MY TAKE ON THE MARINA:
It was a chilly, cozy morning; the kind that is rare in a tropical city like Chennai, the kind that makes you want to snuggle in for a couple more hours. But I head out to the beach anyway for my ‘supposed to be regular but in reality happens once in a blue moon’ jog….Stepping barefoot on the grainy sand I take in the sight around me and as always my heart does a little flip flop.
The sun was creeping over the distant horizon casting the sky into a vibrant wash of pinks and blues. Its rays peeked through sleepy clouds throwing diamonds into the sea.I walked towards the water, as if in a trance and sat cross legged taking in a lungful of much needed fresh salty air as if getting ready to chat up to an old friend of mine. In more ways than one, that couldn’t be truer! Having lived in Chennai all my life… the beach is one of the entities which saw me through all the stages of my life. I have frolicked among the waves as a kid, picked up shells and odd stuff…hung out with friends…had many a family picnic…there was also a brief stint where I was scared of the beach during the Tsunami of 2007…and now…well here I am talking to the waves, the sand, the sun and the winds knowing that they do listen, as a gentle breeze skims my face. Thus went one of my best mornings ever at ‘the Marina Beach’ the best place to be in Chennai at this time of day.
A DASH OF INFO:
This sandy beach hugs the coast of Chennai from Fort St. George to Besant Nagar, making it the second longest beach in the world. Several important structures dot Marina along its length including the towering light house which is an ancient structure, but still lights a path for far away ships. On a clear day the harbor can be seen with its cranes and gigantic ships. When observed from a distance its silhouette gives the appearance of a futuristic city. Statues of important figures from the Indian history stand tall and proud amid a landscaped promenade.
The Northern end of the beach houses the Anna Square comprising of memorials honoring C. N. Annadurai and M. G. Ramachandran, two iconic Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu. Here the ambience takes on a meditative quality. Many government structures and iconic buildings from the British rule are also situated along the length of the beach.
The Tsunami of 2007 and the recent floods of 2015 saw the beach struggling to rebound, especially the fisher folk whose entire livelihood depends on the beach. But thankfully balance has been restored and all is back to normal.
Good question ‘What to do in a beach other than tan yourself?’….Well lucky us because there is a tall list.
• Simply walking or hanging around is absolutely normal. 90% of the beach population does just that. What better way to destress than throwing your worries to the wind.
• Jogging…. For the avid joggers or for ones who prefer an outdoor gym, this would be ideal. You can jog in the sand, jog on the pavement or jog on the actual jogging track provided along the inner side of the pavement.
• A large skating rink provides ample space for skating, skate boarding or watching other people skate.
• Swimming at the marina swimming pool or Anna swimming pool.
• The very first aquarium in the entire country was installed here in 1909.
• Touring the light house and light house museum.
- Bird feeding during morning hours
• Star gazing under the open sky
• The marina would also be an amazing spot to bring your painting supplies and have a go at recreating those frothy waves.
Since this is one of the major hubs where people, both local and tourists converge, there is no lack of a social peer group. People are warm, friendly and always willing to strike up a conversation. From a solitary soul seeking some alone time, to a couple seeking the same; from a family of 12 enjoying a picnic to a group of college kids celebrating their youth, we can see all of the above at any given day at any given time…
At the Marina you can find people from all walks of life coming together to pursue their interests. And here comes another list!!
• Laughing club- Laugh out loud for no reason…Its therapeutic! Do this with a group and you will not be taken to an asylum.
• Yoga classes- where you sync yourself with your natural surrounding
• Boxing and martial arts- not for the faint hearted!
• Turtle walks- this is a must- do. The strip of beach near besant nagar is famous for turtle walks which occur during the months of October to January. This is one of the few nesting sites of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.
• The beach also acts as a host for rallies, marathons and the infamous parades which occur during Independence and Republic days.
• Beach clean-up events also occur where people band together and work for a common cause.
Now this would be my favourite section and Yes!! Lists!!
Morning buffet:One can select from Fruit salad, sprouts, nuts, herbal drinks, Mushroom and tomato soups and tender coconut juice. Yes these would be the best after that long jog. Best not to clog those arteries!!
Evening Buffet:Here is where the party starts!
• Look out for green jalapenos hanging on strings. That would be the ‘bajji shop’ as we locals like to call it. Typically they are fritters served with spicy sauce. These will definitely have you back for more.
• If you spot a hot pan piled high with chickpea gravy…that would be the ‘channa shop’. Ask for a plate of ‘samosa channa’ or ‘pani puri’ and be prepared for that burst of flavor in your taste buds!!
• Several restaurant cabins on wheels serve heaped bowls of Chinese and Indian cuisine. Notable restaurants are ‘the titanic’ and ‘spartans’.
• Fried sea food. What place is best to eat sea food than by the sea? The delicious smell alone pulls in people from far away.
• Apart from the above one can also choose from sugarcane juice, spiced corn, many beverages, Ice creams and many more…
It’s a carnival out there every single day!!
HERE COMES THE END….
To sum it all up ‘visit Marina…soak up those comforting vibes…experience the delicious concoction of the traditional and urban…the warmth of the culture and the chill of the sea breeze….let it envelop and surround your senses and surely you will walk away a happier person!!…