Top 15 Historical Places in Chennai

Chennai is not only the 4th largest Indian city, but it is the 36th metropolitan city in the world and one of the must-visit places in Tamil Nadu. The rich heritage and tradition of the city are the reasons for it being referred to as one of the cultural capitals of India. If you are planning a visit to Chennai, make sure that you do not miss the following –

1. Kanchipuram

Location: 72 km from Chennai The Capital of Tamilnadu, Kanchi Town.

Kanchipuram or Kanchi, located on the Palar River is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Chennai and most popular weekend getaways from Chennai. It is one of the oldest cities of India which dates back to the rich history. It is well known for its grand architecture of the monuments and silk sarees which are woven manually. The unique style of South Indian architecture will surely attract you. The temples like Kamakshi Amman Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kailasanathar Temple, Karchapeshwarar Temple, Ekambaranatha Temple are the must visit places here. One can experience a devotional atmosphere with scenic surroundings here.

2. Mahabalipuram

Location:52 km from Chennai The Capital of Tamilnadu, Kanchipuram district

Mahabalipuram!! It is the most visited getaway and a major historical/heritage site in Chennai. This town has a rich history during Pallava’s century and served as a bustling seaport. This place has been named after the demon king Mahabali who was renowned for his generosity. One can capture the picturesque scenic surroundings of its historical monuments, sculptures, culture, and tradition. The striking feature is the beautiful Shore Temple which towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. All the sculptures here are monolithic – giant structures carved from single rocks. The main attractions here are Thirukadalmallai temple, the famous Arjuna’s Penance and the Krishna Mandapa adorned with massive rocks, Mahabalipuram Beach, Tiger Cave and Crocodile Bank.

3. Sri Parthasarathy temple

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Location:  6.5 km from Chennai city, Narayana Krishnaraja Puram, Triplicane.

The Parthasarathy Temple of Chennai is one of the ancient temples in Chennai. The coloured gopuram and the Dravidian style of architecture are one of the exquisite features. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is in a standing posture along with Rukmini, Balaraman, Satyaki, Anirudha, and Pradyumna. The other shrines are dedicated to various incarnations of Lord Vishnu and Lord Ranganathar who is in a lean-back posture with a separate sanctum for his consort Vedavalli. The speciality of this place is that Krishna Lord rides the chariot with Arjuna from here so this place is best to visit during the chariot festivals and float festivals like Bhrammotsavam, Vaikuntha Ekadasi (Margazhi). A good place for pilgrim devotees to connect spiritually. Poabs Organic estate where one can have the scenic view of the valley, Achankovli river and Srivallabha temple are the major attractions here.

4. KAPALEESWARAR TEMPLE

Location: 8.3 km from Chennai, Kutchery Road of Mylapore in South Chennai

One among the most visited temples in Chennai which is a fine example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. This temple houses the shrines of Kapaleeswar (Shiva) and Karpagambal (Parvati) with principal deity in the form of Lingam. The gopuram of the temple is intricately carved and is about 37 meters high. The main entrance of the temple is towards the east and the entrance is adorned with intricate carvings. There is also an old Punnai tree in the courtyard which is considered to be the oldest of its kind in the city of Chennai. There are few inscriptions of the 11th century found on these walls. The area has many temples in the vicinity. The water reservoir gives panoramic view when filled with water with its fascinating fauna attracting the visitors throughout the year. 

5. VELANKANNI SHRINE

Location: 313.6 km from Chennai, Velankanni, Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu

Wonderful and prominent attraction!! Velankanni Church, one of the religious sites, is situated on the Bay of Bengal coast. The holy shrine was constructed in the memory of the Lady of Health, also known as the Madonna of Velankanni. She was renowned among the people for possessing miraculous powers. The pristine white structure of the church stands to overlook the Bay of Bengal and is visited by thousands of solace-seekers each day. One can attend the mass conducted in this holy place in both Tamil and English. The best season or months to visit places in Velankanni are January, February, March, October, November, December. Tourist attractions in Velankanni, which are great places to visit, are Basilica Of Our Lady Of Good Health, Shrine Museum, Nagapattinam, Sikkal, Velankanni Church.

6. Adi Kesava Perumal Temple

Location:7.8 km from Chennai city, Paneerselvam Nagar, Mylapore

Aadhi(old) Kesava Perumal Temple is the birthplace of Peyalvar (one of Vishnu saints of Nalayira Divyaprabantham). Here Perumal is in standing posture and Goddess Mayuravalli Thayar is in a separate sanctum. There is a separate Sanctum for Sri Andal. Peyalvar was found on a lily flower in the pond of the temple. One can find here very narrow streets since it is the oldest place. The most auspicious day to visit this temple is Friday where the temple is crowded with the devotees. The temple is disciplined and well maintained and many tourists visit to feel the spiritual essence of Kesava Perumal. Do visit this great Temple whenever you are in Chennai.


7. Valluvar Kottam

Location: 7.5 km from Chennai, Kodambakkam area of Chennai.

This great landmark monument is dedicated to the famous Poet Thiruvalluvar, the creator of Thirukkural. This amazing monument was built in the year 70’s to honour the great classical Tamil poet and saint Tiruvalluvar who wrote the Tirukkural. One can have the view of an idol Thiruvalluvar at the top of the ancient vehicle called “thaer” which is made of fully stone at 60 feet height. A stone chariot is the main attraction at this place. One cannot stop admiring the splendid architecture and I’m sure that you will experience the devotional vibrations in and around the premises of the temple. A very well maintained monument inside the city which attracts tourists.

8. St. Thomas Mount Church

Location:5 km from Chennai Airport, Guindy, Tamilnadu.

St. Thomas Mount church is one of the oldest and famous churches in Chennai which is dedicated to “Our Lady of Expectation” Mother Mary. The scenic beauty of the hillock and the historical things will surely attract you. One can see the architecture of the old chapel which is intricate, and all of the historical things. It is a very good place for evening visit where travellers can experience a good breeze. It’s one of the unique places of worship, adorning relics of 124 saints, at the altar of St Thomas crafted cross. It also houses unique paintings of the mother of Expectations. A must visit place along with Shrine at Little Mount where St Thomas spent time hiding at Cave and San Thom Basilica, a National monument for St Thomas Tomb.

9. Santhome Basilica Church

Location: Mylapore in South Chennai

San Thome Cathedral is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and a popular religious centre for the Christian community. The Neo-Gothic style of architecture, which dates back to the 19th century will surely attract you. It is about 155 feet high with a nave 112 feet long and 33 feet wide and considered as the national shrine of India. The central hall has 14 wooden plaques with intricate carvings depicting the last days of Jesus Christ. The Museum cum Theatre and the Tomb Chapel are the other attractions of Santhome Cathedral. The Tomb Chapel lies on the right side of the cathedral and it has a separate access for visitors. The Museum in the cathedral exhibits artefacts related to St. Thomas and the Basilica.

10. Rippon Building

Location: 0.5 km from Chennai Railway station, Kannappar Thidal, Poongavanapuram, Chennai

Rippon Building is the oldest landmark monument with its rich grandeur. This magnificent monument is a complete white structure and took four years to complete. This landmark looks like a white palace with a splendid garden which makes it very beautiful to watch. This is named after Lord Ripon who was the Governor General Of East India Company. The Clock tower at this place is a major attraction here. Do visit this white beauty if you are in Chennai.

11. Karl Schmidt Memorial

Location:14.3 km from Kamarajar Promenade, Chennai.

This historical landmark is the only heritage structure on Elliot’s Beach. It is constructed to recognize the effort of a Danish sailor K A J Schmidt who drowned while saving an English girl from the sea. This structure was built using bricks with uneven base and the sea water caused damage to the memorial over the years. One can also catch up with your buddies on a Sunday evening near Elliot’s beach. When you step out of the beach you can find almost every type of restaurants and coffee shops to grab a bite to eat. If you are going to visit Chennai make sure you catch a glimpse of besant Nagar beach and Karl Memorial.

12. Chola Mandal artist village

Location:22.5 km via Anna Salai, Chennai.

Cholamandal Village is a serene set-up, displaying works of upcoming and established artists, painters and sculptors from South India to showcase their creations to the visiting guests. It has two galleries, an open-air theatre, a bookstore and a craft shop. It is a kind of open-air museum with many examples of Indian architecture and village houses. Travellers who are delighted by art and craft must visit this destination. This will be an ideal outing with a serene ambience.  Time worth spending and beautiful experience.

13. Connemara Public Library

Location:3.3 km via Pantheon Road, Chennai.

This is the oldest library in India which was previously a part of Madras Museum. It is worth to note that this library was originally operated by bringing the surplus books from Haileybury and Imperial Service College Library in England. The library stacks a wide range of books, magazines, journals, e-books and Periodical journals, newspapers of India. This library also acts as a Depository Library for United Nations. The new building for this library was built to this library in the year 1973. The new building has many halls for Periodical sections, reference, Video Conferencing, Braille Library and an IAS study centre.

14. Chennai Egmore station

Chennai Egmore Railway station is landmark monument in Chennai which was originally constructed as a Fort. The station was opened in the year 1908. It is a very famous and well-known monument since it is commonly used to represent Chennai in every media publications and in movies.

15. Napier Bridge

Napier Bridge is one the Chennai’s oldest bridge which connects Fort St. George and Marina Beach over Coovum River in Beach road. It is used to represent Chennai in media and is the first structure which uses RCC (reinforced cement concrete). It has about 464 special bulbs and light fixtures, all energy efficient, installed along the arches, pedestrian pathways, road surface and underneath the bridge. At night, it looks lovely, giving the iconic structure an illusion of floating on the waters. The lighting has been utilized to highlight the bridge’s unique structure. The swathes of colour that wash over the bridge make for a pretty sight giving the bridge a three-dimensional effect.

Chennai’s top attraction is the warmth of the people. You will find perfect harmony among the people of Chennai, who do not take into account the forced differences in terms of religion, race and colour. So do visit the above historical places during your trip to this city.

 Contributor: M. Pravalika

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