Chennai: what to see in the capital of Tamil Nadu, India

kapaleeshwara temple chennai india
kapaleeshwara temple chennai india

What to see in Chennai, history and traditions, temples and churches to visit, a fascinating journey through history to discover the ancient Madras.

Travel Guide Chennai

In ancient times the city was known as Madras, name preserved for the historic downtown district, today is the capital of Tamil Nadu, a federal state in southern India. Chennai is the place where the British settlement has deep roots, this stands out especially in the monumental buildings as well as in the wide avenues and gardens, but history shows that the city has developed especially for the great resourcefulness of its people, who have always actively engaged in trade over the centuries.

Chennai is a vibrant city by the well-preserved traditional charm of Tamil culture, music, dance and many other art forms from southern India are widespread. The great religious heritage can be seen in old churches, and temples in the ancient temple of Mamallapuram. Chennai has grown considerably in recent decades, currently extends in all directions along the coast and the river valley. After the devastating 2004 tsunami, which hit Tamil Nadu and some settlements on the beach, many damaged areas were repaired largely.

What to see in Chennai

Santhome Church, elegant cathedral was conceived as a burial place of St. Thomas the Apostle. Built in the 16th century by the Portuguese, was transformed in basilica in 1896, its stunning stained glass depicting the story of St. Thomas and the central hall has the 14 Stations of the Cross, depicting scenes of the last days of Christ’s passion.

Dakshinachitra: this cultural center located about 28 km from Chennai, on the way to Mamallapuram, born from the Madras Craft Foundation and shows the lifestyle typical of southern India, recreating the architecture of traditional house in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka . The exhibitions, workshops of local artisans and street entertainment provide enlightening information on the rich local artistic heritage.

St George Fort: This defensive construction is named after the patron saint of England and was built in the middle of 1600. The fort was the first bastion of British power and the oldest building in British India. It was once the headquarters of the East India Company. It covers a large area and is now home to the state legislature and secretariat. Fort Museum contains exhibits assorted including those of the British Raj, including weapons, silverware, portraits and military uniforms.

George Town: from the name of the future King George V, who visited India in 1905, was long the historic and commercial center of the city. Along Broadway Popham are the beautiful Armenian Church, 1772, and Wesleyan Church, 1820.

Government Museum: this building is one of the most beautiful colonial buildings, in addition to the museum, home to the Connemara Public Library and the National Art Gallery. The collections include Hindu sculptures, evidence of natural history and archeology sections.
Guindy National Park: located within the city of Chennai, close to Raj Bhavan, this park covers hundreds of acres. There are several animal species including rare Indian antelopes, spotted deer, jackal, mongoose, kingfishers and lapwings. The vegetation includes some secular giant banyan trees. A great place to wander around the network of trails and natural lakes, away from the noise and chaos of the city for a few hours.

High Court Palace: Built in 1892, this property is one of the main landmarks of Chennai and is the second largest building in the world court, after the Courts of London. And ‘possible to organize a visit to the courtrooms and a general tour to admire the wonderful stained glass and sculptures.

Kapaleeshwara: this temple in Mylapore is a shining example of Dravidian architecture. Dedicated to Shiva, houses some beautiful sculptures including 63 Saivaite saints that adorn the courtyard.

Little Mount Church is a small cave where St. Thomas is believed to have lived when he arrived in India, also known locally as Chinnamalai. It was from here that he jumped out of a small hole to escape his assailants. The cave was entered in the Portuguese church built in 1551, containing the relics of the saint, including an old stone cross which is said to have been seized by St. Thomas on his deathbed.

Marina Beach is located 18km Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world, not suitable for swimming because of the currents are too strong. There are statues of scholars and local heroes, over all’Anna Memorial, dedicated to the former head of government Annadurai. Not far away is the relaxing beach Elliot which includes Velankanni Church, which attracts many pilgrims, and the Ashtalakshmi temple, with eight different forms of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

Parthasarathy Temple: This temple dates back to the eighth century during the period of the Pallavas. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, is the oldest building in the city, a great example of ancient architecture of the Indian temple.

St. Andrew’s Church: completed in 1821 in the classical style, has an impressive blue dome decorated with gold stars. There are excellent views from the top. Its facade resembles the St Martin in the Fields in London.

St Mary’s Church: housed inside the fortress, the church was built in 1680 with solid masonry exterior walls and very thick. Preserves some examples of art of the 17th century. Its external tombstones are the oldest graves British India.

Theosophical Society: founded in 1875, was formed to encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science, studying and reflecting on the purity of life. It contains shrines of many faiths, a peaceful garden of memory and a nearly century-old library that includes a stunning collection of rare oriental manuscripts written on palm leaves and parchment.

Valluvar Kottam: inaugurated in 1976 in memory of the poet saint Thiruvalluvar, this huge auditorium with 4000 seats contains all 1,330 verses of the epic poem of the poet, the Thirukkural, inscribed on the granite pillars surrounding.

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