Chennai, the place the experience all the cultures from all over India.
Chennai is younger than it looks. This particular metropolis is also referred to as the cultural capital of India for the depth in it’s traditions and sustained heritage. What makes Chennai stand out is that as compared to any of the other cities in the country, it’s a true reflection of the diversity that is India. It’s a perfect blend between advancing into the future with it’s modern technology and honing traditional arts and crafts as well. It’s a continuing paradox and over 350years has found the perfect balance in present day.
Chennai is also India’s fourth largest city with a population of nearly six million people within its borders. Whether it was before Independence, or now the people of this Chennai have always been instrumental in shaping the political fate of this country.
Currency: Indian Rupees
Climate: Tropical wet and dry climate
Neighboring Cities: The nearest city to Chennai is Tiruvottiyur at 9kms and the second closest being Avadi at 20kms. Important hubs like Pondicherry and Bangalore are 137kms and 293kms away, respectively.
Climate conditions and the best time to plan your trip
Chennai gets extremely hot during the summers, which is why most tourists flock on over during the winters. The winters are cool and refreshing but not chilling. The temperature ranges from 28 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius during the day and drops further to 20 degrees Celsius after sunset. So this means no heavy packing! You don’t need any woolens or warm clothing for your visit to Chennai, aside from a jacket if you wish, just in case.
The best part about visiting during the winter months is that the city is lit up for Pongal, Diwali and Christmas adding vibrancy to it’s already colorful demeanor.
Top Spots to Visit
Chennai has a lot to offer any visitor. Sprawling with historical landmarks, beautiful beaches, cultural centers and spectacular parks, the city is has a wide array of activities that you can choose from depending on your taste.
Kapaleeshwarar Temple – With Chennai being home to a long string of temples and churches, it would be cultural blasphemy to not visit at least one. Even if you’re not religious the architecture that this place offers is worth making the stop for. This particular temple is one of the oldest in the city. It’s devoted to Lord Shiva with two gopurams, a step like design that consisting of many statues of the various deities, and a sacred tank. The temple’s courtyard is home to the oldest tree in the city and it’s worth your time to take a minute or two to meditate beneath it’s branches.
Marina Beach – Even people who don’t know anything about Chennai, still know about Marina beach. It gets extremely crowded and it’s the most clean, but it’s the best place to observe the locals and their various activities. Joggers take over the morning, while couples seek refuge there in the afternoons and in the evenings it’s common to see families out for a stroll.
It’s nice place to grab an evening meal with food stalls selling everything from traditional Indian food to Chinese delicacies. It’s popular place among kids as well with the many rides on the seaside. If you’re worried about safety, there’s a state of the art skating risk where children can enjoy the pleasure of skating under the trained eye of a supervisor.
Dakshinachitra: This is a must do on your lists of place to visit when you’re in Chennai. Not only is this place a heritage center but a living museum as well! Dakshinachitra is, quite literally, a showcase for the performing arts and crafts of South India.
The spacious open air theater has daily performances for various dance styles like Bharatnatyam and Kudhipudi that worth a watch. The craftsmen are placed all around the premises working putting their wares for sale. Some are willing to demonstrate their particular skill and teach you so that you can give it a go on your own.
You can even take a little field trip into the past as you wander through the life sized models of traditional homes from South India.
As is common knowledge, Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu. It’s an important part of Southern region of India is home to various vegetarian as well as non vegetarian dishes that are exclusive to the city.
Idli or dosa with coconut chutney and sambar is a signature dish of the south. They’re made of a fine rice paste and taste delicious when dipped in sambar. Upma is another favorite, which is made of rava, along with idiyappam and vadas. For the non-vegetarians, Chennai specializes in chettinad pepper chicken, which is one of the most popular dishes as well as the best. Anyone who has a sweet tooth will enjoy payasam, kesari and sweet pongal etc.
Most of the traditional meals are served on a banana leaf as the belief that is passed down from ancient times states that the banana leaf removes the toxins from the food. Even in a restaurant, the plate will probably be lined with banana leaf before the food is served.
Why Chennai is Amazing!
Aside from it being the fourth largest city in India and having the second largest port in the country, Chennai is a city of the most cultural significance. It’s the center of India’s music, art and culture scene, best known for it’s classical dance shows.
Being a cultural hub, it’s home to many different temples, each of which has a different religious aspect. Some of the ones which are worth visiting as Kapaleeshwarar, Parthasarathy, Vadapalani, Thousand Lights Mosque and St. George’s Cathedral.
There are a lot of beaches in the city as well, aside from the most popular Marina Beach. The Elliot Beach is preferred by the younger crowds for it’s coffee shops and promenade.
The first and foremost issue in Chennai is language. Most educated people can converse in English but some of the locals, like auto drivers and bus conductors, have difficulty communicating.
Another thing that you’ll want to keep in mind is that Chennai is a place where you can almost do anything that you please provided you aren’t harming others around you. Before leaving for Chennai, make a list of places that you want to visit, lest you get lost in the many options once you reach and miss the most important attractions.
If you’re going to be needing a tourist guide then it’s best to go through a government approved agency to get a reliable guide and to keep from getting scammed.
If you have to travel any long distance than you should take a train rather than autos. Even when you’re in the city, it’s much cheaper to ride in the bus than to take an auto.
Planning your Budget
Chennai has a lot of hotels ranging from extremely cheap to ultra expensive. The prices depend of the locality of the hotels, whether it’s off-season or peak season, and the services that they provide. It’s best to do some research online and book your hotel before hand than be caught off guard when you reach the city.
To save money it’s also recommend that you take the train or the buses than take an auto. They over charge the locals and go crazy with the foreigners. Even if you ask the locals, they’ll probably ask you to walk or direct you to nearest bus stop than recommend that you take an auto.
Entry to most religious places and beaches is free of charge, the amount of money that you spend depends on the activities that you indulge in.