Chennai - Tourist Attractions
There are several tourist attractions worth visiting in and around Chennai. Stretched over an area of 13 km, Marina Beach is the second
longest beach in the world. The St. George Fort, built in 1653, is currently used as the state government's secretariat. Santhome
Cathedral was built around 14th/15th century and is another colonial structure worth visiting. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kapaleeshwar Temple is the oldest temple in Chennai. Another important temple in the city dedicated to Lord Krishna is Parthsarthy Temple. The National Art Gallery, initially known as Victoria Memorial Hall, houses a good collection of old paintings and sculptures. The Snake Park has a large collection of snakes and many other reptiles. The Theosophical Society is located in large and tranquil gardens with several shrines of different faiths and a Serene Garden of Remembrance. Nearby is the Kalakshetra, which was founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale for the revival of Indian classical arts and crafts traditions.
The temple was built in the 8th century by the Pallava kings of South India. It was renovated by the mighty Vijayanagar kings in the 16th century. The temple, situated in Triplicane, another beach in Chennai and one of the major harbours during Pallava time, is famed for the beauty of its gopuram (arched gateway) and its architecture. The entire locality is fashioned around the temple.
This temple was constructed in the 13th century and is a living example of the architectural skills of the Dravidians. Situated in the Malaypore area of Chennai, the temple is the nucleus of the local tank market and residential quarters around it. The main entrance facing east is painted in red, blue and yellow with Puranic legends sculpted on the sanctum sanctorum.
Built over the tomb of apostle St. Thomas, the Santhome Cathedral is an important pilgrimage centre. According to legends, St. Thomas arrived in India from Palestine in AD 52 and died after 26 year. The church was built after a millennium, probably by the Persian Christians, and his remains were moved inside. The church was refurbished in 1606 and made into a cathedral. Again, in 1806, it was rebuilt as a basilica. There is a museum in its premises with a 16th-century map of South Asia.
Fort St. George
The most powerful symbol of the British Empire in its early days in India, Fort St. George was the first piece of real estate for British in India. For many, it is still unclear that why Sir Day (the founder) choose this place to build this important fort, leaving many other picturesque locations on the vast coastline of the Bay of Bengal. The fort has a grey granite exterior unlike the Mughal forts that has lavish ornamentation and luxury. It housed barracks for the British army, a parade ground, and the oldest church of Chennai-the St. Mary's Church.
The beach extends from Fort St. George all the way to Mahabalipuram. The beach looks spectacular at dusk when the setting sun casts iridescent glow and peddlers sell everything from ice creams to roasted peanuts to balloons. You can also read your future from the fortune tellers and palm readers who lure the visitors by various means. Don't try to show your swimming skills here as the sea can get quite rough here.
National Art Gallery
Built in 1906, the gallery is situated in a splendid Indo-Saracenic edifice. The building was initially known as Victoria Memorial Hall and was designed by Henry Irwin. The eminent historian Tillotson described it as one of "the proudest expressions of the Indo-Sarcenic movement". There is a good collection of old paintings and sculptures including Tanjore paintings on glass; Rajput and Mughal miniature paintings; Deccan paintings from 17th century; and handcrafts, metalware, and ivory carvings from 11th and 12th century.
The Snake Park situated in the Guindy National Park in the Raj Bhavan Estate has a large collection of snakes and many other reptiles.
The Theosophical Society was founded by Madam Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott in New York in 1875 and moved its headquarters to Chennai in 1882. The society is set in large and tranquil gardens with several shrines of different faiths and a Serene Garden of Remembrance.
Kalakshetra, located around 1 km from the Theosophical Society, was founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale for the revival of Indian classical arts and crafts traditions.