Chennai, the only metro in South India, will never fail to surprise you. It is full of vibrant cultures, religious traditions, diverse neighbourhoods and sublime temples. It is a well-visited place by both religious people and tech savvy people. There is an umpteen number of historic temples and churches. Chennai is also called “Detroit of India” because of its huge automobile industry. The IT expressway is abode to all the major Software and IT companies and the posh locality of the city.
Best time to visit Chennai:
Being a coastal city, weather in Chennai is mostly hot and humid. The blazing sun is a part of the sky for the entire day. The only cooler months are November- February. But November and December mark the onset of rains and cyclones as Chennai receives only retreating monsoon. So the best months to visit Chennai are just January and February.
Ways to reach Chennai:
- By air - Chennai International Airport (MAA) is well connected not only to all the major cities of the country but also the rest of the world.
- By train- Chennai Central Railway station is also well connected to all major cities. Being a metro city, it is one of the busiest railway stations of the country.
- By bus – There are both state-owned and private buses plying between all big South Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Mysore, Pondicherry, Calicut, Vizag, Tirupati, etc.
- By road- Well constructed roads run through the city, connecting it to all important places. Trichy is 330 km, Bangalore is 345 km and Hyderabad is 630 km from Chennai.
There are frequent metro and local trains from each and every corner of Chennai, so getting around is pretty much very easy.
Places to stay in Chennai:
There are all sorts of hotels available in Chennai. From 7 star hotels to budget stays, there’s something for everybody.
Some high-end stays (5 star and 7-star hotels) are-
- ITC Grand Chola
- Taj Coromandel
- The Leela Palace
- Park Hyatt
- The Westin
The prices here range between 8000 and 20,000 per night.
Some mid-range hotels are-
- VGP Golden Resort Hotel
- New Woodlands Hotel
- Hotel Savera
- The Raintree
- Clarion Chennai
- Holiday Inn Express
- Floressa Twigs
- Somerset Greenways
The prices per night are in the range 4000-8000.
Places to visit in Chennai:
Chennai is known for its beaches and temples. Serenity, tranquillity or peace of mind and soul, whatever it is that you want, Chennai beaches are your answer. The cool, soft breeze, ever so slightly brushing against you, the cold, waves tickling on your feet, the gorgeous sunsets and awesome food shacks with amazing street foods- this is a typical Chennai’s beach for you. Some famous ones are-
- Marina Beach
- Edward Elliot’s Beach
- Kovalam Beach
- Mahabalipuram Beach (though it is not exactly in Chennai, it is a must go)
The next best are the temples. Chennai’s Dravidian temples are world famous for their beautiful architecture and carvings which denote famous works during several dynasties that ruled here like Chelas, Cholas and Pandyas.
Some of the iconic temples around here are-
- Kalikambal Temple, George Town
- Parthasarathy Temple
- Marundeeswarar Temple
- Ashtalakshmi Temple
Other tourist places are-
- Vandalur Zoo
- VGP Snow Kingdom
- Basilica of St. Thomas Church
- Big Mosque, Triplicate Road
- Guindy National Park
- AnnaZoological Park, Egmore
- Pongal- The new year of Tamilians, this festival is celebrated with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Splendid rangolis adore each and every house along with floral arrangements. The uncountable sweets that are made on this day are scrumptious, especially pongal (a sweet dish prepared on this day). Banana leaves and coconuts are used in puja.
- ThiruvalluvarDay: Birthday of the famous Tamil poet, Thiruvalluvar, this festival is celebrated to honour his contribution to the Tamil literature. It is celebrated in the month of January.
- Dussehra and Deepavali- The national festival of Dussehra and Deepavali are also big celebrations in Chennai.
Must eat foods in Chennai:
- Idiyappam with coconut milk- Made out of vermicelli in shape of an idli. It is extremely nutritious and perfect for breakfast
- Curd rice- Curd and rice mixed together along with a few red chillies, jeera and cumin seeds
- Idli with podi- Idli is a no brainer, but eating it with the famous Chennai podi makes it all the tastier
- Muruku- It is a crunchy, snack that is made out of rice flour and black gram flour. It looks like a jalebi but is not sweet.
- Banana Bonda- Made out of gram flour and banana, this is yet another south Indian styled snack.
- Parappu payasam- The Tamil version of kheer, this payasam tastes just heavenly.
- Kootu- It is a stew that is made with lentils and a plethora of vegetables
- Poriyal- A fried variant of vegetables, poriyal is eaten mostly with rice or chapatis
- Pongal- a sweet dish made on the day of Pongal
- Koozh- a dish made out of mashed millets
Shopping and local markets in Chennai:
- Saravana Bhavan- If you are in Chennai, you have to go to Saravana Bhavan, no questions asked. This shopping mall has its branches in the US as well (yes, it’s that famous!). Everything you can think of, you will get it here, at extremely affordable prices.
- High-end malls- There are several malls in Chennai if that is what you are looking for. Some of them are-
- Express Avenue Mall, Royapettah
- Phoenix Marketcity, Guindy
- VR Mall, Anna Nagar
- Forum Vijaya Mall, Arcot Road
- Ampa Skywalk, Poonamalee High Road
- Ranganathan Street and Pondy Street in Mambalam are perfect places if you want to do window shopping.
- Communicating with the locals is a little problem here so have some sort of translating app (English to Tamil or Hindi to Tamil) app installed on your phone.
- The humidity and scorching heat will dehydrate you very quickly. Keep drinking water. You can also drink coconut water, which is readily available almost everywhere.
- Be prepared to experience a lot of traffic. If you have somewhere important to reach, make sure you leave early.