Chennai in India - Travel and Touring Guides.

About the Indian City of Chennai which is located in Tamil Nadu State, India.

Situated on the eastern side of India beside the Bay of Bengal and originally known as Madras, Chennai is one of India's largest cities and is the capital of the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. As far as sightseeing and things to look at in the City are concerned, Chennai has some excellent old colonial buildings, several beautiful churches, mosques, temples and of course the huge beach on offer for visitors. The city has a quite spacious feel to it and quite green with lots of trees lining it's streets - plus there is always nice fresh air to be had beside the beach.
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Getting in and out of Chennai - flights and by rail.

Madras University building, Chennai, India. Situated around 12kms south of the City, Chennai (formerley Madras) International Airport handles both domestic and international flights and is one of the busiest in India. Internationally there are direct flights available including London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok.
There are a huge number of domestic flights available with all of India's airlines operating frequent services too and from the city. Getting from the terminals into Chennai is probably easiest by taxi for people lugging suitcases etc. - the taxis are pre-paid with the fares controlled by the Government. As normal at Indian airports you will certainly be approached by touts but it is pointless and likely to be more expensive taking non-official taxis.
As far as Indian Railways are concerned, Chennai is the origin and final destination for quite a few of India's long distance trains - direct destinations include Bangalore, New Delhi, Howrah Junction, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Accommodation i.e. hotels in Chennai.

As is now normal in a large Indian City there is a huge variation of quality and facilities available and with just about all hotels now available to book on the internet, picking one is simple. From the point of view of where to stay in Chennai - somewhere near the beach or maybe nearer to George Town is pretty good from the point of view of sightseeing. However there are plenty of taxis and autos around so getting somewhere is easy enough. Do as always in India ensure your price before setting off somewhere though!.

St Mary's Church at Fort St. George, Chennai, India.

Fort St. George and Buildings at George Town, Chennai.

If you don't mind walking a few kilometres then a good way of seeing things is to be dropped off at the Fort and look in there and also at some of the old colonial buildings - for instance several which are just to the north on Rajaji Salai. From there you can walk south along Marina Beach in the cooling sea air as far as the Lighthouse which is around 6 or 7 kilometre. Along the route you will find places to stop and have a drink or something to eat if you wish.
With all the excellent forts which can be looked round and admired in India, visiting St. Georges Fort at Chennai is a major disappointment - actually a non-event as far as looking round it is concerned. This was actually the first such fort to be built in India and was constructed by the all powerfull East India Company. The fort was completed in April 1644 on St. Georges Day and therefore so-christened with his name. Maps indicate there are huge fortifications and walls situated around the fort's perimeter but ordinary visitors are unable to see most of these as the area is closed. Even getting into the Fort is through security who will try and take your mobile phone, camera and don't even like any small bags etc. Sometimes entry is not allowed anyway because someone or other who is deemed important is going, coming or visiting. There is a huge military presence at the fort and it is also the headquarters of the Chennai State Governor so most of the fort's interior is therefore official.
One thing you can see within the fort is the oldest Anglican Church in India - St. Marys was constructed around 1680 and was where Robert Clive (of India) got married to Margaret Maskelyne during February 1753.
Nicely red bricked old building at Chennai, India. The Magistrates Courts at Chennai, India. Beautiful old Chennai Post Office building, India. Georgetown old colonial building - Chennai, India.

Visiting the Armenian Church in George Town and St Andrews Church, Egmore, Chennia.

Located on Armenian Street in George Town, Chennai and originally built in 1712 by Armenian silk, spice and gem merchants, the church is one of the oldest in India. Visitors to the church are welcome but it should be noted that the church is only open from 0900 to 1430 hours each day. The church boasts six bells in it's tower - with each of the bells a different size and not all cast at the same time - the bells are rung each Sunday morning.
A little way from the above - which is probably a little too unpleasant to walk in so much horrible traffic so a quick hop in an auto is a good idea - is the beautiful St. Andrews Curc which is located at Sampath Rd, Periyamet (Egmore).
Bell Tower at the Armenian Church - Chennai, India.
Armenian Church
Armenian Church - Chennai, India.
Armenian Church
Chennai's old Armenian Church - Chennai, India.
Armenian Church
St Andrews Church Spire - Chennai, India.
St Andrews Church
There are one or two unusual features about the way St Andrews Church was constructed. Firstly because of the nature of the ground on which it was built i.e. marsh so prone to flooding especially during monsoon season - the church is sat on 150 wells. These wells allow the excess water to rise within them and therefore protect the foundations from damage. The design of the church is also unusual in that it has a front double collonade of columns which are very Greek looking, it's shape is circular rather than the typical rectangular shape for churches and the mahogany pews are set in a circle right under the beautiful blue dome. This magnificent church has a huge 160 foot high spire, beautiful Scottish stained glass windows especially above the altar and beside the altar there is a Yorkshire built pipe-organ which was installed in 1883.
St Andrews Church Organ beside the Altar - Chennai, India.
St Andrews Church Organ
View of the interior of St. Andrew's Curc at Chennai, India.
St Andrews Church
St Andrews Church inside - Chennai, India.
St Andrews Church
St. Andrews Church - Chennai, India.
St Andrews Church

Chennai Lighthouse on Marina Beach in India.

Marina Beach at Chennai.

Running around 13kms alongside the city from Besant Nagar north to (near) Fort St. George, Chennai's Marina Beach is a wide sandy area - and is surprisingly clean. Although it may look appealing from the point of view of having a cooling dip, due to undercurrents and turbulence caused by the often rough sea it is far to dangerous to swim in and in fact doing so is illegal due to frequent drownings.
The beach gets amazingly busy in the late afternoon when literally hundreds of food and other stalls mushroom up to serve the thousands of people who arrive to take a stroll and so on. Apart from people just strolling, there are rides for children available plus lots of activiites going on such as kite flying, football, volleyball and of course lots of beach cricket.
Chenna, Marina Beach Fising Boats, India. Peaceful Marina Beach at Chennai, India. Part of the long sandy Marina Beach in Chennai, India. Sandy Chennai Beach before the evening starts, India.
At the lighthouse end of the beach there is a small slum but otherwise the whole stretch is really enjoyable to visit. However do beware of the auto-rickshaw drivers who hover around in the area (especially near the lighthouse) - they seem to control things and are keen on offering so-called free trips back to your hotel. Of course few things are free and once in the auto they tell you you have to first go to various shops and outlets (they get a commission when you go in such). Therefore the best thing to do is just walk away from the lighthouse down Beach Road a few 4 or 500 yards and stop a moving auto.

Please also take a look at our Sightseeing in Chennai and also the item about a day trip to Mamallapuram to look at the beautiful temples and rock carvings in the caves - easily reached from Chennai. Another day trip easily done from Chennai is to visit the twin Indian hill forts at Gingee Fort - a very interesting day out.
There is much more about touring in India via our India Travel and Touring Guide Home Page.

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