Chennai (formerly Madras; Tamil: சென்னை), is the capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. With a population of 8.6 million (2011 census), Chennai's urbanized area is the most populous in southern India and the fourth most populous in India. It is situated on the east coast of peninsular India.
Though Chennai traces its history to Fort St George and adjoining village of Madrasapatnam founded by the British East India Company in 1640, some residential districts of the city are older. The name Madras was changed to Chennai in 1997 by a special act of the Tamil Nadu legislature.
Chennai is well-connected by road, rail and air and is a staging point for tours to the 7th century Pallava temple of Mahabalipuram, an UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hindu temples of Kanchipuram, Sriperumbudur and Tirupati, the bird sanctuary of Vedanthangal and the Pondicherry ashram.
Chennai has an extremely hot and humid climate—especially in the month of May, and has heavy rains during monsoons (July to November). The worst of the heat can be avoided by visiting from November to February.
A coastal site that has been inhabited since the Stone Age, what is now Chennai was ruled by the Three Crowned Kings (the Cholas, Chera and Pandya dynasties) for most of its history. In medieval times, it came within the control of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Chennai is associated with one of the twelve apostles in Christianity, Thomas. He is believed to have gone to evangelise in India and died in Mylapore, today a neighbourhood of Chennai. The two modern suburbs of Chennai, St Thomas Mount and Santhome, were named in Thomas' honour. In 1522, the Portuguese came to the area, built a port and accordingly named it São Tomé after Saint Thomas.
Chennai the modern city was founded by the British East India Company in 1639. The Company purchased the land from the local Nayak or chieftain on 22 August 1639, which is why Chennai nowadays celebrates its birthday every year on 22 August. It was one of the British East India Company's first outposts in India. The Company built Fort St. George which is now the administrative and legislative seat of Tamil Nadu state. Over time, George Town absorbed many nearby boroughs and grew into becoming the current metropolis of Chennai.
The Tamil Nadu government changed the name of the city from Madras to Chennai in 1996, stating that the original name of the city was Chennai whereas Madras was coined during British rule.
The name Madras comes from Madraspatnam, which is what the British called the site when they settled here. Its origin is uncertain. Tradition suggests that a fishing village near to the location of the British settlement was called Madraspatnam. Others think that the early Portuguese voyagers may have called the area Madre de Sois after an early settler, or Madre de Deus after an early church (of St. Mary).
Chennai is derived from Chennapatnam, a name with almost equally uncertain origins. Tradition has it that Chennapatnam was the name of a fishing village near the location of Madraspatnam. However, it is not clear if the village was there beforehand or grew up around the British Madraspatnam settlement.
As the settlements grew, the exact location of both Chennapatnam and Madraspatnam became confused as the two settlements merged into a single town.
Under British rule, what was then Madras gradually became an important administrative centre and was linked to the other big cities by rail, including Bombay and Calcutta. Madras was the capital city of the Madras Presidency, a subdivision that governed the areas of South India under direct British control. Upon India's independence, the city continued to be the capital of Madras State. After many of India's states were renamed and reorganised on the basis of language, Chennai became the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.
For centuries, Chennai has been the gateway to Southern India, with a vastly different culture from the other big cities of the country. Tamil culture and tradition at its core celebrates beauty. This is revealed in its dance, sculpture and clothing. Chennai's demographics show a more diverse population than the rest of Tamil Nadu. The traditional art forms, music, dance of Tamil Nadu thrive here. The cuisine uniquely blends traditional foods, fast food and filter coffee. The architecture varies from age-old temples, to colonial buildings and twenty-first century skyscrapers. Both Western and Indian classical music flourish in Chennai, along with a booming nightlife. There are dance schools teaching anything from traditional Bharatnatyam to Salsa. There are music schools teaching you how to play the veena, violin, guitar or drums just about everywhere. Chennai reflects its traditional heritage from December to January during the height of the music festival. The clothing locals wear is generally conservative by Western standards but the younger generation wear contemporary.
- Music - The classical music tradition which emerged in South India including Chennai is known as Carnatic music, of which there have been many composers. Purandara Dasa, who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries, is known as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music due to his pioneering contributions to the tradition. Purandara Dasa is renowned for formulating the basic lessons of Carnatic music. The contemporaries Tyagaraja , Muthuswami Dikshitar, and Syama Sastri of the 18th and 19th centuries, are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic music due to the high quality music they composed. The Chennai Music Festival The compositions of these maestros are frequently played by today's artists during the music festival season. The Chennai Music Festival from mid-December to mid-January commemorates the classical music of South India, including these maestros. The festival, which has now developed into a cultural extravaganza with more than 2,000 artists participating in over 300 concerts, is held throughout the city at numerous venues, including auditoriums, well-known temple premises and heritage bungalows. Performances consist of vocal and instrumental music, dance (solo and group), both by junior and senior artists. The music include classical vocal renditions in various South Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and instruments like the flute, veena (a large string instrument), goottuvadyam (similar to the veena but without frets), nagaswaram (pipe), thavil (percussion instrument), mridangam (drum), and even ghatam (a mud pot). Information regarding tickets and venues can be obtained from the tourist office in Chennai. Nowadays, the music in the Tamil film industry has emerged as an important entertainment platform in Chennai. Kollywood as it is known, reveals the ongoing developments and changes to Tamil culture over time.
- Dance - Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu is associated with a worldwide famous form of classical dance, the Bharatnatyam. This classical dance celebrates the world and universe by showcasing the beauty of the human body. The dancer represents this by having a perfectly straight posture, a pout curving stomach, a well-rounded and a proportionate body to mass ratio, very long hair and curvy hips. The positions and moves bring the Natyashastra principles to life. The araimandi posture is another spiritual portrayal, where the dancer poses in a half-sitting, fixed position with their knees turned sideways. In the araimandi, the distance between the dancer's head and navel is equal to the distance between the ground and navel. Similarly, the distance between the dancer's right arm and left arm at full stretch is equal to that between their head and feet. This personifies creation and life.
- Cuisine - As with most of Southern India, the staple food in the city is rice. Chennai offers various non-vegetarian and vegetarian delicacies. The food in Chennai gets its flavour from a combination of condiments, herbs and spices used throughout Tamil Nadu. Tamarind, coconut and asafoetida are essential in nearly every vegetarian recipe. Refined gingelly oil is commonly used as the default oil when cooking. Mixed spices and chutney accompany meals to enhance its taste. A Chennai lunch is comprised of rice with a range of dishes, including sambar (thin lentil curry), chutney, rasam (a broth made from pepper and tamarinds) and yogurt/curd. Non-vegetarian lunches include meals cooked with chicken, fish or mutton. Appalams (papadums) are a vital accompaniment to a Tamil meal. In Chennai, it is Chettinad cuisine that stands out from the others. The cuisine is spicy and hot and offers scrumptious variety in a range of meat dishes, of which the best known is arguably Chettinad Pepper Chicken. A Chennai twist on Mughalai cuisine can be experienced in the paya (a spiced trotter's broth) and biryani. Breakfast in Chennai consists of idli (steamed rice and lentil cakes), dosa (a thin and savoury, crepe-like pancake prepared from lentil and rice batter), vada (doughnuts made by deep-frying black lentil batter), pongal (a boiled mash of lentils and rice seasoned with cashew nuts, ghee, cumin seed and pepper), upma (roasted semolina garnished with spices and oil). Most Chennai breakfasts are accompanied by sambar, melagai podi (a powdered mix of various dried lentils eaten with oil) and coconut chutney. Chennai is also renowned forfilter coffee, the most popular type of coffee in Tamil culture. It is a laborious task to make filter coffee. First the beans are roasted and ground. The coffee powder then has to be poured into a filter set along with boiling water, which is allowed to infuse for approximately 15 minutes. Then the decoction is mixed with sugar and milk. The drink once prepared is rapidly poured back and forth from one vessel to another which makes a perfect, aerated cup of coffee. Filter coffee is refreshing and has a lingering taste.
- Clothing - The traditional garment for Tamil women is the sari while the men wear the dhoti, which could be either a white pancha or a colourful lungi with typical South Indian patterns. The sari, being an unstitched wrap, enhances the shape of the wearer while only partially covering the midriff. In Indian philosophy, the navel of the Supreme Being is considered as the source of life and creativity. These principles of the sari, also hold for other forms of wrapped clothing, like the lungi worn by men. The lungi can be wrapped over clockwise or anticlockwise and can be tied at the back or fixed just along the waist line. It is sometimes lifted till the knee and tied at the waist leisurely or just held by the wearer's hand to speed up walking. In traditional Brahmin homes, men wear kachche panchey where it is tied at back by taking it between legs. A similar pattern is seen in women.
Its coastal position and closeness to the equator makes Chennai's climate humid and tropical all year round.
Chennai predominantly has two seasons - summer from April to June (35-42°C / 95-108°F, the highest temperature recorded was 45°C / 113°F in 2003) and the monsoon from October to December. The city barely gets any rain from the southwest monsoon (Jun-Sep), but receives copious amounts from the northeast monsoon from October through to December, every year amounting to between 125 and 150 cm (49 and 59 in) of rain. During some seasons, Chennai gets a greater amount of rainfall if there are depressions in the Bay of Bengal.
The period from December through to February is the mildest in terms of temperature, where the daily range on average is 19-28°C (66-82°F). Be sure to take along thin and light clothing.
Books on Chennai
- Chennai, Not Madras: Perspectives on the City (2006) by A.R. Venkatachalapathy
- The Spirit of Chepauk (1998) by S. Muthiah
- Madras Rediscovered: A Historical Guide to Looking Around (1999) by S. Muthiah
- The Story Of Fort St. George (1945) by Col. D.M. Reid
Fiction set in Chennai
- The Healing (2008) by Gita Aravamudan
- Tamarind City (2012) by Bishwanath Ghosh
Early morning city
Chennai is a good morning city where all restaurants, shops and public transportation facilities are in full swing well before 6AM. Traffic is in full strength well before 8AM.
Tamil is the most widely spoken language in the city and is the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu. However, English, is well-understood and considerably well known in the city, with most of the well-educated upper class being fluent in English. The dialect of Tamil used by the locals is called Madras Bashai and includes a disproportionately high chunk of the English, Telugu, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu vocabulary and their derivatives. White-collared professionals use Tanglish, a form of conversational Tamil containing a large number of English words. Both forms of Tamil are different from the dialects spoken in other parts of the state and are often viewed upon contemptuously by Tamil purists.
Telugu is spoken by a quarter of the city's population. Chennai is less than 60 km from the Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh border. Most Telugu-speakers are settled in Chennai for generations and are usually bilingual in both Tamil and Telugu. However, the Telugu script is far-less understood and very few are literate in the language. As the centre of anti-Hindi agitations from the 1930s and the 1960s, the city has cherished a deep-rooted animosity for Hindi. However, since the 1980s, when the much-politicized rhetoric against Hindi began to tone down, tolerance for Hindi has been growing. Nevertheless, Hindi is still not widely spoken or understood by locals, so if you don't speak Tamil, you will be better off trying English instead of Hindi.
- 1 Chennai International Airport (MAA IATA, Madras Airport), GST Rd (Approx. 19 kms south-west from downtown), ☎ . is the third busiest in India (after Mumbai & Delhi). All international flights arrive at Anna Terminal, whereas domestic flights arrive at Kamraj Terminal. Both terminals are on the same road and are 150 m (490 ft) away from each other. It is the second largest cargo hub in the country, after Mumbai. Avoid the cafeteria at the viewing area, as there were cases of food poisoning in 2013.
- Europe and North America: British Airways (London-Heathrow) and Lufthansa (Frankfurt) fly nonstop to Chennai with connecting services from destinations in the United States and Canada.
- Southeast Asia: Thai Airways offers nonstop service from Bangkok. Silk Air, Singapore Airlines and Tiger Airways connect Chennai with Singapore along with many Indian carriers like Air India Express. Air Asia flies from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Bangkok while Malaysia Airlines offers nonstop service from Malaysia. India's Jet Airways flies nonstop from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Cathay Pacific flies non-stop from Hong Kong.
- Middle East: Nonstop services are available to Chennai from all major Middle Eastern cities on Air Arabia, Air India Express, Oman Air, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Saudia and Gulf Air.
- Sri Lanka: Chennai is a hub for flights from Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines, Jet Airways, Air India Express and JetLite.
- Domestic: All major Indian domestic carriers (Jet Airways, Spice, Go Air, Indigo) fly to and from Chennai, connecting the city with destinations all across India. Most domestic carriers also use Chennai as a hub for flights to the smaller towns in Southern India.
Airport to central business district
- 2 Tirusulam Suburban Railway Station (directly across the street from the domestic terminal. Walk through the car park, cross the street and walk left until you see the station. Due to the distance from the airport (500-600 m) and the high volume of traffic on the road, walking to the station is only advisable with limited luggage.). This is the most affordable option for getting into downtown Chennai. The train stops at both Egmore and Chennai Park. To get to Chennai Central, follow the crowds exiting the train at Chennai Park station. It is recommended to get first-class tickets if you end up reaching the airport at a peak time. Overcrowding frequently occurs in the general compartments as they take commuters to and from work. During peak periods, even first-class compartments can get crowded. Regular ticket: ₹5. First class ticket: around ₹70 to/from Downtown.
Use the prepaid taxi to reach the central business district. Every terminal has many taxi booths when you leave the airport. Fast Track has the best rep, figure on around ₹560 to the city centre for a Toyota Innova or equivalent. The fares differ for the international and domestic terminals though the terminals are next to each other. You can either choose the standard taxis (black with yellow tops) or the private call-taxi (which can come in any colour). It is better to have some loose change when paying at the counters. The taxi number is written on your charge slip. One copy is for the passenger while the other is for the driver to collect the fare from the counter. Make your way to the taxi stand and get the taxi number allotted at the designated desk. The helpful drivers will offer to take your luggage and guide you to the taxi that drives up quickly near the allotment desk.
A new cab provider named "Fasttrack" has started off their service and a pre-paid booth of them is available at both domestic and international terminals. Comparing with the rest of the taxis their fare and service is pretty much good. Depends on your need you can get from Maruti van to Toyota Innova.
The prepaid and yellow top taxis are not air-conditioned, were made in the 1970s and 80s, are rickety and are prone to stop midway in a journey. The drivers sometimes exhibit rough dangerous behaviour and can demand exorbitant fares. The "prepaid" may mean nothing and they may demand more when you get down. Stay away from these types of taxis.
Aviation Express is very overpriced.
The Chennai Metro connects the airport to the city for up to ₹50, e.g. to the CMBT bus station or Koyambedu with a change at Alandur (Jan 2017). It is being expanded into the centre of the city.
Ola and Uber have become more prominent and travellers can easily book a journey on these services using a smart phone. They are generally cheaper than all prepaid taxis.
- 3 Chennai Central Railway Station (code: MAS, former: Madras Central, சென்னை நடுவம்) (You can arrive at the prepaid taxi/auto stand and book a cab to transport you to your exact place of stay. The main entrance is at Park Town at the intersection of the arterial Poonamallee High Road, Pallavan Salai, and Wall Tax Road between the People's Park and the Southern Railways headquarters. The station premises is located on either side of the Buckingham Canal, formerly known as Cochrane's Canal, which separates the main station and the suburban terminus. Connected with the Park railway station by subway.).
- 4 Chennai Park Suburban railway station, Poonamallee High Rd, Poongavanapuram. 'South' Line. Take it to west to Central Beach or to South(west) to Tambaram passing Tirusulam station (a couple hundred metres away from Chennai International Airport).
- 5 Chennai Egmore Railway Station (code MS) (You can arrive at the prepaid taxi/auto stand and book a cab to transport you to your exact place of stay. One stop from Chennai Central railway station by suburban rail). The other main long-distance train station. It has trains which cover all the places in Tamil Nadu and also a few important places outside it. Many long distance trains to Egmore stop at Tambaram (code TBM).
- 6 Chennai Beach Station, North Beach Road, George Town (Near to Chennai Port). Serves the suburban services of the Chennai suburban railway (headstation of the South line) and Mass Rapid Transit System of Chennai and a few passenger trains.
- 7 Perambur Railway Station (code PER), Perambur High Rd, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, Bunder Garden, Perambu (NW four km from Chennai Central). Serves the suburban areas of Chennai.
- 8 Tambaram Railway Station (code TBM, தாம்பரம் இரயில் நிலையம்), Railway Station Road, Tambaram East (SW 29 km from Chennai Central). Serves the suburban areas of Chennai. Trains to Chennai Beach (every 5-10 mins), to Chengalpet (every 10-15 mins) and to Kancheepuram (half hourly or so)
Trains that connect Chennai to major hubs like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are usually booked out days in advance. If you plan to travel by train, consider making an advance reservation, the reservation opens 60 days before the day of travel. The AC compartments in the trains are preferable for new travelers as the sleeper class and sitting class compartments are generally very crowded. A 3-tier AC berth from Chennai to Bangalore or Coimbatore costs around ₹700 and that to Delhi around ₹2500 including meals.
- 9 CMBT (Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus சென்னை புறநகர் பேருந்து நிலையம்), CMBT Passenger Way, Koyambedu (on the 30 m inner-ring road (Jawaharlal Nehru Road) in Koyambedu between SAF Games Village and the Koyambedu Vegetable Market. -Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus metro station), ☎ (Enquiry). One of Asia's largest bus stations. Seven different state owned corporations drive buses to and from various destinations within South India. There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli. You will get the option of A/C or Non-A/C coaches for cities like Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad. It has six platforms in three bus fingers with 180 bus bays
- 10 Omni bus terminus (Chennai Contract Carriage Bus Terminus, CCCBT), Kaliamman Koil St, Virrugambakkam, Koyambedu (West to Kaliamman Koil St. Take bus to stop Arihant Towers Bus Stop. CMBT Metro Station 400 m away). This one is used by several private players that also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. Omni Bus Booking: No:B-15, Ground Floor, Sriji majestic complex (right next to Omni bus terminus).
All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state owned (CMBT) and private buses (Omni bus terminus). The two terminals are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/auto-rickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. Ak the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination.
Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state-owned (CMBT) and private buses (Omni bus terminus). The two terminals are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/auto-rickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. Feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination.
Chennai is very well connected and to other parts of India by road. Five major national highways radiate outward towards Kolkata, Bengaluru, Tiruchy/Madurai, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. With the progress of the Golden Quadrilateral project, driving down from Bangalore is an option too. There are many car rental companies available.
Getting around the heart of Chennai city often takes time, due to traffic and heavy congestion. So it is advisable to plan your journey accordingly. Travelling within Chennai is not so cheap by Indian metropolitan standards, and are quite cheap by European and USA standards.
Chennai has a suburban train network. There are four routes:
- 11 Chennai Central Suburban Railway Station.
- 12 Arakkonam Suburban Railway Station, Railway Quarters Rd, Arakkonam North (Near to INS Rajali Naval Air Station - 60 km west of the center of the city). ;
- Chennai Central Suburban Railway Station (see above)
- 13 Gummidipoondi Suburban Railway Station (40 km north of the center of the city).
- 14 Sulurpet Suburban Railway Station, Sulurpeta, Andhra Pradesh State (84 km north of the center of the city).
- 15 Gudur Railway Station (Telugu: గుడూరు, Newari: गुडूरु), Gudur, Andhra Pradesh State (N-NW 58 km from Sulurpet).
- 16 Chennai Beach Suburban Railway Station.
- Chennai Beach Suburban Railway Station (see above)
- 19 Velachery (MRTS) Suburban Railway Station (near the junction of Velachery Main Road and Inner Ring Road in Velachery. North of Pallikaranai Marshland.).
The suburban trains are generally reliable and fast. The frequency of suburban trains is generally good and it is advisable to take a first class ticket during peak hours. Trains offer a reliable alternative to quickly reach your destination when compared to buses which might get trapped in traffic jams. The fare in Chennai suburban trains is the lowest in the country and you don't have to compromise comfort for the meagre amount that you pay as in other Indian metros. There is a separate ladies compartment in the suburban trains that are relatively less crowded even in peak hours. The lowest second class train fare is ₹5/-. However, you might need to wait even for almost half an hour in a queue for ticket during peak hours. So it would be best if you buy a card that is available at every station that can be used to buy tickets from a ticket vending machine that almost nobody uses. Always keep your baggage safe when you are travelling in the suburban railway system.
Chennai Metro Rail
The part of the new Metro Rail from Koyembedu to Alandur has been extended to St Thomas Mount metro which is adjacent to St Thomas Mount Statation. Chennai Airport to Little Mount has been open since Oct 2016. Also effective May 2017 Koyembedu has been extended to Anna Nagar, Shenoy Nagar, Kilpauk and Nehuru Park. The Maximum fare between Chennai Airport to Nehru Park (which is 1½ km from Egmore and 2½ km from Chennai Central) is ₹60 per person. Other lines are under construction and will soon be operational. They will connect the airport, the railway station, the CMBT bus station and most of the city. Frequency is 10 minutes between Alandur and Shenoy Nagar and 20 minutes between airport and Nehru Park. Chennai Metro Rail operates M-Sa 6AM-10PM and Su 8AM-10PM.
The Tourist Travel Card offers unlimited travel within the Chennai Metro Rail network for a day. It costs ₹100, of which ₹50 when it is returned. Chennai Metro Rail has baggage checking like airport and is very safe.
Chennai Airport Metro is 400-500 m away from Chennai International and Domestic Terminal.
Also tourist can use the Chennai Metro Rail app (Google Play store/Apple Itune). The app provides details about train timings, exit gates and platform, fare between two stations, the nearest metro station, and how to reach the station by car, public transport and walking.
Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap.
- 20 Broadway city bus terminus, NSC Bose Rd, Esplanade, George Town (In the centre of the city- Parry's corner & Fort. Very close to Chennai Central railway station. The nearest suburban railway station is Chennai Fort.). The largest city bus terminus of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (Chennai), Chennai. - It lies opposite the Madras High Court along the Esplanade in George Town. It is a connecting point to several areas in the city. The bus terminus is at the southern end of Broadway.
Normally bus fare in MTC range from ₹4-30. State corporation also has Deluxe and A/C Buses for Chennai Passengers. Fare for deluxe bus is almost two times as compared to normal bus. For same route, deluxe and normal bus have same number but deluxe buses are being run targeting long distance journey since it will stop at major bus stops only. So if you find normal buses too crowded, take a deluxe one. Non-AC deluxe also have power gates and better suspension which you won't find in normal bus. If you have luggage with you, you might have to pay the cost of an extra person depending upon its size.
MTC Chennai operates AC bus service between important routes like Parrys - Tambaram, Parrys - CMBT, Chennai Central - CMBT, Chennai central - Tambaram, etc. Most frequent AC bus runs between CMBT towards Pondicherry and are known as East coast road (ECR) buses and is very popular for intracity travel too.
Daily and weekly bus passes are available for tourists costing ₹50 or ₹300. They can be used on normal and deluxe bus services (but not AC) on all routes within the city. It is worthwhile to purchase the daily pass if you plan to visit more than a couple of places in a day and it will save you from the trouble to maintain loose change. The daily pass can be purchased on the first bus you board from the conductor, while the weekly and monthly passes are sold at kiosks in major termini.
State Express Transport Corporation buses go to different parts of the state. Private carriers also run to other towns/cities in state. You can buy these bus tickets online at redBus or readIndia or RathiMeena.
Chennai has about 71,000 auto rickshaws.
The fares of Chennai auto-rickshaws have been an enormous political topic for many years and has contributed to the perception that the city's auto rickshaw drivers never use meters and continually fleece passengers. However, despite the reputation, trips by auto rickshaw actually are quick, cheap and quite often based on the metered price.
The minimum fare is set at ₹25 for the first 1.8 km and ₹12/km for every additional kilometre (2013). Waiting charges were set at ₹3.50 for every five minutes and ₹42 per hour. Between 11PM and 5AM, the fare is 50% higher than the normal daytime rate.
Auto rickshaw meters are being outfitted with GPS and electronic digital receipt printers. As of 2015, though, only a small fraction of autos actually have these features.
Despite the official fares, the situation as of 2015 is for the driver and passenger to agree before the ride begins to a price of a) meter, b) meter + some additional amount, or c) a fixed price.
Whether the auto driver will agree to a metered fare depends on many factors. Generally, many drivers will agree to a fare of meter plus ₹10-30 additional. But at busy times such as rush hours on weekdays, almost no drivers will agree to the metered price and will insist on a fixed price, or at a minimum demand a fare of meter plus ₹30-100. On the other hand, at slower times, for example Sundays, many drivers will agree to metered prices with no surcharge. Some drivers will simply never accept metered fares no matter what time it is.
The fixed prices which auto drivers demand is related to distance. They generally have a good sense for how much the fare would be for a given route and ask for fixed prices around double what it would cost by meter. For shorter distances which would cost ₹25-50 by the meter, the fixed price demanded is ₹100-150. For longer distances which would cost ₹50-150 by meter, the fixed price demanded will be ₹200-300. Depending on the situation, it's possible to negotiate down the demanded fixed price.
For short distances up to 1.8 km, auto drivers as of 2015 very rarely will agree to the metered price of ₹25. Generally, ₹40-50 is the minimum most will require for any trip, although at off-peak hours, it might be possible with negotiation and speaking to many autos to find a driver who will agree to ₹30-40. For a typical trip in the city of 3-5km, many drivers will demand ₹100-150, but at non-peak hours a fare of ₹50-₹0 will usually be sufficient after speaking to a few drivers.
At all times, the price agreed depends very much on the passenger's knowledge of the distance involved and price it would cost by meter, his/her negotiation skill, and the time s/he is willing to spend asking auto after auto. In almost any central area, there are many autos around, so if you have the time, it's possible to save quite a bit by speaking to many auto drivers until you find an acceptable fare.
Many passengers now opt for Ola, Uber or other similar taxi-order services simply to avoid the frustration and time involved with negotiating with auto after auto.
All autos in Chennai have meters, but at least a quarter of drivers have disabled their meter in some way in order to make it not functional and the passenger must agree to a fixed price if s/he wants to use that auto. For those meters which function, you can see the price, kilometers and waiting time, and thereby confirm that the meter is fairly following the official tariff structure.
Share autos have emerged as an alternative mode of transport in Chennai. They are over-sized three wheelers running on diesel and charge slightly more than the bus. There are four wheelers known as meter taxis, which don't have a meter and are not taxis. Another four wheeler, Magic (manufactured by Tata), has started running in and around the city, which operate similar to share autos and meter taxis. They are all over crowded and the drivers indulge in rash driving, owing to the competition. The only advantage is that it is cost effective.
If you are fascinated by the idea of going around in an auto, think about all those foreigners, who are riding an auto from Chennai to Mumbai.
A Chennai-based event management company, Chennai Event Management Services, has been having auto-rickshaw rallies from Chennai to Mumbai, or Kanyakumari, etc., and has developed a great fan following for them.
Taxis (locally called "call-taxis" since they must be pre-arranged) are available by phone. They are mostly reliable, can be ordered air-conditioned, and have digital fare meters, although time-based hire is also possible with some companies. Most companies charge a minimum fare of ₹150/-, which is for 5 km (3 mi) and for every subsequent kilometre they charge ₹18/-. Alternatively, you can hire a car for a half/full day for around ₹800/1300. These figures are for basic non-AC Ambassadors, add about 50% if you want a comfier aircon Tata Indica. Waiting charges are included in the meter cost but you are required to pay parking and toll fees additional to the fare displayed in the meter. If your trip is time-sensitive, it's best to book your taxi a few hours in advance and call shortly before your trip to confirm.
Most prepaid taxi operators have choice of vehicles. Indica is the ubiquitous hatch back that can seat 3 passengers, but it is almost impossible to find one of these well maintained. Opt for a Figo or Liva instead of the Indica when you book the taxi, these are newer models and likely to be in better state of maintenance. If you prefer a sedan, choices are Etios, Maruti Dzire and Ford Fiesta. SUV models Innova or Xylo have more space and are suitable for small groups (up to 7). Innova has a well deserved reputation with travellers for airport transfers due to the reliability, spacious seats and capacity to carry more luggage.
Tourist cabs - Are the best choice in case you want to tour the city all day or visit nearby places like Mahabalipuram, Tirupati, etc. Costs about ₹10 per kilometre and ₹100 per hour as hire charges. Also generally there is special price if you need to go Chennai Central or Chennai Airport.
Some radio taxi services are:
- Bharathi Call Taxi, ☎ .
- Friends Track Call Taxi, ☎ .
- Meru Cabs, ☎ .
- Taxi for Sure (TFS), ☎ .
- Taxi Chennai.
- Drop Taxi, ☎ .
It is generally not advisable for foreign travellers to drive on their own as they might be unaware of the traffic rules and congestion in the city. The roads in Chennai are better maintained than the average Indian road. The main highway is Anna Salai also known as Mount Road.
The complex road routes may confuse novice driver and it is sheer waste of time. If you choose to rent a car, it's strongly advised to hire a driver as well. Typical driver fee comes to around ₹250 for 4-hour shift and an additional ₹50 every hour thereafter. Outstation trips cost a driver fee of ₹750 for a 12-hour journey.
Both diesel and petrol are used as fuel in India and it varies with the model of the car. Some cars have identical models with only a D badge to indicate diesel. Make sure you find out what type of fuel the car uses from the rental company.
ECR or East Coast Road is one of the very few places around Chennai that is best enjoyed by car. There are a lot of scenic views with many sightseeing options along the route. For most of the sights within the city limits, travellers would be better served by public transport or a taxi.
- 1 Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas, 38, Santhome High Road, Mylapore (Thirumayilai MRTS one km west), ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 5AM-9PM. In the whole world, there are only three churches built over the tomb of an Apostle of Jesus Christ- the Basilica of Saint Peter built over the tomb of St.Peter in Rome, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela built over the tomb of St.James in Spain and Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas built over the tomb of St.Thomas. Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas is in Chennai, India. The present National Shrine of St.Thomas is built over the tomb of Saint Thomas the Apostle, who came to India in the year 52 AD. After preaching on the west coast, he came to Chennai (formerly Madras), and suffered martyrdom on a hill at the outskirts of the city, today known as "St. Thomas Mount." His body was buried on the spot over which the present Basilica stands. A valuable work of art kept in the Basilica is an ancient painting of Our Blessed Mother, in front of which the other great apostle of India, St. Francis Xavier, used to pray. There are two new structures today: the Tomb Chapel below the Basilica and 'Museum cum theatre'. The new underground chapel with a separate access outside the church structure, allows pilgrims to pray at the tomb and tourists to visit it, without disturbing the sacred functions in the church. The museum exhibits artifacts connected with St. Thomas and the Basilica, and the theatre is used for screening a short video on the life of the Apostle.
- 2 Church in honour of Our Lady of Health (Church of the Madonna of Velankanni, Annai Velankanni Shrine), Elliot's Beach, Beach Rd, Ashtalakshmi Garden, Besant Nagar (From Indira Nagar MRTS), ☎ , , fax: . 5AM-9PM. Founded in the 16th century after the three miracles: the apparition of Mary and Jesus to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the survival of Portuguese sailors assaulted by a violent sea storm.
- 3 Church of Our Lady of Light (Luz Church). Built in 1516 by the Portuguese.
- 4 Descanso Church, St. Mary's Road, Mylapore (Mandaiveli MRTS Station 700 m). A cultural and religious centre. Built in the 17th century. This was where St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, took rest and also served the people.
- 5 Holy Cross Church (Church of South India), Perumal Nagar, Mogappair East (Thirumangalam Metro Station 2 km east). Or near to Golden Flats Bus Stop), ☎ (Mobil). Built in the 1890s as the Perambur Railway Church, when it was under the railway authorities. Here was earlier a predominantly Anglo-Indian congregation though now there are also families from other southern states.
- 6 Lutheran Adaikalnathar Church (TELC), Tana St, ☎ . Protestant Church which is more than 100 years old.
- 7 St Andrews Church (The Queen of Scottish Churches in the East, Tamil: புனித அந்திரேயா கோவில்), Poonamallee High Road, New Bupathy Nagar (Chennai Egmore Railway Station 200m). Neoclassical church. Built in 1821. The St. Andrews Church has finely etched white Doric columns, black and white tiled marble roof, and a high, sky-blue dome of enviable beauty. On the inner surface of the dome, constellations of stars, as they can be viewed in Scotland, are painted realistically. The body of the church is a circle, with rectangular compartments to the east and west. The circular part 24.5 m in diameter, is crowned by a shallow masonry dome colored a deep blue. This is painted with golden starsand supported by 16 fluted pillars with Corinthian capitals
- 8 St. Anthony Armenian Church (Tamil: ஆர்மேனியன் தேவாலயம்), Armenian Street, Parrys (Chennai Beach Railway Station 400m). Opened for visitors 9AM-2:30PM. Constructed in 1712 and reconstructed in 1772. The graves of about 350 Armenians have been laid out throughout the Church. The founder, publisher and editor of the world's first Armenian periodical "Azdarar", Reverend Haroutiun Shmavonian, is buried here. The Belfry adjacent to the main church structure houses six large bells which are rung every Sunday at 9:30AM.
- 9 St. George's Cathedral, 224, Cathedral Rd (Next to U.S. Consulate), ☎ , (mobile). Built in 1815. A neoclassical church. Showing elements of Georgian architecture. It has a towering 45m spire and ionic columns. The highlight of this cathedral is the graveyard. Connected by a guardrail what was made up of war emblems of the capture of Srirangapatnam in 1799.
- 10 St. Lazarus' Church.
- 11 St. Mary's Church, Rajaji Salai (Situated in the fort, south to Legislature and Secretariat). Sa-Th 10AM-5PM. This is one of the oldest surviving churches built by the British in India. This is the first English church in India and the oldest Anglican church in the East.Designed by William Dixon, the then Master Gunner of the Fort, it was constructed under the supervision of the Governor Streynsham Master. Given the precarious nature of the English presence in India at the time (not to mention later attacks by the French and the locals), the church has a defensive stance- thick walls, castellated parapets and a well within the grounds - to withstand any bombardment or siege). The church was consecrated on 28 October 1680. The tower was completed in 1701; the steeple added in 1710 and the tower was connected to the main body of the church in 1759. Robert Clive - more famous as Clive of India - married Margaret Maskelyne here in 1753. The first but equally famous wedding was that of Governor Elihu Yale (who was to become the benefactor of Yale College) to Catherine Himmers in November 1680. The interior of the church contains many fascinating plaques and monuments to early British India evoking past glories and lives full of achievement. It also contains the old colours of the Madras Fusiliers, the first European regiment of the East India Company. The glass windows, wall frescos, teak plaques still shine with their all time glory.
- 12 St.Mary's Co-Cathedral, 63/110, Armenian Street,George Town, ☎ .
- 13 St. Mark's Church, Pedariyar koil Street.
- 14 St. Matthias Church, 7, Vepery Church Road, Vepery, ☎ . One of the oldest churches in Chennai which was built by the British. Its also has a higher secondary school in the campus which has boys and girls studying in the school.
- 15 Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
- 16 Saint Theresa Church Perambur, Siruvallur High Rd, Jagannathan Colony (Perambur Station 400m away).
- 17 St. Thomas Mount, Parangi Malai, St Thomas Mount, Chennai South. (OTA Metro Station ½ km away (2015), or take bus to stop Butt Road). St. Thomas, referred to as Didymus, in the Gospel of St.John is one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He is one of the prime witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. St. Thomas Mount is associated with St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ, who is believed to have been martyred here. The mount is commonly called in Tamil "Parangi Malai" or "Bhringi Malai'.History says 2000 years ago, a saint 'Parangi' lived here ('parangi' in Tamil language is used to refer to a white person). According to local myth, St. Thomas was one of the first Christians to reach India and to preach Christianity. He is believed to have reached South India in AD 52, and spent the last years of his life in a cave on this hill. Tradition states that Thomas was assassinated by an arrow in AD 72, by persons hostile to him. Thus, the hillock acquired the name St. Thomas Mount. Over time Anglo-Indians predominated in this area. A small relic-filled Church built in 1523 by the Portuguese stands at the summit of the 300 feet (90m) high St. Thomas Mount. The place was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to India on 5 February 1986. At the northern foot of the mount, is a gateway of four impressive arches surmounted by a cross bearing the inscribed date 1547. A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the mount. There are fourteen stations of the cross erected on the way to the summit.
- 18 Queenship of Mary Church, Vethagiri St, Chintadripet, Adikesavarpuram, Park Town.
- 19 The Tamil Baptist Church, 78/91, Medavakkam Tank Rd, Sanyasipuram, Kilpauk, ☎ . In Kilpauk is worth a visit. It is a 107-year-old monument.
- 20 Wesley Church.
- 21 Bahram Jung Mosque, Anna Salai, Nandanam (Next to Witco). late 18th century
- 22 Big Mosque (Wallajah Mosque), Walajah Road in Triplicane (M: Government Estate Metro Station (2015) or take bus to Stop Adams Market). This is a historical landmark. Constructed by Wallajah family in memory of Nawab Muhammad Ali Walajah, in 1795. It is an imposing structure of symmetry and form of architectural magnificence with an imposing facade. The Mosque stands in extensive grounds, which are being used as a forum for religious and cultural activities. The magnificent grey granite structure is built without steel and wood. This architectural marvel is one of the important mosques in Chennai. The Nawab’s descendants are still living in a mansion known as Amir Mahal. One distinctive feature of this mosque is that the chronogram engraved in stone and fixed on the inside of the western wall of the mosque is by a non-Muslim, Rajah Makkan Lal “Khirad”, a Persian and Arabic scholar of repute, who was the private secretary to the Nawab. It may be mentioned in this regard that, as far as is known, no other mosque in the world has a chronogram composed by a non-Muslim. The Mosque has two minarets at the front. Medieval architecture is clearly visible in the construction of this great mosque. The Eid Prayer timing remains the same, 10AM, since 1749 A.D. This historic mosque is under the management of H.H. Adjoining the Wallajah Mosque is the tomb of the great Islamic saint Maulana Abdul Ali Bahrul Uloom, a divine scholar of the days of the Nawab Wallajah. In this enclosure also are the tombs of the late Nawabs of the Carnatic, the Princess of Arcot and other eminent Muslim scholars and theologians. Wallajah Mosque can be reached either from Ellis Rd (backside) or the Triplicane High Rd.
- Casa Verona's Mosque.
- 23 Dharma Kidangu Mosque, Angappa Naicken St, Mannady, George Town. rebuilt 2008
- Hafiz Ahmad Khan Mosque (next to Vivekanandar Illam).
- Masjid Mamoor.
- 25 Periamet Mosque (Masjid Periamet).
- 26 Thousand Lights Mosque, Peters Road, Peters Colony, Royapetta. 19th century multi-domed
- 27 Adeeswar Temple (Vada Sabari), 82 Santhome Hwy Road, Raja Annamalaipuram, Chennai-28. This temple is the exact replica of Sabari Malai, Kerala where Lord Iyyappa is worshipped.
- Alamelumangapuram Anjaneya Temple.
- Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple, Adyar Signal.
- Angala Parameswari Temple, Royapuram.
- Angalamman Temple, Choolaimedu.
- 28 Anjaneyaswami Temple (Luz Anjaneya Temple), Nanganallur, Chennai-61. - - This temple is very famous because of the deep veneration shown for Lord Hanuman. One amazing fact about this temple is the 32 feet (10m) idol of Anjaneyar that is moulded out of a single rock.
- 29 Apparswami Temple.
- Arulmigu Bala Subramanya Swamy Temple, Eldam's Rd.
- 30 Ashtalakshmi Temple (Ashtalakshmi Kovil), Elliots Beach, Besant Nagar, Chennai.. 9:30AM-12:30PM, 4PM-8:30PM. The temple is dedicated to Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Astha, in Sanskrit, is the number eight and eight forms of Lakshmi are worshipped in the Ashtalakshmi temple.
- 32 Ayyappan Temple (R.A. Puram Ayyappan Koil), Madhavan Nair Street, Mahalingapuram, Nungambakkam, Chennai-34. This is the first temple dedicated to lord Ayyappan in Chennai city. The temple also houses Lord Vinayakar and Lord Subramanian with his consorts Valli and Devayani constituted the Parivarams.
- 33 Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple.
- 34 Chennakesava Perumal Temple.
- 35 Chintadri Pillaiyar Kovil Ekambareswarar Temple, Ekambareshwar Agraharam St, Edapalaiyam, George Town.
- Ettampadai Temple.
- 36 ISKCON Temple, Chennai (ISKCON Temple Puri). Injambakkam. Krishna temple built in 2012.
- 37 Kachchaleswarar Temple. Shiva temple.
- Kali, Bari Mallikesvarar Temple, Madhya Kailash (near IIT Madras and Adyar Cancer Institute.).
- 38 Kaligambal Temple (Kamakshi Temple), Thambu Chetty Street, Chennai-1.. 6AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. Dedicated to Kalikambal and Kamateswarar, this temple was built close to sea shore but was relocated in 1640 AD. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji came in the temple to worship on 3 October 1667.
- Kamaleswarar Temple.
- 39 Kamakshiamman Temple of Mangadu, 21, Permual Koil Street, Srinivasa Nagar, Mangadu. 6AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. This temple is dedicated to the Divine Mother Shakti as Kamakshi Amman.
- 40 Kandaswamy Temple, Cheyyur village (About 29 km from Madurantakam.). The temple was built in 11th century AD and is home to some unique, rich inscriptions of that century, giving an insight into the architectural characteristics of the style adopted by Chola Kings, who dominated those times. Veera Rajendra Chola and Kulothungan III built the Kandaswamy Temple. More two temples built here, at same time, are dedicated to Vanmikhanathar, i.e. Lord Siva, and to Perumal or Lord Vishnu. The Kandaswamy Temple is situated between the Shiva and Vishnu temples and Lord Kandaswamy or Shiva is the principal deity of the temple. The temple has number of shrines of other demigods like Lord Someswara, Goddess Meenakshi, Vinayaka, Dakshinamurthy, Chandikeswara and Muthukumaraswamy, also called as Samharamurthy. The temple has an idol of Muruga, son of the Lord Shiva, standing on five different positions, called by distinct names like: Nrutta Skandar (dancing Muruga), Brahma Sastha (created from Brahma), Balaskandar (child Shanmuga), Sivagurunathar (as teacher to Siva) and Pulinthar (vedan hunter). This Kandaswamy temple of Chennai is the most distinctive one. Other than the deities of utmost belief and the tranquil environment, the temple has an image of Kazhukundran, who had made an artful creation of a temple car in 1521 CE, which is used during the Skanda Sashti festival.
- 42 Kapaleeswarar Temple (Kapaleeshwara), # 12, North Mada Street, Mylapore (Thirumayilai MRTS). 6AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. One of Chennai's oldest and best-known temples, said to date to the 8th century, although the present structure dates to the 1600s. Notable above all for its soaring, incredibly detailed 37m gopuram (entrance gate). There is a large water tank behind the temple, used for the Thaipusam festival (Jan-Feb), and plenty of flower shops all around and the famous street markets of Mylapore selling Indian handicrafts and brass vessels. Within easy striking distance of the city centre. This temple is for Goddess Karpagambal or 'Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree'. The goddess is one of the forms of Parvati, Lord Shiva's wife. Nearby the temple, there are pharmacy shops selling traditional Indian medicines of Ayurveda and Siddha.
- Karaneeswarar Temple (of Lord Siva), Mylapore.
- 43 Karaneeswarar Temple (of Lord Siva), Saidapet.
- Kasi Viswanatha Temple (of Lord Siva), Ayanavaram.
- Kasi Viswanatha Temple (of Lord Siva), Mambalam.
- Kothandaramar Temple (of Lord Rama wielding Kothandam - His bow), Mambalam.
- Kothandaramaswami Temple (of Lord Rama wielding Kothandam - His bow), Nandambakkam.
- Krishnaswami Temple (of Lord Krishna), Muthialpet.
- Kundrathur Shiva temple (Vada Thirunageshvaram), Kundrathur (kndrathur bus depot). Sekkizhar built this temple 1000 years ago.
- Kumaran Kundram (The Deity of Lord Murugan in Kumaran Kundram is considered to be equivalent to the one in Swamimalai) (Very near MIT Fly over). small hillock at Kumaran Kundram near by Madras Institute of Technology, very near by the Chennai airport (around 9 km or 5 miles or 15-20 minutes). The temple can also be reached from the airport to Chromepet station by the MRTS train towards Tambaram.
- Kurungaleeswarar Temple.
- 44 Marundeeswarar Temple (Marutheeswarar Temple, Tamil: மருந்தீஸ்வரர் ஆலயம்), Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai-41. (in Thiruvanmiyur). 6AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. Shaiva sidhantha lectures daily 7PM-8:30PM. This temple is believed to have been built in 11th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the temple was also visited by Saint Valmiki, who authored the Hindu epic Ramayana. The temple has two entrances, one from East Coast Road and the other from West Tank Street, both adorned by 5-tiered gopuram (gateway tower). The entrance from the West Tank Street has got three gates whereas the entrance from the East Coast Road has only one gate. The temple occupies an area of about 1 acre (0.40 hectares) - numerous images adorn the pillars of the temple, while stucco figures adorn the gopurams. The Mandapam (hall) housing the Somaskanda form of Shiva has 36 massive pillars adorned with carvings.
- 45 Marundeswarar Temple. A Shiva temple having a rich sthala purana or location history.
- 46 Mathyakailash Temple (Nadukailai), Sardar Patel Road, Adyar, Chennai-20.. 5:30AM-noon, 4PM-8PM. Very popular for locals. Ananda Vinayagar Lord Ganesha (the bestower of Happiness. Ananda, in Sanskrit, means Happiness) sits right in the centre of Parameshwar, Ambikai and Thirumal. The temple is very close to the IIT Madras and Adyar Cancer Institute.
- Mundaka Kanni Amman Temple (of Goddess Shakthi), Mylapore.
- Muthialpet Bairagimadam Temple.
- Nandeeswarar Temple.
- Neelagandeeswarar Temple.
- Parasuramalingeswarar Temple.
- 47 The Parthasarathy Temple, Tiruvallikkeni (Triplicane). 6:30AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. Parthasarathy means 'charioteer of Arjuna'. At Tiruvallikkeni (Triplicane) as the Britishers called it, is considered be the oldest temple in the Chennai and origins date back to the 8th century AD, the reference of which has been made in the Vaishnavite works of the Alwar saints. The existence of the Tiruvallikkeni village in referred in the Pallava records and before. The temple derived its name from the pond in front of the temple. It was built by the Pallavas. The temple was renovated by later dynasties, the Chola and the Vijayanagar kingdom. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The name Parthasarathy has been derived from two Sanskrit words Partha and Sarathy. The former word refers to Arjuna and the later means Charioteer. Its architecture is a combination of several temple building styles. There are inscriptions of the Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar kingdom on the temple structure. The temple besides being dedicated to Parthasarathy is also revered for Venkatakrishnaswami and to Ranganathar. The temple, when it was built, housed five avataras of the deity Vishnu. The structure, as it stands today, houses the shrines of popular deities like Venkatakrishnan with Rukmani, Balaraman, Satyaki, Anirudha, Pradyumna, Rama, Lakshmana, Barata, Sita, Shatrugna, Varadaraja and Hanuman.
- Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal Temple.
- Ravishwarar Temple Sethu Kshetram, Mylapore.
- 48 Saidapet Kamakshi Amman Temple.
- 49 Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Venkatesa Agraharam, Mylapore, Chennai-4.. 6:30AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. Built in the memory of the revered saint Sai Baba of Shirdi, this temple is among the two shrines dedicated in Sai Baba's name in the city.
- 50 Sri Balaji Temple, T. Nagar..
- 51 Sri Ramakrishna Math - Universal Temple, 31 Ramakrishna Math Rd, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 5AM-11:45AM and 3PM-9PM. Mylapore. Swami Vivekananda on his return from the west was requested by the devotees in Madras (now Chennai) to start a Math here. To fulfill their desire Swamiji sent his brother-disciple Swami Ramakrishnananda to Madras in March 1897. After reaching Madras, the first thing Swami Ramakrishnananda did was to set up a small shrine for Sri Ramakrishna at a rented house. He lived there and led a life of renunciation, service and austerities. Slowly he built up the institution as the present Sri Ramakrishna Math and thus Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, came into existence. This is the oldest centre of the Ramakrishna Order in the South. Srimat Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj, the 12th President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, laid the foundation-stone for this Universal Temple on 1 December 1994 in a grand function. It took five years for the project to take shape as the present grand Universal Temple. On 7 Feb 2000 the temple was dedicated by Srimat Swami Ranganathanandaji Maharaj, the 13th President of the Ramakrishna Order. Sri Ramakrishna Math completed hundred years of its service in 1997. The Math is regarded for its spiritual traditions, modern outlook, acceptance of all religions, service as the way of life. With its lushy green surroundings, the Universal Temple is the ideal spot for contemplation and meditation.
- 52 Thirumalai Thirupathi Devasthanam Temple, Venkata Narayana Road, T.Nagar, Chennai-17. (on the seventh peak of Venkata Hill called Venkatachala of the Tirumala Hillocks, the temple lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkaarini.). 6AM-1PM, 3PM-8PM. Millions of devotees throng this world-renowned temple of Lord Venkatachalapathi. The temple is constructed and maintained by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. It is very crowded on Saturdays and Sundays. The temple contains a book store.
- 53 Thiruneermalai Vishnu Temple (Thiruneermalai Kaalabairavar Temple), Mallima Veedi, Thiruneermalai. This temple is one of the 108 places considered sacred by Vaishnatives. Legend has it that sage Valmiki prayed in the temple and saw the divine darshan of Lord Vishnu in three forms.
- Thiruvalluvar Temple.
- 54 Thyagaraswamy Temple, Thiruvottiyur (Thyagaraja Temple) (north of Chennai.).
- 55 Vadapalani Murugan Temple (Sri Vadapalani Andavar Temple, Tiruvalithayam Vadapalani Andavar Temple), Near the Andavar Koil Street, Vadapalani, Chennai.. 6AM-1PM, 3PM-8:30PM. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Muruga. Renovated in 1920s, the temple has grown popularity due to the visits by many cinema stars.
- 56 Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple.
- 57 Vedagiriswarar Temple (Kazhugu Koil or 'the eagle temple', Vengeeswarar Temple), Thirukkalukundram. The main attraction here is the large temple atop the mountain which houses the deity of Vedagiriswarar, Lord Shiva.
- Velveeswarar Temple (Agasteeswarar Temple).
Other holy places
- 58 Royapuram Fire Temple (Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar E Meher), Royapuram. A Parsi fire temple built in 1910.
- 59 Valluvar Kottam, Valluvar Kottam High Rd, Nungambakkam. Valluvar Kottam marks the memorial of one of the renowned poet and saint of the region, Tiruvalluvar. The memorial is shaped like a temple chariot and is, in fact, the replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. There is a 101-feet (30m) high temple chariot structure with a life-size image of the poet in it. This chariot is a replica of the temple car of Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. The monument stands as a massive auditorium and was open to public in 1976. Over 3,000 blocks of stone were used to create this memorial to Tamil culture. Valluvar Kottam has quite an extensive space. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can accommodate about 4,000 people. It is a revered place in the city as it is considered to bear the impressions of the Tamil culture. The auditorium is surrounded by granite pillars that have the inscriptions taken from the famous work of the poet. The epic Tiruvalluvar, written by the poet consists of 1,330 verses, all of which are inscribed on the granite pillar. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. It stands as a modern memorial to the great poet who represents the glorious culture of the Tamils.
- 60 Fort St. George (on the banks of Bay of Bengal). Sa-Th 10AM-5PM, closed on F. It was (formerly known as White Town) was established as the East India Company's fortified foothold in Madras and it was from this small trading post (or 'factory' as it was then known) that British influence spread throughout India. The establishment of Fort St. George marked the birth of the new city that is Madras, in the year 1640. The fort was named after St George who is believed to have preached in the region. The British East India Company, after buying the land from the Nayak of Vandavasi in 1639, led the establishment of what was called the Madrasemen, the permanent settlement of the company. One year later they built the fort as a commanding post in the region. With the increased trade activities of East India Company the region soon developed into a popular trade and commerce centre. The British enjoyed the supremacy in the region till 1746, when the French attacked the fort and captured it. After three years, in 1749 the British regained the ruling power by signing a treaty with the French. In the meantime they fortified the base in order to sustain the invasion of Hyder Ali and the French. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. It is a military architecture marvel, which was started as a trading post and later evolved to be the origin of modern Indian Army. St. George Fort holds great historical importance and is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India. It has a number of other monuments within its boundaries. Inside the Fort is the Fort Museum is decorated with cannons of Tipu Sultan. There are a lot of interesting artifacts showcased in the museum like coins, artifacts and so on. Apart from the museum, the southern division of the Archaeological Survey of India is located here. The place is famous for its exotic collection of books in the library. Today, Fort St George is famous for housing the legislative assembly and is known as the secretariat building. The fort in its present form looks more like a mansion, rather any fort. Various Government offices function inside this building, including the structure which used to be the residence of Robert Clive called the Clive House. St. Mary's Church, situated in the fort, is one of the oldest surviving churches built by the British in India. The tallest flag pole in the country can be seen here: its height is 150 ft (46 m). The pole is now made of metal. The original had been made entirely of teak wood. Fort Museum: for children under 15 years free. For Indians: ₹5/-. For foreigners: US$20.
Museums and art galleries
- 61 Birla Planetarium, Gandhi Mandapam Rd (close to Guindy National Park and Anna University), ☎ , , , . The Science and Technology Centre is open on all days except on national holidays. Program Timing 10:45AM–1:45PM and 3:45PM. English noon, Tamil 2:30PM.. Built in memory of B.M. Birla, the well known industrialist and visionary. Adjoining the planetarium is a Periyar Science and Technology Museum which will be of interest to students and other science scholars. Package cost ₹45, ₹20 for children.
- 62 Government Museum. Pantheon Rd, Egmore. Established in 1857, the Government Museum of Chennai is one of the popular tourist destinations in the city. It is a multi-purpose State Government Museum in Egmore, which is in the heart of the city, spreading over an area of 16.25 acres (7 ha) of land. Six independent buildings in this Museum campus has 46 galleries. There is an Archaeology Section, Zoology Section, Botany Section, Geology Section, Numismatics Section, Bronze Gallery, Children’s museum, art gallery and various other interesting sections and galleries. It is considered to be one of the oldest museums of India, since its inception dates back to the Colonial rule. There is history behind the origin of this museum. In 1846 AD, the Madras Literary Society debated the proposal of establishing a museum in the then Madras. The proposal was approved by the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London. Chennai Government Museum was handed down with a sprawling complex and the presently maintained by the State Government. There are six independent buildings in the Museum campus, which compose of 46 galleries. The museum was inaugurated on December 5, 1896 by the Sir Arthur Eli bank Havelock, the then Governor. He named it after the former Governor, Lord Connenmara. The museum was designed by H. Irvin, the consulting architect of the Government of Madras. The Government Museum has a splendid hall, marvellous reading room and striking Teak wood shelf and stands divided into a number of sections. Parts of the museum are often closed. Phone: +91 44 28193238, 9:30AM-5PM except holidays. A free guide service is available at 11AM and 3PM.
- 63 Integral Coach Factory. 10AM-6PM. The Railway Coach manufacturing unit of Indian Railways, which has a Rail Museum. The Regional Rail Museum is situated near ICF, Perambur, Chennai amidst the New Avadi Road/Anna Nagar Round Tana/ICF Bus Terminus and Villivakkam. Entry ₹40..
- 64 National Art Gallery, ☎ . The top floor, closed in May 2011, offers additional galleries. Sa-Th 9:30AM-5PM, closed F and national holidays. The building of National Arts Gallery was built in the year 1907. This magnificent red sandstone building was designed by Henry Irwin and built by T. Namberumal Chetty. The building represents a typical Indo-Saracenic structure and was initially famous as Victoria Memorial Hall. Built with sandstone and adorned with motifs, the building bears impressions of Mughal architecture. The structure as well as the gallery collections are key factors responsible for the much credited tourist place. The gallery exhibits medieval handicrafts, sculptures, metal ware and paintings belonging to various schools of art, all from the past. The gallery displays paintings belonging to different schools and eras. The gallery's collections are displayed in four different sections that are: Tanjore Painting Gallery, Decorative Art Gallery, Indian Traditional Art Gallery and Ravi Varma Painting Gallery. The Tanjore paintings on glass are wonderful. The miniature paintings from Rajput and Mughal eras are fascinating too. The handicrafts that are displayed in National Arts Gallery belong to the 11th and 12th century, Indian handicrafts, period.
- 65 Vivekananda House (Vivekanandar Illam), Triplicane (on Marina Beach Road), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Th-Tu 10AM-12:15PM and 3PM-7:15PM. A colonial house where Swami Vivekananda stayed after his return from Chicago. It was also the location of the Ramakrishna Math for a decade before the Math was moved to its present location in Mylapore. The house now features a museum, painting gallery, photo gallery, book shop and video show on the life and teaching of Vivekananda. It is maintained by the Ramakrishna Math. Meditation and spirituality classes are arranged regularly at a nominal cost. Entry ₹10, classes charged extra.
Chennai has several well known beaches:
- 1 Breezy Beach, Water Land Drive Rd, Lakshmana Perumal Nagar, Valmiki Nagar (in the quiet neighborhood of Valmiki Nagar (Thiruvanmiyur)). It is smaller and less popular than the Elliot's beach. This beach is not as commercialized as the Elliot's beach, and is hence more quiet and peaceful. Evenings are very pleasant and with gentle breezy here, Lots of tourists are attracted towards this beach. Since the residential area around this beach is occupied predominantly by young professionals working in the IT/ITES industries (that thrive in the area), this beach has turned into a hot-spot for them. It is less polluted and environment friendly. Those who look for a calm, cool and breezy place to relax, this beach is the best place in Chennai.
- 2 Covelong, Kancheepuram (40 km south from Chennai on the way to Mahabalipuram). It was known earlier is a small fishing village. Now it is a luxury beach resort. There was a fort built by the Nawab of Carnatic, Saadat Ali. Now a luxury beach resort. It was here that the French General Labourdonnais landed his troops in 1746. Later it was taken by Robert Clive in 1752 and destroyed. The Beach is separated from the mainland by the canal running from Chennai to Mahabalipuram. Taj Group of Hotels runs the Fisherman's Cove Resort with rooms in the main buildings and cottages and the sandy beach here. A small public beach can also be accessed through a narrow drivable road. This beach is still mostly used by the fishermen, but gets crowded on weekend.
- 3 Edward Elliot's beach, Elliot's Promenade, Urrur Kuppam, Besant Nagar (near Besant Nagar. Take bus to stop 'Annai Velankanni Church Bus Stop' - From Indira Nagar Railway Station take 2nd Ave and walk ten min.). This is spread along the coast down south from Marina. It is also the night beach for Chennai youth. This beach is comparatively quieter. At the end of this beach are the Velankanni church and the Ashtalakshmi temple. Good roads, pavements, walking track illuminated sands, makes a visit to this beach a real pleasure.
- 4 Marina Beach, Water Land Drive Rd,Valmiki Nagar, Netaji Nagar (The South Beach Road runs past the Madras University, the Senate House, the Chepauk Palace (Nawabs of Carnatica once held their court here). - Take a train to Chepauk or Thiruvallikeni MRTS Railway Station). This is 12 km long and offers excellent opportunities for walks and has a very wide sandy foreshore. Its width is up to 300 m (985 ft). The Marina of Madras is the second longest beach in the world. it is an elegant promenade with flower beds along its lanes. Along the shore, there are many buildings built during the British colonial rule. - It is the most popular gathering place for locals, especially in the evenings and on weekends. It can also get very crowded at those times. The beach is relatively less crowded in the early mornings and more pleasant. Walk along the Marina in the evening to cool off and eat crispy sundal and murukku. Watching sunset and sunrise from the beach is an experience by itself. It's not a swimming beach, though you will see people fully clothed taking partial dips. Other lesser known places in the Marina: Anna Square: Dr. C.N. Annadurai, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was a very respectable personality among the people of Tamil Nadu. The mortal remains of Dr. C.N. Annadurai were buried at Anna Square, which is situated at the northern end of the Marina Beach. People from different parts of the state come here to pay their tribute to the great leader. It is in the center of a park and the entrance is attractive. The beautiful arch is in the shape of twin converging elephant tusks. The tomb of Dr. C.N. Annadurai is flanked by imposing memorial pillar and eternal flame. People of Tamil Nadu affectionately called him 'Anna' meaning the elder brother. Though listed here Anna Square is not a must see place. There is nothing much to see, unless you have lots of time to spare.
- 5 Arignar Anna Zoological Park (The Vandalur Zoo), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. W-M 9AM-6PM, closed Tu. This zoological park is situated in the outskirts of the Chennai metropolitan (nearly 40km from the city center). Chennai has the distinction of having the first zoo in India, which was started in 1855. This park is said to be one of the biggest in South East Asia. The wildlife population is exhibited in a large open moated island enclosure with a simulated natural environment. More than 170 species of mammals, birds and reptiles are housed in this park. Lion safari vehicles, elephant rides, battery operated vehicles are some of the facilities available. The peak time is during Pongal and weekend holidays. ₹30, Free below 5 years, 5 to 12 ₹10, still camera ₹25, video camera ₹150.
- 6 Guindy National Park (Children's Park), Sardar Vallabhai Patel Rd, Adyar, Guindy. M W-F 9AM-5:30PM, closed Tu. The park area stands close to 280 hectares. Guindy Park is probably the smallest national park in the country and the only park within the city suburbs of India. The park is inhabited by more than 20 species of trees, about 14 varieties of shrubs and more than 14 species of woodland mammals. The place also houses many species of rare birds and amphibians. The dry deciduous forests of Guindy are lined with tree species like Amona Squamosa, Atlanta Monophylla, Feronia Limonia and Azadirachta India. The popular park animals include species like Indian Antelope (Black Buck), Elephant, Spotted Deer, Indian Civet, Jungle Cat, Hedgehog, Pangolin and Jackal. Some rare bird species found in the park include Black Winged Kite, Honey Buzzard, and Pariah Kite. The park is also home to many reptile and amphibian species. ₹15, free below 10 years, 11 to above ₹5, school children age 5-12 from government and aided schools ₹2, children from private schools age 5-12 ₹10, still camera ₹10, video camera ₹75.
- 7 Guindy Snake Park (Chennai Snake Park Trust) (next to Guindy National Park). M W-F 8:30AM-5:30PM, closed Tu. Founded by one of the prominent wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitaker. The park houses a number of snake species, lizards, crocodiles and turtles. The park breeds more than 30 species of Indian snakes. Some of the most sought after species include King Cobra, Indian Rock Python, Reticulated Python, Adders and Vipers. In addition to the snakes the park also breeds species of lizards, crocodiles and turtles. The museum in the park premises contains preserved specimens of many reptiles and amphibians. They have a snake display show 4 times daily, and live snakes of different species are shown to the audience with a voice over in 3 languages (English, Tamil and Hindi). ₹15, ₹5 for children below 12.
- 8 Semmozhi Poonga, cathedral road (situated opposite to the American consulate). A botanical garden with a wide variety of Bonsai plants. very nominal entry fee.
- During summers it becomes too hot and humid to venture out during the day. So go out for a stroll during the night (7-9PM) on the Marina beach and Elliots Beach (Besant Nagar). It's a nice idea to pack dinner and have a picnic on the beach as most locals do. If you happen to drive a car you can also consider taking along a few foldable chairs. Beyond 10PM, no one is permitted to be on the beach. There are policemen on the beach to ensure people follow this rule, and on some occasions they tend to shoo people out by 9PM. However, if you are an early riser, you might consider visiting the beaches early morning around 6 to 8AM The sunrise is wonderful and there is a slight breeze as well. However, be warned that there are dogs lying all over the place and you have a high chance of getting hit by a cricket ball if you aren't looking.
- Stroll along the over crowded Pondy Bazaar and Ranganathan Street and try your skills in bargaining for knick-knacks. Be warned that it is an intensely crowded place, where you have to elbow your way through.
- Take a bus or an auto to Mylapore Tank and take a walk around Mylapore especially in and around the Kapaleeshwarar Temple. The crowds, sounds, fragrances of temple incense and flowers and the tiny shops are to be definitely experienced though keep away on Fridays. It gets too hectic even for experienced Mylaporeans.
- Chennai is also home to one of the best preserved Art Deco architectural areas in India, Parry's Corner. Its also Chennai's oldest Central Business District though it has long since given way to Nungambakkam and T Nagar. If you're particularly interested in architecture or photography, this is a must visit place. Don't forget the nooks and crannies.
Music and dance
Chennai is famous for its concerts and performances that take place in various auditoriums and temples throughout the year, which are announced in the Hindu and other local newspapers. During the Tamil month of Maargazhi (December - January) there is a series of classical Carnatic music concerts and classical dance performances in various parts of the city, but the best are organized in various Sabhas (loosely translates to "concert house"). You will see mostly older celebrities, although occasionally there will be some world-class young virtuosos. Free entry passes are usually given out for debutante performances (called Arangetram in Tamil) and for performances held on weekdays (before 4PM when the crowd starts filling up).
- Brahma Gana Sabha, ☎ , . Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, M.Ct.M School, 179, Luz Church Road.
- GK Parigi, e-mail: email@example.com. In Cine Abinayam star night programme.
- Indian Institute of Music and Arts, R.K Swamy Auditorium, Sir Sivaswamy Kalalaya, 5, Sundareswarar Street, Mylapore.
- Kalalayaa Art Academy, 2nd Floor, 100 ft Bye Pass Road, Velachery (Opposite Bharat Petroleum Petrol Bunk, Above Nuts & Spices), ☎ .
- Kartik Fine Arts, ☎ , . Narada Gana Sabha Hall, TTk Road. (30th Year Art Festival).
- The Music Academy, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 168, T.T.K. Road,Chennai - 600 014.
- Nungambakkam Cultural Academy Trust.
- Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Madras Seva Sadan, No 7, Harrington Road, Chetpet, ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Dr. Nalli Gana Vihar, 20. Maharajapuram Santhanam Road, T.Nagar, ☎ . The 49th Art and Dance Festival & Pongal Nagaswara Isai Vizha And the 24th Natya Kala Conference. ₹50-500 (daily rates).
- Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Vani Mahal, 103, GN Chetty Road, ☎ . (The 25th Isai Iyal Nataka Vizha).
- VDS Arts Academy. MOP Vaishnava College for Women, Nungambakkam. Music and Bharatanatyam dance concerts throughout the year at 6:30PM, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday by young artists. Admission: free.
Chennai is a major centre of Bharata Natyam with over 1000 dance performances a year. More dance forms are now encouraged and taught like Kuchipudi (Traditional dance form from Andhra Pradesh), Mohini Attam, etc. Some other dances like Odissi Manipuri can be found, but are rarer.
When in Chennai, do not miss a chance to watch a movie. There are several new Tamil movie releases every Friday or to coincide with holidays. Apart from Tamil, movies in other Indian languages like Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam also get wide releases in Chennai. Many of the Hollywood franchise movies enjoy a huge fan following and are screened at some theaters (dubbed) in Tamil. Make sure to book your tickets in advance especially for the weekend, because most of the cinemas will be sold out. Chennai also provides best cinematic experience at lowest cost ₹120/- and lesser, which is very less compared to other metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Check out any local newspaper or websites to get to know the movies running in and around Chennai. Some of the cinema halls are
- Abhirami Cine Complex. Purasawalkam, in the Abirami Mega mall.
- AGS Cinemas OMR, Coromandel Plaza 87/1A, 5th Floor, Navalur.
- AGS Royal. Villivakkam.
- Devi Cineplex. In the heart of Chennai on Anna Salai. The Cineplex is a huge complex and a great architectural beauty.
- Ega Cinemas (formerly Ega Theatres), 810 Poonamallee High Road , Kilpauk, ☎ (bookings), (general enquiries), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Features Hindi, Tamil, other South Indian and English movies. The cinemas halls are air-conditioned.
- Escape Cinemas, Express Avenue, Royapettah, ☎ . 8 premier quality screens with 3D, Dolby Atmos and RDX technology. Each of the 8 screens has a different decor which adds to the style quotient of the place.
- Ganga Theatre Complex. Kolathur.
- Inox. Chennai Citi Centre, R.K.Salai
- Kamala Cinemas. Vadapalani, opposite the Green Park hotel.
- Mayajaal Cine Complex, #34 East Coast Road, Kanathur, e-mail: email@example.com. ECR. 14-screen multiplex, far away from the bustle of the city. Except in rare cases, reservation is not a must and seats can be booked at the counter.
- PVR. AMPA SkyWalk Mall, Nelson Manickam Rd. The Grand Mall,Velachery
- Rakki Theatre. Ambattur.
- Rohini Cinema Complex. Koyambedu.
- Sangam Cine Complex. In kilpauk. For tickets.
- Sathyam Cine Complex, Thiru-vi-ka Rd, ☎ . One of the best theaters. Provides quality food and the main screen is one of the biggest in India. Celebrities and cine stars frequent this complex.
- Shanti Cine Complex. Anna Salai
- S2 Thiagaraya Cinemas.
- Udhayam Theatre. Ashok Pillar.
- Vetri Theatre. Chromepet.
Chennai has been one of the prominent sporting location in India, with wide variety of sports played almost everywhere right from every street corners to big stadium matches.
- 9 M. A. Chidambaram Stadium (Famously known as Chepauk Stadium).
Cricket by itself is a festival in India,every TV in the Mall is tuned to cricket during the match season and the whole city would be tuned in to the sport some way or another. Chennai is an international venue for cricket and is also a home ground for the Chennai super Kings cricket team. While in Chennai it might be interesting to catch a game and enjoy the electric spirit of Indian cricket. Close to Chepauk there are several sporting goods stores where you can buy good quality cricket equipment at low prices.
Chennai Open. A prominent ATP250 tennis tournament that happens around January every year, the event has attracted lot of high ranked players such as Rafael Nadal, Carlos Moyá, Stanislas Wawrinka and Leader Paes. The SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam (a short walk from Valluvar Kottam) is the venue for the event since 1997. The event is well organized with details including ticket sales published online.
- 10 Nehru Stadium. Nehru stadium was built during 1990s and has hosted many hockey and football matches. Apart from this, there's a huge indoor stadium next to Nehru stadium.
Chennai has dozens of different institutes of higher learning from arts to engineering. The city also offers plenty of opportunities to learn Yoga, Bhartanatyam, Carnatic music and the Bhagavad Gita.
- Alliance française de Madras, ☎ . Indo-French cultural center and a place to learn French
- Aurobindo Ashram.
- Bharatia Vidya Bhavan.
- British Council, 737, Anna Salai, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. English courses, IELTS preparation courses. Also houses a large library in the campus.
- Chinmaya Mission, 2 13th Ave Harrington Rd, Chetpet, ☎ , .
- Goethe Institut, No.4, 5th Street, Rutland Gate, Chennai 600 006, e-mail: email@example.com. German language courses, culture and other events
- International Society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Hare Krishna Land Injambakkam, ☎ , .
- Isha Yoga, No 117, Luz Church Road, ☎ , (mobile), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kalakshethra, Kalakshetra Foundation, Tiruvanmiyur, ☎ , , fax: .
- Kishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, 31, 4th Cross St, R.K. Nagar, ☎ , , fax: .
- Krishnamurthi Foundation, 124, 126 (Old #64/65) Greenways Rd, ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Raja Yoga (Ishwariya Vishwa Vidhyalayam). Learn Yoga free of cost.
- 1 Ampa Skywalk (Ampa Mall). A shopping mall in Chennai with western and Indian brands featuring in the shops. Most popular for its PVR Cinemas multiplex, Star Bazaar grocery store and one of the few McDonald's in the city. It also has a food court and a boutique hotel.
- 2 [dead link]Chennai Citi Center, 10, Radhakrishnan Salai. Mostly men's western-wear brands like Adidas, Louis Philippe, Parx and Zodiac. Has a good food court, an Indian restaurant, INOX cinema and a supermarket.
- 3 Express Avenue, Royapettah High Rd.. It is the second largest shopping mall in South India and features unique stores like Hamley's, Global Desi and Peekaboo, designer wear like Guess and Diesel and high-street chains like Body Shop, Tie Rack, Esprit and Lush. It has a few fine-dining restaurants and also one of the largest food courts in India. Escape Cinemas, a 40,000 sq ft, 8-screen multiplex is on the 3rd floor. Local youth usually abbreviate the name to EA, from the huge sign on the building entrance.
- 4 Ispahani Center, Nungambakkam Road.. An early shopping centre - has a cafe, bar & shops.
- 5 Phoenix Market city. At Velachery with approximately 2.4 million square feet (including 0.45 million square feet of parking) of developable area. In addition to the usual Market City components, Market City Chennai is expected to include an IT park.
- 6 Prince Plaza, Pantheon Road, Egmore. It has been featured in many movies.
- 7 Shoppers' Stop, 2, Harrington Rd, Chetpet.. This is one of the largest department stores in Chennai, and you can buy everything from clothes to shoes to books here.
- 8 Spencer Plaza, 769, Anna Salai.. Spencer is a Chennai landmark that dates back to colonial times. The original was destroyed in a fire, and the current building dates back to 1983. The new Phase III section even has a mock Indo-Saracenic atrium in the style of the original. One of the earliest shopping malls in India, it has slightly lost its charm with the arrival of swanky new malls, but it is still an excellent place to buy handicrafts, ethnic wear, Indian jewellery and books (it houses the largest Landmark bookstore in Chennai). There is a reasonably good food court on the 2nd level of Phase I and Phase III.
- 9 The Forum Vijaya (Vijaya mall), 183, Arcot Road, NSK Salai, Vadapalani, 600026 (Opp to Kamala theatre), ☎ . 10AM-10PM.
Chennai has a wide selection of rare books and maps in the many second-hand book stalls.
- Alwar's Roadside bookshop. Opposite Kamadhenu theatre in Mylapore.
- Bookfield (opposite the LIC building on Anna Salai, Mount Road).
- Higginbothams. Anna Salai.
- Kennedys Book House. Anna Salai.
- Vendors near the Central Station
- Vendors on Mount Rd outside Devi Theatre and the GPO (General Post Office)
For more current publications:
- Giggles, Connemara Hotel Binny Rd. General books from a friendly shop keeper.
- Landmark. Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Rd) - books, toys, CDs, 4 locations:
- Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) - 37,000 sq. ft.
- Apex Plaza, Nungambakkam High Road - 12,000 sq. ft. - the original store.
- Chennai Citi Centre, Radhakrishnan Salai.
- Ampa Mall, Injambakkam- newest location.
- Odyssey. Behind Gandhi Nagar Bus Stand, Adyar and Express Avenue,Royapettah
- Chennai Book Fair (annual). Location and dates may vary annually. If you happen to be in Chennai in January, Chennai Book Fair is an event not to miss. Plan to visit on a weekday as they attract lesser crowds and you can browse through the collections peacefully. If you pick a weekend or holiday, try to visit in the morning instead of the evening. Look through all the shops but it is usually better to skip the marquee stalls and visit the smaller ones which have books stacked all around. You will be rewarded with some great finds as these shops have lesser known but excellent titles from all around the world. Carry cash as many of the smaller shops do not accept credit/debit cards and cash also helps to bargain down the price of the books to some extent. On average, paperback novels in bargain shops cost ₹100 to ₹200. A budget of ₹3000 should be enough to purchase a good collection of books.
- Amaara (amaarashop), 27/14, C V Raman Road, Alwarpet, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique clothing from natural fabrics for women.
- Brass Tacks, ☎ . 77/13, Corporation Shopping Complex, C.P. Ramaswamy Rd, Alwarpet. Contemporary clothing from natural fibres for women.
- FabIndia, 3 Woods Rd. The Ilford House location at is probably the best in terms of choices and selections. This is the place to go for all your natural-dyed, hand loomed and hand made textiles. The prices have been going up the last few years, but FabIndia is the only source for this sort of textile in Chennai at any retail outlet.
- Handloom Exhibitions. Year-round there is always a handloom exhibition profiling the work of one state or the other. These temporary installations (you'll have to check the local papers to find out where they set up) generally have a good selection of interesting fabrics and textile products. And there is always the option to bargain, which makes it a better bet than oft-overpriced retail stores. The Royapettah YMCA (across from Royapettah Hospital) has a regular handloom exhibition.
- Just Casuals, Nungambakkam, 1, Sterling Rd., ☎ . A good place to head if you're in the mood for the Banana Republic/Abercrombie/Old Navy/Gap type stuff. They seem to get all the export rejects or overstocks. You'll find that all the brand tags are cut out due to some agreement with the manufacturer. The quality and prices are good, but unfortunately there's no bargaining possible.
- Raymond shop, 162 Anna Salai (Opposite to Spencers). There are several outlets of Raymond shop around Chennai. Custom tailored shirts, suits and other wardrobe accessories for men.
- Shanti Colony. Annanagar is a hub for "seconds" clothing as in the above description for "Just Casuals".
- Amethyst, Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Rd, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, ☎ . Handicrafts.
- Ashvita - Arts and Artifacts, 11 2nd St Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, ☎ . Art, jewellery, photo prints.
- Crafts and Weaves, #1, 1st Main Road, CIT Colony, Mylapore, ☎ . Handicrafts.
- Giri Stores. Adjacent to Kabaleeswarar Temple, (opposite the Radha Silk Emporium, Mylapore Tank). Hindu spiritual items like Rudraksha garlands, books, CDs & tapes for chanting, incense sticks, camphor and lamps.
- Hidesign, Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam High Rd & Phase 3, Spencers Plaza. Leather goods.
- Jidoka Store, 1st Lane, Nungambakkam High Rd, ☎ , . Handicrafts.
- Manasthala, 12 Cenotaph Rd, ☎ . Terracotta ceramics.
- Poombukar, 108 Anna Salai, Plandmark (opposite the LIC building in Annasalai and next to Higgingbothams book store). They sell handicrafts.
- Poppat Jamals, Mount Rd Anna Salai (opp. Spencers Plaza). Crockery.
- Victoria Technical Institute, 180, (old No.765) Anna Salai (Close to Spencer Plaza), ☎ . 10AM-7:30PM. They have a huge display of handicraft items, paintings, wood carvings and metal work statues. ₹20 to any amount.
- Vimonisha Art Gallery, 12 Khadar Nawaz Khan Rd. Handicrafts.
- Apparao Galleries, 7th St, Wallace Garden., ☎ .
- Chennai Studio, 222 Peters Rd, ☎ . Royapettah.
- Contemporary arts and crafts showroom, 41 CP Ramaswamy Rd, ☎ , . Alwarpet
- Lakshmi Ethiraj Art Gallery, 70 1st Main Rd, ☎ . CIT Nagar.
- Prakrit Art Gallery, Dhandayuthapani Nagar, 2nd St, Kotturpuram, ☎ .
- Raasi Art Gallery, 1 Anna Ave, ☎ . Bakthavatsala Nagar, Adayar.
- Aavaranaa, 15, Ashoka Street, Alwarpet., ☎ .
- Co-Optex, No.350, Pantheon Road, Egmore (Close by Govt Museum and Connemara library), ☎ . State government operated store. Good place to buy authentic silk sarees and dhotis. They also sell other items like salwar sets, curtains, bedsheets, pillow covers, etc.
- Radha Silk Emporium (Rasi). Silk sarees, ethnic wear, arts & crafts in multiple locations.
- 1 Sannadhi St, Mylapore, ☎ +91 44 2494 1906
- 827, Dhun Building, Mount Rd, ☎ +91 44 2852 0251
- 23 1st Main Rd, Nanganallur, ☎ +91 44 2232 4176
- Revathy Stores, No. 7/8, RK Mutt Rd (Luz Bazaar Building), ☎ . Small store with a wide variety of Kalyani and Indian hand-loomed sarees.
- Shilpi, 29 C.P. Ramaswamy Rd. Alwarpet.
- Vardhrams and Son's Silks. Harington Rd, Chetpat.
- Aarthi Thanga Maligai, 60 East Kalamandapam Rd. Royapuram. Gold for reasonable prices.
- Aishwarya Jewellery. Mylapore Tank. Gold and silverware.
- B.B Jewellery, 6/127 Arcot Rd. Porur. Specializing in gold.
- Bapalal Jewellers. Kakani Towers, Cathedral Road. Diamond merchants.
- Jaipur Gems, 50 Cathedral Rd. Exclusive designer StarFire Diamond jewellery, authentic Jadau jewellery.
- Joyalukkas, 39 North Usman Rd. T'Nagar. India's largest exclusive jewellery mall, housing the worlds largest jewellery showroom of international retailer Joyalukkas amongst other world renowned retailers.
- Jugalkishore Jewellers. CP Ramaswaamy Road, Alwarpet. Traditional and antique jewellery.
- Kanishk. Usman Road, T'Nagar. Great value for money & wide range.
- N. Gopaldas, New No. 59, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore. Jewellers since 1929. For exclusive diamond jewellery.
- Narayana Pearls, Kasi Arcade, T.Nagar. Good collection.
- Rasvihar. 138 Luz Church Road, Mylapore. For exclusive contemporary jewellery.
- Tanishq, 100 Ft Bypass Road, near Velachery Lake, Velachery (close to Phoenix Market City mall). From the house of Titan. Gold, diamond and platinum jewelery. Trendy collections, transparent pricing and clear billing. Tanishq also operates other outlets in Adyar, Anna Nagar and T.Nagar
- Vummidi Bangaru Jewellery, Nungambakkam. Features diamonds and gold. There is also a location T'Nagar.
- Lakshman shruthi, Vadapalani Signal, Vadapalani. Musical instruments, CDs.
- Sapthaswara Musicals. Features Western and Indian musical instruments.
- Shruthi Musicals, 10 Harleys Rd., Kilpauk, ☎ .
- Sruthilayais, 93 Royapettah High Rd, Mylapore, ☎ , . Musical instruments.
In addition to these there are several exhibitions at Das Community Hall (Cathedral Rd) and Shankara Hall (TTK Rd), where artisans display their work. Check the local newspapers for details and timings.
Chennai has numerous restaurants, offering an assortment of cuisine. The beach restaurants are well maintained and serve great food during the evenings. The eat outs in Chennai range from budget, midrange and to up-market. There are swanky star quality restaurants, plain open traditional vegetarian or non vegetarian restaurants- where you share a table with strangers, street stalls, tea kadais, fast food centers, western fast food centers, food courts, coffee shops, bakeries to exclusive specialty establishments. Vegetarian restaurants serve tiffin and vegetarian meals. There are also a number of restaurants that serve a variety of Tamil, Andhra and Kerala vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. Many of these restaurants have nowadays diversified and offer other Indian and Indianized Chinese dishes as well. Usually the check includes a service charge, written next to 'S.C.' If no service charge is added, it is customary to leave a moderate tip.
All these budget eateries serve only vegetarian food and are very cheap.
- Cholayil Sanjeevanam, New No. 97, Old No.45, Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam, ☎ . A popular vegetarian "health" restaurant that cooks its foods using ayurvedic principles. The food is truly delicious, and the concept is that they are cooked with low amounts of oil, using healthy ingredients. The chain also features ayurvedic and yogic classes.
- Eat N Drink, 570-N, Anna Salai, Teynampet (next to Courtyard Marriott). South Indian fast food, from masala dosas to uttapam and pongal. Fast, cheap, tasty and hygienic. ₹20-40.
- Geetha Café,. Pondy Bazaar. South Indian tiffin.
- Hot Chips. T.Nagar and Anna Nagar for budget priced South Indian tiffin, including North Indian chat (snack) items.
- Hotel Saravana Bhavan. Probably Chennai's best known restaurant chain, with 25 branches in Chennai itself (incl. one next to Kapaleeswarar Temple). Pure vegetarian Indian food with high standards of hygiene.
- Karpagambal Mess, Mylapore, opposite the Kapaleeswarar temple. Cheap and authentic South Indian Food.
- Kebab Junction, No. 19, Mount Road, Royapettah, NV (opp. Express Ave, near Melody theatre), ☎ .
- Mansuk's, T.Nagar.. Best for Bombay Chat, Lassi and an unlimited Gujarati Thali.
- Palimar, Parsn Complex, Mount Rd, Anna Salai. South Indian cuisine.
- Rathna Cafe, Triplicane. also Thiruvanmiyur, opposite the RTO. For fluffy hot idlis, hot vadai, delicious pongal dripping in ghee and accompanied by sambhar. Quality maintained for more than 100 years. More expensive than Murugan Idli shop.
- Sangeetha, No. 82, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam (at intersection of Valluvar Kottam High Rd and Nungambakkam High Rd). Vegetarian chain restaurant with a mix of good-quality and tasty South Indian, North Indian, and "Indo-Chinese" cuisine at very reasonable prices.
- The Spice Box, Thiruvanmyur, ☎ . Lunch deliveries and gourmet outdoor catering. Wholesome, innovative lunch-dinner in 6 options is great to try out.
- Sri Krishna Sweets, Mount Rd, Spencers Plaza, Adayar, Anna Salai, also at MG Rd, Shastri Nagar. Indian sweets & salad bar. North Indian "chat" (snack) items.
- Vasantha Bhavan (near Vadapalani Bus stand). Chain of vegetarian restaurants.
- Aiwo (Vegetarian), 7 Rosy Towers, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam., ☎ . Fusion and health foods. A 14-course meal served on a conveyer belt that moves around the room. Various dishes served are supposed to be cooked in olive oil. Healthy tasty food for the health conscious. Table reservations. South Indian ₹199 per meal inclusive of taxes.
- Amaravathi (non-vegetarian), 1 Cathedral Road Gopalpuram, ☎ , . Daily 11AM-11PM. South Indian sea food cuisines and is known for its spicy Andhra food. Their famous Andhra meals, chicken and mutton biryani. Vazahapoo and keerai vadi are a must try. Chilly chicken, chili paneer, momos, soups, burgers, rolls, etc. Punjabi dishes like kadhai chicken, butter chicken, daal makhni, roti, butter naan, paneer butter masala, allu matar etc. Special fish prawns and Amaravathi chicken are the main dishs of the restaurant. Seating: 135 covers. Valet parking and take away. Table reservations. South Indian. Average for 2 persons ₹500.
- Amethyst cafe and restaurant, Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Road, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, ☎ , (resv). Vegetarian. Multi-cuisine. Garden and patio cafe and restaurant with a mix of western (pastas, burgers) and Indian fare. Cuisines served by Amethyst are Coffee and International. It is a nice, cozy, romantic place to chill out on weekends. Their cuisine is nice and so is their interiors. Its a colonial house turned into a restaurant. Table reservations available.
- Amma, 1 Dr. Giri Rd, T Nagar (near Bharathi Raja Hospital), ☎ . 11:30AM-3:30PM and 7PM-10:30PM. Non-vegetarian South Indian. Known for authentic Chettinadu cuisine. Table reservations (non-vegetarian). Meals for 2 around ₹350.
- Anjappar, J.P. Tower, 7/2, Nungambakkam High Rd., ☎ , , . non-vegetarian South Indian. Speciality: Anjappar Popular Meals: White Rice, Chettinad Chicken, Mutton Gravy, Fish Gravy, Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Porial, Keerai, Curd, Buttermilk, Appalam. Also famous for Spl. Mutton Dum Biriyani, Nattu Koli Biriyani and Chettinaad Fish Masala. Meals for two ₹500.
- They have other outlets in Chennai: - Anna Nagar: +91 44 26264111 - Chennai Airport-Food Court- Anna International Airport: +91 44 22561793, 2256194 - Near Central Station: +91 44 25382666, 25383334 - Egmore: (+91 44 42134111, 42179222) - Purasaiwalkam: (+91 44 42089188, 26400200) - T'Nagar ☎ +91 44 224328444, +91 44 224328555) - Mylapore:, ☎ +91 44 224982883, +91 44 224981226) - R.K.Salai: ☎ +91 44 228114555, 28114666.
- Annalakshmi, 18/3, Rukmani Lakshmipathy Rd (Marshall Rd), Sigapi Achi Building I Floor, Egmore (Adjacent to Raja Muthaiah & Rani Meyyammai Hall), ☎ . Tu-Su noon-2:30PM, 7:30PM-9:45PM. Vegetarian. This is a must-try expensive South Indian food restaurant. Elegant ambience, friendly service and good food. Filling portions served. Best selling dishes- Elumichai Sevai, Badam-saffron milkshake. Elite crowd. Table reservations. South Indian. ₹1000 for 2 meals.
- Anupama Southern Spice, 25, 1st Floor, G.N. Chetty Road, Thyagaraya Nagar, ☎ . Non-Vegetarian. Specialty Andhra Cuisine. Table reservations. South Indian.
- The Cascade, ☎ . Quality Inn Sabari, 1. floor, 29 Thirumalai Pillai Rd, T.Nagar. Chinese food
- The Chimney (non-vegetarian), ☎ . Liberty Park Hotel 9, 1st Main Road, U.I. Colony, Kodambakkam. Predominantly North-Indian kebabs & Chinese cuisines served. A very pleasant place on the cooler evenings when there's always a gentle breeze. Table reservations. Rooftop Dining
- Curry House, 2, Block AB, 11th Ave, Anna Nagar, ☎ , . Noon-3PM, 7PM-11PM. Non-vegetarian. Multi-cuisine. Chettinad, and Kerala delicacies. Good tandoori fare of the non-veg variety popular among the Punjabi's and found all over Delhi. Table reservations. Meals for two around ₹350.
- Dynasty, 315, Valluvarkottam High Rd, Nungambakkam (Harrisons Hotel), ☎ . Non-vegetarian. Good quality Chinese-Indian cuisine. Reservations available. Chinese food.
- Shanghai Annaachi, 9B, 1st Floor, Kakani Tower, New No. 34, Old No. 15, Khader Nawaz Khan Rd, ☎ . Chinese food
- Dhaba Express (non-vegetarian), 9 Cenotaph Rd, ☎ . 11AM-3PM, 7PM-11PM daily. Teynampet, and Nungambakkam High Rd. Cuisines served by Dhaba Express are North Indian. They serve Chicken Tikka Masala, Mutton Rogan Josh, Tandoori Aloo (starter), Naans and Roomali Rotis. Valet parking. Table reservations. Meals for two ₹500.
- ECR Dhaba, 9/76, Kunnukadu, East Coast Rd (Near Muttukadu Boat House), ☎ . 11AM-11:45PM. Non-vegetarian. Punjabi food. Table reservations.
- Coastline (non-vegetarian), 118, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, ☎ . South Indian seafood. Freshly done interiors, slow service but delicious food. Crab rasam, prawn or fish biryani. Vide variety of sea food offerings. Must-try place. Table reservations Meals for two ₹600.
- Barbeque Nation (BBQ Nation). Sri Devi Park hotel, T.Nagar and Hotel Bhimaas, Vadapalani Buffet costs ₹800 per person, advance reservation is strongly recommended.
- Eden's, Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam. Wonderful Continental cuisine, fully vegetarian.
- Gallopin Gooseberries. Burgers, sandwiches and entrees. Has two outlets:
- 4/359,Gatsby Village, Mgr Road, +91 44 24493924
- 11, Shop 2, 2nd Floor, Greams Road, Landmark: Near Thousand Lights Police Station Phone: +91 44 28291077, 28292190
- . Mount Road, near Anand Theatre. North Indian.
- Kadalivanam. Mogappair, 100% natural, fully vegetarian restaurant.
- Karaikudi, ☎ . VeeraRaghava Road, T. Nagar (also at Anna Nagar, Besant Nagar, Mylapore, Thiruvanmiyur) Chettinadu cuisine.
- Murugans Idli Shop. 2 locations: GN Chetty Road T. Nagar and Besant Nagar. Murugan Idli Shop is a chain restaurant, and the GN Chetty Road shop in particular is a well-kept secret among locals as a purveyor of high-quality food; on weekends, there is a long line for entry. South Indian. One meal is ₹20-40.
- Noodle House. A chain restaurant, whoese locations include: 1. Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) and 2. the Intersection of Sterling Road and Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam. Chinese.
- Pizzaurant. Velachery Road, Little Mount, Saidapet. Cuisine pizza & pasta. (Without MSG.) Home delivery for nearby areas, very Indian.
- Poonamallee, Breeze Hotel, 850, Poonamallee High Road, ☎ . +91 44 2643 0596. Multi-cuisine.
- Ponnusamy, Commander-in-Chief Road (opp Ethiraj College), Egmore. Chettinadu cuisine
- Rangis, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. Chinese.
- Swati and Swayam, At Saravana Bhavan, Peters Road. South Indian.
- 1 Peshwari (ITC Grand Chola Hotel), No. 63 Mount Road, Guindy, Little Mount, Guindy, ☎ . The award winning Peshawari is the Indian speciality restaurant with the rugged flavours of the North-West Frontier and the art of tandoori cooking. The food is cooked in clay ovens or tandoor in the traditional style which is viewed through the open kitchen. (5-star hotel) Rated Expensive.
- 2 Pergola, The Accord Metropolitan Hotel, 35, G N Chetty Road, T Nagar, ☎ , (Table reservations). 7PM-midnight. The highest open to sky restaurant in the city, featuring grills and Indian cuisines. Seating capacity 120.
- 3 Bella Ciao, Lounge Beach Garden, #4, Shri Krishna Enclave, Kottivakkam, ☎ . Italian-owned and run, authentic Italian food. The famous wood fired oven pizza, home made pastas, steaks and salads.
- 4 Little Italy, Eldorado No 112, Nungambakam High Road, ☎ , (Table Reservations). Italian restaurant. Italian classic cuisine with a perfect wine. Chef's favourites: Pizza Mellino, Pasta del Fattore and In Wines- Brunello di Montalcino.
- 5 Prego (Taj Coromandel), Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ . Gourmet Italian dining, replaced Patio.
- 6 Teppan, 146, TTK Road, Alwarpet, ☎ . Hibachi style, the cook prepares your meal with a show right in front of you. Very entertaining especially for younger diners. Excellent sushi and sashimi. ₹2000 for a meal for two.
- Cedars, Wallace Garden Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ . Dim lit ambience is beautiful with exquisite furnishing in Mediterranean style. They serve the most authentic Lebanese, Middle Eastern delicacies and some interesting Mediterranean cuisines.
- 7 Don Pepes, 73, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram, ☎ . noon-2:45PM, 7:00-11:45PM. Mexican. Above Hot Breads as an extension, they are best known for their fajitas (sizzlers) and enchiladas (a tortilla wrap with some Mexican rice). Expensive.
- 8 Cream Centre, 55, 2nd Main Road, Raja Annamalaipuram (near Kaliappa Hospital), ☎ , (reservations). 11AM to 3:30PM, 7PM to 11PM (11AM to 11PM on weekends). Cream Centre offers a wide range of vegetarian food choices- North Indian and Mexican, to American, Italian and even Lebanese. Nachos, Channa Bhatura, American Corn Cheese Ball, Sizzlers & Sizzling Brownie. A specialty here is the Mera Thali, where you have a choice of dishes from which you can make your own thali.
- 9 Entree Restaurant, Emall hotel, Express Avenue Mall, Gate No 1, Pattullous Road, Anna Salai, Chennai 600 002., ☎ , . 100% vegetarian multi-cuisine restaurant. Serves fare from all around the world - Thai soup, Mexican main course, Indian spices tadka, French pastry for desserts.
- 10 Copper Chimney, 74, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram (opposite the Chola Sheraton), ☎ . noon-3PM, 7PM-midnight. Mainly North Indian and Iranian inspired dish. Specialities: Bagani Bahar, Paneer Musselum. Rated expensive.
- 11 The Great Kabab Factory, Radisson G R T Hotel, G.S.T. Road, St Thomas Mount, ☎ . noon-2:45PM, 7PM-11:45PM. Specialities: Galoutti Kabab, Tangri and Murgh Malai Kababs, Fish and Mutton Kababs. They serve alcohol and have valet parking. expensive.
- 12 , 1 GST Rd, Le Royal Meridien, St. Thomas Mount (Le Maridien), ☎ , (reservations). Noon-3PM & 7PM-11:45PM. India Restaurant serving Royal Indian Cuisine. Live Ghazal performances. A Private dining room is available for up to 12 persons and an intimate bar for pre-dinner drinks. very expensive.
- Kayal, Le Royal Meridien, 1, G.S.T. Road, St. Thomas Mount, ☎ , (reservations). 7PM-11:30PM. Seafood restaurant. Coriander prawn, seafood platter, Kadia lobster, prawn biryani. Nice complimentary garlic bread with butter. very expensive.
- Dakshin, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, 132, T.T.K. Road, Alwarpet, ☎ . 12:30PM-2:45PM, 7:30PM-11:45PM. South Indian Cuisines- Dakshin offers the 'rare' pleasures of ethnic coastal and regional cuisines. The choicest cuisine of the four Southern states served in a regal setting. Live Carnatic Music. Expensive but excellent food- Starters include traditional, kuli paniyaram. Try the Idi appam or Appam with mutton stew. Desert: Kulfi.
- Southern Spice, Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ .
- 13 Benjarong, 146, TTK Road, Alwarpet, ☎ . 12:15PM-2:45PM and 7:15PM-11:45PM. The authentic flavour of Thailand. Seating capacity 68.
- 14 The Good Spot (Good Spot), 30/31, Second Main Road, Kasturibai Nagar, Adyar, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 11AM-11PM.
Chennai is a difficult place to drink. Government rule states that only establishments with a minimum of 21 rooms can obtain a bar or liquor license. Hence there are no standalone bars or pubs here. All the bars that are around are part of some hotel or the other and in general overpriced.
Government run liquor stores called TASMAC are all over the place but in general not at all a pleasant experience. They usually have rude staff, are filthy and usually never have the brand of your choice. Also they always tend to mark up each bottle by ₹5-10 over the listed price. Go for it if you want a one time war like experience in order to obtain some booze!
Nightclubs close at 11PM, even on Fridays and Saturdays, according to government rule.
- Paradise Bar, 20 South Usman Rd. Aruna Hotel, T Nagar, +91 24346565/0834
- The Pub, Liberty Park Hotel, 1st Main Road, UI Colony, Kodambakkam, ☎ . Very nice decor and good service for the price. It gets crowded on important cricket match days as the local sports fans gather for a drink here.
- Bike and Barrel. Residency Towers, T.Nagar.nice ambience there are 2 levels lower level for couples and upper level for stags. Nice sitting arrangement but can get crowded Expect to spend around 1000 for 2 people for drinks and food.
- Cambridge. Hotel Dee Cee Manor, GN Chetty Road, T.Nagar
- Crystal. Hotel Ranjit, Nungambakkam High road, Nungambakkam.
- Diesel. G.N Chetty Road, T.Nagar
- Grammy. Hotel Sabhari, Thirumala Pillai Road, T.Nagar
- Hudson. Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam, +91 42222777: Has two levels. Hudson Upper and H2O. Cramped seating providing very little privacy. The Liquor stable is limited to the local brands and a bottle or two of Scotch.
- Million Dollars, 100 Feet Rd. Hotel Ambica Empire, Vadapalani
- Star Rock. Kodambakkam High Road (Next to Palmgrove hotel), Nungambakkam
- Zero° bar, 29 Thirumalai Pillai Rd. Quality Inn Sabari, ground floor, T.Nagar
- Distil Bar. Taj Connemara, Binny Road
- Dublin. Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet, +91 24994101
- Durrants Bar. Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road, +91 28110101
- Above Sea Level, Hotel Raintree, St.Mary's Road, Alwarpet.
- 10 Downing Street, Kences Inn Hotel, North Boag Road, T Nagar.
- The Westminister, ☎ . Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet
- Zara. Cathedral Road.
- Zodiac- Lounge Bar, The Accord Metropolitan, 35,G.N.Chetty Road, T'Nagar, ☎ . 11:00–midnight. Popular labels, ingenious cocktails, rare blends of liquor & a wide selection of hot and cold canapés. Seating capacity 76.
Local specialities - soft drinks
- Fruit Bizz (Adyar signal), left corner building from ananda bhavan road to guindy. This is one of the best juice shops very famous in adyar region. Shop open from morning 10AM till 1AM. ₹30-50.
- NeerMoar. Spicy butter milk, with local seasoning. Available at most South Indian restaurants.
- Tender Coconut. Definitely try a tender coconut on a hot summer's day. Available on roadside stalls at ₹35 to 40, a coconut.
- 1 Broadlands lodging house, No 18, Vallabha Agraharam Street (opp Star Theatre,Triplicane), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very popular with the backpacker crowd, leafy courtyard, a rustic feel to the whole hotel, good rooms are in the back of the hotel and two of the most recommended rooms are room # 43 and 44, which are roof cottages. Single room ₹250, double ₹400.
- 2 Cristal Guest House, 34, CNK Road, Triplicane (From the Central Train station, get out and take a pre-paid Auto Rickshaw for a total of ₹50 (₹2 fee + ₹48) to Triplicane.), ☎ . Very clean and friendly place with western toilets. No towels provided; bring your own. Near good/inexpensive eateries. This place is walking distance from the beach and a bus stops to reach various sites. Double room is ₹300 with ₹10 hot water bucket.
- 3 Hotel Chennai Gate, 37 Gandhi Irwin Road, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Deluxe room is ₹1500 with A/C with internet socket available for ₹100 for 24 hours.
- 4 Hotel Impala Continental, 12 Gandhi Irwin Rd, ☎ , .
- 5 Hotel Karpagam International, South Mada Street, Mylapore., ☎ .
- 6 Kanchi, 28, Ethiraj Sala, Egmore (C-in-C Road), ☎ .
- 7 New Woodlands Hotel, 72-75, Dr Radha Krishnan Salai, CIT Colony, Mylapore, ☎ . It is sometimes crowded and a tad busy. There is a nice quiet art gallery and cafe nearby.
- 8 Old Woodlands (a.k.a Royapettah Woodlands/Woodlands Hotel that is next to Woodlands Theatre), Shop No: 25, West Cott Road, Royapettah (Pay no more than ₹40 to get there from the railway station), ☎ , . Little known, but an excellent place to stay. The hotel building is at least one hundred years old and stands in the middle of sprawling grounds and surrounded by massive trees. The main building was once the palace of Raja of Ramnad. The auto-rickshaws and taxis will not tell you about the place as the hotel does not pay a commission to middlemen.
- 9 Palace Lodge, new No. 69, old No. 32, Egmore High Road, Egmore (Walk from Egmore Railway Station), ☎ . Reasonably clean, staff okay. Single, bathroom outside: ₹295.
- 10 Sri Krishna Residency, South mada St, ☎ . Mylapore.
- 11 Zam Zam Guest House, 41 Subathral St, Triplicane, ☎ , (mobile). Clean spotless rooms and nice staff. It is about 100 m behind Thaj Regency Hotel on the small street. Look for the black marble entrance and sign. All rooms have bath, fan, sat TV and intercom. Squat toilets only. No mosquito nets on the windows though. Prices are ₹200 for a single person, ₹250 for two persons and ₹300 for 3 persons per 24 hours. Predominantly an Indian scene at the time of writing. Close to Broadlands Lodge, Comfort Hotel, and the great Gee Gee Internet and Surya Restaurant (old name Maharaj). The whole spot is about 300 m from the T-junction of Triplicane High Rd and Walaja Rd where there is a bus stop of 27B bus to CMBT under the big tree (every 5 minutes).
- 12 Hotel Krishna Bhavan, 53 New Avadi Road, Kilpauk, Aspiran Garden Colony, Kilpauk, ☎ . ₹300.
- A/c Dormitory, Retirement Room @ Central Railway Station. ₹265.
- Alcove Service Apartments Chennai, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 13 Maple Tree Hotels, # 77 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, 100 Feet Rd, Vadapalani., ☎ . Nearby to Chennai Metropolitan Bus Terminus and Vadapalani Lord Murugan Temple. 51 rooms.
- 14 Dee-Cee Manor, 90 Nagapattinam-Chennai Hwy, Gopalapuram, Chintadripet,, ☎ .
- 18 Liberty Park Hotel, 9, 1st Main Rd, UI Colony, Kodambakkam, ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. 5 min away from the heart of the shopping district - T.Nagar. Ask for a 15% discount before you make a reservation. They sometimes have a better deal for the multiple night stays listed on their website. ₹2,000-3,000.
- 19 Mowbrays Inn, TTK Road, Alwarpet.
- 20 Victoria Hotel, 3 Kenneth Lane, Egmore, ☎ .
- 21 Oriental Inn, 71 Cathedral Rd, Gopalapuram, ☎ . 32 rooms in central Chennai. ₹1,500-2,800 plus taxes.
- 22 Peninsula, 51 GN Chetty Rd, T. Nagar, ☎ .
- 23 Clarion Hotel President, 25 Dr Radhakrishna Salai, Mylapore, ☎ .
- 24 Raj Residency, 22 Kennet Lane, Egmore (2 min walk from the Egmore railway station), ☎ . US$17-147.
- 25 Ranjit, 15 Nungambakkam High Rd., ☎ .
- 26 The Residency, 49 GN Chetty Rd, T.Nagar, ☎ .
- 27 Residency Towers, Boag Rd, T.Nagar (close to Pondy Bazaar).
- 28 Somerset Greenways Chenna, No 94 Sathyadev Ave, MRC Nagar, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The residence is 10 minutes away from the Chennai CBD. Studio through to 3-bedroom apartments. Each apartment features kitchens, separate living rooms complete with home entertainment systems.
- 29 Vestin Park, 39, Montieth Road, Egmore., ☎ .
- 30 Savera Hotel, 146, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore.
The closest hotels to the airport are The Trident, Le Royal Meridian, Hilton and Radisson GRT Hotel all five star properties.
- 31 The Accord Metropolitan, 35, G N Chetty Road, T Nagar, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 32 Aloft, By Starwood Hotels, 102 Rajiv Gandhi Salai, Sholinganallur., ☎ . From ₹4,000.
- 33 [dead link]Ambassador Pallava, 30, Montieth Road, Egmore, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly staff.
- 34 Courtyard Chennai, 564, Anna Salai, ☎ . Known by locals simply as the Marriott, this is a gorgeous renovated business hotel on the western edge of the city core, near the airport. Two restaurants, gym, no pool. ₹7100 and up.
- 35 Emall Hotel (E hotel, Chennai), Express Avenue Mall, Gate # 1, Patullos Rd, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 36 Hyatt Regency, 365 Anna Salai, Teynampet, ☎ .
- 37 ITC Grand Chola, No. 63, Mount Road, Guindy, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. New 5-star hotel in Guindy. Grand design cues taken from Chola architecture.
- 38 My Fortune (Cathedral Road), ☎ , fax: .
- 39 The Park, 601, Anna Salai, Nungambakkam (next to the Anna Flyover), ☎ , fax: . Modern style with a film theme.
- 40 Radisson GRT Hotel, #531, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount (Near Kathipara Junction), ☎ .
- 41 Ramada Egmore, Gandhi Irwin Bridge Road, Egmore,Chennai,Tamil Nadu-600008, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Near the Egmore railway station, providing easy access to central business areas. Includes a restaurant. Road facing rooms can be noisy.
- 42 Le Royal Meridien, 1 GST Road, St. Thomas Mount (Near Kathipara Junction) (Business District), ☎ , fax: .
- 43 Taj Connamera, Binny Rd, ☎ .
- 44 Taj Coromandel, 37, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ .
- 45 Trident Chennai, 1/24, G.S.T. Rd, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 46 The Leela Palace, MRC Nagar,Adyar, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 47 Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park (formerly Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers), 132, TTK Road, Alwarpet, ☎ , fax: .
- 48 Fisherman's Cove (Vivanta by Taj). luxury beach resort
- 49 Hilton Chennai, 124/1, Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, Guindy.
- 50 Kohinoor Asiana Hotel, 1/238 IT Expressway, Semmencherry.
- 51 Park Hyatt Chennai, 39, Velachery Road, Guindy, ☎ .
- 52 Radisson Blu City Centre, 2 Ethiraj Salai, Egmore.
- 53 Raintree Hotel, St Mary's Road, 120, St Marys Road, Alwarpet, ☎ .
- 54 Taj Club House Chennai, 2, Club House Road, Anna Salai.
- 55 The Raintree Hotel Anna Salai, 636, Anna Salai, Teynampet, ☎ .
- 56 Westin Chennai, 154, Velachery, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon.
Chennai is generally a safer area of India in terms of crime, although pickpocketing, muggings, and robberies sporadically occur. Keep your doors and windows shut and locked at night and do not carry or display large amounts of cash if possible.
It is advisable for women, especially unaccompanied ones, to dress modestly and limit their interaction with unfamiliar local men. Foreigners are generally overcharged by autorickshaws simply because they are ignorant of the prevailing fares. It is necessary to confirm whether the driver knows the exact destination and to fix the fare before boarding. 'Autos', as autorickshaws are known in Chennai, are notorious for fleecing customers, tourists and locals alike.
Be alert to your surroundings and watch where you step, especially if you get caught in a large crowd where it is difficult to look at what is in front of you. Cross streets extremely carefully as traffic is generally heavy. On major roads, use the underground crossings (locally called "subways"). Avoid using underground road-crossing/ subways in the night or if you notice them to be empty. Traffic signals are frequently ignored by drivers and pedestrians alike, and it is not at all advisable for tourists to try driving in Chennai.
While in Chennai it is advisable to drink bottled water keep a bottle handy as it is EXTREMELY HOT. Eating fresh vegetables and fruits that have sat outside in the presence of insects can also be unhealthy, although bananas and coconuts are usually safe because they are opened only immediately before eating. Hot drinks in restaurants such as tea, coffee, and other local specialties are safe, as are packaged/bottled drinks such as Aquafina water, Frooti (a popular local mango drink) and others. If you have access to a stove, boiling tap water before drinking is also an option. Chennai summers are humid and sultry; it's better to step out with an umbrella, bottled water and some oral rehydration salts (available from pharmacies, the brand name is Electral). These come in handy if you happen to get dehydrated.
Chennai is the medical capital of South East Asia.
- Apollo Hospitals, Greams Lane, Nungambakkam, ☎ .
- 1 Aysha Hospital, 91A Millers Rd., ☎ .
- Balaji Hospital, G.S.T Road,Guindy, ☎ .
- New Hope Medical Centre, 814, Poonamallee High Rd,, Kilpauk, ☎ .
- CSI Rainy Hospital, Royapuram, ☎ .
- 2 Hindu Mission Hospital, 103, G.S.T. Road, Tambaram West, ☎ .
- 3 Madras Medical Mission, Moggapair 37, ☎ .
- Ramachandra Hospital, Porur, ☎ .
- Dr.Kamakshi memorial Hospital, No1, Radial Road, pallikaranai.
- Dr.Mehta's Hospital, No2,McNichols Road,3rd Lane,Chetpet, ☎ .
- Devaki Hospitals (Opposite to Rangachari cloth store mylapor).
- 4 MIOT International, 4/112, Mt. Poonamalee High Road, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 5 Fortis Malar Hospital, No. 52, 1st Main Road, Gandhi Nagar, Adyar, ☎ (For Emergency), e-mail: email@example.com.
- Apollo Pharmacy, All Over the City
- Health & Glow, Spencers Plaza (Phase 3), Mount Road; Nungambakkam High Road
- Madras Medical Mission, 24 Hr. Pharmacy, Mogappiar
- The Psychotherapy Clinic,26/1, Arcot Street,T.nagar
- My Mother Pharmacy,E.B.Colony
- Parasu Dental Pharmacy 11, 3rd cross st kasthurbha nagar adyar chennai - 20 ph 4211 5000
- MedPlus India, All Over the City
BSNL and Airtel Reliance, Tata, are main providers of terrestrial telephone lines in Chennai. You can make long distance calls from one of the many booths that display NSD/ISD i.e. National Subscriber Dialling (National Long Distance) and International Subscriber Dialling (International Long Distance). Calling cards are also available with these providers which are considerably cheap.
Cell phone rates are among the cheapest in the world. There are 10 GSM service providers:
- BSNL GSM Triband with 3G services
- AirTel GSM Triband with 3G services
- Vodafone GSM Triband with 3G services
- AirCel GSM Triband
- Reliance GSM
- Tata DOCOMO GSM
- Idea GSM
- Uninor GSM
- MTS CDMA
- Videocon GSM
You can buy a sim card with a photo and a copy of your passport. For making long distance calls Aircel is cheaper with ₹49 card calls to US and Canada will be ₹1.50/Min. this will work only in home network. For other destinations Please check with operator.
Starter packs and top-up cards can be picked up from numerous outlets. Seemles roaming across the country is provided by all providers.
There are several Internet cafes from where you can access the internet for sending email or uploading your digital photos.
- Reliance WebWorld, incorporating JavaGreen coffee shops, Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road); TTK Road, Alwarpet, Besant Nagar, L.B.Road, Adyar. The TTK Road branch has free wifi if you use the coffee shop.
- MTS MBLAZE High Speed Broadband Internet Through USB Modems. Call +91 9150-955-955
Apart from that you can access Internet provided in your hotel or if you are staying long you can buy Internet packs from all mobile providers.
- ABN Amro, Harrington Road, Opp Residency Hotel on GN Chetty Road, Adyar - Sardar Patel Road, TTK Road, next to Citibank branch
- Andhra Bank, All over Chennai
- HSBC, Adyar, Mylapore, Pondy Bazzar, Tidel Park, Kadar Nawaz Khan Road, Annanagar, Rajaji Salai, Kathipara Junction
- American Express, Near Anand Theatre, Anna Salai (Mount Road)
- Citibank, Opp Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road); Opp Hotel Parthan, GN Chetty Road, Opposite Citi Centre, Velachery Highway, near Vijaya Nagar Bus terminus, Nanganallur.
- HDFC Bank, ITC Centre, Anna Salai (Mount Road),Anna Nagar(West); All over Chennai
- ICICI Bank, All over Chennai
- Axis Bank, All over Chennai
- Standard Chartered Bank, Haddows Road
- State Bank of India, All over Chennai. They have an ATM locator online.
- Indian Overseas Bank, All over Chennai,they have InstaCash ATMs.
- Indian bank, All over Chennai
- Oriental Bank of Commerce, Adyar LB Road, Mylapore, G N Chetty Road T nagar.
ATM cards issued by any bank will work with ATM of any other bank, but they may impose restrictions on number of transactions, amount per transaction and may also charge a small transaction fee of ₹20.
Many hotels will change money for you at the front desk. However, they may not have the best rates.
It is best to change money at the city-based money changers than the ones at the airports. The ones at the airport offer much less for exchanging forex into Indian rupees (₹) and sell forex for a much higher rate than the market rate.
- American Express, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
- Thomas Cook, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
Beauty parlors & hair salons
- Ayush, Anna Nagar (+91 26223102/26223446/26203862), Kilpauk (+91 52179635/26472298), Mylapore (+91 52067071/30907691) - Therapy includes Abhyangam, Abhyangam with Pichu, Abhyangam with local Pizhichil, Abhyangam with Thalam, Udvartanam, Abhyangam with Nasyam, Abhyangam with local Navarakizhi, Muka Lepam
- Anushka,6,Thyagaraya Road,Pondy Bazaar, T.Nagar, +91 52179197
- Celeste Beauty Salon, Spencer Plaza,(Mobile -9941130508) F-26, Phase 1, First floor
- Dollys beauty parlour, Elcanso Plaza, Egmore, +91 9840118882
- Green Trends, 1576, 13th Main Road, Anna Nagar (+91 26161534); Ashok Nagar (+91 52193636); Adyar (+91 24451759); Purusawakkam (+91 52174414); Taylors Road, Kilpauk (+91 26453331); T. Nagar (+91 28143886); Velachery (+91 22445590); Virugambakkam (+91 55511973) - Exotic natural treatments like Strawberry facial, Avocado Butter Massage Facial, Red Banana Facial, Baby-Corn under eye treatment! etc.
- Jazzy, North Boag Road, T. Nagar
- Lakme, Adayar (+91 24469730), Alwarpet (+91 24662481), Anna Nagar (+91 26268841), Ashok Nagar (+91 23750207), Kilpauk (+91 52179634), Nungambakkam (+91 28333050), T. Nagar (+91 28155577)
- Naturals, Unisex beauty salon with more than 100 salons around Chennai.
- Salon Nayana, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar, +91 28256064
- Style Mantra- Makeover Concepts, Nungambakkam (+91 28280066), R.K. Salai (+91 28110707)
- Blue 'Boutique Gym'-329, TTK Road, Alwarpet.#24996045,24996064.
- Body Sports Gym-Govindan Road, Saidapet. #9841151091
- Gold's Gym 17, Kasturi Rangan Road Alwarpet, +91 44 42088201
- Mind N Body 360 degree Fitness Studio - Ramapuram & Mugalivakkam. #9600030058, 8754409900, 044-42014949
- O2 Gym, Kader Nawaz Road, Nungambakkam, Velachery
- Soldiers Gym, Triplicane High Road, Triplicane (and on Anna Salai)
- Talwalkars, Near Khader Nawaz Road, Nungambakkam
- Talwalkars, 23rd Cross Street,Indira Nagar, Adyar
Post & telegraphs
The telegraph office on Anna Salai (Mount Rd), near Higgin Bothoms accepts letters and parcels up to 8PM with a small late fee. Snail Mail in India is by a Post Card (25Ps), Inland Letter ₹5, or envelope ₹5. Speed Post facility allows you to send mail more conveniently than a courier service. They have a pan India coverage and also provide international service. International delivery is considerably slower than private competitors like FedEX or UPS but it is also much cheaper. Telegraph services have been discontinued from July 2013 citing very poor response.
Due to proliferation of mobile phones and VOIP, the public telephones are fast disappearing. Telephone Booths or public telephones in India can still be found near travel hotspots like the airport, railway station or CMBT and usually painted with the letters PCO (Public Call office,local calls), STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling) and ISD (International Subscriber Dialling). All booths have electronic metering and you pay what's displayed on the meter (included in the metering is a nominal ₹2 as service charges). You'll also get a receipt if you insist on one. Coin operated phones ₹1 are located in many busy junctions (easily identified by bright yellow or red colour) but support only local calls.
Libraries & cultural centres
- American Information Resource Center Library (within the American Consulate - see list of consulates)
- Anna Centenary Library - Kotturpuram, Phone - 65515031
- British Council - Anna Salai, Phone - 52050600 Ext 350/351.
- Connemara Library - Pantheon Road, Egmore, Phone 28193751.
- Max Mueller Bhavan (German) - Khadar Nawaz Khan Rd., Nungambakkam.
- Canada, 18 (Old 24), 3F, YAFA Tower, Khader Nawaz Khan Rd, Nungambakkam, ☎ .
- (Honorary) Chile.
- Finland, 202 Anna Salai, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hours.
- Germany, 9 Boat Club Rd, ☎ . M-F 8AM-11:30AM.
- Greece, Νο 37 Sterling Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Japan, No.12/1 Cenetoph Rd Ist St, Teynampet, ☎ .
- Malaysia, New no.7,Old no.3, Cenotaph Road, 1st street, teynampet, Chennai-600018 (Near SIET College), ☎ . 9AM-5PM.
- Russia, Santhome High Rd, Santhome (Next to St. Bedes School).
- Singapore, 17-A, North Boag Road, T Nagar, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United Kingdom, 20 Anderson Rd, Nungambakkam, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 8:30AM-1PM and 1:30PM-4PM.
- United States, 220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle (Near Gemini Flyover), ☎ .
The East Coast Road, also known as the New Mahabalipuram Road, leads south from Chennai to Pondicherry and beyond. One of India's most famous temple towns is 60 km (about 40 miles) along it and definitely worth a visit:
- Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram has many temples, mostly built during the Pallava Dynasty (275-897CE), including several on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The town is also famous for stone carving, and has schools that train most of India's carvers. Carvings and other handicrafts are sold all over town.
- It is easy to visit Mahabalipuram as a day trip from Chennai, but there are enough attractions to make staying overnight or for a few days an attractive proposition as well, and the town has extensive tourist facilities. One of the most famous temples here is the Shore Temple, next to the beach; if coming from Chennai ensure you reach this temple between 6AM and 6PM, as it is shut down after 6PM.
The East Coast Road could very well be termed the entertainment highway of Chennai. The road is new, flanked by the sea on the left and dotted with amusement spots through the entire stretch. Driving down ECR is an experience. Really! You can pick and choose from amusement parks, water sports centres, beaches, eco conservation, cultural and religious centres, restaurants or resorts to spend your day in. The road caters to practically every type of pastime that one could think about. Be prepared to pay a small toll fee.
- Ahaa Water Park: A spot for frolicking in water, the Ahaa Water Park offers a variety of water sports and fun activities. It has a wave generator, which can generate waves of up to 3.5 ft.
- Beach Resorts: Another convenience that is found in plenty on the East Coast Road is the presence of several comfortable, pleasing, beach resorts, which enable you to take a break, and enjoy a seaside environment. Take your pick from those mentioned below:
- - Buena Vista - Blue Lagoon - Green Country Resort - Fisherman's Cove - Casuarina Bay -
- Cholamandalam Artists Village: Set up by a group of artists to serve as a recluse for artists of all genres. This village offers the ambience needed for creativity to flow and is inhabited only by artists. The village offers guesthouse facilities exclusively for artists from elsewhere so that they could also benefit from the environment provided by the place. A must visit for those who appreciate the finer things of life.
- Madras Crocodile Bank (Crocodile Park). Tue-Sun 8:30AM-5:30PM. 25 km from Chennai. The brainchild of Romulus Whittaker, the acknowledged specialist on reptiles, this center has gained fame as an endeavor for the preservation and propagation of endangered species of crocodiles. The center also houses a large variety of snakes. To get to Crocodile Bank from Chennai (Triplicane), you need to get on the PP19/B/X bus (runs along the beach) to Kovalum, which is the last stop for ₹14 (75mins/30 km). Then at this same intersection, get on 588/C/X bus to Mamallapurum (7 km/7mins) for ₹14/18AC. Night Safari: Tue-Sat (by advance booking only) 7:00PM-8:30PM. Adult: Rs.200/-, Children (below 10 years): Rs.100/- ₹40 for adults, ₹20 for children.
- Dakshinachitra: , Muttukadu. A venture of Deborah Thiagarajan and her associates from the Madras Craft Foundation. Dakshinachitra is an amazing place to visit, as various kinds of traditional houses have been transported to Chennai from interior parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and rebuilt here piece by piece.
- Golden Beach: The first amusement park in Chennai, just about 11 km away from Adyar. Still a landmark of Chennai, this park offers over 40 odd rides for the fun seeker. The only park with an access to the beach
- Hotels and Restaurants in ECR: The ECR road abounds with restaurants and eating spots, which offer a wide range of cuisines and tasteful ambience. And you can plan your dinner or lunch in one of these hotels. A few of the food outlets are listed below:
- - Basera - Blue Lagoon - Thanjavur Restaurant - Food Village - Coastal Kitchen - Hot Kitchen -
- Jagannathan Temple: An exact replica of the Puri Jagannath Temple. Those who have not been to Puri can take a look at this temple.
- Kanyakumari — Site of the famous Vivekananda memorial.
- Kart Attack: A centre dedicated to fulfilling the speed maniac's desire for thrill in a safe and secure environment. The first go karting centre of Chennai, this has placed Chennai on the go karting map of India, and has been instrumental in creating a few go karting champions also.
- Little Folks Specifically aimed at providing entertainment for the children, this park has a longer history than MGM. (Dolphin city was closed after all of its dolphins and sea lions had died. It is no longer operational now.)
- Marina Beach (17 km. Take a bus or a train)
- Mayajaal: 100,000 sq.ft of air-conditioned space. A multitude of activities and entertainment avenues, including movie theatres, bowling alleys, video games parlours, multicuisine food courts, and much more. This is Mayajaal, a multidimensional entertainment centre, on par with any entertainment zone found abroad. Open from 11AM to 11PM you can easily spend the entire day here. It offers that much and more.
- MGM Dizzee World: Spread over 27 acres, this theme park offers joy rides, food stalls and other games. It features one of the first roller coaster rides of Chennai, and many of the rides offered could make your hair stand on edge. On the softer side, you have the dashing car drives, and the swimming pool with its water slides. MGM Dizzee World is in Muttukadu next to MGM Beach Resort.
- Muttukadu Boat House: 23 km from Adayar, this backwater area is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, and offers rowing and speedboat riding.
- Pondicherry (163 km. Take a bus) — Go on a spiritual trip or volunteer at Auroville - an experimental township with no religion or politics. The drive down the East Coast Road (ECR) is delightful, with lovely beaches all along the way, and on the way you can stop over at the Botanical Gardens.
- Prarthana Drive In Theatre: Approximately 10 km out of Adyar, this complex offers both a drive in theatre and a drive in restaurant VGP.
- Radio Control Car Racing at ECR RC Track: Chennai has the only active RC Car race track in India. On a weekend, you can find several RC car racers at the ECR RC Track located near Hot Kitchen Resatuarant on the ECR Road. It is very close to Kart Attack track. Visit IRCRA on Facebook for more details.
- Rameswaram (569 km. Take a bus or a train)
- Sai Baba Temple: Approximately 8.5 km from Adyar, the temple is peaceful, clean and breezy.
- Tiruvannamalai (185 km. Take a bus)
- Tirupathi (158 km. Take a bus or a train)
- Tiruvidanthai Nithya Kalyana Perumal Koil: As the name denotes, a temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara found on East Coast Road.
- Vedanthangal: (85 km. Take a bus) Around 80 km south from Chennai, Vedanthangal is one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in India. Built around the Vedanthangal Lake, it is home to thousands of native and migratory birds. Best time to visit between November and March.
South India is famous for its temples. Even if you aren't on a pilgrimage, these are worth a visit if you are interested in grand buildings and architecture. There are 33, 000 temples in and around Chennai. Some of them are -
- Chidambaram — Approximately 250 km from Chennai. The famous Lord Nataraja temple which has the golden roof for the moolavar which was offered by Parantaka Chola I.
- Kanchipuram — (6 km. Take a bus or a train). Kamakshi temple, seat of one of the Shankaracharyas - the closest Hinduism comes to a spiritual head.
- Madurai— Home to the famous Meenakshi temple.
- Swamithoppe— Ayya Vaikundar Pathi, religious headquarters of Ayyavazhi.
- Thanjavur — Brihadeswara temple (Big Temple).
- Tiruchirapalli — It's situated 350 km south of chennai. By NH45 Trichy can be reached in 5-6 hrs and it has lot of attractions including the Srirangam temple (Sri Renganathar), Ucchi Pillayar (Rock Fort temple) and the river Cauvery.
- Tirupati — Approximately 150 km from Chennai, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
- Tiruvallur — Approximately 45 km from Chennai. It is famous for its Vaidhya Veera raghava Swami Temple and Sri Viswaroopa Panchamukha Anjaneya Swami Ashram which has a 40 ft tall Murti of Hanuman.
- Tiruvannamalai — Arunachala Temple famous for full moon day girivalam and Deepam