The cultural capital and gateway city of South India, Chennai is often regarded as one of the best cities in the India for food and culture among other things frequently but what really stands out in terms of potential as a tourist destination of Chennai is that it is mostly culture, historical, architectural and other sites. If a visit is planned anytime soon, these are the top attractions in Chennai that you should not miss.
1. Marina Beach
Chennai’s Marina Beach is world famous for being the second longest urban beach in the world. It is considered to be one of the most popular beaches in India and is undoubtedly the largest landmark in Chennai. In fact, more than a landmark sign, it was indeed the long and wide coastline that established the city of Madras here in the first place by the British. In addition to history, the beach is a cultural icon of Chennai and a favorite for everything from weekend picnics to political rallies and protests.
2. Government Museum
Considered one of India’s first and oldest public museums, the Government Museum Complex on Pantheon Road in Egmore has been one of Chennai’s most famous recreational and educational attractions for over 160 years. The museum is best known for its extensive multiplicity collection and artifacts related to Tamil history. Other popular attractions in the museum complex include houses such as the Museum Theater, a popular stage venue in the city and the Kannamara Public Library, one of the oldest sites in the country.
3. Besant City Beach
While Marina Beach certainly attracts more crowds than any other beach in the city, Besant City Beach is certainly one of the most popular among the city’s youth, largely due to its numerous restaurants, cafes and confectionery connections. Once known as Elliott’s Beach in honor of Madras Governor Edward Elliott, the beach has been a popular hangout spot in the city since the twentieth century.
4. Fort Museum
Located within the Fort St. George compound, the Fort Museum is a Chennai / Madras relocation to Chennai for anyone interested in British heritage. The museum’s valuable collections include a number of colonial-era uniforms, weapons, and even many personal letters written by prominent figures such as Robert Clive and Lord Cornwallis. The building originally housed the first office of the Bank of Madras, which was later merged with two such banks and will be known as the State Bank of India.
5. Kapaleeswarar Temple
The Kapaleshwar Temple at Mappalapur in Chennai dates back to about 1,300 years ago and is one of the oldest shrines in the city. In addition to a religious symbol, the temple is a major center of culture and regularly serves a variety of classical music and dances.
The area around the temple still retains the architectural style of the traditional Tihyagraha Agraharam and the temple complex also has a huge water tank. The tallest gopram of the temple stands at 40 meters, while there is another small gopram in front of the water tank.
6. Fort St. George
Fort St. George is another important landmark for the very existence of Chennai. It was the first British center in the south and has continued to be the seat of government of Tamil Nadu since independence. The fort is a landmark in the history and the walls around it unite Madras into a city. It has seen a lot of wars and conflicts since its inception in 1644 and even during the First World War.
7. Arignar Anna Zoological Park/Vandalur Zoo
Vandalu Zoo in its current form, the largest zoological park in the country and attracts thousands of visitors every day. However, its history dates back to 1855, when it was started by renowned conservationist Edward Balfour as the Madras Zoo in the Government Museum Complex and was the first public zoo in India. Currently, the zoo is spread over more than 60,000 hectares in Vandalur and contains more than 1,500 wild species, including 45 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.
8. St. Mary’s Church
The church has a distinguished history, and was the only bomb-proof building in the castle when it was celebrated in the 1980s. The altar contains a valuable image of the Last Supper, which was brought from Pondicherry to Madras as a thing of war.
9. Santhome Cathedral Basilica
The Santhom Basilica in the Mylapore neighborhood of Chennai is an important Christian site not only in Chennai but all over the world. The church is said to have been built in 1523 by the Portuguese, one of the only three basilics in the world to have been built on the tomb of the direct apostle of Jesus Christ. Built in neo-Gothic style architecture, the church was upgraded to a minor basilica in 1956.
10. Guindy National Park
Chennai is one of the few cities in the country to have a full-fledged national park within its boundaries. Although Gindi National Park may be the eighth smallest national park in the country, the green space is certainly proud of one of the most spectacular diversity of flora and fauna and serves as the lung of Chennai. The park covers an area of 2.70 sq km and is home to more than 130 species of birds and 14 species of mammals, including blackbucks, spotted deer and jackfruit.
11. Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is not only one of the best wildlife attractions in Chennai, it is also a premier research and conservation organization working in the field of reptile conservation and harpology. With an exhibition of more than 2,400 species of reptiles, including 14 of the world’s largest species of crocodiles and soils, MCBT is the largest crocodile sanctuary in the country. Started in 1976 by leading conservationists Jay and Romulus Whitaker, MCCT has so far bred more than 5,000 specimens of crocodiles and is also heavily involved in the conservation of Olive Ridley turtles.
12. Birla Planetarium
The Birla Planetarium in Chennai is one of the three largest planetariums in the country and is an important educational site in the city. It has a huge gallery that provides a great virtual experience of our night sky.
13. T Nagar Shopping District
Shopping in Chennai is generally considered to be synonymous with T Nagar, its largest shopping district. From huge fashion and jewelry emporias to great boutique stores, this neighborhood is a must visit for anyone interested in regional specialties like the Kanchioram silk saree.
Most of the mainstream shopping complexes are located on Ranganathan Street and North Usman Road and are very crowded on weekends and holidays. But T Nagar also has a number of great street shopping markets and small shops and boutiques that are great for shopping.
14. Burma Bazaar
One of the oldest and most chaotic markets in the whole country, the Burmese market in Chennai has a vibrant history of cultural confluence. From used books and cheap gray market electronics to great street food, the Burma market is a paradise for anyone who likes to shop on the street.
It comes from the Tamil-Burmese community who set up several shops here when they settled in Chennai after being kicked out of Burma (now Myanmar) after military rule was established there. The market has been identified as one of the best shopping districts on several international lists and is famous as a destination for Burmese atho food.
15. Broken Bridge
This strange offbeat attraction is basically what its name implies – a broken bridge. Although it is not good for travel, it has some of the best views of the Bay of Bengal in the whole of Chennai. Located to the right of the estuary of the Adair River, the Broken Bridge is a great place to watch the sunset and is a smoky dab in the middle of a contagious and ancient wall ecosystem. It is popular among young people and couples, but it is not advisable to stay up late after dark as it is also famous for being a nightmare and publisher dark.
16. East Coast Road, Kovalam
The East Coast Road is one of the most beautiful highways not only in Chennai but in the whole of India. Wrapping the coast almost the entire distance, this part of the highway is a great destination for a long drive under the city limits of Chennai and has some great attractions including hidden beaches, resorts and cultural institutions. Some of the popular attractions in this expansion are VGP Resorts, Cholmandal Artistes Village and ECR, Akkarai and Kovalam Beach.
17. Dakshin Chitra
If you don’t want to explore the whole region of South Indian culture, traditions and artefacts, South Chitra in Chennai is your best bet. This cultural museum is proud of the cultural treasures of four (currently five) states of South India and exhibits such as pre-ial colonial costumes, agriculture, music and dance forms and architecture. Located on the picturesque ECR Highway, the complex is also popular for its numerous stalls that sell everything from traditional thematic and ethnic jewelry to fashion and souvenirs.
18. Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is one of the oldest organizations in Chennai and boasts a history spanning more than a century. However, what this company is best known for in Chennai is the vast international headquarters campus of Adayar, which runs across the mouth of the Adayar River.
One of the best-maintained green spaces in the city, the campus is a cultural and spiritual center with a fully equipped library and hosts many discussions and events. It is also home to the Adiya banyan tree, has a history of more than 450 years and is the largest banyan tree in the country.
19. Anna Centenary Library
This relatively new complex was completed in 2010 and is one of the largest and most modern libraries in India. Students, locals and experts from all over the country frequently have in this library about 1.2 million books, periodicals, encyclopedias and volumes. The library features a number of state-of-the-art facilities such as a digital library and internet center, a spacious Braille and children’s section and a full floor dedicated to regional and Tamil language books.
20. Heritage District
Chennai is one of the oldest colonial cities in India and boasts a history of nearly 400 years. Although the city has changed steadily since independence, much of it, especially the area near Fort St. George and Punmalli High Road, still retains colonial attitude with several British-era landmarks and marvelous architectural landmarks. The most popular heritage structures in the area are the Ripon Building, the Victoria Public Hall, the headquarters of the Southern Railway and the Madras High Court Complex.
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