What to see in Chennai
There are a host of tourist places to visit in Chennai. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mahabalipuram is known for its great monuments, cave sanctuaries, sculptures, and stone-carvings. Thousand Lights Mosque is known for the beautiful outline it creates after nearly a thousand oil lamps are lit up and is also one of the biggest mosques in India.
The Vivekananda House where Swami Vivekananda stayed for a short period of time, has all the information about him, and also includes 3D shows and meditation halls. The Madras War Cemetery was built in honour of the 855 martyrs who lost their lives fighting during the Second World War and adds to the historical importance of Chennai.
What to do in Chennai
The longest beach in India, Marina Beach is a 13 km stretch of serenity and has an aquarium, icehouse, and some iconic stone statues. The Government Museum has an extensive collection of bronze statues right from the 7th century.
The cultural hub of Chennai, the neighborhood of Mylapore is a religious haven which houses hundreds of (and some very famous) temples, churches and mosques, and is also known for its South-Indian delicacies and is definitely worth a visit. Fort St. George marked the beginning of an originally uninhabited Madras and served as a nucleus through which Madras grew into a city.
Where to eat in Chennai
Chennai is every foodie’s fantasy. Here, you will find flavours from all over the world to indulge in. Some tantalizing places to start off with are Madras Kitchen Company, Willows Lounge Bar, Avartana, The Cheroot Malt & Cigar Lounge and The Reef. For meals that are easy on the eyes and the budget, you can visit Paprika, Broken Bridge Café and Absolute Barbecue.
For those who like to taste the oriental side, head over to Pan Asian, Benjarong, Madras Pavilion, The Residency and Scallion. Sea Salt, Shree Mithai, Desi Klub, Thanjavur Military Hotel and Southern Street are popular destinations where you can dig into scrumptious street food.
Where to shop in Chennai
Thyagaraya Nagar is the largest shopping district in Chennai with its specialty in Kanchipuram silk sarees, and huge jewelry stores among many other things. Pantheon Road sells superior quality cotton materials and garments at affordable prices.
George Town is one of the oldest areas of Chennai and offers some of the best local and more traditional items of the city and is great for really experiencing the culture of Chennai. Up north, Sowcarpet has a variety of North Indian inspired blend of garments, accessories, fabrics, etc. and is called the mini Rajasthan of Chennai.
Getting around Chennai
Chennai offers several modes of transportation. Buses are the main or most popular mode of transportation in Chennai and the lowest priced one too, and the service runs several routes throughout the metropolitan. Private or shared auto rickshaws are also easily available. Chennai Metro Rail is a very efficient means of transportation, although it does not run throughout the city. It does, however, connect all the major transportation hubs.
Local trains run approximately every 15 minutes and are an excellent way to navigate the city. Private and pre-paid taxis, although less common, are available at major locations like airports, stations, etc.