Chennai, India – The Humble Metropolis
At first glance, Chennai (or Madras as it was earlier known) has nothing to write about. The weather is hot and humid, the streets filthy and the traffic chaotic. Behind the scenes however, the city is India’s fourth largest metropolis and a major economic hub.
It is an important port, home to several large manufacturing units and the 7.7 billion Indian rupee Tamil film industry. Some parts of the city have an old world charm largely influenced by the conservative Tamil people, the original inhabitants of the State of Tamil Nadu of which Chennai is the capital.
With its location on the coast, Chennai was a centre for trade even two thousand years ago when ancient seafarers from China, Greece, the Roman Empire and Babylon stopped here to trade for spices with the locals. Several ancient rulers from the Chola, Pallava, Pandya and Vijayanagara dynasties occupied the territory.
Portuguese and Dutch settlers attempted to colonize the area without much success. The British arrived in 1639 and established a settlement in the Fort St. George area. Soon local settlements were built around it to form the city that exists today. After independence, Madras was the capital of the Madras Presidency (renamed Tamil Nadu in 1968) until 1997 when the State Government reverted to the use of the original name Chennai.
When to visit
Chennai’s climate is hot and humid throughout the year. Mid May to early June is the hottest time of the year when maximum temperature can rise up to 42°C. January is the coolest month recording minimum temperatures of around 18°C. The city also experiences seasonal rains during the north east monsoon from mid-October to December. The coast is prone to cyclonic storms during this period.
What to see
Besides the colonial architecture of Fort St. George built by the British and the San Thome Cathedral built by the Portuguese, the temples in Chennai are worth visiting to see the marvelous ancient architecture as well as to get a feel of the local culture. The beaches are beautiful. Marina Beach in the city centre, which is the largest in the world stretching for 12km (though not very clean), Elliot’s Beach which is the cleanest in the city and Covelong Beach 40km away, which is a seaside resort for locals and tourists alike.
Like other Indian Metropolises, Chennai has many modern malls. The colourful street markets however, are where you will find traditional local handicrafts, silk and cotton textiles, and jewelry.
While the city has restaurants serving almost every type of Indian and international cuisine, don’t leave before sampling the local cuisine. Some favourites are Idli, Dosa, the South Indian vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf and the local style filter coffee.
Chennai is an easy city to get around. There is an excellent bus network. Auto rickshaws and taxis are easily available.
The city has accommodation to suit every budget. They are from plush five star hotels, serviced apartments to lodges for backpackers. For more information, search for Best Hotel Rates in Chennai at RecessBook.com by simply clicking on the “Search Hotels in Chennai” at the bottom of this page.
Tags: Best Hotel Rates in Chennai, Chennai, Chennai Hotels, Covelong Beach, Elliot’s Beach, Famous Places To Visit, Fort St. George, India, Madras, Marina Beach, San Thome Cathedral, Search Hotels in Chennai, State of Tamil Nadu