Chennai (formerly Madras) is the capital of Tamil Nadu state in southern India.
|Federated State||Tamil Nadu|
|Inhabitants||7 500 000 (2007)|
|Phone Prefix||+91 44|
The city of Chennai stands on the flat and sandy coast of Coromandel, the name designating the southern section of the coastline on the Gulf of Bengal. Two rivers cross the city: The Koovam passing through the center and the Adyar running further south. The Buckingam Canal unites the two rivers, running parallel to the coast for 4 km. These are extremely polluted watercourses even though the mouth of the Adyar River is, at least officially, a protected wildlife area. Many lakes in the surrounding area, some of which serve as water supply for the city, although their waters are increasing year by year with a worrying rise in the salinity rate. In 2007, the population of the metropolitan area was estimated at 7.5 million people, placing Chennai in fourth place on a national scale.
When to go
Chennai enjoys a warm, humid climate for most of the year. January is the ideal month to visit the city when the thermometer drops to 19-20 °C. The period of late May - early June, when temperatures sometimes exceed 40 °C, must be completely excluded. The northeast monsoon rains between mid-September and mid-December are also at an unfavorable time. Sometimes cyclones can be knocked down in the city.
According to tradition, the Apostle Thomas found his death in Madras. In 1292, Marco Polo set up in Milapore, which is a city neighborhood, and in 1521 the Portuguese were installed there. On July 22, 1639, the English East India Company was located a little further north in Madraspatnam, then a small fishing village. The company built a strong church and a few churches there. Their settlement was supposed to be lasting, unlike their Portuguese neighbors, who were forced to withdraw in 1669 after an attack by the Sultan of Golconda. The French had also settled on the coast of Comorin in Pondichéry.
How to orient
From St George Fort, the main city arteries are leaving on the front of the port. The most important of these is the "Anna Salai", the "Mount Road" of the colonial period. The Avenue cuts across the city diagonally and ends, after 13 km, at St Thomas Mount, the place where, according to tradition (contested by many), the Apostle S. Tom would have found martyrdom. At the intersection with Nungambakkam Road (4.5 km from St George Fort), he met with St George's Cathedral in 1814. Many shops display craftsmanship and jewelry shops along this section of the Anna Salai. A little further west is the neighborhood of T. Nagar where the Pondy Bazaar is located and, even further west, the district of Mambalam with the famous Ranganathan street, always super crowded because of the numerous stores around it.
St George Fort also traveled on GR Road, which later changed its name to Poonamallee High Road. Along this artery is the "Chennai Central" railway station, the Ripon buiding, headquarters of the city hall and beyond the neighborhood of Egmore, with the government museum and the station itself. On the left side of the avenue is the old neighborhood of Chintadripet where, in 1734, they installed themselves, at the will of Governor Thomas Pitt, tissue manufacturers.
The highway "Kamarajar Salai", which verges on "Marina beach", the arenile city devastated by the tsunami, but once again heavily frequented on weekends, begins in the south. Not far from the "parthasaratthy" temple. The Mylapore neighborhood, the "Sao Tome", founded by the Portuguese with the other Hindu temple of Kapaleeswarar and the cathedral of St. Thomas in the neogotic style where the Catholic archbishop resides, is still meeting. The avenue ends on the estuary of the river Adyar. On the other side are the gardens surrounding the headquarters of the "theosophic society".
The waterfront north of the fort is named after Rajali Salai. You can find the High Court building and the 1848 lighthouse from above, which enjoys the most beautiful view of the city. The avenue verges on the ancient Black Town neighborhood, which changed its name in Georgetown in 1906 after a visit by the Prince of Wales, the future George V. The neighborhood, called Chennapatnam by the locals (donde the name of Chennai) is still a maze of streets facing old shops. They're spraying odors that are typically Eastern in the air. On one of these streets is the Church of St. Peter. Mary was founded in the 18TH century by Armenian businessmen who lived in the neighborhood. Today their place was taken by the Banya (vanka in Sanskrit), a very active merchant caste, originating in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
How to get
Chennai has an international airport where Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways operate on flights to and from Frankfurt, Paris and London-Heathrow respectively. Air India is also active on certain European routes but often with stopovers in Mumbai or Delhi, which also involve a change of plane.
The airport has a domestic flight terminal (Kamraj terminal) where Spice, Indigo and Air Deccan operate, with the possibility of reaching even smaller centers in the country, including the Andaman Islands (Port Blair).
Traveling from/to the center usually requires a "prepaid" taxi, but finding a taxi in the middle of an indescribable stampede is a considerable undertaking. It is not advisable to hand over your luggage to "volunteer" porters because you risk losing it.
There is also a rail link to/from the center; the station, however, is outside the airport, on the other side of the road, and you have to make way among the huge crowd. The train is not recommended to those who have problems adapting to the local reality.
The main medium- to long-haul station is Chennai Central. The other of Egmore serves mostly destinations within the state of Tamil Nadu
- On the Chennai - Delhi line there are two trains running:
- The Tamil Nadu Express, a train that opened on 7 August 1974 but still operates very well. It takes 33 hours to cover the 2184 km that separate the two centers but is still very crowded.
- The Chennai Rajdhani Express is faster, having been inaugurated in 1993. It takes five hours less than the previous one, and if you travel in first class, you are entitled to four meals and extensive treatment. Twice a week the train leaves Chennai at 6:20 and arrives in Delhi at 11 the next day.
- The Chennai Mumbai Express operates at a speed of 80 - 90 km per hour (a record for India).
- The "coromandel Express" operates on the Chennai Calcutta line. The train no 2842 departs from Chennai Central at 09:00 and arrives in Calcutta (Howrah station) at 12:00 the following day. The distance between the two centers is 1662 km.
- Chennai Hyderabad operates the Charminar Express. He leaves at 6:10 p.m. and arrives at his destination at 8:00 p.m. the following day, taking 14 hours to cover the 750 km between the two centers.
- The Pinakini Express operates on a daily basis on the Chennai Vijayawada line. The train No 2712 leaves Chennai Central at 2:00 p.m.
Multiple trains per day for Bangalore in 6-7 hours
The Mofussil Bus Terminus is the largest bus station in the entire Asian continent.
How to move
What to see
- 1 Fort St George. The building of the British fort was completed on 23 April 1639, the day dedicated to St George. It was rebuilt from its foundation in 1783. Today, one of the buildings inside the building is home to the legislative chamber of the state of Tamil Nadu, while another has been set aside for a museum featuring objects of colonial era, weapons, uniforms and medals, as well as statues of English governors, one of which is Lord Cornwallis. The St Mary's Church, built between 1678 and 1680 and used for Anglican worship, is also inside the fence.
- 2 Kapaleeshwarar temple. He is in the Mylapore neighborhood and is consecrated to the worship of Shiva. The date of construction of the temple is doubtful: According to some, it dates back to the 7th century AD, and others to the 4th AD. The towers of the temple (gopularam) are decorated with an incredible number of sculptures. Some of these represent the legend that Shiva, realizing that his wife Parvati didn't listen to him, distracted by a peacock nearby, will be so detached on earth after turning it into peacock. In her downtown Parvati, she reached Mylapore where she begged Shiva to give her back her appearance. The god agreed to take her again as his spouse. Mylapore is, in fact, corruption in the English word "Mayilapur" which means peacock town in Tamil. The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is famous for its festival, which takes place in the plenum of the month of magha, which corresponds to our January or February.
- Temple of Parthasarathy. It is in the neighborhood of Triplicane and is dedicated to Krishna. It was erected in the 16TH century on the site of another 8TH century. Parthasarathy is a name for Krishna, which in Sanskrit means "Arjuna's auriga" (God of war in the Indian pantheon corresponding in part to Greek Aris).
- Government Museum (near Egmore station). Occupies four buildings inside a park. There are sections dedicated to anthropology, botanism, zoology, etc. The most interesting is the archeological museum for its bronze collections dating back to the 16th century.
- Ripon Building. Chennai City Hall. It's a luxurious building from the early 20th century, eclectic-style with influences of Indo-Muslim art, but also gothic and corinthians. He named himself Lord Ripon, then the governor general of India. The building is 85 meters long and 32 meters wide. The central tower is 43 meters high.
- Vadapalani temple. It is in the homonymous neighborhood and is dedicated to Murugan, the god of war in Hindu pantheon. It was erected in the early 19th century.
- 3 Basilica of San Tommaso, Santhome High Road 38 (Mylapore Area), ☎ +91 44 249854555, +91 44 24980758, @[email protected]. Lun-Dom 05:00-21:00. Built over the grave of the Apostle St. Thomas. The current church replaced a previous Portuguese church in 1883. Pilgrimage center. Crypt with the relics of the apostle. Museum annexed.
Events & Holidays
What to do
- Windsurf. Wind surfing can be practiced in Covelong Beach, 40 km south of the center along the road to Mahabalipuram.
- Ranganathan Street (A shopping street in the T-quarter. Nagar). There is everything along the way: from the goldsmiths to street vendors selling fruit and vegetables. The most famous stores are the "Saravana stores". It's always crowded, but even more so at the Deepavali festival. Ranganathan Street's fortunes are due to its proximity to the Mambalam railway station and the end of the urban bus line in T. Nagar.
- Pondy Bazaar (In the T.Nagar district, a little further north of Ranganathan Street and near Panagal Park). There's a lot of restaurant exercises.
- Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai Mount Road. Located within a three-story complex and divided into three related areas (phases I, II and III), an infinite variety of stores offer the ability to shop in a overwhelming mix of colors and lights. Unbelievable.
How to have fun
- Bharatanatyam. A dance form typical of Tamil Nadu that has religious roots.
- Kalakshetra , ☎ +91 44 24911836, +91 44 24914359. It is a dance academy established in 1936 by dancer Rukmini Devi Arundale (1904 - 1986) to preserve the artistic tradition of southern India, especially in the field of music and ballet. Dance courses are available on request. The school has moved its headquarters to the Tiruvanmiyur district on the coast to the south of the center.
The night life of Chennai is rather chastised and the best nightclubs are inside the big hotels:
- Distil, ☎ +91 44 5500-0000. Inside the Taj Connemara.
- Leather Bar, ☎ +91 44 5214 4000. Inside the Park Hotel.
- Pasha, ☎ +91 44 5214 4000. A very crowded place.
- 10 Downing Street, 50, Kences Inn Hotel, North Boag Road, T Nagar, ☎ +91 44 28152152.
Where to eat
- Oru Soru Restaurant , No.102, Mahalingapuram Main Rd, Nungambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600034, India (Train or Bus from T.Nagar 4-5 stops), ☎ +91 44 4308 1122. Lun-Dom 12.30-14; 6:30-22:30. Typical Tamil Nadu restaurant, simple, good and clean compared to the Indian average. You'll be welcomed by very gentle and attentive staff to your needs
Where to stay
- Old Woodlands (Royapettah), ☎ +91 44 2848 2150, +91 44 2848 2152. Although not well known, it is considered good in its category. The building has at least a century of life.
- New Woodlands Hotel. A hotel in a quiet area, which however often fills. He is still in good position near shops and theaters.
- Sri Krishna Residency, South Mada Street, Mylapore, ☎ +91 44 24643617.
- Hotel Karpagam International, South Mada Street, Mylapore, ☎ +91 44 24613701.
- Hotel Regent, 11 Kennet Lane, ☎ +91 44 2825 3347.
- Hotel Impala Continental, 12 Gandhi Irwin Road, ☎ +91 44 2819 1423.
- Hotel Harrisons, 315,Valuvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ +91 44 28275271. Chennai's historic Middle Class Hotel (since 1885) offers a very interesting price list on the rooms.
- Comfort Inn Marina Towers , 2A Ponniamman Koiil Street Egmore, ☎ +91 44 2858 5454, fax: +91 44 2858 5454.
- Liberty Park , 1st Main Road, Kodambakkam, Ph, ☎ +91 44 2472 5950.
- Raj Residency , 22 Kennet Lane, Egmore (near the Egmore railway station). USD 17/147.
The hotels The Trident, Royal Meridian and Radisson GRT Hotel are located in the airport area and are all classified as 5 stars.
- The Accord Metropolitan , 35, G N Chetty Road, T Nagar, ☎ +91 44 2815 1000, fax: +91 44 2815 1001, @[email protected]. The most luxurious of top-class hotels.
- Taj Connamera, Binny Road, ☎ +91 44 5500 000. The most sophisticated of luxury hotels is Chennai and also the oldest one.
- Ambassador Pallava , 30, Montieth Road, Egmore, ☎ +91 44 2855 4476, fax: +91 44 2855 4492.
- Chola Sheraton , Cathedral Road, ☎ +91 44 2811 0101, fax: +91 44 2811 0202.
- ITC Hotel Park Sheraton & Towers, T.T.K. Road, Alwarpet, ☎ +91 44 2499 4101, fax: +91 44 2499 7101.
- Le Royal Meridian , Business District, 1 GST Road, St. Thomas Mount (near Kathipara Junction), ☎ +91 44 2231 4343, Fax: +91 44 2231 4344.
- The Park, 601 Anna Salai (near Anna Flyover), ☎ +91 44 5214 4000, fax: +91 44 5214 4100.
- Radisson GRT Hotel, #531, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount (near Kathipara Junction), ☎ +91 44 2231 0101.
- Taj Coromandel , 37, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam, ☎ +91 44 5500 2827.
- Trident Hilton Chennai , 1/24, G.S.T. Road, ☎ +91 44 2234 4747, fax: +91 44 2234 4555, @[email protected].
How to stay in touch
- Covelong - a fishing village 40 km from the center along the road to Mahabalipuram. He has a luxury hotel called Chennai Fisherman's Cove, surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden.