This coastal city has embedded in itself every aspect of its rich culture, be it the cuisine, music and dance, textiles or architecture. There is a long list of some of the very famous as well as unknown but beautiful religious sites, galleries, museums, gardens, historic monuments, beaches that are known for appealing people with their simplistic charms. If you have been long planning for a vacation in Chennai then this is the time when you should explore all the exotic destination.
1. Marina Beach
Location: Coromandel coast, Chennai.
Marina!!It is the longest urban beach in India and second longest in the world which is spread over a stretch of 13 kilometres. It is a popular picnic spot attracting the tourist with its long stretch of silver sands and blue sea. One can enjoy a clear view of sunrise and sunset.
The side drive of the beach is fringed by palms and casuarinas which provide shade. One can also enjoy the activities like wind surfing, fishing, sunbathing, kite flying and beach volley ball. The panoramic views of the city will give an amazing experience. Marina Beach also has an Aquarium, artificial water fountain, a swimming pool and a park. The park at Marina Beach is very popular as it has sculptures of many leaders and celebrities like Mahatma Gandhi, B.G. Tilak, Bharathidasan, Tiruvalluvar, Kamaraj, Swami Sivananda, Sir Thomas Munro, the Statue of Labour, Thanthai Periyar.
2. Elliot Beach
Location: Besant Nagar, Chennai
Elliott Beach!! One of the calm and cleanest beaches in Tamil Nadu. It is an ideal spot for relaxing and lazing around. You can reach by walking down the southern side of the marina beach. If you are bird lover then do visit the spot where River Adyar meets the Bay of Bengal. One can capture the picturesque views of the birds like Pond Herons and flamingos. The Ashta Lakshmi Temple, Ganesh temple, Schmidt Memorial and Velanganni Church, which are famous religious destinations in Tamil Nadu are the major attractions here.
3. Covelong Beach
Location: 40 km from Chennai, Coromandel coast.
Covelong Beach!!If you are water enthusiast then do visit this beach in Chennai which is well known for its watersport activities. One can enjoy the beach sports like windsurfing and swimming. It is a neat and clean beach with deep shallows and natural rocks for added scenic beauty. A Hindu temple and a church near the shore will give peace for all types of people. One can have a good time at evening with local boys surfing with wooden logs. The nearby attractions are ancient monuments like forts, churches, mosques, Mahabalipuram and the Crocodile Farm. It is the perfect spot for families especially for the weekend destinations with serene surroundings.
4. Fort St.George
Location: Rajaji Salai, Near Legislature and Secretariat, Chennai
A historical place which dates back to the ancient times, teak wood delight for history buffs. The major attractions are historic monuments of St. Mary’s church and St. George museum. The Museum has a large collection of heritage paintings and artefacts from that era including coins, silverware, arms, porcelain and documents. Visitors can capture the picturesque surroundings. A lighthouse built in the northern part of the compound and Flagstaff are built using a teak wood which is 150 feet. Today only the remains of the Flagstaff can be seen. It is a well-maintained fort and a good place to hang out.
5. San Thome 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 is considered as the national shrines of India.
The sanctum is about 62 feet long and is decorated with stained glass windows where the images of St. Thomas and other Apostles can be seen. 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. A short film documenting the life of St. Thomas is shown at the Theatre.
6.Sri Parthasarthy temple
Location: Narayana Krishnaraja Puram, Triplicane, Chennai
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.
7. Kapaleshwara Temple
Location: 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 metres 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 a few inscriptions of 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 attracts the visitors throughout the year.
Location: 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.
9.Thousand lights mosque
Location: Thousand lights mosque
Wonderful mosque at the heart of the city!!Another place in Chennai attracting with its architectural magnificence and holds a special place in the Shia community. The Mosque has a very beautiful architecture and attracts a huge amount of people to worship every day. A total of 1000 oil lamps lights up the hall of the mosque, which is how it got its name and is crowded during the holy month of Ramadan. It’s multi-domes and twin minarets enclose the main hall where men offer their prayers. There is a separate hall for the women.
Location: Mylapore is located south of the British built city Chennai.
Mylapore in Chennai is one such place with beautiful weather and serene surroundings, which is a must visit for you. It is known as the oldest residential area(Vedapuri) and is central and the cultural hub of Chennai. It draws thousands of tourists from all over the country. The area has best luxurious accommodations also for the travellers. Some of the well-known temples attractions are Adi Kesava Perumal Temple, Kapaleeswarar Temple and San Thome Basilica.
Location: Vivekanandar House is located at Kamaraj Salai(Marina beach road), Neelam Basha Dargapuram, near Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Make your Chennai visit more special!! Vivekanandar House one of the important landmark in Chennai which is associated with Sri Ramakrishna Math since 1897. It is the place where the great Swami Vivekananda stayed for 9 days after his return from the west. Each year thousands of visitors visit this place to learn about the life and culture which has been popularised by Swami Vivekananda. Nowadays this historic place houses a permanent exhibition on Indian Culture and Swami Vivekananda’s life.
This is one of the major attraction in Chennai as it houses a permanent exhibition on culture and Swami Vivekananda’s life.
12. Royapuram Fishing Harbour
Another interesting, busiest place in Chennai is the Royapuram Fishing Harbour. Fishing is one of the leisure activities which everybody loves to do. This amazing harbour can accommodate about 575 fishing boats. Those who are photography delights, can click some of the amazing pictures of the fisherman piling up their fish and then the fisherman who are shifting their fish from the canoes. The best thing about this place is that people shout at the top of their voice trying to be the best bidders. The harbour is very famous for the collection of fish done by the fisherman. The breakwater inside the harbour leads up to 300 m into the sea.
Location: Besant is located on the east coast of Bay of Bengal.
Located on the East Coast Bay of Bengal and bounded by Thiruvanmiyur to the South lies this amazing place Besant. It is named after the famous personality Annie Beasant. The main attraction of this place is the amazing Elliot beach with its serene and tranquil setting which attracts visitors from all over the world. For those of you who love to visit religious places, this is a double treat for them where they can visit the Annai Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi Temple along the shore which is very famous among the people.
14. Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Location: GST Road, Vandalur, Chennai
Arignar Anna Zoological Park is about 35 km from the city of Chennai. It is in the Vandalur Reserve Forest and hence known as ‘Vandalur Zoo’. This zoo is the home to more than 170 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Some of the species spotted in the zoo are barking deer, sambar, blackbuck, nilgai, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, baboon, llama, otter, tiger, jaguar, star tortoises, etc. Lion Safari Park and Deer Safari Park are the other major attractions of this zoo. Here the animals are brought under natural habitat. One can enjoy the Elephant Safari which is very popular. Nocturnal Section, Reptile Section, aquarium and library are the other features of Arignar Anna Zoological Park.
15. Semmozhi Poonga
Location: Cathedral Road, Teynampet, Chennai
Semmozhi Poonga Park is a botanical garden covering about 20 acres of land. Overseen by the horticultural department, it is an ideal place to visit in Chennai with family. Apart from the exotic and rare flora grown, there are also some medicinal herbs in the green houses of the park. Visitors can relax on the park grounds which also contain a water and rock garden, a butterfly garden, a fern garden, a sunken garden and many theme gardens. INR 15 for people over 10 years of age.
Location: Post Bag No 4, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Started as an effort to preserve and protect this reptile species, the Crocodile Bank even houses alligators, snakes, sea turtles and water birds. In all there are 2500 creatures within the premises of the Bank and one can spot crocs as well as Gharials sunning themselves on the edge of the water body during the day. There is also a shop where one can purchase books and memorabilia related to these reptiles.
17. Dakshina Chitra
Location: East Coast Road, Muttukadu, Chengalpattu.
This is one of the places to visit in Chennai with kids where they will be introduced to the South Indian culture of the past. Literally translating to ‘a picture of the south’, Dakshina Chitra is a small village has been recreated using replicas of traditional South Indian houses dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. The visitors get a peek into the lifestyle and customs of different communities of South India and also view artefacts made by the local artisans. Another treat is one can taste a vast array of the traditional South Indian cuisine.
18. Guindy National Park and Snake Park
Location: Rangeguidny, Chennai.
If you are visiting Chennai, then this park is a must visit! Guindy Snake Park is located nearby Guindy National Park at Adyar, in the suburbs of Chennai. The Park is home to diverse species of snakes, lizards, crocodiles and turtles. It has more than 30 species of Indian snakes like King Cobra, Indian Rock Python, Reticulated Python, Adders, Vipers, etc.It was founded in 1972 to conserve the endangered species of snakes found in the Indian sub-continent. It is maintained by the Madras Snake Park Trust which is also a breeding centre. The park also has a crocodile enclosure and gives a show to the visitors in which they show the snakes to the public, how they catch them, how they take out their venom. This park is very informative about the snakes and visitors will love to see this park.
Location: Eastern coast, South of Chennai
Muttukadu is one of the tourist places and backwater area near Chennai where one can get to indulge in watersports. With its extensive facilities, that include a restaurant, and a large number of boats, it can host visitors throughout the year. The boathouse in Muttukadu is where all the action is. Apart from this, the beach at Muttukadu draws a sizeable crowd during trips to this area. Get a glimpse of various species of birds at the backwaters during migratory season. One can enjoy the beach sports like Rowing, water skiing, speed boat riding, wind surfing and paddle boating.
Location: Eastern coast, South of Chennai
Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is one of the iconic Shore Temple to visit near Chennai known for its famed mountains. One can explore and observe the fine sculpture of various monuments which are carved out of a large block of granite. A short distance from this place of worship is ‘Descent of the Ganges’ or ‘Arjuna’s Penance’. Among the world’s biggest bas-reliefs, it depicts the story of the descent of the River Ganges from Heaven to Earth. ‘Pancha Rathas’ or the five chariots are again carved out of a single rock and are dedicated to the Pandavas. Even the drive from Chennai to Mahabalipuram along the seashore is quite an experience too. The beach at this tourist place near Chennai is also ideal for spending a day just lounging on the sand and relaxing.
It is hard to find cities like Chennai that still hold onto their culture and heritage, and yet move with the changing times. A visit to Chennai is a visit through time as each place showcases its fast-paced city life and caters to all kinds of travellers. So if you are in Tamil Nadu do visit this amazing city.
Contributor: M. Pravalika