Introduction Chennai is the fourth largest city of India. In terms of area. It has a variety of things to offer to any tourist from anywhere in India or abroad. The best time to visit Chennai is between the 15th of December and the 20th of January of the next year. The climate will be extremely pleasant and the nights are quite cool. What is unique to Chennai is that it is fabulously connected to all parts of the city and the growing suburbs by EMU trains and the Metro city trains. And the Metropolitan city buses said to the second best after the Mumbai's BEST services in India.
Be that as it may, the five must-see places of Chennai city are a) The Marina beach b) The Vandalur Zoo c) The Theosophical Society of India d) Mahabalipuram and boating at Muttukadu and e) The Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore. The Must-do things at Chennai are a) Enjoy SaravanaBhavan tiffin and Murugan Idli Shop varieties b) Shop in T.Nagar and c) Just explore the city and its culture
The Marina Beach The best place to stay in Chennai is at one of the good lodges that are situated near Egmore. One can always do the booking online. From Egmore, it is easy to go towards Marina Beach. One has to just take an EMU train going towards Beach or take a bus going towards Broadway. There are many buses to Marina Beach from Broadway.
Marina Beach is the second largest beach in the world. One can go near the water and enjoy the lovely beach and experience the sound of water gently kissing our knees. The ideal time in December is 5 pm on any day. After this experience, one can take a big walk in the cemented platform now provided by the authorities. Though the walking area would be crowded, it is still a must-do thing to take a long walk in the night breeze. For instance, at around 7 pm. Experience the joy and feel it.
The Vandalur ZooThe Vandalur Zoo is situated at Vandalur which is now a highly developed suburb of Chennai. The distance between Broadway the city center and Vandalur is approximately forty kilometers. The EMU trains that go Chengelpattu also touch the Vandalur railway station. The best option is to have one's breakfast and plan to leave by the EMU train by 8 am. It will be great to see the zoo for three hours and then have lunch at Tambaram, which is just around fifteen kilometers from Vandalur.
The Zoo is not a mere zoo. It is a nice place with a good green environment that is a pleasure to watch.
The Theosophical Society of IndiaThis is the place where the famous philosopher J.Krishnamurthi stayed for a number of years. The suburb gardens that extend to several acres is a significant place to see for those who are philosophical and also for the nature-lovers. The greenery that one sees all-around is possibly the best in Chennai. This place is situated at Adayar, which is also well connected from all parts of the city.
The bus conductors understand English well and will respond. It is not wise to engage the auto drivers as they tend to charge more from newcomers to the city. The Theosophical Society of India will enable one to even develop a detached view of life and experience the inner peace of sorts.
Mahabalipuram and boating at Muttukadu Mahabalipuram is known as Mamallapuram in Tamil. It is an extremely nice place to see and enjoy. It has very ancient structures made of stones that date back to the Pallava dynasty. Though centuries old, they offer a nice experience to any tourist. One can Google to find out further details. It is possible to spend two hours here. Please do note that there are regular city buses to this place as well, which is situated at a distance of sixty-odd kilometers from Chennai. While coming back to the city, one should take some time to go boating in Muttukadu lake. It is maintained well and the boating charges are reasonable. The boating is itself a very nice experience.
The Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore This magnificent temple is said to be at least one hundred years old. From Broadway, there are hundreds of buses on route number 21. Just ask for the temple stop. One can see the fenced temple tank and walk across this place to reach the temple. The best time to visit the temple is at 8 am. After visiting the temple, one can have breakfast in any of the good hotels in and around the temple.
Enjoy SaravanaBhavan tiffin and Murugan Idli Shop varieties This is not to advertise any hotel. However, one has to eat what is called "paper dosa" at Saravana Bhavan. It should be noted that this chain of hotels is present in many parts of the world that includes the USA. It is so famous for the sambar they serve. Please do note that extra sambar is priced separately but if you want to drink the sambar, it is worth the money. The ghee dosa of Saravana Bhavan is also famous. One can also taste the special items that keep being served daily.
Murugan Idli Shop is famous for the idli powder soaked Idli and an outlet is available very near the Chennai Central Station itself. It is also famous for its onion uthappam, which is always prepared with only the small onions delicately roasted with the batter.
Shop in T.Nagar Chennai is a famous place for silk saris. One can find a good variety with a very good variety in the Nallis shop. There are competitors like RmKv, of late, but the former has a brand name that has been built over generations. One can find any number of sari shops offering such a big variety. Readymade jewelry shops are so many that one will find it difficult to choose. The informal sector also has a role to play. Just look around and find if you can find something interesting at the numerous shops at South Usman Road of T. Nagar. You can also try out a traditional Tamil thali at T. Nagar.
Explore the city and its culture The period between 14th of January and 21st of January of the year is actually a great holiday season on account of the "Pongal" season. During this season, just walk around any market and you don't need to buy anything. These days, many shopkeepers know Hindi as well. Yet, you will be amazed to see the kind of sugarcane that gets sold. The accompanying packets are special too. You can ask any number of questions and the people will patiently answer them. You could even take off to any village, where the festival of cows and buffaloes is celebrated with a missionary zeal.
It is extremely nice to shop around at Station Road, Mambalam. You will get a good variety of homemade pickles. More often than not, there are herbal preparations too. One can also find a large number of ancient Siddha Medicine shops also called "nattu marunthu Kadai", which is a Tamil phrase for village shops. In these shops, you will find traditional remedies for hair fall, control of diabetes and so on.
Take a bus to Adayar and alight at the "Adayar signal" stop. If you come to Adayar from the Saidapet side, this is the stop. Cross the road and walk a few steps alongside the mini-mall there. On your left ( on the IIT road), if you walk for ten meters or even less, you will find a shop selling hot oil snacks. It has been around for decades. Hundreds will come and buy the snacks. They are very tasty too.
Take a bus to OMR and just see the multi-storied buildings, particularly the Hiranandhani complex, where you can see the 45 storied building, and this is the tallest in Chennai as of now. Whatever has been mentioned above is just a sample. You will find thousands of professionals zipping around in costly cars. You will find the Phenix Mall at Velacheri, as good or if not better than any you can see elsewhere. Chennai has so much to offer that you will be tempted to be back again the city to explore more.
Conclusion Contrary to public perception, Chennai is no more the conservative city. It is an ultramodern metropolis that is well spread out. Unlike Bangalore, for example, it does not have a huge population density and since the suburbs are also developing fast with excellent connectivity, Chennai is the place to see and enjoy. Make it and you will find the experience rewarding and pleasant. Remember the best time of the year mentioned above. Also, remember to go around in buses that you will find everywhere. A hearty welcome to Chennai!!
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A good article from the author. Many times I had been to Chennai and visited almost all the important places in Chennai. Marina Beach a must watch and in the evenings of hot summer if you spend an hour or so you will feel very comfortable and happy.
I have also visited Mahabalipuram three or four times. But I was not so fascinated by seeing this. My expectations were different and I was disappointed.
I appreciate the taste of the author. Saravana Bhavan tiffin and Murugan Idli Shop are really good places to enjoy south Indian food. The button idli with sambar and ghee will have excellent taste and gives excellent satisfaction once we eat. Whenever I go to Chennai I will never miss having a plate of Idli in this place.
The Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore is really a good and peaceful place to visit. I had been there early in the morning and after having a good darshan I had a peaceful day.
I like the city more than many other cities in India.
While the Marina beach is vast and spacious to accommodate many tourists and locals on any day, what I feel is that the upkeep of the beach is not good. There seems to be no civic sense among the visitors as the wastage of eatables are thrown on the beach and the rags are left behind. The must-visit place is definitely the TSI garden, especially for those who are close to nature. The flora and fauna of this place are very enchanting. The author has mentioned the great Kapaleeswarar temple and quietly forgotten the great Parthasarathi temple near the Marina beach. Shopping at T-Nagar has become nasty these days due to the heavy rush, especially on festive days.