Chennai, also called the ‘Gateway of South India’ is the second most populous city; with tremendous cultural and linguistic diversity with approximately 1000 dialects, is one place which is both incredible and intriguing to the visitors. Perched on the magnificent shores of Arabian Sea, the city boasts of its rich historical background. Chennai is also known for the Indian dance form – Bharatnatyam, which is the official dance form of Tamil Nadu. Chennai as a city has the perfect amalgamation of heritage imbibed with fine arts, music, dance form and mouth watering cuisine.
The city of Chennai, before acquiring its present stature was known as Madras in ancient times. The city which is about 400 years old begins its historical journey from the rulers of South India and then going from colonization to development, then acquiring its present stature as a metropolitan city. Chennai at its inception was just a small group of villages. The city was under the governance of the great and well known dynasties of South India such as the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandayas and Vijayanagar Kingdom. With the dawn of 16th century, Chennai started changing to make a history which was a story of conquering territories and colonization. In the year 1522, the first foreign conquerors set foot upon the land of Chennai.
The Portuguese entered and made the first port on Chennai – The Sao Tome, after the Christian apostle – St.Thomas. With that the line of foreign conquerors started breaching through the territories of Chennai. In 1612 the Dutch came and settled near Pulicat, which constituted the northern part of the state followed by the East India Company. Madras, derived from Madraspattanam was the area which the East India Company had chosen to settle its trade into and established its factory here in 1639. Along with factories which were set up by Francis Day and Andrew Cogan, a colony was also set up which would work to serve as the headquarters of EIC and got completed in 1640, which today is known as the George’s Fort, and with passing years was built into George town as trade flourished here, marked by overcrowded streets bustling with business which catered to the needs of British market. Then came in the second flow of governance and colonization, The French, and the city along with George fort came under the supremacy of them under the leadership of General La Bourdonnais, the governor of Mauritius who ransacked the city and conquered it. With another turn of events as the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 1749, the city again came under the rule of the British. As the area was bastioned the British established their supremacy which became unquestionable in the city. By the late 18th century the Madras Presidency was established by the British with the inclusion of areas nearby Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The last wave of turmoil in Chennai ended with India getting its freedom in 1947. The city was declared as the capital of Madras. The name Madras got revamped with the name of Tamil Nadu in the year 1969. The name Chennai was given to the city in August 1996 and thus Chennai got its present stature as it is known today an IIT hub and is also called ‘the Detroit of Asia.’
Beginning from the month of October to the end of February is regarded as the best-suited duration for exploration.
From the basic range hotels to the luxurious ones; the capital city of Tamil Nadu is blessed with all. It’s one of the biggest cultural, economic and educational centres of India, which makes it a place of higher significance and exploration. It serves the presence of numerous well-reviewed hotels, most of them are equipped with services like Free Wi-Fi, Free Breakfast, well-outlined restaurants serving the best food etc.
2 or 3 days at Maximum is quite workable to explore the prominence absorbed attractions of Chennai. Here are some to name [must-visit destinations to pay your visit at] – Marina beach| Kapaleeshwarar temple| St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica| Government Museum| Edward’s Elliot’s Beach| Fort St. George| St, Thomas Mount etc.
Chennai [a growing metropolitan city] is truly exceptional; it’s not only blessed with the presence of numerous temples, beaches and churches but it also houses numerous well-placed and widespread malls like the Express Avenue| Spencer Plaza| Citi Centre| Abirami Mega Mall| Forum Vijaya Mall, Ampa Skywalk, Phoenix Market city etc. Apart from these impressively stuffed malls, there are numerous street markets as well, where one can easily find the product in need [from the daily life necessities to the artistry and skills reflecting products etc].
To name some – Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar market, Sowcarpet, Parry’s corner etc; these are market streets which sell some of the best quality and quirky featured handicraft, clothes, accessories, Jewellery, Sarees, Footwears, fabrics, handmade products etc. While exploring the prominent destinations of exploration do make sure to buy some products of your choice with your travelling companions [do try a dish or two Chennai special street foods].
Welcome to the land of knowledge and skills; Chennai is way too competitive and infused in excellence when it comes to showcasing the oldest of past and artistic paintings belonging to the various parts of the country. It houses several museums, galleries and other high-recognition holding institutions. It’s also adorned with one of the oldest Museums and Art Gallery in the country – The National Art Gallery and the Government Museum [these were established in the early 18th century.
One can easily spend hours witnessing the formations of past]. Chennai also hosts two eminent art festivals annually; this incredible city is worth a visit. The art admirers devote the larger space of their heart for this city, which is a major centre for music, culture and art in India. Chennai is well-known for its notable classical dance shows; people gather along and enjoy the art festival called the Chennai Sangamam. Bharata Natyam – a major genre of Indian classical dance was originated from Tamil Nadu [it’s the oldest dance of India]. This city in whole is truly inspiring and amazing; one should definitely pay a visit.
Apart from being the originator of the oldest dance form of India [Bharata Natyam]; being the home of the second largest beach in the world etc; also own huge-recognition in the department of cooking and serving as well. Here are the names of some Chennai special dishes – Idli and Sambhar [part of every local’s day to day life]| Uttapam served in varied flavours| Vada and Sambhar with Chutney| Chilli Bhajji [spicy Indian snack]| Muttai Dosai| Pongal [dish made out of rice]| Idiyappam| Parotta| Murukku| Dosai with Chutney etc. Visit any of the food outlets; it will definitely make you ask for more of whatever dish you prefer having regardless of the number of visits. One can actually spend an entire day visiting various eateries shops [tasting the special dishes].
The Detroit of Asia – Chennai is a city, perched at the shores of the grand Arabian Sea and thus has beautiful beaches which give a panoramic view of the sea in front. The 15kms long Marina beach has a lighthouse, memorials, statues, walkways, gardens and drives along the beach front. With lots of famous coffee shops and restaurants the Elliot’s Beach is also worth visiting. One of the most famous beaches of Chennai is the Covelong Beach and has a cove and a fort of the Kings of Chennai.
Spread across a land mass of 6.25 acres, the Chennai Rail Museum is a place which is dedicated to portray the rich culture of railways in India. Inaugurated on 16th April 2002 the place has displayed both technical and heritage exhibits with plethora of collections of steam engines which date back to the era of the British rule. The museum covers the history of Indian railways in South India and has heritage trains like the Ooty trains. These collections of trains are almost 100years old and are well preserved and maintained.
This museum established in 1851 in Egmore has various buildings like the Government Museum, Connemara Public library and the National Art gallery. The museum houses various artifacts, constituting of archeology, numismatics, zoology, natural history, Amarvati paintings and palm leaf manuscripts. The Connemara National depository library is one library which is given one copy of every book, newspaper and periodical published in India. This library is also a depository library of the UN.
This fort holds important place in the history of Chennai as this is the first fort by the British in India and was established in 1639.The fort was named after St. George who was the patron saint of England. The fort later led to the development of George Town, which was also called the Black town in old days. The fort today is now used as the headquarters of the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu. The fort also houses the St. Mary’s Church which is also the oldest Anglo church in India.
The Santhome Church in Chennai is also called the Santhome Cathedral Basilica is the church of one of the 12 disciples of Jesus and was built in 16th century in India by Portuguese explorers over the tomb of Saint Thomas. When the church was rebuilt by the British, it resembled the Neo-Gothic style of Architecture in the 19th century. The British version of the church stands till date and is a famous tourist hotspot. This church is quintessentially a Roman catholic church and was given the status of cathedral by the British when they were rebuilding it.
The Chettinad palace is one of the best example of the Chettinad architecture in Chennai and was established in the year 1912. The palace in its architecture resembles to European architecture a little and was built under Dr.Annamalai Chettiyar. The Palace is an archeological wonder as it has been carved in intrinsic shapes and geometrical patterns. Situated between lush green swathes of land the palace is pristine and there is absolutely no better way to know about the history of the Chettiyars than by visiting the Palace. The palace almost took 2 years to complete to reach its present stature.
The victory war memorial, which was once called the Cupids’s bow, is located at the south of Fort St. George, from where the Mariana beach starts. It was founded as a memorial to the victory of the Allied Armies during World War I and then was later considered as the victory war memorial for World War II, to commemorate the sacrifice of martyrs who died in the war from Madras Presidency. Then other memorials were also associated to it like the 1948 Kashmir aggression, the 1962 war of China and the Indo-Pakistan war.
This memorial built at the Eliot’s Beach is a monument erected by the governor of the place to commemorate the bravery of Karl Schmidt who drowned while trying to save an English girl. The story has it that the English girl Schmidt had save, attended a party the next day as if nothing had happened and the ten governor who was angry at the girl’s carelessness decided to erect this memorial monument. The memorial stone at the structure says, ” To commemorate the gallantry of K A J Schmidt who was drowned near this spot on December 30, 1930 while helping to save the lives of others.”
This monument dedicated to the Tamil Poet, saint and philosopher is a tourist hotspot in Chennai. Built in the 1970s the by Klaignar M. Karunanidhi is a monument on which all the 133 chapters and 1330 verses of the Thiruvalluvar, a work by the famous poet is inscribed. Velluvar Kottavam has the structure of a chariot and is 39m high. The hall of the monument can accommodate almost 4000 people within itself. The monument is situated at the Kodambakkam High Road and is now one of the most famous monuments of Chennai.
With 1300 acres in its cover, this zoo is the largest zoo in India. Also called as the Vandalur Zoo, it was set up in 1855 and is one of the oldest zoos of India which is working under Central Zoo Authority of India. The park was established with the motive to prevent the extinction of endangered species, flora and fauna, wildlife education and research. The zoo is actually a part of Vandalur Reserved forest Area and is handling almost 46 endangered species of wildlife on its own.
Also known as Town Hall, Victoria public hall as the name suggests was christened after Victoria, the erstwhile Queen of England. The hall is famed to be one of the best examples of British architecture and was used as a theatre and public assembly room in late 19th and 20th century. It is now established as the South Indian Athletic Association Club. The hall has its roots of inception in 1882, was built in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and was commissioned by many maharajas of that time, apart from British Officials.
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