Staying in Chennai - Places to Visit & Shop

This article describes about the various places to visit and shop goods and antiques in Chennai.

My Personal Travel Notes on my first visit to Chennai

I had heard a lot about the Kapaleeswarar temple, so made it a point to go there on my first visit to the city. It is well-known for its architectural beauty, especially its extremely tall pyramid structure (gopuram) that stretches towards the sky. It is located in Mylapore and is easily accessible by autos and cabs. As per a legendary lore, Parvati worshipped Lord Shiva here in the form of a peacock. The temple is also home to beautiful bronze figures of Lord Shiva's devotees.

So I was very excited to visit the temple. At the left side of the entrance, I handed over my footwear to the charge of a caretaker and got a token in return for collecting them later. I was truly awed by the tall gopuram and wondered at the superb mastery of the temple artisans who created the many idols and figures that grace the gopuram. I happily started clicking away and stepped over the threshold, camera at eye level to snap some pictures of the interior. A temple priest saw me, shouted something in Tamil and agitatedly flapped his hands, by which I understood that it was forbidden to take photos inside the temple precincts. Duly chastened, I put away my camera. Walking around the temple created an inner peace that is typical of a place of worship.

As you exit from the temple, on your left side there is a multi-storyed building (I can't remember the name!) where you can buy fragarant incense sticks and items related to worship. An interesting item that I bought for my aunt here is fragrant kumkum.

After spending some time in prayer at the Kapaleeswarar Temple, I headed to the Radha Silk showroom. Located just a few footsteps from the temple, ‘Rasi' as it is popularly known, has extremely fine silk sarees (naturally as it is south India!). However, there is far more than sarees to attract the avid shopper at this emporium. I veered towards the children's wear section, looking for something to gift my niece. I came across some adorable cotton skirts in various shades of blue and pink. I was happy to see the good quality fabrics and fine stitching work. Unfortunately, though, I did not get the size I wanted and I was sorely disappointed! Then I proceeded to the men's wear section and, believe me, I came across some of the finest men's kurtas I have ever seen to date. There was a vast range of colors and sizes and each one was impeccably designed. For the ladies, too, there are some lovely salwar-kameez sets for wearing at celebratory functions. Whether you are looking for casual or formal wear, Rasi is a definite shopping stop!

A major shopping destination in Chennai is the Saravanna Stores. It is not just a store, but a multi-storeyed building. Even in the early mornings, there will be a huge crowd of shoppers. By huge I mean really huge – it seems as though half the population of the city has converged here, not to mention visitors like me. Each floor is devoted to a particular type of goods – jewellery, clothes, bags, household provisions, sports items, stationery, etc. Many people rush here to buy their monthly provisions and gift items to take advantage of the low prices. There are plenty of tempting things to buy, but make sure you have some money left over to enjoy the equally low-priced food in the canteen. Try the dal-vadas and samosas and take some of the cake to try out later.

For bookworms, two places that are a must-visit are Crossword and Landmark. Both are beautifully designed spaces. The Crossword Shop has comfortably deep large chairs that you can sink into and read a book undisturbed – what bliss! Landmark's larger outlet at Spencer's Plaza is simply awesome. It is so vast that you will need an entire day just to browse through the whole space!

Then there are well-known garments / sarees / jewellery that are Chennai's landmarks, once again occupying entire buildings, such as Pothy's, Nalli's, etc. So there are no dearth of shops and malls to spend many happy hours in the shade away from the heat!

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Article by Vandana
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.

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