Madras : The Gateway To The South

In India, Travel Guides
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INTRODUCTION

Madras or  Chennai is called as the first city of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is termed as the  Gateway to the South of India. This city is about 350 years old. Chennai is always growing and populated city with full of cultures.

Chennai is the fourth largest city In India . The 5-square kilometre sand strip  has now grown into a city of about 170 square kilometres. With a population of about 6 million.

Chennai was the place where British settled in India and many who went on to build the Empire first learnt their trade in here. As a consequence Chennai refelects much  of significance of British Indian history. The older settlements also have stories to tell and so the city is an amalgam of ancient and more modern history.

Ancient traditions are the particularly charming features of Chennai , that is why no matter how modernized it has become and how much willingness it shows to spread out further rather than develop into a concrete jungle. The city is still widespread  open to the skies , a green and airy city with large depiction of its rural past. A city that adheres to the leisurely tempo of the life of a world of yesterday; a city whose values of the other day still survive amidst the humdrum bustle of today; a city that still retains the charm, culture, hospitality and courtesies of the ages.

In this gracious, spacious city there is much to see. A suggested tour round the city is best completed by following this route : Fort st. George, Pantheon Complex, Valluvar kottam, st..Thomas Mount, Guindy National Park, the Shrines of Mylapore and Triplicane, Government Estate, the Marina and Anna Salai. Newer attractions are: theme Parks such as kishkinta MGM Dizzy World and Little Folks, Vandalur Zoo, VGP Golden Beach Resort, Crocodile Bank and Muttukadu Boat House.

WHEN TO VISIT?

November to February are considered as the best time to visit the city.  The temperature in these month lie between 20-25 Degree Celsius. During daytime cool breezes from the sea which provide relief from the  hot weather.  The pongal festival – a major festival which is worth watching is celebrated in the month of January.The  Music & Dance festival is also held  in December.

WHERE TO GO?

KAPALEESWARAR TEMPLE

Kapaleeswarar temple

Kapaleeswarar temple

Kapaleshwarar is the ancient shiva temple which introduction to Dravidian temple sculpture and architecture. The fragmentary inscriptions are developed in 1250 AD. The structure was  renovated by the vijayanagara kings in the 16th century. The Gopuram which is 37m tall is magnificently  carved. The paintings gods and goddesses and saints depict the importance of Puranic legends. The ‘Punnai’ tree is one of the oldest trees in Chennai . This tree is responsible for giving Mylapore its name. Parvati goddess the wife of lord Shiva is shown in the term of a peacock, is shown worshipping ShivLing, Parvati is worshipped Karpagambal.

GUINDY NATIONAL PARK

A shot from Guindy National Park

A Shot from Guindy National Park

Once this was all part of Governor’s Estate, now it is fragmented and the major part is a thickly forested game sanctuary where the spotted deer and the black buck roam about and a wealth of smaller fauna thrive. This is the country’s only Wild Life Sanctuary within a city’s limits. Raj Bhavan, the Governor’s mansion, occupies one end of the Park, and at the other is the beautiful forest-gift campus of Chennai’s famous India institute of Technology, one of Asia’s foremost technical educational institutions. In between, and edging the road, are a famous Cancer Institute, a Childers’s Park with its own mini zoo and mini-railway, a Snake Park, rich in reptiles, and Memorials to Gandhiji, Rajaji, the first Indian Governor-General, and Kamaraj, a great national leader. Latest addition to this array of memorials is that of Bakthavatchalam, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Opposite the Park are the Anna University of technology, whose nucleus was the oldest technical school in the East; and the Central Leather Research Institute. To the east of the Park as well as at the back of it sprawls the campus of the Central Institute of Technology, Not far away is one of the country’s finest Racecourses.

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GOVERNMENT MUSEUM COMPLEX

Government museum complex

Government museum complex

Once British Society in Chennai used to meet in the Pantheon. Its 18th century buildings and grounds have over the years since then been developed into the Connemara Library, one of the country’s three National Libraries, the National art Gallery, a beautiful building of Jaipur-Mughal architecture, the Government Museum with its fabulous collection oi bronzes and the Museum Theatre, a quaint theatre that is another building out of the gaslight era.

VALLUVAR KOTTAM

Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam

A unique hit of modern building in the city is the huge auditorium that draws its inspiration from the great temple builders of Tamil Nadu’s past. This huge memorial hall to the Poet-Saint Thiruvalluvar is dominated by a towering temple car in stone.

THE MARINA

The Marina is the most magnificent beach of India. San Thome basilica, built in 1896  is at the southern end of the Marina. In the east are the promenade  gardens .In the north side of the beach is Anna Square which is the resting place of C.N,. Annadurai. His samadhi is surrounded by a beautiful park and striking memorial sculpture .The crowd is often visiting this place. Samadhi of M G Ramachandran, one of the most popular Chief Ministers of this State is nearby. In between, there are several statues of Tamil scholars and two splendid bits of sculpture -first is the  Victory of Labour and Mahatma Gandhi. The Marina beach claims to being the world’s second longest.

VANDALUR

Anna Zoological Park is the biggest in South Asia. The area ia bout 1,255 – acre . It is building up a marvellous collection of large variety of mammals, birds and reptiles. The animals are located in natural surroundings with vast areas for the animals to move freely. Bicycles are made available to see the zoo on the wheel .

WHERE TO SHOP?

The world famous Kancheepuram silk sarees comes from Chennai. It is also famous for its handloom factories. Many of the showrooms offers a wide variety of hand loom products. The khadi centres provides a large variety for cottons. The nalli and the Rasi showroom in mylapore and other saree shops are well know for their silk products. Chennai also is well know for its handicraft centres. Widest variety of South Indian handicrafts is offered by The Victoria Technical Institute. Anna Salai offers  shopping for all varieties of goods in western comfort and George Town offers the same in wide range.

WHERE TO EAT?

Speciality of Chennai is its Vegetarian food.  A large number of restaurants are available for very less fare. The best to look out for are the “Udupi restaurants”. Chennai’s “Military hotels ” are best option for non vegiterian food but a better option in terms of fare is provided by “chettinadu”. Chinese and punjabi hotels are also available in a wide range.

BOTTOM LINE

Chennai is a place where you can relax and achieve peace of mind. The marine beach and large variety of cuisine available are the factors contributing to a perfect trip.  If you are planning a trip to Tamil Nadu, Chennai must be the first place .

 

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