Formerly Madras, Chennai is the capital of India’s Tamil Naidu region and the country’s fourth largest city. The lively city is so diverse in its offerings you might find yourself staying longer than expected if you have a bit of extra travel time to play with. Beaches are a big draw here, as are temples, historical sites, and some seriously good food. Ready to visit? Here’s everything you need to know for when you get there.
There are a few options when it comes to getting into the city centre from the airport, and one of the quickest is by taking a prepaid taxi. You can book tickets from the counters in the arrival areas of the terminal buildings. Expect to pay INR 350 to 450 for the 30-minute trip. Autorickshaws are also widely available to get you into the city from the airport.
Chennai has a suburban train network consisting of four routes (the Chennai Beach–Tambaram/ Chengalpet is the most used line). The frequency of trains is generally good and it’s best to opt for a first class ticket during peak hours. Trains run several times hourly from 4 am to midnight and cost INR 5 to 10.
Things to do here-
Beach lovers will be happy in Chennai as there are many options for soaking up some sun on a pretty stretch of sand. Marina beach is the longest beach in India so you should have no problem finding space. The golden-sand beach is popular among both locals and tourists and you’ll find shops and food stalls with Indian snacks and ice cream. Another option is Thiruvanmiyur Beach, which tends to be less crowded than Marina Beach. If you get hungry, there are fish stalls serving up freshly caught seafood.
A visit to peaceful Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary, home to over 100 species of birds including flamingos, egrets, herons, sandpipers, and many more. This is one of the most famous bird sanctuaries in India and the second largest brackish water ecosystem in the country (brackish water is where salt and freshwater mix). The tranquil atmosphere might be just what you need after a few days of busy city living.
Kapaleeswarar Temple is devoted to the Hindu god, Shiva, and built in the Dravidian style of architecture. Located in Mylapore (a suburb of Chennai), the ornate temple dates back to the 7th century. The gopura (or gateway tower to the temple) is especially noteworthy as it’s covered in elaborate sculptures.
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