The city of Chennai is still often called by many by its earlier name ‘Madras’. It is the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu and one of the major cosmopolitan cities in India. While it is famous for the South Indian movie industry called ‘Kollywood’, it also maintains a reputation of being a major industrial centre for automobiles, Information technology and healthcare.
Chennai has often been addressed as the ‘Detroit of India’ due to the vast manufacturing of automobiles that take place here. Apart from automobiles, the city has abundant Business Process Outsourcing and information technology companies.
A complete contrast to the technological scene in Chennai, one will often surprisingly find the cities orientation towards art and culture. The famous dance art form called ‘Bharat Natyam’ is famous across the country and several artists and musicians have contributed significantly to the south Indian music industry. The famous Carnatic music and the Chennai Music festival attracts many visitors from across the country and globe. Even the local theatres host plays of different genre. The classical dance and music forms have several renowned artists attached to them whose performances are organized around the world.
The famous South Indian food is a must mention. From the Chettinad cuisine to the simple everyday ‘Dosas’ and ‘Idlis’, Chennai will never disappoint a foody. However, the food is enjoyed mostly by those who have a high tolerance for spices. Hence, while ordering in a Chennai restaurant, one must specify the level of spices one can take.
What to See
The city of Chennai is home to several beautiful buildings and a visitor can explore some amazing architectural sights. Chennai houses over 2000 heritage buildings including several educational institutions, railway station, Churches and government institutions. There are several famous temples as well which are known for their rich architecture. The city’s architecture is a blend of Dravidian as well as the British Colonial style of construction.
One of the most famous Hindu temples known across the country is the ‘Kapaleeshwarar Temple’. It is located in the Mylapore area of Chennai and is basically a temple dedicated to the Hindu God – Shiva. The temple’s construction is based on the Dravidian style of architecture and the premises is huge with several halls, a large water tank and numerous shrines.
Santhome Cathedral was named after the saint Thomas, who was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. It is believed that he was an Egyptian merchant who came to India in the state of Kerala. He lived in Kochi and built many churches there. He contributed significantly to the spread of Christianity in India. Today, the St. Thomas church is an important pilgrimage destination for many Christians who visit here from all over the world seeking blessings of this saint.The famous Marina beach is nearby and there is the Santhome beach as well which is often crowded by locals. The architecture of the cathedral is the neo-gothic style. The interiors of the church are as beautiful as its exteriors. There are some wonderful murals painted on the walls and paintings depicting the life story of St. Thomas.
Best Time to visit
The best time to visit Chennai is during the winter months of India from November to February. March onwards, the temperatures rise and it gets very hot. Summer months between April to June are not advisable at all to visit Chennai.