Cultural Capital of India and Pride of Tamil Nadu - Chennai
January 1, 1970
by Scarlet Letter
Gateway of South India
From roadside tea shops to great cafes and luxury hotels, from Kaapi (Famous South Indian filter coffee) to Cappuccino, from street shopping to huge malls, from western to tradition, friendship to harmony, liberty to safety, from Culture to Heritage, Chennai, ladies and gentlemen, has it all. A modern city completely traditional at heart. Out of all the other places in India, Chennai could be your one-stop destination for lifelong incredible experiences. I hope I get you packing your bags right away for Chennai.
Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal in Eastern India is the capital of the state Tamil Nadu, Chennai. Formerly known as Madras. Chennai- The cultural capital of South India, is said to be one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the world. It is the only Indian city to be rated in “Top 10 fastest growing cities in the world” by Forbes magazine. Also, the only city in South Asia to figure in “52 Places to go around the world” by The New York Times. This makes it the Best place to visit in India.
Hear about Chennai from a Chennaite
I, for one, am a proud resident of Singara Chennai (Singara- Tamil word meaning – Beautiful) Yes, Singara Chennai is what everyone refers to it as. It indeed is beautiful from its places to its people.
The natives of Chennai call it “Namma Chennai” (Our Chennai) with pride glistening in our eyes and love, with open arms for everyone regardless of caste, creed, mother tongue or religion. When it comes to Chennai, we are all Chennaites, we are all Madrasies. We are all Tamizhan da (Tamilians).
We as a city stand as one, and for one another. We believe that “Chennai” is a city but “Madras” is an emotion. That our age-long culture and tradition is an emotion which every individual living here feels no matter what religion they follow. “Namma Chennai” is known for its safe, friendly, helping Natives. One can never go out of help in Chennai. At times of need, there will always be someone reaching out to you.
Chennai – “A Kaleidoscope of cultures”, “Traditionally Modern”, “A Classical Combination of Tradition and Modern”, you can name this city so much more based on how heavily rich it is in its cultural heritage and tradition, at yet stays modern. Chennai is constantly evolving yet constantly carrying its tradition and value with it.
Here is all you need to know about Cultural Chennai
First things first, Chennai is a proud Tamil city. The native language spoken here is Tamil, one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world, 20th in the list of most spoken languages worldwide, approximately 4000-4500 years old. Tamil is our identity. Tamil is our culture. Tamil is our pride and we Chennaites never fail to call ourselves proud Tamizhans. (Tamilian)
The traditional attire of Tamilians is worldwide famous for their grace and beauty. Women in their exquisite Sarees or Pavada Davani and Men in their elegant Lungi or Veshti can beat any outfit any day.
Carnatic music is the age-long traditional classical music that has developed in many states of Southern India. It is one of the gems of world music. It is considered melodious, peaceful and is said to have magical healing effects.
Chennai is known for its classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam which will surely awe you with its unique form that uses a lot of facial expressions, hand gestures, and leg movements.
There is nothing, at all, like Chennai food and you can definitely count on me for that. From mouth-watering Idli-sambar to delicious Masala Dosa, varieties of Uttapams, Pongal-Vada, Puri, Meals, Bajji, Chettinad dishes, Thalapakatti Biryani and all kinds of Chutneys, Chennai is the food hub for enjoying amazing authentic South Indian food. If you don’t get the names, it’s alright. Just come to Chennai and relish it.
Chennai experiences all the three major seasons, Summer, Monsoon, and Winter, with summer beginning from march spreading till October, is scorching hot. Monsoons, however, fall during the months of June to September. Winters are short-lived occurring during the months of November to February making it the best season to visit Chennai
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN CHENNAI
Let me not just show you Chennai, let me take you inside Namma Chennai. I won’t just be talking about tourist attraction spots, but also about the local, most loved spots by native Chennaites which travel guides might or might not take you to.
Vitamin-sea for souls with beach deficien-sea.
You come to Chennai and not visit Marina Beach, then have you really seen Chennai?
This is the second longest natural urban beach in the world. This sandy beach stretching far into the horizon makes it one of the most stunning beaches on the Indian coast. Watching the Sunrise and Sunset here is hands down the most beautiful thing you’ll get to witness. There is so much this beach has to offer you. Statues of heroes of the past, Horseback rides, Lip-smacking south Indian snacks, Balloon shooting, arcade games and so much more.
Honoring the memorable.
Built on the Marina beach is this memorial structure dedicated to the famous Bharat Ratna award-winning actor-director, MG Ramachandran, India’s first actor to become Chief Minister for three consecutive terms until his death. Built by the shore of Marina, this place has a nice green park to enjoy and relax.
Visiting Time: 6.30am – 9.30pm
Napier bridge is one of Chennai’s oldest tied-arch structural bridge that was built to connect Fort St George with the Marina beach. The beauty of this bridge lies in the fact that one can watch both sunrise and sunset from either side of the bridge.
Witness untold stories.
It doesn’t matter if you are not a fan of archaeology or history, this place has so many incredible stories to tell you, it can go on forever and you might just want to stay a little longer. It is the second oldest museum in India mainly affluent in archaeological and numismatic collections. Also has the largest collection of Roman antiques outside Europe. This museum displays a huge array of artifacts, has a separate children’s museum, a museum theatre (A British built, Italianate style remarkable building) and four major galleries including the National Art Gallery.
Visiting Time: 9.30am to 5.00 pm
Closed on Fridays
Entry Fee: For Indian- 15 INR For Foreigner- 250 INR
For the pride of Tamil Literature. For Thiruvalluvar.
Valluavar Kottam is a temple chariot-like monument dedicated to the classical and a beloved Tamil poet, philosopher, and saint Thiruvalluvar. With its unique eye-catching structure, lifelike statues and largest auditorium in Asia, this place is an awe-inspiring wonder.
Visiting Time: 8 am to 6 pm
Closed on Fridays and public holidays
MADRAS WAR CEMETERY
A Tribute to Bravery.
A war cemetery constructed by commonwealth war graves commission for the remembrance of the British soldiers (includes Australian and New Zealand war soldiers) who died in the second world war. A memorial built to honor all those who sacrificed their lives during the first world war is also situated at the rear end of the cemetery designed in the form of a ‘Lawn cemetery’ containing names of more than 1000 British soldiers.
Visiting Time: 8 am to 6 pm (Closed on Sundays and public holidays)
Entry: Prior permission from the cemetery manager required.
Beauty that you just can’t ignore.
Translates as “Classical language park” is a delightful, beautiful and one of the most visited botanical garden in all of Chennai with more than 500 species of plants, artificial ponds, an amphitheater, fountains, open auditorium and so much more.
Visiting Time: 10 am – 7.30 pm
Entry Fee- For adults – 15 INR For children below 10 years – 10 INR
ANNA NAGAR TOWER
Greenery and serenity for refreshments.
Officially known as the Dr.Visveswaraya tower park, is the tallest tower park in Chennai. The tower is currently closed for public but the park remains open. The park with all its greenery and serenity has an amphitheater, a bird watching deck, badminton courts, play area, skating rink, a lake and much more.
Visiting Time: 5.30 am – 10.30 am
4 pm – 7 pm
Take a walk through wonderful mysteries
A place where loneliness won’t make you feel lonely at all. Theosophy means divine wisdom. This place seeks universal brotherhood with religion as no bar. The campus is filled with lush beauty and mystery and so many hidden stories to enjoy in every nook an corner. The most famous attraction here is the 450 years old banyan tree that is spread across an acre of land. Being very eerie and calm this place is rumored to be haunted. Now if that doesn’t make you wanna come here, I don’t know what does.
Visiting Time: 8 am to 10 am
2 pm to 4 pm
Closed on Sundays
EDWARD ELLIOTS BEACH
The youth Beach.
Marking the end point of Marina this is a small yet one among the most beautiful beaches in Chennai. This beach which is also known as the Bessy Beach/Besant Nagar Beach is a major food zone with a variety of food outlets and restaurants. Since it attracts a lot of youth, it won’t be wrong to call it the Youth Beach.
Located at the Elliots beach is the Karl Schmidt memorial honoring a valiant sailor who saved the life of a girl struggling in the sea while he lost his own life to it.
Come hear some centuries old engraved tales.
A small town with a collection of 7th and 8th-century religious monuments. Some famous ones include Krishna’s Butterball, Descent of the Ganges, the lighthouse and much more. This place is known for its history and cultural beauty.
A Billion years old but the history still stays young.
Chennai region has the oldest rocks in the whole of India dating back to a billion years. One of the oldest legendary rock cut structural stone temple of South India that also overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal is the shore temple in Mahabalipuram. It is an iconic heritage monument, no doubt.
Visiting Time: all days of the week
6 am to 6 pm
Entry Fee: For Indians- 10 INR For Foreigners- 250 INR
ST THOMAS MOUNT
The Holy Mount which was cleansed by a martyr’s blood.
On top of St. Thomas hillock lies the St. Thomas mount shrine, a beautiful Portuguese style church with a great view of Chennai. Legend maintains that this place is where St Thomas, one among the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, was allegedly martyred.
Visiting Time: 5 am – 9 pm
LIST OF OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN CHENNAI
St Thomas Cathedral Basilica
Guindy National Park
Regional Railway Museum
Chennai Snake Park
Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Fort St George
Victory war memorial
Incredible India. Enchanting Tamil Nadu. Singara Chennai.