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Chennai:A magnificent past and an early metropolitan dream

Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu, in the southern part of India. Located on the Coromandel coast of Bay of Bengal, Chennai is as dynamic as it is immersed in tradition. This ‘capital of the south’, is one among the four metropolitan siblings of India, having a rich cultural history which it perfectly balances with its metropolis lifestyle.

Amid its chaos of traffic and sweltering humid climate, Chennai is worth visiting for its temples steeped in south-Indian culture, British-era museums and monuments, culinary delights and marina beach(Second largest urban beach in the world). Chennai’s skyline is famous for its towering skyscrapers, but the heart of Chennai has an old-world charm to it that refuses to be overshadowed.

One of the most visited Indian cities by foreign tourists, Chennai houses almost 2467 heritage buildings within the metropolitan area – highest within any city limit in the country. The Mylapore and Triplicane areas are famous for their beautiful, serene temples and delicious cuisine, while North Chennai areas like Sowcarpet are dotted with shops selling everything under the sun, including clothes, bicycles, food and electronic items.

Vestiges of the British rule like the stunning Madras University and Queen Mary’s College, the Ripon Building and the museums are lovely examples of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture that the metropolitan is known for. The modern metropolis of Chennai – a buzzing city of glorious beaches, monuments standing as a testament to the time, and the people who have preserved age-old traditions – is sure to sneak its way into your hearts.

Marina Beach

Marina Beach

Situated in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Marina Beach is a natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. The beach is stretched out to a distance of 13 kilometres making it the longest natural urban beach in the country, second largest in the world and also the most crowded beach in India with almost 30,000 visitors a day. 

With a white sandy shore that looks as though extending to infinity, the landscape of Marina Beach is a mesmerising and serene sight to behold. The beach has a primarily sandy terrain and is dotted with plenty of merry-go-rounds and shops selling souvenirs. You could take a walk along the Marina beach with your near and dear ones or even all alone and enjoy the cool evening sea breeze along with a hot plate of crispy sundal and murukku. Watching the sun crawl upwards into the sky or even disappear into the ocean from the beach, is an awe-striking and enchanting experience.

Government Museum

Government Museum

Government Museum was established in 1851 and is the second oldest museum in the country after the Indian Museum in Kolkata. Situated in Egmore suburb of Chennai, it is built in the Indo-Sarcenic style and houses a rich collection of the works of Raja Ravi Varma.

MGR Film City

MGR Film City

Having been established in the year 1994, a considerably new structure, the MGR Film city is managed by the Government of Tamil Nadu in loving memory of MG Ramachandran who was not only a crowd-pleasing tamil actor but also a longtime CM of Tamil Nadu.

Covering a massive 70 acres at Taramani in Chennai, the MGR Film City is a popular tourist hotspot and the place-to-be for several South Indian films directors. Besides being the best place to catch a glimpse of a popular Tamil actor and the film city also has a film school, indoor and outdoor shooting locations, replicas of village and urban areas, temple, church, mosque, post office, police station, prison, courtroom, and landscaped gardens in Italian, Japanese and Mughal styles. They recently opened the MGR Knowledge Park which has been adding to the attraction.

Breezy Beach

Breezy Beach

Breezy Beach lays in the remote and serene neighbourhood of Valmiki Nagar in Chennai. Being smaller and less polluted, its a perfect getaway for anyone looking for a peaceful evening.

This beach is not as popular and known as the Elliots beach, and is hence more quiet and peaceful. Evenings are very pleasant and breezy here, and in the recent years, lots of tourists have been attracted towards this beach for its beauty. Those looking for an amiable, refreshing and breezy place to chill out and have fun, the Breezy beach of Chennai is the place to be.

Marundeeswarar Temple

Marundeeswarar Temple

The magnificent Marundeeswarar Temple, in Tiruvanmiyur, near Chennai has the temple deity Shiva in the form of Marundeeswar or Aushadeeswarar, the God of Medicines. A fine specimen of Dravidian architecture, this temple is a must visit for anyone visiting Chennai or nearby cities. Glorified in the 7th-8th century by Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Tirugnana Sambandar, and Appar, the temple was expanded by the Chola Kingdom in the 11th century. Moreover, given the name, Marundeeswarar Temple has been a place of worship especially for people with diseases and those facing various problems with their health. The prasadam here is a mixture of sacred ash, water, and milk which is believed to cure any ailments. One must visit the temple to encounter the miraculous power it is said to have.

Amongst the many legends associated with the temple, one of them explains why Lord Marundeeswarar is known as he is because he is said to have taught the great Sage Agastya about a magical medicine. The temple is also known for its one and a half ft. self-manifested Shivalinga. It also contains the statues of Lord Vinayaka and Lord Muruga. Furthermore, it hosts many festivals such as Shivrathri, Skanda Sashti, and Vinayaka Chaturti. Hence, the temple even has a festive aura all around the year. Owing to its historical significance, this temple is a serene and peaceful place to be when in or around Chennai.

Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Perhaps one of the most popular picnic spots in Vandalur, Kanchipuram District, the Arignar Zoological Park is an amazing place to discover the flora and fauna of the region. A favourite weekend spot with both children and adults alike, the Arignar Zoo is situated at a distance of 32 kilometres from chennai city. It is the largest zoo of its kind in South East Asia and is sprawled over an area of 1260 acres. In addition to having an extensive collection of endemic and exotic animals, visitors can experience the wild first hand with a trip to safari parks where lions and deer can be easily spotted.

Housing as many as 138 different species of organisms, this destination is every nature lover’s paradise. Arinagar Anna Zoological Park is home to a variety of animals such as Himalayan brown bear, lion, tiger, elephant and Indian civit cat. The zoo also has a reptile house which houses various species of reptiles including the king cobra, python, viper any much more. In addition to this, they have a small built-in Jurassic park which just adds on to the excitement. Elephant joy rides, children’s park and an education centre are amongst the other special features of the park.

Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam is a temple chariot like-monument in Chennai, built to honour the renowned classical Tamil poet and saint, Thiruvalluvar. This intricately designed monument was built by Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi during the 1970s to honour the contributions of Thiruvalluvar. A popular Tamil poet and philosopher, he has been attributed with the creation of Thirukkurals which are hailed as one of the greatest works of Tamil literature. Valluvar Kottam is known for its great architecture, built with innovative layouts and well-thought execution. The sublime beauty of Valluvar Kottam is best experienced during the morning hours when the city is just waking up to the day, or you can make a visit to this destination during the evening hours when the sun is just setting over the horizon. The magnificent design of the Valluvar Kottam is a wonderful sight to behold, which makes it the perfect destination to click a few pictures.

In addition to being an important tourist destination in the city, Valluvar Kottam also plays host to some of the most important exhibitions and events in the city. Handlooms and handicrafts are regularly hosted in the auditorium here which is an air-conditioned facility and is a good way to spend a few hours admiring the artistic beauty of both the what lays inside and outside. The monument is complimented perfectly by a temple car, which is fixed to the floor but is a delightful addition to the edifice. Another interesting fact about the Valluvar Kottam is that you can also see a few saplings here which were planted here by Mother Teresa herself, and are marked by a stone plate marking the year 1984. 

Ashtalakshmi Temple

Ashtalakshmi Temple

Ashtalakshmi Temple is located in Besant Nagar, a few meters away from the Besant beach on the coast of the gorgeous Bay of Bengal. Ashtalakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Knowledge resides here and blesses everyone who visits the temple to offer their prayers with a clean soul. The continuous sound of the ocean waves echo in the temple complex and instantly inculcate an aura of peace. The grandiosity of the place can be estimated from the fact that nearly 7 million rupees were spent on the renovation of the temple and over 1.6 million rupees on conducting a religiously important Hindu ceremony named, Jeernotharana Ashtabandana Mahakumbhabhishekam.

The Ashtalakshmi Temple complex is built to worship eight avatars of Goddess Lakshmi namely Wealth, Success, Prosperity, Bravery, Courage, Knowledge, Food and Offspring. It was built when Sri Maha Periyaval or the Sage of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Chandrasekara Saraswati Swamigal had wished for it to be constructed. The followers willingly agreed and laid the foundation with utmost devotion. Goddess Lakshmi is known for granting Ashtama Siddhi and Astha Iswaryam which mean eightfold achievements and wealth respectively.

Connemara Public Library

Connemara Public Library

The year 1896 witnessed the inauguration of a new and remarkable landmark in the city of Chennai- the Connemara Library, which is a treasure trove of books, newspapers, periodicals and other related texts. A library is a place where you will unquestionably find every text that you can look for. The Connemara Public Library is one of the four national depository libraries of the country and hence, it receives copies of all books and other texts that published in India. Its history dates back to over a hundred years, and till date, the library remains a repository of century-old publications.

The fantastic collection at the Connemara Library includes books, journals, magazines and Braille manuscripts among other texts. Located at Egmore in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, it forms a small part of the Madras museum as well. A new building was added to the library in the year 1973. This new structure boasts of a vast collection of textbooks that a visitor might be looking for. The building has a video room, a periodical hall, a reference room and an entire floor that is solely dedicated to Indian books. The total collection of books in the library goes up to beyond six lakh copies! The Connemara Library has everything that a literature geek or book lover could wish for. It is thus in no way an overstatement to say that the library is a readers’ heaven. That the library is well maintained adds to the grandeur of the place. The only drawback that one can think of concerning the Connemara Library is that because of the enormous collection of books; the library usually remains crowded.

Kolli Hills

Kolli Hills

With an ominous name which means ‘Mountain of Death’, Kolli Hills or Kolli Malai are a mountain range located in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. It is relatively untouched by commercial tourism and therefore has retained most of its natural magnificence.

The mountains are famous for not only their natural beauty but also have religious significance because of the Arappaleshwar Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The peak is accessible via road as well and the road leading up to it is winding with several twists and turns.

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