Chennai might be a bustling metropolitan city, but it is, by no means, devoid of its own unique cultural history and beauty. The epicenter of Dravidian civilization, the city has seen eras and kingdoms go by and it still retains the memories of these important events. Tamil culture has by no means been eroded by the urban development. It is a city which celebrates culture as much as it encourages urban development. The remnants of British colonial rule are also quite visible in the city, and Chennai has become the perfect melting pot, where history and current civilization have come together to form a cohesive whole.

Travel Tips

The best time to visit Chennai is during the winters, between November and February. The summers in South India can get quite excruciating, but if you do happen to visit during this period, carry light cottons with you when you go. Buses are the cheapest modes of transport in Chennai, although there are a variety of different kinds of transportation available.

The beaches are beautiful, but the water is not conducive to swimming. The currents are strong and can get dangerous, so please heed the call of the life-guards when they warn tourists to get out of the water.

When to visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • July
  • Aug
  • Sept
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
sprinkles Pleasant
  • 29.8° Max
  • 20.7° Min
  • 20.8 mm
  • Carry Light Woollen
Things to do

The Marina beach is perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of the city. 12 kilometers long, it is the second largest urban beach in the world, and is a beautiful place to observe the sunrise or the sunset, from. In the evenings, locals as well as tourists flock to this beach to enjoy time by the sea while eating snacks provided by the many stalls around the beach. Edward Elliot’s Beach lies to the south of the Marina beach, and it is one of the most tranquil beaches in Chennai. The natives refer to this beach as “Bessei.” Covelong beach too, is a must-visit. It is a small fishing village about 40 kilometers from Chennai, and was built by Saadat Ali, the Nawab of Carnatic.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas is also located in Chennai. One of the three churches built over the tomb of one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, this church is greatly revered by many. There is a new Tomb Chapel which has recently been built below the church, along with a museum cum theatre. St. Mary’s Church is also an important location because it is one of the oldest surviving churches from the colonial period. It was the first English church to be built in India, and was designed by the famed William Dixon. The walls were made thick so that the church would survive attacks, and the frescoes on the wall, the teak plaques as well as the beautiful glass windows have been very well preserved. St. Thomas Mount is also worth a visit. This particular church is actually in memory of one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Big Mosque, or the Wallajah Mosque, as it is also known, is a site you must visit in Chennai. It was built in memory of Nawab Muhammad Ali Wallajah in 1795, and is a striking example of the beauty and finesse of Islamic architecture. This grand mosque is built with grey coloured granite, completely devoid of steel or wooden support, and it is surrounded by beautiful and well-maintained grounds.

There are many temples all over Chennai, but some of them, over the course of the years, have become important tourist destinations. The Karaneeswarar Temple is one such example. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is known as Karaneeswarar is Tamil Nadu, the temple also venerates Goddess Shakti, better known as Swarnambikai in these parts. It is said that Lord Indra had come here to pray to Lord Shiva, in order to seek out a solution to a curse which had befallen him. Parthasarathy Temple is the oldest temple in Chennai. It was built in the 8th century, and has been referred to, in the notes made by Alvar Saints. Originally built by the Pandavas, other successive kingdoms had also added their renovations to the place. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but the sculptures of other deities are also kept and worshipped here. The Gopurams and the tanks near most of these temples are features distinctive to architecture in the south. They are unmistakably unique and beautiful.

Valluvar Kottam should also be visited in Chennai. Dedicated to the poet and the saint Tiruvalluvar, the structure almost resembles a temple. Made in t shape of a chariot, the structure used more than 3,000 blocks of stone. The chariot is 101 feet high, and is beautifully made. Guindy National Park and Guindy Snake Park are also two very important tourist destinations. If you want to escape into the lap of nature while exploring the bustling city of Chennai, this is the perfect place for you.

The Government Museum is one of the best tourist destinations in this city. It has 46 distinctive galleries which deal with particular subjects ranging from Archeology and Botany to Art and Zoology. The museum is also equipped with an extensive library, in case you might want to read up on something particular. The National Art Gallery should also be visited, especially for it collection of beautiful Tanjore Paintings.

When not off sightseeing, you can always head down to the market place to pick up some fresh spices which are unique to Tamil Nadu. Pondy Bazaar, Ranganathan Street and Anna Salai are some of the best places to go shopping at, while here. Make sure to enjoy the wonderful filter coffee which is a speciality of Tamil Nadu. Their food is also scrumptious, healthy and distinctive. Enjoy a hearty meal of Dosas, Idlies, Uttapams, accompanied by some piping hot Rasam and some mildly flavored coconut chutney, along with Sambhar.  

Places to Stay

High-Range: If you want to splurge, then Le Royal Meridien is one of the best options to go for. With room rates starting from 15,000 INR, you are sure to be treated like royalty at this hotel, where they make sure that you are lacking for nothing. All imaginable basic amenities are available, along with provisions such as baby-sitting services, a sauna, a salon, a gym, a currency exchange spot, a club to unwind at, a gorgeous pool, and every other provision which will make your stay a comfortable, luxurious one. Trident, is another high-range hotel where they provide the best of services, and the room rates begin from 7,500 INR.

Mid-Range: If you want comfortable, affordable places to put up at, while in Chennai, then Le Waterina, The Boutique Hotel is one of the best options available. The rooms are comfortable, and spacious, the restaurant offers a very scenic view of the surroundings, and the place is well-maintained, with all the basic amenities intact. Room rates begin from 3,700 INR. Another Mid-range hotel would be Breeze Hotel, with the room rates starting from 3,600 INR.

Low Range: If you do not want to spend too much money on accommodation, then Hotel Angel’s Nest is one of the best options available. The room rates begin from 1,500 INR and the rooms are clean, comfortable and welcoming. Golden Tower and Hotel Nirmal Dakshin are also good option. The room rates begin from 1,000 INR and 920 INR respectively.

How to Reach

  • Chennai has its own airport, which is very well connected to flights from all over the country. A car from the airport to Chennai Central should cost you about 200-300 INR.
  • The Railway Station at Chennai too, is quite well connected to the other parts of the country, and it regularly receives and sends off trains to various different parts of India. There are many trains which come to Chennai.
  • Chennai is 345 kilometers away from Bangalore, 493 kilometers away from Coimbatore, and well connected to the whole country due to highways such as NH-7, NH-46, NH-2, NH-79A, NH-8, NH-4 and NH-60. However, taking a train is a better option than driving down, even from Bangalore.

Surrounding Attractions

Mahabalipuram is a wonderful port town a little way away from Chennai. It is idyllic, and peaceful. Yelagiri Hills is about 3-4 hours away from Chennai. It comprises of a bunch of small villages scattered on the hills. It is a wonderful break from the city life. Tirupati and Sadras are two other locations very close to Chennai.

Important Numbers

Traffic Police: 103

Emergency Police number: 100

Tourist Helpline: 1913

Tourism Office of Tamil Nadu Government: +91 44 25368538