Anciently known as Madras, Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu. Lots of Tourists don’t stop here when they arrived in the Indian State but decide to go further and leave early the big city. Yes, it is not so peaceful but it worth to pass 2 days in town.
A journey in South India and in particular to admire the majestic temples of Tamil Nadu can start from Chennai. In reality the metropolis hides a temple very charming and many districts in which you can do a jump in the daily life of a great Indian city.
First things arm yourselves with patience, it is caos! Think not moving on foot from one place to another but learn to leverage its public transport or the tuk-tuk, but remember to bargain before the ride will start…. It is a basic rule in India! A ride is normally between 2 to 4 km and it takes 70 rupees.
The public transport is economical (5 rupees a trip). In fact, the fastest way to get around the city is the Chennai suburban railway (here the map of stops and lines), a sort of underground but that travels on the surface of the city.
You can also choose for a “uber” style App: Ola Cabs if you preferred, you will book your taxi or a tuk tuk at good price!
The continuous recall of the hawkers, the smells of food into the air… let you discover India and go without fear, without the frenzy to pass from a museum to a temple in a hurry… Only in this way can you get in tune with this metropolis of over 6 million inhabitants where each district is a world unto itself.
WHAT TO VISIT
Together with T-Nagar this is one of the favorite places by the inhabitants of Chennai to spend an afternoon among friends or with your family. At Marina Beach, you will not see people in bikini… it is not for sunbathing but you can have a bath in the Indian Ocean with the clothes.
At your arrival you will find hundreds of Indian stops to admire the sea and many, hand in hand, to get wet by the waves… around you it will be full of hawkers, horse owners (for rides on a romantic walks nearby the sea) and families that eat something. Marina Beach is probably the best place in Chennai to go to understand the uses and customs of the locals during their free time.
You will find a very interesting area of open Market: a series of stalls that from the road crosses the entire beach and ends almost in water. Continuing walk north you will find two memorials, including one dedicated to M.G.R., a very important political actor disappeared in 1987.
Enjoy a natural juice or a fresh coconut, one of the best things of this part of India is the fruit they have! Incredible colors, tastes,variety at a really cheap price!
Less famous Elliot's Beach is quieter and less crowded. The atmosphere is similar: dozens of friends and families who are chatting, make a subspecies of bathroom and eat every type of snacks. Here, search for the Ashtalakshmi temple that is located on the beach, adjacent to a slum where fishermen live: If Chennai is your first stop in Tamil Nadu, it will make you effect to see a temple that directly overlooks the sea! The Hindu temple is dedicated to Lakshmim, the wife of Vishnu, goddess of health.
GEORGE TOWN BAZAR (AKA Black Town)
This giant outdoor market born at the end of 1600 to manage trade with the near Fort Saint George. Over the centuries the bazaar is enlarged, has evolved, it is now filled with churches and temples. This is one of the more interesting districts of Chennai, between tracks dedicated to selling flowers, other fruit and vegetables, small electronic districts, spices and much more.
It is a temple of Shiva in Mylapore neighborhood. One of the biggest of the city and important for the city. Kapaleeshwarar temple was built in 7th century CE by the Pallavas. The original Kapaleeshwarar Temple was built where Santhome Church is located currently in Chennai. This original temple was demolished by the Portuguese and the present temple was built in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar Kings. Buy some flowers and offer them to the God!
Nice to visit!
THE SUNSET AT THALANKUPPAM PORT
The most beautiful place where to see the sunset in Chennai is the Thalankuppam Pier (AKA Nettukuppam Pier): do not imagine, however the classic romantic port. The Thalankuppam Pier is fascinating because it has become a surreal postmodern and post-industrial place.
A bit of history: when in India was still dominated by British and Chennai, which at that time was called Madras, was not extensive as it is today, Thalankuppam was a small fishermen village almost twenty kilometers from Fort St. George. The legend says that from here the best seafood in the area could be caught. Now is simply a suburb to the north of the capital of Tamil Nadu where some villages overlook directly on the beach and many live on fishing.
On the banks of the river Thalankuppam, that here plunges into the sea, rose gigantic factories: you can see on the horizon high chimneys and boats of fishermen who try to earn the dinner, sitting on huge iron pipes… It is an experience fascinating
MORE IN THE CITY: THE ST. GEORGE FORT: THE COLONIAL TIME
The fort was built in 1653 by the British company of the West Indies that started to develop Chennai (which at that time was called Madras). Despite his undoubted historical value and in spite of many tours that include it among the fundamental stages, the Fort St. George today is nothing more than a collection of government buildings.
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