The seat of culture and learning, Chennai (Formerly known as Madras), is located in Tamil Nadu state in southern India. It stretches along the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is renowned for its beaches, historical monuments and its rich cultural heritage.
Chennai has a significant history. During the first century, the city was as an important military and economic center. Several mighty south Indian dynasties like Cholas, Pallavas and Pandyas enriched the city with their culture, arts and heritage. In the 15th century the Dutch and British traded with this city as their headquarters.
The East India Company had chosen Madraspatnam (Chennai) to settle down in 1639. Elihu Yale was then the Governor of Madras. It is believed that the Yale University in USA was partly funded from the fortunes earned by Elihu Yale in Chennai.
Later in the 18th century, the British brought Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka under one presidency called “Madras Presidency” with Chennai as its capital city. Now being India’s fourth largest city, Chennai is also the country’s third largest commercial and industrial centre. Moreover it is the automobile capital of the country.
Marina and Elliot’s beaches are the major crowd pullers of Chennai city. Among these beaches, Marina is the world’s longest beach (12 km). Elliot’s beach is quieter and cleaner.
St. Mary’s Church:
In 16th century, the church was built inside Fort St. George. It is the country’s first Anglican church, Tourists can enjoy watching the most beautiful altar piece, a painting of the Last Supper, scenes from a 1660’s Bible etc.
Christ, the King Church:
This fine piece of Gothic architecture is located within the Loyola college campus in Chennai. In 1933, it was designed by S.A Gnanapragasam Pillai, an Indian architect who didn’t have formal education in architecture or civil engineering.
This church is located near the Marina beach. The church was built on the site where St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ was buried. The church is of Gothic style. Here tourists can see stained glass depicting St. Thomas meeting with Jesus Christ. In the crypt below are placed a few relics and small pieces of the Saint’s bones.
Being one of oldest temples of Chennai, this temple was built by the Pallavas in the 8th century. The sanctum sanctorum houses the idol of Lord Vishnu. Devotees worship the Lord with the name Parthasarathy (charioteer of king Arjuna. Lord Krishna was the charioteer).
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi under the name Kapaleeswara and Karpagambal. The original temple was believed to have been sunk in the sea. The current temple was constructed nearly 300 years ago.
This temple is located near Elliot’s beach. Here the devotees can worship Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) in eight manifestations.
Fort St. George :Named in honor of St. George, the fort was built in the 16th century by East India Company. It houses St. Mary’s church and fort museum.
Valluvar Kottam:This temple chariot shaped building was built as the memorial to the sage Thiruvalluvar. The chariot shape is that of the Thiruvarur temple chariot. The architecture is awesome. It also houses Asia’s largest auditorium.
In 1897, Swami Vivekananda visited Chennai in order to deliver a historic sermon. The building was built as a memorial to his visit. It was originally called the Ice House. Tourists can see a statue and rare photographs of Swami Vivekananda.
Both kids and adults can have fun in visiting the planetarium. It is located in Adayar.
On the road to Mahabalipuram, 26 km away from southern Chennai is located a unique architectural museum. Typical houses from various southern states have been transported from different areas of southern India and reconstructed here. Tourists can learn different cultures, living and art of southern India.