CHENNAI: THE CAPITAL OF TAMIL NADU

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

Marina Beach

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!

ELLIOT'S BEACH

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.

KAPALEESHWARAR TEMPLE

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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GOA: NOT CONVENTIONAL INDIA

Goa is not a city …. It is a  part of the incredible India!

India is recognized as the largest democracy in the world. The Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950. The principles of equality, liberty, justice and fraternity are the roots of India. The people from any caste, creed, sex, religion, and region can vote and choose their representatives. In India, there is a federal form of government that means there is a government at the center and at the state.Therefore, Goa is part of all of this and is the smallest state.

The “country” changes fast but the magic still is there. You can go to India just for a month but you need more time  to live India and the incredible culture it has.

Goa's attractiveness lies in the beautiful beaches , each with its own appeal. You can visit 30 beaches strung out along the coastline and each of them is different. You have to take care in the months of October and November when the seabed is still settling after the monsoon. While Goa's reputation as one of the most liberal Indian states means that sunbathing in a bikini is entirely accepted, but remember that topless is illegal and wearing flimsy shorts or a bikini anywhere other than the beach is extremely disrespectful. When you will be there , please respect the culture and what it means for Indian people.

The northern beaches are generally considered to be the most dynamic, developed and tourist populated. Calangute and Baga, for example, are quite touristic but you have to know that these beaches lacks much authentic Indian charm. It depends on which experience you want to live in India.

One of the place I was is Anjuna beach, the original hippy hangout, that has changed dramatically since its original days but retains a touch of the unconventional.

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In the northest part of Goa and you'll find peace again on the beaches of Mandrem, Asvem and Arambol – broad sweeps of fawn sand, backed by thickets of palm trees and casuarina pines.

In the south there is another nice place is Palolem. With postcard-perfect views, lazy beach life and a chilled-out nightlife this broad bay has little in common with the more commercialized northern beaches. For something even quieter, wander south to the next beach along, Patnem. Go to eat curry fish, it is an amazing typical dish!

How can  I know so much? I rent a moto and I was just flowing from a place to another in Goa territory.

Party like no where else

Goa is recognized as a party destination. It was began to be established when it was a Portuguese colony, providing a liberal bolt-hole in a conservative nation. Young Western backpackers began to mix all togheter in Goa and the state became a venue for all-night raves.

There are, the three-day "underground" trance parties. The best place to begin is at Vagator beach. After this you should ask for the jungle location where that evening's party will take place.

However, since the police have started to crack down on these unofficial all-night raves, mainstream club started to fill the gap.

In the middle of the day, the pace of life in Goa slows substantially.

Yoga in Goa

Yoga is a usual activity you will do in Goa, the smallest India state. Visiting several beaches I was looking always for a Yoga class and it is so easy there to find one. Just go around and find the best practice for you!

I used to do Yoga early in the morning, when the sun come up and gentle tell you that the day starts…

Do yoga in India is different than do it in Europe. All around you, remember that this is a philosophy, not just a practice. You need to focus with all your soul and your mind and feel as you are part of something bigger than you.. The nature and the world itself!