Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu and the Gateway to South India, lies along the coast of Bay of Bengal. A quaint fusion of ancient, imperial and modern, Chennai, earlier known as Madras, is the 4th largest city in India with a population of 6 million. Chennai was founded in July 1639, by the British, as one of the first cities of Britain’s Empire in India. With an area of 174 sq km, it is the headquarters of Chennai District.
The riches of the Coromandel Coast, southern coast of India, attracted the colonial powers like Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, the French and the Danes. In their struggle for superiority, Britain was pushed south of the Coromandel Coast and they settled down and built a fort, on three miles long and a mile wide beach protected on two sides by rivers and on the third by the roaring sea. They christened it Fort St George in April, 1640 and the conquest of India by Britain began from this tiny settlement. As the fortunes of Britain changed, the settlement grew and took within its limits many ancient towns and port of the Coromandel and came to be known as Madras – the present day Chennai.
Any discovery of Chennai begins with Fort St George; within the fort are a museum, Clive House and the St Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Asia. One of the longest beaches in the world, the
Marina Beach (Kamarajar Salai), stretches 5 km from the southeastern corner of George Town to San Thome Basilica. The northern part of Chennai, Mylapore, houses the Kapilashvara Temple, San Thome Basilica and the St Thomas Mount with a Portuguese Church. Silk sarees and cotton fabrics are traded along the famous Textile Street. One of India’s famous newspapers ‘The Hindu’ is located on the Mount Road (Anna Salai). Many ancient buildings and cathedrals created by the British in the Indo-Saracenic style can be seen at Chennai.
On the outskirts of the city are the Adyar River Estuary, the Theosophical Society, Elliot’s Beach, and the Crocodile Bank. Motion picture is a roaring industry in Chennai and the MGR Film City gives a glimpse of the tinsel world.
Chennai is well-connected by air to the rest of the country and the world and the
Chennai International Airport is located at Tirusulam, 7km south of the city. Chennai is the headquarters of Southern Railway and there are two major railway stations. Chennai Central Railway Station links North and West India, while the Egmore Railway Station connects South India. There are also separate stations for local trains. State owned and private transports are available for domestic and interstate transportation and the state owned buses operate from Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) at Koyambedu.
Best time to visit is from September to February.