Chennai

India

Overview

Chennai, which is also known as Madras is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, the city is a major cultural, commercial and education hub in South India. History is etched in every corner of the city. While the city was the seat of power for many South Indian kingdoms through the ages, the documented history of the city began in the colonial times when the British stepped on the shores of Chennai and settled with the establishment of Fort St. George in 1644. The city has gone through a tremendous change in terms of economy and infrastructure and is developing rapidly. The Automobile industry in Chennai is one of the leading industries in the country. Apart from this, the city is a leading player in education and sports with a number or reputed educational institutions and stadiums which mark the importance of the two in Chennai. The city has been endowed with the rich heritage of art and culture with Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam being two of the best and biggest cultural exports of broadly the Tamil culture. It is famous for its various cultural events showcasing the performing arts such as Dance, Music and Drama. Although Chennai is predominantly composed of Tamil speaking people, the city today is abuzz with its varied mix of modern and traditional blend of culture and lifestyle.

Things to do in Chennai!

Hotels

Booking.com

Guide

Neighborhood


Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The city is surrounded by several beaches and various other attractions. North Chennai is primarily an industrial area with a few residential areas. Central Chennai is the commercial hub of the city and the downtown area. Here are few of the neighborhoods of Chennai:

  • Mylapore: Mylapore also called as Thirumayilai is a cultural hub in the southern part of Chennai. It is a major commercial center and one of the oldest residential parts of the city. It is well known for its tree lined avenues and the famous Kapaleeshwarar temple. Other attractions include Ramakrishna Math, San Thome Basilica and AdiKesava Perumal Temple.   
  • Besant Nagar: A well-known neighborhood in Chennai which is named after the famous lady theosophist Annie Besant and adjoins the Theosophical Society. It is that part of the city which is inhabited by many famous personalities and affluent citizens. Besides there are many restaurants, shops, cafes and boutiques in the area. Kalakshetra Academy, a world famous dance school founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale is also present in this locality. The main attraction is the Elliot’s beach. Other attractions include Velankanni Church, Ashtalakshmi Temple and Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple.
  • Adyar: Adyar is a large neighborhood in south Chennai, located on the southern banks of the Adyar River and gets its name from it.  It is bounded by the Buckingham Canal to the west, Thiruvanmiyur to the south and Besant Nagar to the east. It is one of the costliest areas in Chennai. The Theosophical Society is headquartered in Adyar.   
  • Vadapalani: A neighborhood in the city known for its film studios like Vijaya- Vauhini studios and Vikram Studios and the Vadapalani Andavar Temple.
  • Egmore: Egmore is one of the busiest neighborhoods of Chennai. Government Museum is located in Egmore. Besides this, Connemara Public Library , National Art Gallery, Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium, St. Andrews Church/The Kirk and Spencer Plaza are located here. There are various restaurants, hotels and educational institutes in the area.       

Getting around


General info

Train

  • Two main long distance train stations in Chennai are Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore. Central has daily trains from cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and other major Indian cities. Chennai Egmore has trains which cover places in Tamil Nadu and also a few places outside the state. You can refer Indian Railways for bookings and schedules.
  • Chennai also has a suburban rail network divided into North, South, West and MRTS lines. You can check the map here.
  • You may refer here for more information.
  • There is also a Southern Railway headquartered in Chennai. It covers states of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry or Puducherry, Kerela and some portions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
  • You can refer Southern Railways for more information. 

Bus

  • Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) Limited operates the bus services in the city. You can find the details for them here.
  • The basic fare starts from INR 3.00. You can check the fares here.
  • You can check the schedule for buses here
  • Daily and weekly travel passes are available at the cost of INR 50.00 and INR 300.00 respectively. You may refer to ‘Travel as you Please’ tab under concession fares here for more information.
  • For more details refer the MTC website

Taxi

  • Taxis, which are called Call Taxis locally, need to be pre arranged.
  • Some of the taxi service providers in the city are:
  • The rates vary as per the agency and distance.

Suggested itinerary


Staying connected


  • India uses GSM 900 and 1800 frequency bands. The phone must be unlocked to accept Indian SIM card.
  • You can buy the SIM card at airport, markets, local shops, etc and also recharge your SIM at these places or online.
  • The following are service providers in India for Prepaid SIM cards and Other Pay As You Go Options:
  • Due to security reasons, you may have to provide additional information while buying a SIM card.

Eat / Drink


Local

Chennai a land of cultural legacies has got on offer some finger licking delicacies. The deep influence of Tamil culture can be perceived in the local cuisine of this coastal city. Chennai cuisine is a blend of different flavors like sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and tangy. The traditional cuisine is loaded with rice, legumes, lentils and a host of spices. The city is also known for its highly aromatic filter coffee. The city is not limited to traditional and regional cuisine but also offers variety of national and international cuisine. The city provides with a extensive range of popular dishes like:

  • Idli: They are small rice cakes formed from a batter of fermented black lentils and rice, usually served with coconut chutney sambar which is a lentil based vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind.
  • Dosa: These are savory crepe like pancakes made from fermented rice batter and black lentils. They come in different varieties and are also served with sambar and coconut chutney.
  • Vada: A popular dish made from dal, lentils and gram flour and served with curd or coconut chutney and sambar or rasam.
  • Parottas: A lip smacking roadside delicacy, Kothu Parotta meaning minced parotta is a famous of all. Parotta is made with egg and meat and a dose of spicy sauce called salna and is usually served with onion raita.
  • Kuzhi Paniyaram: A Tamil dish made by steaming batter which is made from pulses and rice. It is available in sweet as well as spicy form.
  • Bisi Bele Bath (bhat): Bisi Bele Bhat translating to hot lentil rice whose preparation includes use of toor daal, spicy masala, vegetables, spices and tamarind pulp.
  • Appam: A south Indian pancake made of fermented rice batter and coconut milk and available in different variations.
  • Puliyogare Rice: Made using steamed or boiled rice mixed with tamarind paste, groundnuts or peanuts, coriander, coconut, red chili, curry leaves, jaggery, pepper, mustard seeds, fenugreek , turmeric, urad dal and cumin Puliyogare or tamarind rice is yet another mouth watering rice recipie.
  • Idiyappam: A traditional dish consisting of rice flour pressed into noodle form and then steamed, usually served with egg potato, fish or meat curry.
  • Chicken Chettinad: A classic Indian recipe made using Roast dry chillies, coconut and various other spices.
  • Payasam: A sweet delicacy made by boiling rice, broken wheat, tapioca, vermicelli with milk and sugar and is flavored with dry fruits and available in different varieties.
  • Mysore Pak: A sweet dish prepared in butter with ghee, sugar, gram flour and often cardamom. A tasty sweet dish which melts in your mouth and is a must try. 

You can find local delicacies in the following restaurants:

Gourmet

  • Pan Asian
    • Cuisine: Asian, Japanese, Indonesian

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetarian

 

  • Kryptos 
    • Cuisine: Indian, Greek, Vegetarian
    • Review: TripAdvisor

 

Drink

Chennai is a difficult place for drinks. There are no standalone bars and pubs, because of Government rules. All the bars that are around are a part of hotel or are far apart. In Chennai you will either find dingy places or exceptionally classy ones for drinks. Government liquor stores called TASMAC are all over the place but are not a pleasant experience. Here is a list few of the places where you can enjoy drinks.

Tipping


  • Restaurants: If the service was good you can tip anything between 10 to 20 percent of the bill amount. Service charges are normally included in the bill. It is not mandatory and you may not leave a tip if you don’t want to.
  • Bars: Tipping at bars is unusual but appreciated. 
  • Taxis: Visitors are not expected to tip taxi drivers but they may expect a tip of 10 to 15 percent. However airport and train station porters should be tipped approximately INR 10.00per bag.
  • Hotel Porters/Concierge: Hotel Porters and Concierge are normally tipped at the rate of INR 10.00 per bag.

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Banner image credits: PlaneMad