Exploring Chennai: A Fascinating Journey Through the Heart of South India

Posted On : 14-4-2018
Exploring Chennai: A Fascinating Journey Through the Heart of South India

Our Chennai city tour offers you to experience its own sensational charm through its history and major tourist attractions. With Dutch, Portuguese, French and British influences, the city of Chennai has a rich and diverse heritage that bridges its colonial past with its inherent Dravidian culture.

Chennai is a city, Madras is an old name of Chennai. Madras evokes memories of tree-lined avenues, palm-fringed beaches, and slow, unhurried life. It was in 1639 that the British, intrigued by the sliver of sand set against the backdrop of the Bay of Bengal, decided to purchase a few square miles of land in a fishing hamlet called Madrasapattinam from the ruling Vijayanagara king. With the establishment of the British East India Company, the area around it slowly metamorphosed into a new settlement, simply known as Madras.

Popular Tourist Places in Chennai

One can see traces of it in the city’s distinctive architecture, with buildings in the Indo-Saracenic style dominating much of the older parts - Chepauk Palace and cricket stadium, Ripon Building, Victoria Public Hall, the Chennai Central and Egmore railway stations are just a few examples.

A visit to the Government Museum offers insights into the city’s glorious past, while the Museum Theatre is a great place to catch a play or a concert. Chennai is a city of churches, and some like the Armenian Church (built in the 1700s), Our Lady of Light or Luz Church (built-in 1516 by the Portuguese), Santhome Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Kirk are among the oldest and most exquisite churches in the country.

Fort St. George

Setup in 1644 to mark the advent of the British East India Company, Fort St George served as a trading post, and gradually the city of Madras, or Chennai as we know it today, evolved around it. Built on coastal land purchased from a chieftain, the fort stands tall, facing the Bay of Bengal and overlooking a number of fishing settlements. Today, the building is the seat of the Government of Tamil Nadu, housing the legislative assembly and other administrative offices.

St. Mary Church

Another key attraction here is the St Mary’s Church, believed to be the oldest surviving Anglican Church in the country. Completed in 1680, the church, also known as the Westminster Abbey of the East, has seen a number of high-profile weddings, including that of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale.

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

The original temple is believed to have been built by the Pallavas in the early seventh century, by the seaside, while some claim it was constructed much earlier than that. However, the story goes that the Portuguese, who took over the city in the late 1500s, destroyed the temple, and it was hence rebuilt using some fragments of the demolished structure by the Vijayanagara kings. The majestic Shiva temple is located in Mylapore, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and to its west is a huge sacred tank. The Panguni Peruvizha or Spring Festival, held for about nine days between March and April, is among the biggest events in the neighborhood, drawing in scores of pilgrims from across the state.

Kalakshetra Foundation

Kalakshetra is more than just an art and culture academy; it’s a beating cultural heart, and epicenter of artistic endeavors and a creative space that continues to nurture top talent in the field of classical dance, in particular. The campus is delightfully in sync with nature and it’s possible for tourists and visitors to go on a guided or non-guided tour, participate in the daily morning prayer under the ancient banyan tree, attend a Carnatic recital by the lotus pond, watch classes in progress or catch a Bharatanatyam performance at the stunning Koothambalam (the Kalakshetra theatre/auditorium).

Santhome Cathedral

Built over the mortal remains of St.Thomas, one of the 12 apostles, this neo-Gothic church close to the Marina beach is believed to have been built by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. Sometime in the late 19th century, the church was rebuilt by the British and today it’s a key landmark in the city, with its spires piercing the blue sky against the backdrop of the ocean.

How to reach Chennai?

Chennai is well connected with all the modes of transport from all the major cities of India.

Reach Chennai By Air

Chennai International airport is approx. 7 km away from the city. Most of the international and domestic airlines have direct flights to the Anna International Airport terminal. Domestic flights operate daily at the Kamaraj Domestic terminal.

Reach Chennai By Train

Chennai has three major railway stations. The nearest Railway station from the city is Chennai Egmore which is just 2 kilometers. Many superfast and express trains available on a daily basis and are well-connected to major cities like Mumbai, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Delhi, Cochin, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and other Indian cities.

Reach Chennai By Road

The city is well connected with other cities in India and has a good road network. It is connected via 4 major National Highways from Chennai connect with Bengaluru (330km), Trichy (326km), Puducherry (162km) and Tiruvallur (47km).