A cultural landmark comprising prosperous historic monuments, iconic ancient temples and traditions, rich art and craft centres and scenic sun kissed sandy beaches, Chennai is a magnificent city nesting vibrant hues of emotions.
Whilst majority Indians have a very stereotypical opinion about Chennai being conservative and backward like very much projected in the Bollywood hit movie“Chennai Express”, Chennai is in fact traditional yet modern. Nikita Chawla gives 20 reasons you should visit Chennai at least once in your lifetime!
- Namma Makkal (Our People)
When in Chennai, you’d definitely find Chennaites very welcoming! Our warmth and concern is totally going to woo you. Apart from, off course Tamils, Chennai is also a home to Jains, Punjabi’s, Sindhi’s, Gujarati’s, you’ll find them all and yes, conversing in Tamil! It’s delightful to see Iyer aunty sharing her paniyarams for parathas anddosasfor dhaibhallas with Bhalla aunty.
We do understand Hindi and we do converse in Hindi as well. In case we do not, we’re anyway going to lend a helping hand. Remember the December 2015 floods that hit Chennai? Every Chennaikar was an unsung hero; self-sufficient to help the other.
Pstt: The Sardar conversing in Tamil in the movie Chennai Express is a fact! You’ll be amused to find a North-Indian Chennai-wasi converse in Tamil.
2. Culture & Leisure
A landmark of the city built during British Raj, Fort St. George, is an administrative complex of Government of Tamil Nadu.Santhome Cathedral Bascilica popularly called Santhome Church is powerful church that houses the mortal remains of St.Thomas. Mamallapuram famously called Mahabalipurm is famous tourist attraction spot that is rich in heritage that possess the remains of the Pallava Dynasty dating to 7th and 8th centuries. The sandy beach, the Shore temple, the Five Rathas, street food and shopping bazaar attract both Indian and international tourists.The Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the oldest, powerful and sacred shrines of Lord Shiva in Chennai. Comprising a tank and a majestic gopuram, the temple demonstrates the Dravidian style of architecture.
One of the largest reptile zoos in the world, the Crocodile Bank is a home to many crocodiles, turtles, snakes and lizards. Located on the way to Mahabalipuram, the Croc Bank offers various activities such as feeding reptiles, safaris et al. An exotic arts village,Dakshinachitra has preserved the rich art and cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu and the other three states of South India. The artisans, silk weavers and other craftsmen demonstrate their skills that surely woos the visitors. A must visit place for someone who loves arts and literature. Also visit Kalakshetra Foundation which is a haven for every art lover. Do include Choki Dhani (on route to Kanchipuram), Theosophical Society and Guindy National Park in your must-visit list!
One and only superstar RajiniKanth, music maestro Ilaya Raja, unstoppable Vishwaroop Kamal Hassan, first lady superstar Sridevi, Dreamgirl Hema Malini, Bollywood’s UmraoJaan Rekha, world music icon A. R. Rahman, chess sensation grandmaster Vishwanath Anand, Google man Sundar Pichai (CEO of GoogleInc),revolutionary icon in health care Prathap C. Reddy (Chairman, Apollo Hospitals), legendary filmmaker Manirathnam, multi-talented Padma Lakshmi (Model, Author, Chef, Reality Television Star & Film Actress), cricket bowling sensation Ravichandran Ashwin, squash stars Dipika Pallikal & Joshna Chinappa amongst various other famous personalities in Chennai!
Oh yes! Have to mention this one:
Ridiculously gorgeous, the Queen actor and model Lisa Haydon was born in namma Chennai! *Ok enough said!*
The East Coast Road or ECR is a famous tourist attraction. ECR has many resorts, water activities and is a preferred weekend getaway for locals. Long drives and stays in scenic landscapes of ECR are very eye pleasing and rejuvenating.
The ECR stretch has wide water sport activities such as boating, water surfing water scooters, speed boats, backwaters to suit the taste of the visitors.
5. The Beaches
Chennaites take pride in mentioning that we have the second longest beach in the world – the Marina Beach. While majority fellow Indians prefer the glamorous beaches of Goa, the Marina beach and the extended Coromandel beaches, offer various water activities. The coasts are vibrant and mesmerizing. Also, the Elliot’s Beach fondly called Bessy Beach is another popular beach in the city. The beach is also famous for Velankanni Church and AshtaLakhmi Temple.
Pstt: binge on corn, sundal (channa), peanuts, garam bhajjis and fried vanjaram(fish)
6. Sari, shopping et al
All of us know that Chennai is famous for its saris especially the 9 yard saris. T-Nagar is Chennai’s ultimate shopping destination. You could visit Kumaran Silks, Nalli, Pothys, Sundari Silks if you wish to purchase saris.Every smart shoppers delight, Sowcarpetand its adjoining neighbourhood George Town has a bustling bazaar having potpourri of vendors, merchants and artisans. It’s also a hub for wholesale trade in clothes, electrical accessories and gadgets, home needs, fruits, stationary, steel, etc at economical prices. If you are someone who prefers high street shopping, head to Khader Nawaz Khan Road in Nungambakkam, Shanti Colony in Anna Nagarand Adyar for all the sophisticated brands.
Mumbai might be the jewellery capital but Chennai sure inspires many jewellers when it comes to traditional, temple and antique jewellery. Chennai considers buying muhurtham jewellery from jewellers like GRT, Nathella, VBJ and Khazana to be auspicious. Apart from investing in FDs and KVPs, Chennaites prefer investing on gold. Which means happy wives, happy homes! *bling*
8. Wedding Scenes
Weddings are absolute delight to watch. Tamil weddings have a lot of colour, vigour, laughter and happiness. Each function from oonjal to muhurtham, has its own beautiful significance. You’d be surprised to know that with times we have also included sangeet, mehendi and haldi as a part of our various ceremonies. Not just to have an extended wedding week or to replicate a north Indian wedding as a theme but because we love the significance behind it. We undoubtedly serve our traditional sappadu on a leaf during the wedding.
Pstt: Even Chennai girls have moved to lehangas, cholis and anarkalis when it comes to wedding wear. Infact, we have Bollywood nights as a theme during one of the wedding ceremonies
9. Bachelorette Destination
It’s almost a ritual for every bride to be to plan a unique yet memorable bachelorette. While some choose to party at the nearest suburbs, some choose star hotels and some prefer destination getaways. Ladies! You can rush with your gang of girls to Chennai for an ultimate retreat. Chennai has its lavish East Coast Road which is a home to many star hotels and resorts. Imagine waking up watching the endless sea, sun kissed sands and regal spread of breakfast in your sea-facing cottage room. Beach parties, barbeque party or just a classic dinner date with your ladies. For some adventure, you could even take help for some water sport activity near your resort. This surely does sound fun!
Psst: GRT Temple Bay, Taj Fishermans Cove, VGP Golden Beach Resort, MGM Beach Resort
10. Fashion Scenes
Undoubtedly Delhi and Mumbai are Paris and Milan of India. Chennai is fast catching up to deliver seasonal trends. There are many budding costume designers awaiting for the fashion industry to tap talent here. Vivek Karunakaran, Chaitanya Rao, Sidney Sladen, Rehane, Erum Ali and various other prominent designers are consistently raising the fashion notch of Chennai fashion.
Pstt: Chennai too has its own fashion week.
11. Get Set Go!
A thing that namma Chennai is totally obsessed about is love for cars. From Rolls Royce to Ferrari, you would definitely spot one in the roads of Khadar Nawaz Khan Road and RadhakrishnaSalai. *We’ve got SWAG bro!*
Pstt: We love going on love drives, remember? Investing on extravagant cars makes sense.
12. Camera. Movie!
Apart from nammaouru movies, our multiplexes also premier Hindi and English movies, delivering latest audio visual technology such as Dollby Atmos, ticket rates not exceeding Rs.120. Whether it’s our Thaliva or SRK film, unlike other metros, we Jabra fans watch it for nothing more than Rs.120. So cool right?
Also, our The TN Government has made it mandatory for all leading multiplexes to have a dedicated row of seats worth Rs.10 to be available.
Pstt: Watch a movie at Sathyam, Escape or Palazzo (SPI Cinemas). It’s every movie buffs ultimate movie destination. Their ambience is eye pleasing and the canteen has a lavish spread to snack upon. Oh yes! Don’t forget to binge upon their butter popcorn. It’s mind blowing!
13. Party All Night?
We love socializing. We love attending and socialising at concerts, plays, short films festivals. Oh yes! We do attend concerts of A. R. Rahman, Shreya Goshal, BennyDayal among others. We too listen to Arijit Singh’s hits on loop! We’re definitely not boring!
Chennai is known to be an IT and automobile hub of the country sometimes being refereed as the Detroit of India. Chennai provides massive employment opportunities in these fields. Ashok Leyland, Indian Oil, Amazon, Mahindra City, Infosys, Accenture, TCS, Cognizant and various other corporate giants have their presence in Chennai.
TASMAC shops are exclusively TN Government owned liquor shops. These shops solely trade on liquor across the state. TASMAC has lately come up with Elite TASMAC shops that are selected outlets for imported liquor.
*Ganpat! Chaldaru la*
16. Amma Canteens
Our Chief Minister Ms. J. Jayalalithaa came up with is brilliant idea to initiate a food subsidized program called Amma Canteens. These outlets provide food starting from Re.1 only. This has been a huge hit among the masses. Chennai never sleeps hungry. Many Indian states and other countries have applauded this idea and are wanting to replicate the same. *collar up*
Food is something one should definitely experiment in any city one visits. Namma Chennai has more than idly and dosa to offer. You could even try medu-vada, bisebelabath, paniyaram, rava khichdi, kurma paratha, payasam apart from our famed idly-dosa. Head to Woodlands, Palmgrove, Ashoka, Murugan Idly, BR Mathsya or Sarvana Bhavan to experiment on variety of south-Indian dishes.
While doing Chennai darshan, don’t forget to try our wholesome yet delicious south Indian sapaddu (thali). Also, don’t miss the soodu filter coffee! Check out The Madras Kafé, ID at Sathyam Cinemas, Ratna Cafe their coffee is stimulating.
For chaat cravers, visit Shree Mithai and Gangotree. They serve the finestchaat and mithai in Chennai. You could also visit, Ajnabi at Egmore for their mind-blowingbhelpuri, dhaipapadi and dhaibhalla. Try garam samosas at Agarwal Sweet House and badam milk at KakadaRamprasd at Sowcarpet.
Non-vegetarian lovers, you could feast at Karakudi, Amravati, Copper Chimney, Bombay Brasserie, Anjapar, Paramount and Buhari.
Pstt: All of them serve yummy chicken biryani! *slurp*
PsttPstt: Chennai also has a sweet tooth for Aavin Palkova which is a South Indian khoa delicacy and Mysurpa from Sri Krishna Sweets
18. Night Life
Eye pleasing décor, great ambience, fabulous music, lively crowd and exceptional drinks, what else can one ask for? Chennai may not have the best night life as Mumbai and Delhi but the city unwinds at Zara – The Tapas Bar, 10 Downing Street,
Plan B, Illusions – The Madras Pub, Pasha – ThePark, Blend –The Taj Club House, The Flying Elephant – Park Hyatt amongst others.
Chennai definitely wakes up with chants from various Holy Scriptures. Magnificent gopurams, colourful rangolis, fragrance of fresh mallipoo, the sacred aroma of the sambrani and sandalwood, you will experience divinity and serenity while the city is still asleep. It’s incredible to note that every lane, street or a road has either a temple, church or a mosque. When it comes to festivals, you will find people from all religions united in celebrations. Playing with colours in Holi & splurging on sweets in Diwali to feasting on biryani on Eid and celebrating the Christmas cheer, you’ll definitely find Chennaites celebrating them all in good spirits and warmth – a feeling synonymous to home away from home.
We have some of the best educational universities having massive campuses, industry experts and excellent teachers such as Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Anna University, SRM University, University of Madras, Sri Ramachandra University amongst various others.
Consider studying in Chennai?
Visit Chennai once! You’ll find reasons to come back!
Vanakkam and shubhyaatra!
P.S. Don’t forget your DSLRs. You’d definitely need them while capturing memories at Singara Chennai
Singara means Charming
Mallipoo means Jasmine flowers
Vanakkam means Welcome
Muhurtham means Wedding
Sapaddu means food
Soodu means hot
As Chennai is hot most of the year, we suggest:
- To carry a lot of cotton linen. Also, don’t forget to carry a salwar suit in case you wish to visit a temple.
- Include a BB cream (does the work of a moisturiser and sunscreen)
- While traveling, apply minimum make-up, carry an umbrella, deodorant and shades
- Keep wet wipes handy and keep yourself well hydrated.
- While visiting Chennai don’t forget to buy souvenirs. Take home our famous thokku pickles, murukkus, saris, mysurpa&palkovas, other sweets and savouries.
- Apparently, while commuting, you’d definitely have language barrier. Suggest you to book cabs or autos using mobile apps such as Ola, Uber or Meru. This saves you money and you wouldn’t go through the bargaining process.
Hill stations near Chennai: Yelagiri, Yercaud, Ooty, Coonoor, Kodaikanal
Beach getaway: From Chennai, you could road trip to Pondicherry or plan a cruise to the Andaman!