Better known for its shriveling tropical weather than the sightseeing opportunities abound, Chennai among the four Indian metropolitans is a rather unsung holiday destination. The capital city of Tamil Nadu is, in fact, a treasure trove of South Indian cultural heritage, and serves as an ideal base for exploring the numerous places to visit near Chennai.

Introducing Chennai

The best part of being in Chennai is experiencing its cosmopolitan character synchronized with historical traditions in massive doses. Some of the oldest Dravidian temples, churches, and colonial buildings dot the cityscape of Chennai. Alongside lay several contemporary attractions in Chennai, including world-class luxury hotels, shopping centers, boutiques, restaurants, pubs and night clubs. Staying here gives travelers an opportunity to savor the centuries-old art and architecture of South India and interact with locals who continue to be fervently in touch with their culture. Not to mention, one can gorge on all the South Indian delicacies at one of the upmarket restaurants, and all the while stay comfortably in the middle of luxury and conveniences of a modern world class city.

Pongal is the main festival in the city that marks harvesting revelries. The festival sees the entire Chennai landscape come alive with enthusiasm and fervor over a span of four days. Chennai also holds a prominent music festival every year, known as December Season. The music festival begins in mid-December and goes on up to mid-January celebrating the rich legacy of South Indian classical dance and music. The event occasions participation by all the eminent musicians and dancers of Tamil Nadu. Tourists must also not miss a performance of Bharatnatyam traditional dance whenever you plan to visit important Top 5 Places to see in Chennai India .

Heritage Places / Sightseeing in Chennai

A typical tour of Chennai Famous Tourist Places take visitors to the 7th century Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore followed by the hoary British Fort St. George and then over to the star Chennai Beach – Marina.  The Government Museum in Chennai is also one among the worth visiting places in Chennai besides Guindy National Park (situated inside the city) and the crocodile bank (in Mahabalipuram).

  • Marina Beach

    The world’s second-largest urban beach after Miami welcomes you here in Chennai at Marina Beach. The 13 km stretch of sun soaked golden sand is idyllic for strolls around sunrise/ sunset. The beach is neither safe for swimming or bathing owing to strong undercurrents along the shoreline. It’s a foodie’s haven, nonetheless, with several kiosks selling South Indian snacks, roasted corns, and ice-cream on the beach side. A walk along the sea shore is a must-do for history buffs as numerous historical monuments are present on the seafront. Do walk till the south end of the beach to get a panoramic view of the city off the recently re-opened Madras Lighthouse – the only Indian lighthouse with a lift.

  • Fort St. George

    On April 22, 1639, British East India Company bought land on the banks of the Bay of Bengal from the local monarch and completed construction of a small trading outpost on April 23, 1640. The establishment is believed to be the first ever establishment of the British in India that gave them a foothold to carry out their endeavors that later led to colonialization of India. The land laid the foundation for today's Chennai and the fort is nowadays known as Fort St. George.

    Erstwhile White Town comes across like a mansion. It is presently home to Tamil Nadu's Legislative Assembly & Secretariat, Fort St. George Museum and the oldest surviving British Church of India - the St. Mary's Church. The Fort's Museum displays fantastic relics of the British era, including military letters, uniforms, medals, and artworks from the colonial period.

  • Kapaleeswarar Gopuram, Mylapore

    Sacred seat of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati since 7th century – Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore is an excellent instance of Dravidian architecture. Some of the inscriptions on the temple are older than the temple and reportedly date back to 1250 AD. Another high point of the temple is its outer enclosure adorned with 63 bronze idols of various Saivite Saints (also known as Nayanmars).

  • Government Museum

    The Government Museum on Pantheon Road in Chennai is an excellent art gallery to get acquainted with the glorious past of South India. The premises of the museum also house the Contemporary Art Gallery, National Art Gallery and Children's Museum. Antique items on display here are as old as the 7th century and belong from the Pallava period. Some of the most impressive bronze sculptures in the museum include idols of Lord Shiva as Nataraja and Ardhnarishvara, dating back from 9th to 11th centuries when Chola dynasty dictated art and architecture in South India. Other vestiges to watch out for include Buddhist sculptures from 2nd century BC, relics of Vijayanagar from the 16th century and tribal artifacts belonging to humans from pre-historic times in the region.

  • St. Thomas Church / San Thome Basilica

    San Thome Basilica is a monumental Roman Catholic Cathedral in Mylapore situated at a stone throw away distance from the sea shore. The church is one among the three rare basilicas in the world carrying mortal remains of an apostle within. The church was originally founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently rebuilt by the British in 1896 to its present neo-Gothic form and fashion. The church is a shrine of national importance to Christians all over India.

How to reach Chennai

By Air

The Anna International Airport in Chennai conducts flights to and fro several international air routes. Kamraj National Airport in Chennai is the domestic airport.

By Rail

Chennai Central is the biggest and busiest railway station in Chennai. Trains that leave for other South Indian destinations from here are exceptionally neat, and as such, often chosen over air journey.

By Road

A well-developed network of roads connects Chennai within as well as with other parts of South India and the rest of India. Though state-owned roadway buses operate on almost all routes, plenty of private buses and taxi cabs are always available outside airports and railway stations for hire.

What is the best time to visit Chennai?

The tropical metropolitan city of India witnesses withering heat and humidity during the summer season, with maximum temperature often touching up to 42 degree Celsius. The monsoon season follows immediately after the summer season and sees quite a bit of rainfall. The weather begins to improve in Chennai from October onwards and stays pleasant till the end of February. As such, the best time to visit Chennai is during the winter season from November to February.