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Best Places to Visit in Chennai

By Alan J Bright
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March 16, 2023
Best Places to Visit in Chennai

Introduction

Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is a bustling metropolis that boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine. Whether you're a history buff, foodie, or nature lover, there's something for everyone in Chennai. In this article, we'll take you on a journey to explore the best places to visit in Chennai. From ancient temples to serene beaches, we've got you covered. So, let's dive in!

1. Marina Beach

Marina Beach

Marina Beach is one of the most popular attractions in Chennai, stretching over 13 kilometers along the Bay of Bengal. It's the perfect place to relax and take in the scenic views, go for a walk or run, or watch the locals go about their daily routine. At sunset, the beach transforms into a colorful carnival with food vendors, street performers, and vendors selling souvenirs.

2. Kapaleeswarar Temple

Kapaleeswarar Temple

Kapaleeswarar Temple is a must-visit for anyone interested in Hindu mythology and architecture. The temple, built in the 7th century, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and features intricate carvings, towering gopurams, and colorful frescoes. The temple is a testament to the Dravidian style of architecture and is considered one of the finest examples of the genre.

3. Fort St. George

Fort St.George Museum

Fort St. George is a historic landmark in Chennai and the first English fortress in India. Built-in 1644, the fort houses several museums, including the Fort Museum and the Museum of Colonial History, which showcases the history of the British East India Company in India. The fort also houses the St. Mary's Church, the oldest Anglican church in India.

4. Government Museum

Government Museum Chennai

The Government Museum is a treasure trove of South Indian art, history, and culture. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, including bronze statues, sculptures, coins, and ancient pottery. The highlight of the museum is the Bronze Gallery, which features exquisite bronze sculptures dating back to the Chola dynasty.

5. Santhome Cathedral Basilica

Santhome Cathedral Basilica

The Santhome Cathedral Basilica is a Roman Catholic Church built-in 1523 by the Portuguese. The church is said to be built on the site where St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, was buried. The cathedral features stunning Gothic architecture and beautiful stained-glass windows.

6. Vandalur Zoo

Vandalur Zoo

Vandalur Zoo is one of the largest zoos in India and is home to many species of animals, including tigers, lions, elephants, and giraffes. The zoo also has a separate section for reptiles and birds.

7. Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 60 kilometers south of Chennai. The town is famous for its rock-cut temples, monolithic sculptures, and ancient ruins. The Shore Temple, a 7th-century temple, is one of the most iconic structures in Mahabalipuram.

8. Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park is a nature lover's paradise located in the heart of Chennai. The park is home to several species of flora and fauna, including blackbucks, spotted deer, and migratory birds. The park also features several walking trails, a children's park, and a snake park.

9. Besant Nagar Beach (Edward Elliot's Beach)

Besant Nagar Beach (Edward Elliot's Beach)

Besant Nagar Beach, also known as Elliot's Beach, is a serene and less crowded alternative to Marina Beach. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, and picnics. The beach also features several cafes and restaurants, serving up delicious seafood and South Indian cuisine.

10. Cholamandal Artists' Village

Cholamandal Artists' Village is an artists' commune located on the outskirts of Chennai. The village is home to several artists and sculptors, whocreate and showcase their work. Visitors can explore the art galleries, studios, and open-air exhibitions to witness the creativity of these talented artists.

11. Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam is a monument dedicated to the Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar. The monument features a 133-foot high temple chariot structure, which houses a statue of Thiruvalluvar. The monument also houses a large auditorium that hosts cultural events, exhibitions, and trade fairs.

12. DakshinaChitra

DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum

DakshinaChitra is a living museum that showcases the culture, art, and architecture of South India. The museum features recreated village houses, street scenes, and traditional art forms from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. Visitors can participate in workshops, watch artisans at work, and shop for handicrafts and souvenirs.

13. Birla Planetarium

Birla Planetarium (B.M. Birla Planetarium)

The Birla Planetarium is a popular attraction in Chennai, dedicated to astronomy and space science. The planetarium features a digital projection system that simulates the night sky and offers a fascinating insight into the universe. The planetarium also houses a science museum and a solar observatory.

14. Pulicat Lake

Pulicat Lake

Pulicat Lake is a tranquil getaway located 50 kilometers north of Chennai. The lake is the second-largest brackish water lake in India and is home to several migratory birds, including flamingos, pelicans, and herons. Visitors can take a boat ride, watch the birds, and enjoy the serene beauty of the lake.

15. VGP Universal Kingdom

VGP Universal Kingdom

VGP Universal Kingdom is an amusement park and beach resort located on the outskirts of Chennai. The park features several rides, attractions, and entertainment options for children and adults. The beach resort offers comfortable accommodation, swimming pools, and beach access.

16. Crocodile Bank

Crocodile Bank (The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology)

The Crocodile Bank is a reptile zoo located 40 kilometers south of Chennai. The park houses several species of crocodiles, alligators, and snakes. Visitors can watch feeding sessions, take guided tours, and learn about the conservation efforts to protect these fascinating creatures.

17. Muttukadu Boat House

Muttukadu Boat House

Located on the East Coast Road in Chennai, Muttukadu Boat House is a popular tourist destination for those looking for a peaceful getaway from the city. The boat house is situated near the backwaters of Bay of Bengal and offers a variety of activities for visitors to indulge in. One of the main attractions of Muttukadu Boat House is the boat ride on the backwaters.

18. Phoenix Marketcity

Phoenix Marketcity

Phoenix Marketcity is one of the largest shopping malls in Chennai, situated in Velachery. The mall boasts a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. With over 600 retail stores, visitors can shop for everything from high-end fashion to home decor. The mall also has a cinema complex, which screens the latest Hollywood and Bollywood movies.

19. Express Avenue Mall

Express Avenue Mall

Express Avenue Mall is a premium shopping mall located in Royapettah, Chennai. The mall is known for its luxurious ambience and high-end retail stores. With over 200 stores, Express Avenue Mall is a paradise for luxury shoppers, with brands like Gucci, Armani, and Louis Vuitton, among others. The mall also has a cinema complex with multiple screens, which screens the latest movies.

Conclusion

Chennai offers a diverse range of attractions for travelers, from ancient temples to serene beaches, and from museums to amusement parks. This vibrant city is a cultural hub of South India and has something for everyone. Whether you're a history buff, foodie, or nature lover, Chennai is a must-visit destination that will leave you spellbound.

FAQs

1. What is the best time to visit Chennai?

The best time to visit Chennai is from November to February, when the weather is pleasant and cool.

2. Is Chennai a safe place for tourists?

Yes, Chennai is a safe place for tourists. However, like any other city, it's advisable to take basic precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

3. What is the local cuisine of Chennai?

The local cuisine of Chennai is a mix of South Indian and Tamil Nadu cuisine, with a focus on rice, lentils, and seafood. Some of the must-try dishes include dosa, idli, sambar, and seafood curries.

4. Are there any beaches near Chennai that are less crowded than Marina Beach?

Yes, Besant Nagar Beach and Covelong Beach are two beaches near Chennai that are less crowded than Marina Beach.

5. Can I take photographs inside the museums and temples in Chennai?

It depends on the specific rules and regulations of the place you're visiting. However, in general, photography is allowed in most museums and temples.

6. What is the entry fee for Fort St. George?

The entry fee for Fort St. George is Rs. 5 for Indian nationals and Rs. 100 for foreign nationals.

7. Can we touch the crocodiles at the Crocodile Bank?

No, touching the crocodiles is not allowed. However, you can get a close view of these reptiles under the guidance of a trained guide.

8. Is photography allowed inside the Government Museum?

Yes, photography is allowed inside the Government Museum. However, you need to pay an additional fee for carrying a camera.

9. How far is Mahabalipuram from Chennai?

Mahabalipuram is approximately 60 kilometers from Chennai and can be reached by road in about 2 hours.

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Trip plan idea!

5-day trip plan to visit all the places mentioned in the above article on the places to visit in Chennai

Day 1

  • Start your day by visiting the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore.
  • Next, head to the Government Museum to learn more about Chennai's rich history and culture.
  • In the evening, visit Marina Beach and enjoy the stunning sunset.

Day 2

  • Begin your day by exploring Fort St. George, the first English fortress in India.
  • Next, visit the nearby St. Mary's Church, the oldest Anglican church in India.
  • In the afternoon, head to the Mahabalipuram UNESCO World Heritage Site to see ancient stone carvings and monuments.

Day 3

  • Start your day by visiting the beautiful and peaceful Kanchipuram town, which is known for its silk sarees and ancient temples.
  • Next, head to the Varadharaja Perumal Temple and Ekambareshwar Temple to see the stunning architecture and sculptures.
  • In the evening, return to Chennai and enjoy a delicious South Indian meal at a local restaurant.

Day 4

  • Begin your day by visiting the famous San Thome Church, which is believed to house the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle.
  • Next, visit the Birla Planetarium to explore the wonders of the universe.
  • In the evening, head to Elliot's Beach and enjoy the ocean breeze.

Day 5

  • Start your day by visiting the Guindy National Park to see the diverse wildlife and lush greenery.
  • Next, head to the Valluvar Kottam, a monument dedicated to the famous Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar.
  • In the evening, head to the famous Phoenix Market City mall for some shopping and entertainment.

Of course, this itinerary can be customized based on your preferences and time available. Don't forget to try the delicious South Indian cuisine and soak in the vibrant culture of Chennai!

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