Tourist Places in Chennai and Chennai India
Chennai is the capital city of Tamilnadu, besides being an important district. The first Grant of Damarly Venkatapathy Nayak makes mention of the village of Madaraspatnam. Both Venkatapathy and his brother Ayyappa desired that the name Chennapatnam should be given to the new Fort and settlement of the English after their father Chennapa Nayak. The district city is one of the metropolises of India and serves as the gateway of the culture of South India. In spite of being the capital of a tamil speaking state, it has emerged as a Cosmopolitan city playing an important role in the historical, cultural ad intellectual development of India, representing still the distinct components of the highest form of Dravidian civilization. In addition, it holds out an interesting fare of South Indian Architecture, Music, Dance, Drama, Sculpture and other arts and crafts.
The city was established in the 17th century by the British, who developed it into a major urban centre and naval base. By the 20th century, it had become an important administrative centre, as the capital of the Madras Presidency.
Chennai hosts a large cultural event, the annual madras Music Season, which includes performances by hundreds of artists. The city has a vibrant theatre scene and is an important centre for the Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form.
Chennai is neither ancient nor lovely. Formerly called Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu is a teeming, sprawling, bustling industrial metropolis established on the site of a fishing village in 1639 as the first British settlement in India. Today it is often choked by pollution, acrid smells—and people. The city is only marginally fascinating— it’s a strange mix of British Raj–era monuments, Portuguese churches, Hindu temples, and one of the longest urban beaches on earth. Most travelers arrive here simply because it’s a transport hub and soon leave, discouraged by the intense heat, polluted air, and fever-pitch crowds. One of its big attractions—Kanchipuram, city of “a thousand temples”—is a day excursion away, while the region’s most celebrated tourist attraction lies 2 hours south at Mamallapuram, a spectacular World Heritage Site, where you’d do well to overnight.
Unfortunately, the city’s monuments are very spread out, and getting around can be nightmarish; select a few choice attractions and get an air-conditioned taxi for the day. Presuming you’ve already spent the night in Chennai, get a predawn start by taking in the early-morning activities along the 12km (71⁄2-mile) Marina Beach; you can watch fishing boats being launched (around 6am). If you’d rather sleep in, save the beach for dusk, when it becomes a colorful pageant of boys playing cricket, families strolling, vendors flogging souvenirs, and food carts offering fast-food snacks. The world’s second- longest city beach, it has recently been completely cleaned up; the best area is in the vicinity of Triplicane, along Kamaraj Road. The 8th-century Parthasarathy Temple (off Triplicane High Rd., west of South Beach Rd.; daily 7am–noon and 4–8pm) is near the main drag of Marina Beach; dedicated to Krishna, it is believed to be Chennai’s oldest temple. South lies Mylapore’s Basilica of San Thome (San Thome High Rd., Mylapore; daily 6am–6pm), where the so-called final resting place of Thomas the Apostle has become a neon-lit attraction. Legend has it that St. Thomas, one of Christ’s disciples, was martyred at St. Thomas Mount (see below) after spending the final years of his life preaching on a nearby beach. Stainedglass windows recount the saint’s tale, and wooden panels depict Christ’s final days on earth. The interior is also decked with bits of tinsel and neon-pink polystyrene hearts dangling from the ceiling; other modern kitsch additions include a relief-sculpted crucifix with a neon orange border and a halo of fairy lights. Near the basilica is Kapaleshvara Temple (off Kutchery Rd. and Chitrukullan N. St., Mylapore; daily 6am–12:30pm and 4–8:30pm), a classic example of Dravidian architecture, where thronging devotees will give you an idea of what Tamil Nadu’s devout worship is all about. The temple is marked by a 36m (120-ft.) goparum (gateway) tower adorned with detailed figures and inscriptions dating back to A.D. 1250. The place really comes alive during the Arupathumoovar Festival, 10 days in March. Built by the Portuguese, nearby Luz Church (Luz Church Rd., Mylapore) is the oldest church in Chennai. If it’s peace and quiet that appeal to you, visit the 16th-century Church of our Lady of Expectations (Senhora da Expectação), atop St. Thomas Mount. Built in 1523 by the Portuguese, the little church provides fine views over the city and is serenely removed from the city’s nonstop commotion. Alternatively, spend some time roaming the gardens of the Theosophical Society, a sprawling 270-acre campus of rambling pathways and countless trees (do make time to view the Adayar Banyan tree, said to be 400 years old). The society’s headquarters are the Huddlestone mansion, built in 1776, where relief imagery and quotations representing various faiths are on display (E. Adyar; & 044/2491-3528, -7198, or -2904; daily 9am–4:30pm). Chennai’s Government Museum (Pantheon Rd.; & 044/2819-3238; admission to Pantheon Complex Rs 250/$5.70; Sat–Thurs 9:30am–5pm) is considered one of the finest receptacles of bronze sculpture in the country; visit if you’re keen on museums or need to escape from the sun. One of the buildings in this complex is the beautifully renovated Museum Theatre, where you can perhaps catch a dance or a music performance. While in Egmore, pop into St. Andrew’s Kirk (off Periyar E.V.R. High Rd., northeast of Egmore Station, Egmore; & 044/2561-2608; daily 9am–5pm)—inspired by London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. Andrew’s steeple rises 50m (160 ft.) into the air; you can climb this to reach a small balcony for a good city view. To experience grand architectural heritage, set aside a few hours to visit Fort St. TO U R George (Kamaraj Rd.)—the first bastion of British power in India, constructed in 1640. The cluster of gray and white colonial buildings with pillared neoclassical facades now houses the Tamil Nadu State Legislature and the Secretariat. Visit its Fort Museum (& 044/2567-1127; Sat–Thurs 10am–5pm; admission Rs 100/$2.30; still camera without flash allowed with permission from tourist office) to see the collection of portraiture, oil paintings, sketches, and etchings that reveal the nature of colonial life in early Madras. In the compound is Asia’s oldest existing Anglican church, St. Mary’s (daily 9:30am–5pm), incidentally where Yale University’s founder, Gov. Elihu Yale, was married. The church has numerous 17th- and 18th-century gravestones— look for the Latin memorial to Mrs. Elizabeth Baker (1652), believed to be the oldest British inscription in India. Just north of the fort is the red-sandstone High Court (Mon–Sat 10am–5pm), built in the mid–19th century in the Indo-Saracenic style, and still in use today. Guided tours of the building take in the various courtrooms, many which are remarkably decorated. Busy George Town, bounded by Rajaji Salai and N.S.C Bose Road, was once known as “Black Town,” a racist appellation for a settlement occupied by East India Company textile workers who came from Andhra Pradesh in the mid- 1600s (the name “Chennai,” incidentally, is derived from the name given to the area by the dyers and weavers who lived here: Chennapatnam). Today, George Town is a bustling collection of streets that should be explored on foot—not a good idea in the middle of the day.
Anna Nagar Tower
This tower is one among the highest and biggest Park Towers in Chennai, which is located at Anna Nagar Park. This tower has a cyclic upstairs. Visitors can see the full view of the City from the top of this tower.
This modern planetarium is housed in a hemispherical theatre. Here a fully computerized projector brings the heavenly bodies to life. The latest astronomical phenomena are brought back to life in stimulated environs. The Periyar Science & Technology Centre situated near Gandhi Mandapam in Kotturpuram enables the visiting public to understand scientific and technological inventions through working models. Timings: In English: 10.45 am, 1.15 pm and 3.45 pm, In Tamil: 12 noon & 2.30 pm.
This Palace called as Amir Mahal belongs to the Royal family of Arcot of Nawabs. This palace is situated in an area of more or less 14 acres. This Mahal was built in 1789 and came in to possession of the Arcot Royal Family in 1870. Location: Pycrofts Road, Triplicane, Public allowed with permission only.
Connemara Public Library
One of the National Libraries of the country, Connemara Public Library has the largest collection of books and periodicals. A centenary building is being added to this library. A Touch Screen Computer has been installed here recently. Located at Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai - 600 008. National Holidays. Timing 9.00 am to 7.30 pm.
Famous for its Historical background and notorious for its stench Coovum river was formerly known as Triplicane River. This river runs right across Chennai City and have seven bridges built over it. It’s confluence take place on the northern side of Marina Beach. The uniqueness of it is further enhanced by the fact that it has found reference in THEVARAM – A Devotional Hymn.
A serene beach situated south of Chennai is an ideal picnic spot. The Ashtalakshmi temple constructed on the sands of the beach is another attraction, besides the beach itself. This temple houses the eight faces of Goddess Lakshmi in different shrines group in different tiers of a single tower. The Church of our Lady of Health, Madonna, is also situated on the beach to greet people of all faiths.
The Flag Mast in the Fort, which was constructed by the British still stands with standing the ravages of nature. This is said to be the tallest flag mast in the country. The hoisting of the tricolor on this prestigious flag mast is an everyday spectacle, which gains special significance on Independence Day.
A renowned training institute for the classical dances & music of India. This “Temple of Arts” was founded by Rukmani Devi Arundale in 1936, to train and encourage young artists and to revive Bharatha natyam, the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu. It imparts training on various branches of theatrical art, in the ancient ‘Gurukula’ system and in sylvan surroundings. Location at Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai – 600041. Timings: 9.30 am to 11.00 am No Holidays.
Built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style in 1892, this is another land mark of the city. The High Court is said to be the second largest judicial complex in the country. The Madras Law College is also a part of this complex. This is situated close to the Parry’s Corner, Chennai – 600001. Time: 10 am to 5.00 pm.
Sprawling over an area of 22 acres, with rare tree, shrubs, flower beds and bonsais. This garden is situated at the heart of the city, near St. George’s Cathedral on Cathedral Road. Seeds, seedlings and plants are on sale. The annual flower show enthuses hordes of visitors. Located: Cathedral Road, Chennai – 600086. Timing: 8.30 am to 12.30 pm & 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm Thursday holiday.
Light House / Aquarium
At the southern end of the Marina stand the massive and tall Light House beckoning visitors in the evening, and adding glory to the golden sands. Right on the beach there is a Government Swimming Pool. You could see the hectic activities of the fishermen clad in their traditional dhoties (loin cloth) set off for fishing in the specialized raft like boat called “catamaran”. Situated at Kamarajar Salai, Mylapore, Chennai – 600004.
Those who have read the India history cannot forget the stressed days of the 1857 mutiny, during which the Madras University was established. Started on the model of the London University, 146 years ago, the University of Madras still continues to be one of the leading centres of education in India. The University was incorporated by the Act (No. XXVII) of 1857 of the Legislative Council of India with a Senate and four faculties (Arts, Law, Medicine and Civil Engineering). The first senate was appointed and the regulations and by laws were drafted in 1857-58. Location : Chepauk, Chennai – 600005, Time: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm Holidays: Saturday , Sunday and Govt. Holidays.
On the way from Marina Beach to Govt. Secretariat this bridge was built in 1869 across Coovum River by Governor Napier who held this office from 1866 to 1877. What was narrow bridge with Iron Girders this was broadened and built in concrete and was thrown open for General Traffic by Arthur Hope in July 1943. This Bridge bears ample testimony to the Engineering skill of the British.
This banqueting hall of the British was built to commemorate the victory of British over Tipu Sultan. The beautiful Flight of steps of soaring heights there takes you to the spacious hall of this building and it will make you breathless with its beauty and immensity. This is now being used for big public functions and has been renamed as Rajaji Hall after Sri. Rajagopalachari, the first Governor General of India.
Another pride of Chennai city, this building was named after Governor Lord Rippon, the father of Self-Government in India. The Chennai Corporation and its council are functioning in this building. Now the Mayor of Chennai Corporation is selected directly by the people. Time: 10 am to 6 pm Holiday: Saturday & Sunday.
Regional Rail Museum
The Regional Rail Museum at Chennai is located amid picturesque, serene surroundings at ICF Furnishing Division. Tucked away among the trees, the Regional Rail Museum houses two indoor galleries and a large open area. The indoor galleries house various small exhibits, models, photographs and charts highlighting the development and growth of Railways. Museum provides ample avenues for any type of visitor. The visit promises to be a stimulating, exciting and nostalgic experience for young and old. It has a few toy trains and few 50 years old coaches. It is located at New Avadi Road, ICF, near ICF bus stand, Chennai – 600038. Holiday: Monday. Timing: 10 am to 6 pm.
Tamilnadu’s answer in a simple way to Silicon Valley in the United States. A centre of excellence with all modern facilities houses some of the big names in the I.T. industries sector. Not to make like dull there are recreational facilities like billiards, Table tennis, Tennis etc., while Canara Bank caters to the Banking needs Higgin Bothams takes care of ‘Book-worms’. Location: Taramani, Chennai – 600113. Visiting Only with Permission. Saturday and Sunday Holiday. Time 10 am to 6 pm.
Tamil Nadu Govt. has created a tourism complex of 9000 sq. feet in 8 grounds of land in Chennai Omandur Govt. Estate. It houses offices of tourism departments of various state governments. It is situated at Wallajah Road, Triplicane, Chennai – 600005. Holiday in Sunday and National Holidays.
Valluvar Kottam, yet another architectural marvel was built recently in memory of poet-saint Thiruvalluvar, who is believed to have lived 2000 years ago. The saint authored a didactic book of ethic proportions called Thirukkural consisting of 1330 couplets under 133 headings. The memorial is shaped like a temple car with an auditorium to accommodate up to 4000 spectators. The temple car structure is carved in granite with intricate details using the Dravidian Architectural style. Each chapter of Thirukkural is chiseled in a bas-relief. Location: Valluvar Kottam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai – 34. Timings: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.
Victory War Memorial
The Victory War Memorial situated on the marina beach road commemorate the victory of the allied armies during World War – I and later became the victory war memorial for the World War – II in memory of those from the then Madras Presidency who lost their lives for the nation.
The Island Ground and Tourist Fair Exhibitions
The Island Ground is the lungs of this bustling city. It is a picturesque island shaped by the shimmering Cooum river. This ground is a much sou7ght after location for Trade and Tourist Fairs and Exhibitions that are held every year during January to February.
Founded by Madam H.P. Blavatsky and Col. H.S. Olcott of U.S.A. to study religion & philosophy. In 1892 the society moved to Chennai and was set amidst a vast expanse of woods on the estuary of Adyar. A Largest Banyan tree which is spreads its branches and roots covering a space of 40,000 sq.ft. and gives a serene ambience. Located at Adyar, Chennai – 20. Timings: 8.30 am to 10 am. To 10 am and 2 pm to 5 pm. Sunday Holiday.
Memorial & Mani Mandapams
Ambedkar Mani Mandapam
The Architecture of the Indian Constitution who championed the cause of the down – trodden and exploited million was born on 14th April 1891 and died on 5th December, 1956. His Memorial Mani Mandapam is built at Madvellipakkam, Chennai – 4. Time 9 am to 5.30 pm.
The memorial for Aringar Annadurai leader of the Dravidian movement, affectionately called Anna, is a tranquil place. Situated in the Northern end of marina beach. Next to MGR Memorial. Anna passed away on 3rd Feb. 1969. Time: 6 am to 10 pm.
He was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 2-10-1963 to 6-3-1967. He passed away on 13-02-1987. This memorial is situated at Guindy. Time: 9 am to 5.30 pm
Barathiar Memorial House
Barathiar was the first Indian Poet to compliment with poems, hailing the liberation movments of Russia, Belgium and Italy. Tamil Nadu Government has built a memorial house for the great poet at his birth place Ettayapuram in Tirunelveli district. He was born on 11-12-1882 and died at the age of 39 year. 83, T.P.Koil Street, Triplicane, Chennai – 5, were he lived few years. No holidays. Time: 9.45 am to 5.45 pm.
A memorial dedicated to the father of the nation, Gandhiji. In this age of ‘Gun culture’, Gandhiji proved that ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence) is the best weapon with which we can fight oppression in a successful way. Gandhiji was assassinated 30-1-1948. This memorial is situated at Guindy. No holidays. Time: 10 am to 6 pm.
The doyen of Indian politics, K.Kamaraj was the C.M. of Tamilnadu for 9 years. He was also President of the All India Congress Committee for a brief period. For the first time in Independent India, Kamaraj introduced free education and free mid-day meal scheme for children. He died on 20-10-1975. This memorial is situated at Gundy.
Time : 9 am to 6 pm.
Kamarajar Memorial House
He was born on 15-7-1903 to Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mrs. Sivagami Ammaiyar at Virudupatti now called as Virudunagar, Madurai Dist. He was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 13-4-1954 to 1-10-1963, this period is still considered as a ‘golden period’ of Tamilnadu, since independence. Kamaraj lived in this house till his death. This house is now converted into a Memorial place and it is maintained by Tamilnadu Government. He passed away on 2-10-1975. Tourists and Visitors are allowed to visit this Memorial House. Time 9 am to 6 pm Located at Thirumalai Pillai Road, Chennai – 600017. No holiday.
MGR memorial is situated adjacent to the Anna memorial. This is also in northern end of the Marina Beach. He passed away on 24th December, 1987. Located opp. to Madras University, Chennai – 600005. Time: 6 am to 10 pm.
G.K. Moopanar Memorial
He was a senior Tamil Nadu politician with ties to the Indian National congress. He was a powerful all India Congress Committee general secretary from 1980 to 1988. Moopanar did not get along well Narasimha Rao, who was the Prime Minister of India from 1991-96. He parted ways with Rao on the issue on his joining hands with the AIADMK and founded his own party, the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC). After Moopanar’s death both TMC and Chidambaram’s group merged back with the Congress. His memorial is situated near Anna Flyover, GN Chetty Road, Teynampet Chennai - 600018.
M.G.R. Memorial House
Maruthur Gopala Ramachandran. He was the Chief Minister for the following periods 30-6-1977 to 17-2-1980, 9-6-1980 to 10-2-1885, 10-2-1985 to 24-12-1987. He was born on 17-1-1917 in Kandy, Srilanka to Mr Mr. Maruthur Gopala Menon and Mrs. Sathyabama. His wife’s name was Mrs. Janaki. He passed away on 24-12-1987 and he spent most of his life at 27, Arcot Road, Chennai – 600017. Time: 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday Holiday. This house is now converted in to a memorial house by the Government of Tamil Nadu to remember the great leader.
Mozhipor Thiyagigal Mandapam
This mandapam was constructed in memory of those who fought ad laid down their lives against the imposition of Hindi. Thiruchi Chinna Swami, Kodambakkam Sivalingam, Virugambakkam Aranganathan, Kirnoor Muthu, Chidambaram Rajendran, Viralimalai Shanmugam, Thalamuthu Nadarajan and such other thousands who laid their life for what they felt was a noble cause. This Mandapam is situated in Gandhi Mandapam complex in Guindy, Chennai - 600032. No Holiday. Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Known as ‘Thanthai Periyar’ he was the father of the Dravidian movement and the author of ‘Suya mariyathai Iyakkam’ He was in born on 17-09-1897 to Mr. Venkatappa Naicker and Mrs. Chinnathai Ammal in Erode. He passed away on 24-12-1973. This memorial is located at E.V.K. Sampath Salai, Vepery, Chennai – 600007. Sunday holiday. Time 9 am to 6 pm.
A statesman par excellence, Rajaji was the first Governor General of India, immediately after independence. He latter because the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu. His Memorial is situated at Guindy. No holidays. Time 9 am to 5.30 pm.
Thiyagigal Mani Mandapam
This is built in memory and honour of Freedom Fighters. As a mark of respect and gratitude to all the freedom fighters, their photos are displayed here. This mandapam is situated at Sardar Vallabai Patel Road, Gunindy, Chennai – 600032. No Holiday Time: 10 am to 6pm.
Guindy National Park
Chennai City has its own charm and unique pride of having a national park within city limits. This is the first of its kind in the world as it is situated within the city. Sprawling over hundreds of acres and interspersed with different species of trees, this park is the lung of Chennai. It is also the habitat for some rare endangered species, Spotted Deer, White Buck, Bonnet Monkey and Indian Civet cat. The Avifauna includes King Fisher, Blue Jay Crow Pleasant, Lapwing, Parakeets, Quails and many more. The park organizes Lecture – demonstrations regularly in languages like Tamil, Hindi and English. Though the park itself offers nothing much for a real wildlife enthusiast, the Snake Park is interesting. The park sums up a favorite picnic destination for the entire family especially school going children.
This reptilium showcases a variety of snakes such as the Python, the King cobra, as well as other repiles including turtles and tortoises. There is also a centre to demonstrate venom extraction and offer interesting information on the nature and the habits of snakes. It was founded by Romulus Whittacker. Next to Children’s Park, Adyar, Chennai – 600020, Timings: 9.00 am to 5.30 pm Holiday: Tuesday.
Indian Republic Golden Jubilee Pillar
A Monument to mark the Golden Jubilee of Indian Republic. It was inaugurated on 25-01-2001 by the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu Hon. Mr. M. Karunanidi. This Pillar is situated at the marina Beach Rd, Near Light house Signal, Mylapore, Chennai – 600004.
The Dream of Dream of Mahathma Gandhi
The Nation Remembers In this premises known as ‘Tilak Bhavan’ Mahathma Gandhi spent the restless historic night of 18th March 1919 when the sad tidings of the passing of the humiliating Rowlatt Bills enveloped him. Before the day dawned, the idea of all India hartal occurred to Gandhiji in a dram which later blossomed into non-violent non co-operation movement. Referring to this Memorable Event – Gandhiji writes: “I was still in that twilight condition between sleep and consciousness when suddenly the idea broke upon me-it was as if in a dream…. That we should call upon the country to observe a general hartal…. The whole of India from one end to the other, towns as well as villages observed a complete hartal on that day. It was a most wonderful spectale”. This monument pillar is situated in front of the Chola Sheraton Hotel. Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Chennai - 600086.
Vellayane veliyeru Movement
This Monument was built to celebrate the 50th year of ‘Vellaiyane Veliyeru’ (Quit India) Movement. This was inaugurated by the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms. J. Jayalalitha on 2-10-1993. Location: Adjacent to Gandhi Mandapam, Adyar, and Chennai - 600020.
A pre-1789 assemblage by the British, called Pantheon Complex today houses the Government Museum, Connemara Public Library and the National Art Gallery. The museum contains exhibits ranging from contemporary artifacts to prehistorical findings. Sculptures and bronzes of various periods, section for zoology, anthropology and geology impress every visitor. Buddhist sculptures found in the Amaravathi section depict the events recorded in the life of the Buddha. 486, Pantheon Road, Chennai – 8, Timings: 9 am to 5 pm Holiday Friday.
North of Secretariat is the Fort Museum, which was once the Fort officers’ mess. It was a bank then. The long room upstairs was the Public Exchange Hall and the roof built, in 1796, was also the first lighthouse of Chennai. The museum formally opened in 1948 has a fine collection of original writings of the men who made Chennai. This museum has an outstanding collection of early coins, silverware, porcelain, uniforms, manuscripts, engravings and aquatints of early Chennai. Timing: 9 am to 4.30 pm Friday Holiday. Kamarajar Salai, Fort St. George, Chennai – 9.
National Art Gallery
A fine specimen for the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, this building is constructed in red sandstone. Not only is the reassures of art works found inside but also the building itself interesting, for it is filled with intricate carvings. Some of the listed artifacts in the national art gallery are 16th to 18th century Mughal paintings, Deccan art of the 17th century and the displays of bronzes from 10th and 13th centuries and handicrafts of various periods. 486, Pantheon Road, Chennai – 8, Timings: 9.30 am to 5.00pm Timings: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm.
Distance from Chennai To Other Important Places Or