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Chennai Travel Guide
Chennai was formerly known as Madras. Chennai is one of India's major ports and the commercial hub of South India and thus it became a metropolitan city and emerged as fourth largest city in the country. Chennai is a coastal city with the second largest beach in the world. Chennai is a city of courtesy, charm and culture. Temples and Forts, Churches and Beaches, Mosques, Parks and Monuments are all a part of this wonderful city.
Places of Interest in Chennai
Sri Kapaleeswar Temple: Not far from Triplicane, in Mylapore, there is yet another 8th century Pallava temple. The temple 'Gopuram'(tower) is characteristic of Dravidian style architecture.
Valluvar Kottam: The memorial to the poet-saint Tiruvalluvar is shaped like a temple chariot and is, in fact, the replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. A life-size statue of the saint has been installed in the chariot which is 33m. tall.
Birla Planetarium: The Birla Planetarium at Kotturpuram, between Adyar and Guindy, is the most modern planetarium in the country. Adjoining the planetarium is a Periyar Science and Technology Museum which will be of interest to students and other science scholars.
Government Museum Complex: Once British Society in Chennai used to meet in the Pantheon. Its 18th century buildings and grounds have over the years since then been developed into the Connemara Library, one of the country's three National Libraries, the national Art Gallery, a beautiful building of Jaipur- Mughal architecture.
Amir Mahal: This palace called " Amir Mahal" belongs to the Royal family of Arcot. Situated on an area of approx. 14 acres, Amir Mahal was built in 1789 and came into possession of the Arcot Royal Family in 1870. Located in Triplicane entry is allowed with permission only.
Timings: 10:00 - 18:00, No Holiday.
Anna Nagar Tower: This is the highest and biggest park tower in chennai, located at Anna Nagar Park. It has cyclic stairs. Full view of the city can be seen from Top of the Tower.
Timings: 09:00 - 18:00, No Holiday
Anna Zoological Park: The sprawling 1,265 acre Anna Zoological Park is the biggest in South Asia. It contains a superb collection of tropical mammals, birds and reptiles amongst others.
Timings: Week days 11 am to 7 pm. Sunday and Holidays 10 am to 8 pm.
Birla Planetarium: Built in memory of B.M. Birla, the well known industrialist and visionary, the Planetarium is considered to be the most modern in the country. This modern planetarium is housed in a hemispherical theatre. It is located at Kottur near Anna University.
Timings: 10.45 am - 1.45 pm and 3.45 pm. Sunday holiday.
Connemara Public Library: One of the countries National Libraries, it has the largest collection of books and periodicals Touch screen computers have been installed recently to make operations easier. Located at Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai - 600 008.
Timings: 09:30 - 19:30, No Holiday.
Crocodile Bank: Not far from Mamallapuram, 42 km from Madras, this crocodile breeding and research centre is run by Romulus Whittaker. It was set up in 1976. This bank was started to protect India's dwindling crocodile population and to preserve the Irula (Snake catching), tribe's way of life. This bank has already produced more than 6,000 crocodiles. There is also a snake farm where anti - venom is produced. Several species of Indian and African Crocodiles and Alligators bred in captivity are kept here in open pools. The snake venom extractions are a great attraction to the visitors and it help the Irulas (tribe) to maintain their way of life.
Timings: 10:00 to 16:00 Wednesday to Monday. Tuesday holiday.
DakshinaChitra: It is a unique Heritage village situated at Muttukadu on the new Mamallapuram Coastal Road, 20 Km from Chennai. It offers the visitor an unforgettable and authentic insight into the lifestyles of the diverse people of South India.
The Arts and Crafts village, Dakshinachitra narrates the story of the South Indian Culture. The Tamil history, language and way of life can be experienced with a guided tour. Architecture of the past 200 years is represented in the real rural setting. Every house is typical of its own professional group. Traders, potters, weavers, and others working in the traditional way make exquisite pottery, baskets, and carved stone items, some of which are for sale. The center is now developed to include the cultural replicas from all four states of South India. The folk and classical dance performances can be seen here. For a arranged tour you can contact : The Madras craft Foundation, G3, 6 Urur Olcott Road, Besant Nagar, Madras 603112.
Visit: Monday and Wednesday to Friday.
Time: 09:45 to 18:00, Saturday and Sunday time 10:00 to 18:00.
Fort St. George: It is at Kamarajar Road. It is the first British fort build around 1653 by the British East India Company. It has a 20 feet thick wall. The present structure, a fine example of 17th century British military architecture, was mostly built in 1966. The country's tallest flagstaff is here, thought to be over 300 years old. The 24 black Charnockite pillars are those reclaimed by the British in 1762 of the original 32 which once formed the colonade of the present Secretariat building. It remains the symbol of the British Raj. Now it houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly.
The best time to visit is on a Sunday.
Fort Museum: It is at Fort St. George. Museum has 10 rooms displaying the documents of Indian History. The old uniforms, coins, padlocks, old prints and palanquins are displayed here. The banquet hall upstairs has a collection of paintings of the governors and officials of the British regime.
Timings: Saturday to Thursday from 10:00 to 17:00.
Government Museum Complex: It is situated in Pantheon road. This is not for its exquisite collection of more than 2000 Indian bronzes and Amaravathi marbles. Three great buildings of architectural value - the Museum Theatre, the extension hall and the Connemara Public Library are in this complex. The present Museum has several sections, four galleries- Hindu sculpture gallery, the Amaravathi gallery, the Bronze gallery and the National art gallery constitute the main attractions.
Visit: Tuesday to Saturday from 09:30 to 17:00.
Guindy National Park: This is the countries only Wildlife Sanctuary within a city's limits. This park spread over an area of 27.6 sq. km. Raj Bhavan, the Governor's mansion, occupies one end of the park, and at the other is the beautiful forest - girt campus of Chennai's famous Indian Institute of Technology. The nearest rail head, airport and town is Chennai, at a distance of 5km. The park was set up in 1976.
Horticultural Gardens: Sprawling over an area of 22 acres, with rare trees, shrubs, flower beds and bonsais, this garden is situated at the heart of the city, near St. George's Cathedral on Cathedral Road. Seeds, seedlings and plants are on sale. The annual flower show enthuses hordes of visitors.
Timing: 08:00 to 12:00 & 13:30 to 15:30 Thursday holiday.
Located at Cathedral Road, Chennai - 600 086.
Kishkintha: The first theme amusement park is Kishkintha near Chennai. Situated 28 Km South of Chennai near Tambaram spread over 110 acres, Kishkintha park offers exciting rides and attractions.
Timings: week days 11:00 to 19:00
Sunday and Holidays 11:00 to 20:00
The Marina Beach: Lining the east of the city is the famous Marina beach, at Kamarajar Road, 3 Km away from Chennai. This is supposed to be the second longest beach in the World and runs to a length of 13 Km. On the beach there is the Anna Park, named after the founder of D.M.K (Dravida Munnetta Kazhakam) Anna durai and the tomb of M.G. Ramachandran who was a film star and the charismatic Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the Statue of Labour is a splendid sculpture depicting the efforts of a team of labourers who are at hard manual labour. The beach can be ideally visited in the early mornings or in the late evenings when the area becomes a virtual ground; with food stalls and other entertainments.
M G M Dizzy world: This amusement park is situated at Muttukkadu enroute to Mamallapuram.
Timing: 10:30 am to 21:00
Muttukadu Boat House: Situated on the edge of backwaters, this place has facilities for boating and wind-surfing. A windsurfing regatta is organized in Muttukadu, in February every year. Competitions in windsurfing and other water sports are also held. Training and demonstration programmes are held for youth.
Rippon Building: Another pride of Chennai city, this building was named after Governor Lord Rippon, the father of Self-Government in India. The Chennai Corporation and its council are functioning in this building. Now the Mayor of Chennai Corporation is elected directly by the people. Opp. to Park Rly. station. Chennai - 600 003.
Time: 10:00 to 18:00
Holiday: Saturday and Sunday
Snake Park: It is at Sardar Vallabbai Patel Road. There are more than 40 species of common snakes of India here. The crocodiles, chameleons, monitor lizards and tortoises can also be seen in their natural setting.
Visit: Wednesday to Monday from 08:30 to 17:30.
Theosophical Society: It was founded by Madame H.P. Blavatsky and Col. H.S. Olcott of U.S.A. to study religion & philosophy. In 1892 the society moved to Chennai and was set amidst a vast expanse of woods on the estuary of Adyar. Above all, the largest Banyan tree several a hundred years old is found on this campus. It spreads its branches and roots covering a space over 40,000 sq.ft. giving a serene ambience. Adyar, Chennai - 600 020.
Entry free. Sunday Holiday.
Timings: 08:30 to 10:00 and 14:00 to 17:00
ValluvarKottam: Valluvar Kottam, yet another architectural marvel was built recently in memory of poet-saint Thiruvalluvar, who is believed to have lived 2000 years ago. The saint authored a didactic book of epic proportions called Thirukkural consisting of 1330 couplets under 133 headings. The memorial is shaped like a temple car with an auditorium to accommodate upto 4000 spectators. The temple car structure is carved in granite with intricate details using the Dravidian Architectural style. Each chapter of Thirukkural is chiselled in a bas-relief. The auditorium is said to be the largest of its kind in Asia.
Entrance Fee: Adult Rs. 2/-, Children Rs. 1/-
Timings: 08:00 to 18:00
Location : Valluvar Kottam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 34.
Best Season to visit Chennai: The best time to visit this city is the winter season, i.e., November to September when the weather is pleasant.
How to get there:
Nearest Airport: The Chennai International Airport, comprising the Anna international terminal and the Kamaraj domestic terminal, is the third busiest airport in India. The airport is the second busiest cargo terminus in the country.
Nearest Railhead: The city has two main railway terminals Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore. Chennai Central station, the city's largest, provides access to trains to important cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram. The Chennai Egmore is a terminus for trains traveling within Tamilnadu state.
Road: Chennai is well connected to other parts of India by road.
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