What to see in India
Tourist attractions Chennai
An absolute mega-city, just waiting to be explored, Chennai is one of India’s most visited cities, known for being a centre of South Indian gastronomy, art and spirituality. It’s even thought to be the safest city in India, perfect for solo travellers! Formerly known as Madras, its name was changed in 1996, along with many other Indian cities.
Holidays to Chennai are increasingly popular thanks to the combination of beaches, fascinating colonial and traditional architecture and colourful, diverse neighbourhoods. From catching a traditional Bharatanatyam dance show to sampling the city’s favourite filter coffee, relaxing on the beach on a sizzlingly hot summers day or watching a Bollywood blockbuster in one of many cinemas, a more than weekly ritual for most locals, you won’t be stuck for things to do in Chennai. This city is somewhat different to the rest of India. Locals speak almost exclusively Tamil and are outwardly proud of their culture, although you’ll also find that English is widely spoken as a second language.
It’s religious roots and diversity can be seen in the numerous spiritual monuments, such as the breathtaking Kapaleeswarar Temple, the Big Mosque and St. Mary’s Church, each telling of a different epoch in the history of Chennai. You’ll find Chennai in the south-west of India, bathed by the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal. A rich musical heritage, thriving food scene, with plenty of trendy restaurants to choose from and home of the Tamil film industry, there are countless things to see in Chennai.
What to do and see in Chennai
Want to take a tour of Chennai? There are a few must-see sights to fit into your holiday. Perhaps the most acclaimed monument in the whole city is Kapaleeswarar Temple, a colourful, intricate, beautiful Hindu monument built in the 7th-century. It’s famed for its outlandish design, a cacophony of multi-coloured mythological statues that tower up on top of each other, reaching an impressive 120 feet high.
There are numerous daily rituals, so it’s likely you’ll see the temple in action, but the best experience is if you can time your holiday to Chennai with a special festival. This is when the temple truly comes to life, filled with cheerful devotees. Marina Beach, a natural beach which runs along the Bay of Bengal, is another of the many things to see in Chennai. It is the longest natural urban beach in the country, perfect for evening strolls to admire the city’s skyline.
Don’t be tempted to take a dip in the waters though, as strong undercurrents mean swimming is strictly prohibited, although lounging on the beach watching the local fishermen is entertaining enough! If you feel like delving into the city’s colonial history, there’s no better place to start that the Ripon Building. Built in 1913, the Ripon harks back to British rule in India and has been used as a government building ever since. It’s the exquisite architecture that sets this building apart from the rest. It’s all white structure oozes colonial charm and the surrounding gardens offer visitors somewhere to relax in the shade.