluminum inner dome. Another feather in its cap, the planetarium is fully computerized with a comfortable seating capacity of 236 at any given time. The Tamilnadu or the Periyar Science and Technology Centre as it is popularly known, encompasses a Science Centre and a Planetarium. Eight galleries on themes of Physical Science, Transport, Electronics & Communication, Energy, Materials Science, Life Science, Innovation, International Dolls and Children, with over 500 exhibits, make the visit to the Centre, a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience.
Closed On: National holidays
Timings For Cosmic Shows In The Planetarium
In English -10.45 a.m., 1.15 p.m. and 3.45 p.m.
In Tamil -12.00 noon and 2.30 p.m.
Fort St. George
Fort St. George is located on the Rajaji Salai road in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu. The fort was one among the first few bastions that were built by the East India Company in 1640. Fort St. George's towering Flagstaff is, even today, the tallest in India. The black charnockite pillars of the building provide an insight into British military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. It once housed the British Regiment mess and later the lighthouse. Within the fort premises is the oldest surviving British church in India, St. Mary's Church. Towards the North of the fort is the High Court compound. Within this compound stand the Lighthouse erected in 1844.The fort has a museum, which displays many items from the British Raj and memorabilia of the East India Company. These relics are a reminder of a period of oppression and struggle. The museum has 10 rooms displaying the documents of Indian history. The old uniforms, coins, padlocks, old prints and palanquins are displayed here. The banquet hall upstairs has a collection of paintings of the Governors and officials of the British regime. Opened on Saturday to Thursday from 10 am to 5.00pm. Today the fort houses the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and Council as well as the offices of the State's Secretariat. High court of the state is located in the same compound.
The National Art Gallery
The Pantheon Complex in Chennai was built before 1789 and was a place of assemblage for the British till the Government in 1830 bought it. Later, several new buildings were added to it. Today, this complex houses the Government Museum, the National Art Gallery and the Connemara Public Library. The National Art Gallery was based on the Henry Irwin design and was built in 1907, by T. Namberumal Chetty. The building itself is one of the finest pieces of architecture in Chennai. Inspired by Mughal architectural motifs, the design work is most impressively showcased on the facade. On display in this pink sandstone-faced building are 11th and 12th century Indian handicrafts, 17th century Deccan paintings, 16th to 18th century Mughal and Rajasthani paintings and 10th and 13th century bronzes.
Closed On: Fridays and National holidays.
Cholamandal Artists Village
Located on the Mahabalipuram Road, 18-km from Chennai, Cholamandal Artists Village was started in 1966 and is perhaps, the first of it's kind. It is said to be India's largest self-supporting art colony and one of the most successful in Asia. Mr. K. C. S. Paniker founded this village. Today Cholamandal is a unique symbol of cooperative enterprise and community living. The basic framework of priorities for which it stands is safe in the hands of present members whose attachment to the village is very strong. There are provisions for Artist Aids through a fund created by the sale of paintings donated by the members. The Artists here comprise of people from Andhra Pradesh , Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. In an atmosphere of creativity, the artists live in harmony, exchanging ideas and exploring areas of common interest and striving for a new order based on shared principles, passions and perceptions. The artists and sculptors, who live and work in this seaside colony in idyllic surroundings, exhibit and sell their work, which consists of contemporary art, sculpture, Batik, terracotta and graphics. Cholamandal has a permanent Art Gallery, an excellent library, studio facilities, a metal workshop, a brick kiln, an open-air theatre and a guesthouse. There is also a graphic press; a Kiln for Terracotta was set up with the help of a visiting Dutch potter. The Open Air Theatre is extremely popular here and many dance performances and poetry reading competitions are held in this theatre.
Marina Beach is a favourite place for chennai's citizens to escape the humid heat of the city and enjoy the sea breeze. Across Kamarajar Salai is a series of imposing red brick buildings built in a combination of architectural styles, which include Indian and Moorish features. The Victory War Memorial which marks the north end of Kamarajar Salai was formerly called 'Cupid's Bow'. The Victory War Memorial honours those who have laid down their lives for their country since the First World War. Chennai salutes all those patriots who laid down their lives for their country with the Victoria War Memorial. To its south, in Anna park, is the Anna Samadhi, a Memorial erected in honour of CN Annadurai, the former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, who introduced significant political and social reforms in the state. Further south is the MGR samadhi a commemorative garden with gateways and pathways built in honour of the popular Tamil film icon and Chief Minister, MG Ramachandran. Further South, an inpressive landmark on Kamarajar Salai is the statue. This sculpture was created by Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhary, who became the first Indian Principal of the Madras School of Arts and Crafts in 1929. West of the main road, off Annie Besant road, is the Ice House. In the 1840s, this circular building with a stone pineapple perched on its roof, was a storehouse for ice, which was imported all the way from New England. It was also the site from which Swami Vivekanda delivered his speeches when he visited the city. Further south is Queen Mary's College, today the Madras College for Women. Opened in July 1914, this was Chennai's first women's College. A bust of the queen still graces the entrance of the building. An imposing lighthouse marks the southern end of the Marina. The Indo-Sarcenic Madras University was founded in 1857, making it one of the oldest universities in India. An architectural marvel the Senate House was designed by Robert Chisholm in a mixture of Byzantine and Saracenic styles. This became the headquarters of Madras University in 1879. The Senate House has a central hall on the ground floor, 130 feet long, 58 feet broad and 54 feet high, with the corridors supported by six massive stone pillars on either side. The stone arches between the pillars, with the four towers rising high at the corners of the building, surmounted by exquisitely shaped domes (painted in different colours) gives the building a grandeur that is difficult to match.
MGR Film City
Known to the world over for its film industry, MGR Film City is a special delight in Chennai. Set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the sprawling Tharamani area, MGR Film city houses various locations and settings for film shootings besides dubbing and re-recording theatres. It is the only one of Chennai's big Tamil film studios that opens its doors to visitors. Several sets of artificial scenery like forests, waterfalls, market places etc., are built here to serve as background for the shooting of films. It is the only studio with outdoor sets- Mughal gardens, a Greco-Roman amphitheater and a giant concrete shark to pose before.
It has many film studios and a film school. Enthusiasts can get into their act by making a special request to be allowed to take up a side role.
MGR Memorial lies in The Pondy Bazaar, Chennai. The memorial is maintained in fond remembrance of the famous actor-politician who still lives in the hearts of the masses. In the year 1970 MGR purchased this house to meet some of his party members. At present the MGR Trust is maintaining this house. Right from the time of inauguration till date no money is collected by way of even entrance ticket. This memorial is being run without the support of anyone. Mrs. Janaki MGR inaugurated this memorial in May 1990.
About 5,000 pictures and 3,000 shields are displayed here. Actually there are lots of photographs taken right from his first film 'Sati Leelavathi' to his last film 'Maduraiyai Meetta Sundara Pandian' (about 138 films in all). Due to dearth of space certain photographs have not been exhibited. As soon as one enters the house, one can see the dark green coloured car bearing the number plate TMX 4777, ready to 'take-off' with the sirens glowing. Some songs featured in MGR's films are being played in a low tone all along. The shields presented to M .G. Ramachandran are displayed in an orderly manner, in the reception. Once you reach the first floor, you will land in his office room. The swords, spears, heavy wooden clubs used by the actor, his plate, tumbler, telephone instrument, the shirts that adorned him, the medals won by him, television, the books read by MGR, camera, trolley, the cloth bandage that was tied on him when he was shot are all exhibited much to the amazement of the visitors. A stuffed lion attracts the attention of all in the first floor room. The late MGR, for his film 'Adimai Penn' brought up this lion. He named it Raja and took good care of it. In the year 1969 when the lion died MGR got special permission from the government and spent about a lakh of rupees to mummify the dead lion. Due to his sincere efforts the lion stands erect even today. In the ground floor, photographs taken from MGR's films, letters received by him, MGR's identification card, his famous cap and dark glasses, pen, the 'Bharat Ratna' medal won by him, the certificate given to him when he was conferred with the doctorate degree are all displayed. It is amazing to note the fact that this memorial attracts curious visitors not only from our country but also from the U.S.A., Singapore and Malaysia.
Closed On: Tuesday
Rajiv Gandhi Memorial
Rajiv Gandhi Memorial is located at Sriperumbudur, 40-km from Chennai, which incidentally is the birthplace of Sri Ramanujar, the Vaishnavite saint. The memorial is raised in honour of Rajiv Gandhi, the charismatic Prime Minister who was assassinated here by a human bomb in 1991.
On a vast expanse of over 250 acres on the banks of the Adyar estuary lies the more-than-a-century-old Theosophical Society, amidst the woods, marshes, gardens and waters. H.P. Blavatsky founded the society in 1875. The Adyar Banyan tree with its roots spreading over 40,000-sq-ft and its library, a research centre in eastern civilization, philosophy and religion, are worth seeing. The Theosophical Society is a worldwide body whose primary objective is Universal Brotherhood based on the realization that life, and all its diverse forms, human and non-human, is indivisibly one. The Society imposes no belief on its members, who are united by a common search for Truth and desire to learn the meaning and purpose of existence by engaging themselves in study, reflection, purity of life and loving service.