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Discover Magical Chennai

The area around Chennai had been part of successive South Indian kingdoms through centuries. The recorded history of the city began in the colonial times, specifically with the arrival of British East India Company and the establishment of Fort St. George in 1644.

Destination Guide Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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» Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai, India

Established in 1885, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (often referred to as Vandalur Zoo) is the oldest public zoo in India. It's been transformed and relocated over the years, and today the zoo can be found in Vandalu, just over 30 kilometers from Chennai. It's home to hundreds of species of wild animals, many of which are considered endangered, and serves as a wildlife sanctuary and center for rehabilitating rescued animals. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park is a large and well-maintained space with plenty of plant and wildlife out in the open …

» Ashtalakshmi Temple

Ashtalakshmi Temple, Chennai, India

One of the most noticeable landmarks on Elliot's Beach in the Chennai suburb of Besant Nagar, Ashtalakshmi Temple is a colorful temple devoted to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. The multi-tier structure, covered completely in vibrant carvings and decorative elements, depicts the goddess in each of her eight primary forms -- as giver of wealth, offspring, success, bravery, food, prosperity, courage and knowledge. All eight idols of Lakshmi are located on the building's exterior …

» Auroville

Auroville, Chennai, India

Auroville was birthed in the late 1960s by Mirra Alfassa, known to her followers as The Mother, as a universal town where unity and spirituality would be celebrated. Today, the town has a population of over 2,000 people from 45 different countries and a range of age groups, backgrounds and social classes. At the center of Auroville sits Matrimandir, the gold-domed Temple of the Mother, where residents come to meditate. The Auroville Visitors Centre offers an introductory video about the project …

» Besant Nagar

Besant Nagar, Chennai, India

Besant Nagar, a popular neighborhood in Chennai most famous as the home of Elliot's Beach, was named after British activist Annie Besant, founder of the Theosophical Society and staunch supporter of Indian self-rule. Located at the southern end of Chennai's Marina Beach shore, Besant Nagar is home to many of the city's wealthy citizens. Besides Elliot's Beach, Besant Nagar's most popular attraction is the 247-acre (100-hectare) Theosophical Society, with its lovely grounds that include a mosque, church, Buddhist and Hindu temples and a sizable religious and philosophical library …

» Cholamandal Artists' Village

Cholamandal Artists' Village, Chennai, India

Occupying 10 acres (4 hectares) of land just outside of Chennai, Cholamandal Artists' Village is the largest self-supporting artists' village in India and an excellent place to feel the pulse of Chennai's contemporary arts scene. Starting in the 1950s, the commune played a fundamental role in the Madras Movement of Art which helped bring the modernist movement to South India. Tucked away in a quiet wooded area, the Village is home to two dozen artists, who all help maintain galleries, a performance space and an intimate cafe. For collectors of modern art …

» Covelong Beach

Covelong Beach, Chennai, India

Located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside of central Chennai, Covelong Beach offers visitors a cleaner, quieter alternative to the urban Marina Beach. The beach is named after the small fishing village where it's found and occupies the former site of a Dutch fort by the same name. Today, Covelong Beach is one of the few on the eastern coast of India to offer wind surfing, as well as regular surfing, swimming and a variety of other water sports. Like Marina Beach, it's also an excellent place for sitting back and people watching …

» Dakshinachitra

Dakshinachitra, Chennai, India

The heritage village of Dakshinachitra, meaning 'A Picture of the South,' was established to help preserve the folk art and cultural traditions of southern India, particularly from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Artisans trained in traditional techniques work in the 17 heritage houses and village tableaus within the 10 acres (four hectares) of rural land just south of Chennai. Many of the pots, baskets, woven silk pieces, puppets and stone carvings …

» Elliot's Beach (Besant Nagar Beach)

Elliot's Beach (Besant Nagar Beach), Chennai, India

nown alternately as Besant Nagar Beach, or 'Bessie' for short, Elliot's Beach sits at the south end of the Marina Beach shore. A former expatriate enclave during Chennai's colonial era, today, the beach attracts a crowd of twenty somethings, as well as families looking to avoid the crowds at the more popular Marina Beach. While you won't find water sports along this stretch of sand, what you will find are beautiful ocean views and several architectural landmarks, including Ashtalakshmi Temple and Velankanni Church …

» Fort St George

Fort St George, Chennai, India

The British East India Company constructed their first fortress in India in 1640 along a strip of sand on lease from the Raja, allowing them a foothold for expansion in India. The 20-foot thick outer walls surround a complex of white colonial structures, known historically as 'White City,' including St Mary's, the oldest Anglican church in Asia. Until recently, Fort St George housed the Tamil Nadu Secretariat & Legislative Assembly, and the Fort Museum remains open …

» George Town

George Town, Chennai, India

In 1644, the British built Fort St. George on what was then largely uninhabited land. The city known as Chennai began to spring up around the fortress, and the historic neighborhood of George Town was one of the first neighborhoods in the city. Originally called 'Black Town,' a racist name given due to the settlement of East India Company workers who lived there, the name was later changed to George Town, and as it grew, the city became Madras and then Chennai …

» Government Museum

Government Museum, Chennai, India

Government Museum is a bit of a misnomer, as the complex of 6 structures and 46 galleries houses Chennai's best collection of scientific and artistic artifacts. This includes the most impressive collection of Pallava and Chola bronze sculptures (dating back to the 10th and 13th centuries) anywhere in the world. The Chola Nataraj depicts the god Shiva dancing in a circle of cosmic fire. Some of the displays and informational placards are a bit dated …

» Kalakshetra

Kalakshetra, Chennai, India

The word 'kalakshetra' means 'holy place of the arts.' Founded in 1936, Kalakshetra is Tamil Nadu's leading academy of the arts, with a focus on the traditional dances and music styles of the state. Rukmini Devi Arundale, the school's founder, studied dance under famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The 99-acre (40-hectare) campus opens to visitors who'd like to explore the grounds, observe classes in session or participate in morning prayer around the campus Banyan Tree …

» Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram, Chennai, India

Kanchipuram, the old capital city of the Pallava Dynasty in Tamil Nadu, is one of seven holy pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The Pallava, Chola and Pandyan Dynasties all occupied the area, each trying to outdo the others with bigger and better shrines, and the result is a fascinating study in Dravidian architectural development from the eighth century onward. The nickname 'Golden City of 1,000 Temples' is well earned, and travelers who make the 45-mile trek from Chennai …

» Kapaleeshwar Temple

Kapaleeshwar Temple, Chennai, India

Near the San Thome Cathedral in the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai sits the Kapaleeshwar Temple (spelled Kapaleeshwarar or Kapaleshwar too). The most impressive temple in the city by far, Kapaleeshwar honors the god Shiva with shrines dedicated to many other deities in the South Indian pantheon. The working temple offers a good example of classical Dravidian architecture, with a stepped pyramid design blanketed in colorful statues of gods, demons …

» Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram)

Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram), Chennai, India

Reminiscent of the Mayan ruins in Central America, a complex of stone temples are all that remain of the eighth century Pallava dynasty along the coast two hours south of Chennai. Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram's (Mamallapuram) most iconic landmark, consists of two intricately carved towers standing watch over the Bay of Bengal. With shrines dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, the temple is considered one of the oldest in India …

» Marina Beach

Marina Beach, Chennai, India

Located on the Bay of Bengal in the city of Chennai, natural Marina Beach extends for just over 8 miles (13 kilometers) from close to Fort St. George to Besant Nagar in the South, making it India's longest natural urban beach. While not an ideal swimming beach, Marina Beach makes an excellent spot for people watching in the cooler hours of the morning and evening, when the main stretch near Triplicane becomes a flurry of activity. You'll see kids flying kites, locals playing cricket and munching on snacks from the food vendors …

» Mylapore

Mylapore, Chennai, India

One of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Chennai, Mylapore is the city's cultural heart and an area filled with narrow streets, tree-lined avenues, temples, churches, flower markets and old shops, all begging to be explored on foot. Life in Mylapore revolves around the stately Kapaleeshwarar Temple, a Dravidian-style temple to the Hindu god Shiva with a colorful gopurams, pyramid-like gateways covered in carvings of scenes from Hindu mythology. The streets surrounding the temple are packed with vendors …

» Pondicherry

Pondicherry, Chennai, India

Sometimes called the French Riviera of the East, the seaside town of Pondicherry operates at a slower pace than nearly any other Indian city. The small city was the largest French colony in India, and since the French only left in 1954, the town has retained much of its colonial flavor. Practically everything worth seeing in Pondicherry exists within walking distance in the grid of streets and alleyways of the French Quarter; where whitewashed villas, colonial churches …

» San Thome Cathedral

San Thome Cathedral, Chennai, India

Saint Thomas the Apostle, or 'Doubting Thomas,' as he was later called, came to India in 52 AD where he purportedly lived out the remainder of his days. The 16th century Sao Thome Cathedral, built by the Roman Catholic Portuguese and later rebuilt by the British, is said to house the bodily remains of St Thomas in a tomb below the white neo-Gothic structure. A series of stained glass windows inside the basilica depict scenes from St Thomas's life …

» St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church, Chennai, India

St Mary's Church, the small Anglican church within the walls of Fort St George, is the oldest masonry building within the fort. Consecrated in 1680, the church is said to be the first Anglican church in Asia and the oldest remaining English church in India. Work began on the church in 1678 on Our Lady's Day, giving it its current name. Except for a new steeple, much of the bombproof structure remains in its original condition, including the roof and arcade aisles …

» Velankanni Church

Velankanni Church, Chennai, India

Velankanni Church, a Roman Catholic church located on the coast south of Chennai, is one of India's most important Christian shrines and a beautiful landmark in Tamil Nadu. Nicknamed the 'Lourdes of the East,' the Gothic-style basilica stands on the spot where, according to local legend, an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared three times, once to a local shepherd asking for milk, another time to cure a local buttermilk vendor and a third while rescuing a group of Portuguese sailors from a storm …

« INDIADiscover IndiaSouth India • Chennai

Chennai Tours, Travel & Activities
Chennai Hotels & Accommodation

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Tours & Activities

Magical Journeys to India

Home to many of India's manufacturing plants and IT companies, Chennai, the country's fourth largest city, makes a great home base for a handful of excellent excursions in the area. When you're not day tripping around Tamil Nadu, there's plenty within the city itself to keep you occupied…

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Magical Journeys to IndiaChennai Hotels
& Accommodation

Chennai Hotels & Accommodation

Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai has an estimated population of 7.5 million. The city was established in the 17th century by the British, who developed it into a major urban centre and naval base …

Chennai Hotels & Accommodation

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