Located by the scenic Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai has long since established itself as the industrial and financial capital of South India. It was a major point of interest during the colonial times, and has maintained it stature in the Indian economy ever since. A metropolitan city, Chennai has a myriad of recreational as well as informational places of interest to offer.
1. Marina Beach
The longest beach in the country and the second longest in the world, the Marina Beach attracts over 30,000 visitors each. A walk through this sandy beach gives one a display of the different people and activities that are part of life in Chennai. However, it is most highly recommended during the hours of sunrise and sunset, when fewer people are present and the beach looks most picturesque.
2. Kapaleeswarar Temple
This temple is dedicated to Shiva and houses his lingam, amongst many intricate idols of his other symbols, such as various forms of Parvati. Built in the classic Dravidian style that is common in South India, the majestic structure stands at 120 feet and towers over the surrounding streets. This temple has multiple legends attached to it, including those from the great epic Ramayana.
Interestingly, historians have found evidence that the original temple, built in the 7th century, was located on the beach itself, and the current temple was rebuilt in the 16th century after the Portuguese invasion took a heavy toll on the temple.
3. Fort St. George
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The East India Company had started their trade and exploration of India’s wealth from Chennai itself. When faced by threat from other European powers, they agreed to build a Fort to safeguard themselves. Thus came to be the Fort St. George or White Town. Built in 1644, and located close to the beach, the Fort soon became a site for the power struggle between the English and the French. Many years later, the Fort would be used to hold discussions upon the upcoming freedom of India from the British Powers. Today the Fort has been honoured as the seat of the Legislative Assembly. Its biggest attraction is the museum inside it, which houses both British and European artefacts, as well as those of Indian significance, such as the first flag ever to be flown.
4. St. Thomas Mount
St. Thomas, one of Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles, had travelled to what is now South India to preach Christianity, and stayed here for a few years until he was martyred on St. Thomas Mount. His remains are buried under the Santhome Basilica. St. Thomas Mount is a scenic location and a site of Holy reverence for Indian Christians, who flock here each year.
5. Parthasarathy Temple
Built in the 8th century, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, and has been added upon greatly by consequent dynasties. The temple is said to carry a powerful message because not only does it have separate chambers for five of Vishnus ten incarnations but it is a dedication to the battle of Kurukshetra, when Krishna appeared in the humble form of a charioteer and aided Arjun during battle but narrating the Bhagvada Gita. This temple is thus a mark of humility and wisdom presented by the very Gods we worship.
6. Edward Elliot’s Beach
Located at one end of the Marina Beach in Besant Nagar, the Edward Elliot’s Beach is a popular tourist retreat, with many local eateries and other recreational facilities. Elliot’s Beach mainly gains its popularity because it is the cleanest and most well-maintained beach in Chennai, offering a long, tranquil walks down its length.
7. Government Museum
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Started in 1851, the Government Museum in Chennai is the second oldest museum in India. It includes a museum that is famous for its archaeological and numismatic artefacts. Other than this, there is the National Art Gallery, the Connemara Public Library, which has the distinction of being one of the four libraries in India to receive a copy of every manuscript published, the Museum Theatre and a children’s museum.
Chennai has proven itself to be more than just a city caught in the throes of a hectic life. Local culture dictates that one take out time for oneself and one’s loved ones and thus there are recreational facilities to suit everyone’s needs.