known as Madras), the largest city in South India and the fourth largest city
in the country, is located on what is popularly called the Coromandel Coast of
the Bay of Bengal. The city's development started after 1639 when the British
East India Company established a Fort and a couple of Trading posts at the
small fishing village called Chennai. Since then three and a half centuries
have transformed this small village into a bustling metropolis, particularly
known for its spaciousness, which is lacking in the other Indian
While moving around in the city one cannot overlook the obvious
British influence which is so evident in the various cathedrals,
buildings in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, wide tree lined avenues...
the undeniable english legacy. However, despite the strong British
influence, Chennai has retained its traditional Tamil Hindu culture and
effectively blended it with the foreign influence. This is not surprising
because this region had remained a centre of Pallavan culture long before
the British had come here, traces of which are to be found in numerous old
Chennai is really a lot more than the Gateway to South India.
The varied aspects of traditional South Indian culture existing alongside the
lifestyle of a modern city complete with its plush hotels, restaurants offering
a range of continental to typical South Indian cuisine, long and uncrowded
stretches of beaches, modern shopping malls, cinema halls, etc.
Fort St. George The
original fort was built by the British East India Company in 1653. The fort has
under gone much alteration since then and currently houses the Secretariat and
the Legislative Assembly. There is a fascinating collection of Raj memorabilia
in the Fort Museum. The banquet hall upstairs was built in 1802 and has
paintings of Fort St. George's governors and officials of the British
regime. Visitors can also see Robert Clive's House in the vicinity of the fort.
It is now the pay accounts office which has Clive's corner open for the
Kapaleeswarar Temple : An exquisite depiction of Dravidian
architecture is Kapaleeswarar temple with its massive and intricately carved
gopuram towering into the sky. This 8th century Pallava temple dedicated to
Lord Shiva is situated in the traditional part of Chennai at Mylapore. Legend
has it this the name Mylapore was derived from Mayur Puri. It is believed that
Parvati in the from of peacock worshipped Lord Shiva at this spot. As many as
63 Saivite saints or nayanmars sculpted in bronze adorn the outer courtyard.
The Nayanmars glorified the Lord Shiva with enchanting hymns. In March - April
during the Arubathimoovar festival all the Nayanmars are taken in a procession
around the temple.
Kalakshetra : Classical Dance Bharata Natyam and
Carnatic music permeate the very fabric of life in Chennai.
The Kalakshetra at Tiruvanmiyur, is a school of the Indian
art epitomising the revival of ancient
culture, crafts and heritage.
Founded in 1936 by the renowned exponent of
Bharata Natyam, Rukmini Devi Arundale, the institution set
in sylvan surroundings bears a resemblance to the ancient gurukulas.
Classes are held in
rural settings in hut type rooms under the trees of the serene
campus. A section of the institute is famous for its sarees
and textiles woven in
Public concerts have been a part and parcel of Tamil
life since early days. Within spacious temple portals, dances were performed to
the lilting rhythm and music. Every year from mid - December to mid - January a
month-long Dance and Music festival is held in Chennai. Connoisseurs from all
over the country who come to witness a repertoire of performances are engrossed
in the resounding of ankle bells, cymbals and musical compositions, leaving
them enthralled to return for more, every year.
Marina Beach : The
sandy stretch of beach known as the Marina which extends for 13 km is the pride
of Chennai, much sought after for the cool evening breeze.
On the sea front lie memorials dedicated to political leaders and freedom fighters. Noted
impressive Indo-Saracenic styled buildings like the Chepauk Place, once home of
the erstwhile Nawabs of Carnatic, the Chennai University and the Presidency
College add considerable grandeur to the spot. The Aquarium, Light House and
promenade of walks, gardens and drives make the place one among the best
attractions of the city.