Once known as Madras, it is the center of the cultural and artistic heart of India, as clarified on our list of the best things to do in Chennai. Classic South Indian fare, fashion and hospitality are offered from the beach of Marina Beach, the historical center of Mylapore. If you are looking for a party, then there is the best head from the city to nearby Mahabalipuram. But if you want to understand how ancient India lives in a bustling urban city, Chennai has a lot to see and do.
Chennai | Best things to do
1. Kalakshetra Foundation
What is this? A school, cultural academy, museum and performance center all rolled into one. Kalakshetra is dedicated to the preservation and teaching of classical Indian dance, music, art and history. Established in 1936, it represents the essence of South India.
Why go there? Whether you are an aficado or just want to experience the best of Tamil art and culture, a visit to Kalakshetra is a must. There is so much to do – visiting the museum and the Arts and Crafts Center, relaxing in the leafy grounds – but do not miss catching the performances of classical dance artists.
What is this? The hottest restaurant on the Chennai food scene. Avartana takes authentic South Indian cuisine from home and in the modern world.
Why go there? There is nothing artificial about the avatar. Instead of using molecular gastronomy for this, chef Ajit Baghera treats the traditional tastes of the South with respect and transforms them into something that a traditionalist lungi finds in a knot. You will never see a humble plate of curd rice in the same way again.
3. Georgetown Bazaar
What is this? Known in the bygone days as Black Town, this is the place where locals trade everything from vegetables and spices to bangles and stationery.
Why go there? You can tell a lot about a culture from its markets and Georgetown market is quintessential Madras. When you can visit this historical area alone, a guide can introduce you to the stories of previous generations and most importantly how to align you with the best of them.
4. Night safari at Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
What is this? The largest crocodile sanctuary in India, is home to 17 different species.
Why go there? Crocodiles are nocturnal animals, so the best time to see them in action is after dark. Looking for one of the most dangerous animals in the world, having nothing to do with the moonlight and a small flashlight. This is a rare opportunity for crocodiles to see, breed and protect their home ground.
5. Kapaleeshwarar Temple
What is this? One of the oldest temples in Chennai, dedicated to the doomed Lord Shiva. Originally built in the seventh century by the Pallava dynasty, the Kapaleeswarar temple was demolished by the Portuguese and rebuilt in Mylapore ten centuries later.
Why go there? To explore the intricately carved entrances, there are inner sanctum and several temples. , ‘Tank’ is the central point for festivals, refreshments and of course the magnificent array of temple offerings. Select a dessert to present on your way and grab a filtered kappi (coffee) from your path.
6. Olive Ridley Turtles
What is this? Every Friday and Saturday night between December and April, the Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network allows locals and tourists to join them, as they collect olive turtle eggs and keep them in a safe hatching ground.
Why go there? It is rare to see endangered Olive Ridley turtles in close quarters in India. This experience allows you to get closer to the gestational process; Collecting eggs, seeing how they have taken care in the hatchery, then releasing the hatching into the sea.
7. Marina Beach and Fort St George
What is this? The British East India Company lives on the edge of historic Fort St. George and nearby Marina Beach in spirit in colonial architecture.
Why go there? To see the former house of the British Raj. Take to the streets, watch the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and soak in the atmosphere of an era. If you are interested in military memorabilia, do not miss the Fort Museum. Otherwise, visit Marina Beach and join the beach cricket friendly game with local children.
8. Thalankuppam Pier
What is this? A quiet fishing spot where the Thalankuppam River meets the sea.
Why go there? To avoid respect and chaos. It is a popular film location, if you are lucky you may also get a chance to be extra. The best time to travel (and take a spectacular selfie) is sunrise and sunset. Why not practice your salute to the sun with sparkling waves as your background?
9. Saravana Bhavan
What is this? A humble family restaurant, which became a global chain that serves traditional Tamil food in the morning, afternoon and night.
Why go there? Start off your day with a hot hot idli (salty rice cake) dipped in malagapodi (appropriately nicknamed ammo). For lunch, fix your thin paper with a delicious array of lip-smoking chutneys. Finish with a combo to present the best South Indian cuisine.
10. T. Nagar
What is this? A neighborhood where all the people of Chennai dine, shop, celebrate and do some more shopping. If you cannot find what you are seeing here, it is not worth having.
Why go there? During the winter months, T.Nagar (abbreviated from Tyagaraya Nagar) hosts performances from classical musicians and traditional dancers. While it runs in a crowd, it is actually shopping that keeps people coming back. Bring patience and be ready to fight your way through the crowd for a bargain. If you are looking for a saree, then leave it in Nalli, since 1928 to make room for the exquisite Kanchipuram silk.
SIMILAR ARTICLE – MAHABALIPURAM
11. Cholamandal Artists Village
What is this? Since 1966, the Cholamandal Artist Village has been the largest artistic commune in India.
Why go there? This commune is known as one of the birthplaces of modern art in South India. Walk through artists’ studios, galleries and workshops, chat with creatives, and maybe even pick something unique that will make you feel beautiful in the years to come.
12. The Theosophical Society
What is this? A huge park in the middle of a crowded city.
Why go there? To rest. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, soak in the smell of seasonal blooms, and listen to the chirping sounds of birds hidden within the branches of ancient banyan trees. Explore monuments that celebrate religion in all its forms, ranging from gardens to Buddhist temples to Zoroastrian temples.
What is this? The best ice cream parlor of Chennai.
Why go there? With over 250 flavors, choosing the right scoop can be challenging, so make it easy for you. When in Chennai you can go to a scoop or three of Mami’s filter kapi (coffee) ice cream. Indian filtered coffee is traditionally served in a stainless steel glass with frozen milk, but we are no exception in this instance.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chennai
Q. What is Chennai famous for?
A – Chennai is nicknamed “The Detroit of India“, with more than one-third of India’s automobile industry being based in the city. Home to the Tamil film industry, Chennai is also known as a major film production centre. Chennai is one of the 100 Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under the Smart Cities Mission.
Q. What language do they speak in Chennai?
A – Tamil spoken in Chennai uses English words liberally, so much so that it is often called Madras bhashai (Tamil for “Madras language”). Other languages spoken in the city include Telugu, Malayalam and Urdu and they contribute to the vocabulary of Madras bhashai as well.
Q. What is famous in Chennai to buy?
A – The Best Places to Buy Souvenirs in Chennai
- Chennaigaga. One of the most popular items you can get when it comes to souvenirs is graphic t-shirts.
- Spencer Plaza.
- Old Curiosity Shop on Mount Road.
- CHAYA – Tanjore Art & More.
- Artefacts from Mahabalipuram.
Q. What can we do in Chennai at night?
A – Things to do in Chennai at Night:
- Catch a Night time Movie.
- Go for a Peaceful Stroll along Marina Beach.
- Immerse yourself in the rich culture of South at Kalakshetra.
- Gather your tribe and go for a pub crawl.
- Venture out in the world of supernatural in the city.
- Watch a movie at an Open Air Theatre with your friends.
Q. What clothes to wear in Chennai?
A – Western women who work in Chennai wear jackets and trousers, with shirts/blouses. Alternatively, skirts and blouses/jackets. It’s no different from other places, but I’d generally advice modesty. My list of no-no’s includes deep cleavage, eye-popping tight shirts/straining buttons, halter necks, spaghetti straps etc.
Q. What is famous in Chennai to eat?
A – Street food of Chennai
- Idli and Sambhar, a common dish in Chennai.
- Dosai Chutney Hotel Saravana Bhavan.
- Onion Tomato Uttapam.
- Pongal with chutney,sambar,vada.
- Vada sambar chutney.
- Milagaai Bajji or Chilli Bhajji.
- Pista Kulfi.
Q. What can I buy from Chennai?
A – From local shops selling detailed metal works from Thanjavur, exquisite stone carvings from Mamallapuram, traditional products like Pattamara mats, bronze and brass castings and silver jewellery from Kumbakonam, leaf handicrafts from Tirunelveli, and shimmering silks from Kanchipuram to well-equipped and enormous malls
Q. Can we go to Marina beach at night?
A – A free, late night activity to enjoy in Chennai is along walk on the beach. … You can pick up snacks at food stalls on and around the beach.
Q. How many beaches are there in Chennai?
A – The 5 best beaches in Chennai are Marina Beach, Elliot’s Beach, Thiruvanmiyur Beach, Covelong and VGP Golden Beach as you keep going south. Each has a distinct vibe and ample reason to visit.
Q. How is nightlife in Chennai?
A – Chipstead is one of the most common places for weekend parties in Chennai. The contemporary stylish décor and relaxed ambience make it a popular options. Why not enjoy nightlife in Chennai with some lip smacking finger food, beer, artisanal spirits, and a pack of good friends!