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Chennai - Quick Facts

Area: 426 sq. km.
Population: 8,233,084
Altitude: 6 m Sea level
Rainfall: 1272 mm Average
Season: Tropical
Clothing: Summer- Light tropical, Winter- Light woolen
Languages: Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu & English

The Dravidians founded the beautiful State of Tamil Nadu 5,000 years ago. Today it is home to some of the most magnificent sculptures and architectural wonders of the world. About 350 years ago, Tamil Nadu's capital city Chennai was created by the East India Company. The last king of the vanishing Vijayanagar Empire, Rajah of Chandragiri offered Francis Day, an East India Company trader, a three-mile long strip of land. In July 1639 Francis Day and his superior built a factory, which was named Fort St. George. When the British were in complete control of the city, after a decade's feud with the French, they expanded the city by encompassing the neighbouring villages of Triplicane, Egmore, Purasawalkam and Chetput to form the city of Chennapatnam, as it was known then. Besides being Britain's first bastion from which flourished an empire, Chennai, formely known as Madras retains a harmonious blend of the old and the new. Elaborate pujas are part of every home. Women still wear flowers in their hair and young girl pratice the age-old Bharatanatayam Dance everyday. In this charming city modernization has not dampened the rich heritage handed down from generation to generation.

By Air
The nearest airport is 7 kms from south of the city.

By Rail
Chennai is well connected by train to all major cities.

By Road
Chennai is well connected by road to all major cities.

Fort St. George Museum
The perfect place to begin discovering Chennai is Fort St. George, the oldest surviving British construction in India. At the northern end of Marina, the fort was once the headquarters of the East India Company. Today it houses the Secretariat of the Tamil Nadu Government and the Legislative Assembly. Much of this fort looks almost as it did when Robert Clive, Pitt, Hasting and Wellesley resided and worked here.

St. Mary's Church
 Within the fort is the oldest protestant church in Asia and the second oldest British building in India, St. Mary's Church. The inside of the church has many paintaings, records and registers, each with a story to tell-Elihu Yale, after whom the Yale University, USA is anmed was married here. Robert Clive and Margaret Maskelyne tied the nuptial knot at this church. The imperial Clive House was where Robert Clive, one of the Carnatic War heroes resided with his beautiful wife.

High Court
 4.8 km Parru's Corner. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the buildings comprise, besides the High Court, the small causes court and city civil court.

Kapaleeswarar Temple
 4.8 km an ancient Shiva temple with a beautiful Gopuram, typical of Dravidian typical of Dravidian architecture.

Marina Beach and Aquarium
 3.2 km one of loveliest beaches in the world. Aquarium timings: Daily 08.00 hrs to 20.00 hrs the second largest beach in the world, Marina, in Chennai is the biggest tourist attractions here. The promenade is dotted with statues of various leaders and other heroes. The sheer joy of walking on the beach munching 'murukku' and 'sundal' is unparalleled.

Parthasarathy Temple
 3.2 km Dedicated to Parthasarathy or Lord Krishna, the temple is said to have been built by a Pallava king during the eighth century and was subsequently renovated by the Vijayanagar kings in the sixteenth century.

San Thome Cathedral
 5.6 km St Thomas the Apostle is said to be buried here.

Government Museum
It is on Pantheon Road once belonged to the Pantheon Committee formed by important British citizens, responsible for improving the English social life in Chennai. The archeological section has beautiful antiques from the Chola, Vijayanagar, Chalukya and Hoysala periods and a rare collection of Buddhist sculptures from Amaravati. Part of the fascinating bronze collection, are cosmic dance of Lord Shiva-Natraja, Goddess Durga and the Elephant God-Ganesha, all from the Chola period. Ardhanariswara, an incarnation of Lord Shiva with one child bearing hip and breast is the show stealer. This museum complex includes an Art Gallery, Department of Natural History, a Museum Theatre and the Connemara Public Library.

The TTDC provides boating facilities to the tourists in the beautiful lake at Chengalpattu.

It is India’s second largest brackish water lagoon, and is located 60 km north of Chennai. The Pulicat Lake is a breeding ground for rare birds. It consists of about 16 island villages and 30 adjoining the lake. The lake offers a good potential for eco- tourism. The principal birds that visit Pulicat Lake are the flamingo and heron. About 15,000 of these birds visit Pulicat every year.

It is about 60 kms from Chennai. The monuments of Mamallapuram date back to the Pallava period of the 7th-8thcenturies. It is also a beach resort offering wide range of hotels to stay. Tourists are charged a one-time Entry fee for all monuments:

Vedantangal (85 kms)
This is a bird sanctuary for migratory water birds. It is about 85 kms from Chennai. Season: November- March.

Gudiyam Caves (75 kms)
Situated 10 kms from the Poondi Reservoir at Alikuzhi Ghats; it is believed to be a pre- historic hominid habitation. There are about 16 rock shelters that are naturally formed like canopy-like structures in the reserved forests. It is the left kind of expedition for trekkers and nature-lovers.

Amusement Parks around Chennai
There are many Amusement Parks around Chennai. They are Kishkinta, nearer Tambaram Little Folks, Mayajaal, MGM Dizzy World and V.G.P. Golden Beach on the way to Mamallapuram. Dash and Splash, and Queens Land near Poonamallee.

Fort Museum
It houses rare exhibits of weapons, uniforms, coins, costumes, medals and other artefacts and memorabilia of the British period. The flag mast at Fort St. George is the tallest in India.

The Island Ground
 This is one of the lungs of this teeming city. It is situated on an island formed by the River Cooum. This ground is the venue for Trade and Tourist Fairs that are held periodically and seasonally.

While all Indian festivals are celebrated with equal aplomb in Chennai, the exciting local festival of Pongal-the four-day Harvest Festival is celebrated all over the state in January. The festival begins on the last day of the Tamil month with Bhogi Pongal followed by Surya Pongal on the next day. It is on this day that Chakkara Pongal, a delicacy of harvested rice cooked with jaggery, ghee and cashew nuts is offered to the Sun God. The third day, Mattu Pongal is dedicated to the Cattle when cows are bathed and adorned with colorful beds and flowers. Jallikattu, the bullfight is held on the last day known as Kannum Pongal.

If you are Chennai between mid-December and mid-January don't miss the Festival of Carnatic Music and Dance. Experience the evocative raagas and haunting melodies, or the captivating Indian classic dancers moving gracefully to the rhythm of music. At this prestigious event the most renowned classical dancers and musicians from all over the country come together to perform at various music academies.

The beautiful Kancheepuram hand woven silk sarees are famous for their pretty temple borders and rich zari (gold thread) pallavs. Detailed traditional motifs and bleft colours with constrasting borders make these sarees absolutely delightful. Take home exquisite souvenirs for your loved ones in silver, copper, bronze and wood, available in various government emporia and private stores or irresistible jewellery made from uncut precious stones.

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