Welcome to Chennai !
Welcome to Chennai, the city of Arts !
Chennai is a one of the major trade, cultural and economic center of India. Previously called Madras, the city is India's fourth largest metropolis with more than 7 millions of inahabitants. Also the capital of Tamil Nadu State, Chennai was an ancient british colony. Indeed, Madras was an outpost of the British East Indian Company and the government changed the city name in 1996. Chennai is especially known for the teaching of Baratanatyam, a famous classic dance and for being the biggest production movies site of India ahead Bombay, and we know how much Indians love cinema.
The city has an incredible cultural heritage. Don't miss to visit the town center, you will be impressed by the architectural diversity. If you are interested by the colonial past of this city, you have to discover some Brtitish-built buildings like the Fort Saint George. Admire the architecture, relics and statues inside which remind us the british domination. The entire town is dotted with multiples religious buildings that you have to see like the Saint Mary Church and the Kapalishwara Temple dedicated to Shiva, built in the 7th century.
Chennai is obviously famous for its sandy beaches, historic landmarks and parks, but also for be the automobile capital of India. Indeed, the city has an excellent infrastructure for automobile industry and manufacturing units of companies like Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen. The Chennai port is the second largest port of India and become a hub for containers, cars and project cargo. The city saw also the rise of IT offshore where are stelled the most important indian companies of IT services.
Go to see a show of Baratanatyam, the ancestral dance of India. You will learn some basics and graceful routines in one of the several schools renowned in the town. The Kalakshetra school is known worldwide for teaching this style and giving also indian traditional instruments classes. Chennai is also famous for the Carnatic music, traditional music from South India that you can enjoy during the festival "Music season" from December to January. Relax yourself on the vast Marina Beach, the second largest beach of the world and enjoy some indian and tamil gastronomic specialities in many of the restaurants. Then after the walk, enjoy a Tamil movie in one of the various theatres in this city. It's hard to leave out this culturally rich city without decorating your hands with the typical ceremonial artwork, the mehendi. Like that, you will remember the city of arts at every moment during 3 at 4 weeks.
You can attend to some events as the Karthikai Deepam and Diwali, the festivals of lights in November. On this occasion, people celebrates with light lamps, firecrackers, fireworks at night, wear new clothes, clean their houses and offers gifts of sweets. Others musical festivals are organised through the year like the "Music Season", one of the largest cultural event in the world. It's the celebration of the emblematic music and dance style of South India, the Carnatic style, which more than 600 artists come across from India to perform.
If you are searching souvenirs, you have the wholesale George Town, where you can find everything from jewellery to textiles and cosmetics. The atmosphere is pleasant and the streets are nice to walk around. Then there are the colourful streets markets, with plenty small shops of sarees and beautiful flowers stalls. For the shoppers who want to satisfy their desire, the Spencer Plaza is one of the biggest shopping malls in South Asia. You will find everything from clothes to electronics and souvenirs to offer as gifts.
There is a lot of traffic jam, so the buses are not the best means of transport. The metro and trains network is efficent and can take you to the mains centers and touristic attractions but to avoid during the rush hour when it becomes very crowded. The best way to move quickly and cheaper across the city stays the taxis. You can also tried the Rickshaws, an original and comfortable transport but a little bit expensive.
Chennai has a tropical climate. The dry season is from January to September. Overall, the climate is hot and humid for most of the year. The temperature exceed frequently 104°F between May and June. It's recommanded to go between November and January when the temperature is around 83° F.
Standard time zone : UTC + 5:30
The official language is the English, like in the rest of India. But the majority of the population is tamoul and so their mother tongue is the Tamoul. However, Chennai is a multicultural city in which people belonging to different regions have brought their own languages like French, Portuguese, Dutch, Telugu, Urdu, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi and Malayalam.