CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU

Chennai

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The first British settlement in India, Chennai still has a fine legacy of colonial architecture which display a wide range of influences from the elegant classical style of the 18th century to the much more eclectic Anglo-Indian school of the late 19th century. Like all Indian cities, it has become busy and chaotic, but there is gentleness in the south and the occasional melody of Carnatic classical music and the gongs of church bells that can be heard above the cacophony of work-hour traffic. Unmistakable is the aromatic smell of freshly brewed filter coffee, the fragrance of jasmine flowers and the sight of rice crepes or dosas rolled out on a hot griddle by the roadside, quintessential south Indian attributes. However, it is the latest of a line of Indian cities that is hurtling into the 21st century, and now even has a small but impressive collection of trendy shops, coffee bars and nightclubs.
Most people head off to the beach resorts at Mahabalipuram or Pondicherry but, if you are spending time in Chennai, the Fort museum has an interesting collection of military and naval memorabilia. Marina Beach stretches by the side of the main highway, making this stretch the most picturesque drive across the city. Take an evening walk along the Marina, watch families enjoying a seaside picnic, colourful kites flying high into the skies as the sun disappears into the horizon. For a deeper understanding of the Dravidian South, take time out to head to Dakshin Chitra, a museum which offers glimpses of art, architecture, crafts and performing arts of the region.

Experiences In And Around Chennai

Chennai - Beyond the Taj, Chennai
Chennai - Beyond the Taj, Chennai
Chennai - Beyond the Taj, Chennai
Chennai - Beyond the Taj, Chennai
Chennai - Beyond the Taj, Chennai
Chennai - Beyond the Taj, Chennai

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The first British settlement in India, Chennai still has a fine legacy of colonial architecture which displays a wide range of influences from the elegant classical style of the 18th century to the much more eclectic Anglo-Indian school of the late 19th century. Like all Indian cities, it has become busy and chaotic, but there is gentleness in the south and the occasional melody of Carnatic classical music and the gongs of church bells that can be heard above the cacophony of work-hour traffic. Unmistakable is the aromatic smell of freshly brewed filter coffee, the fragrance of jasmine flowers and the sight of rice crepes or dosas rolled out on a hot griddle by the roadside, quintessential south Indian attributes.
A beautiful two-hour ride along the scenic East Coast Road from Chennai gets you to the seashore town of Mahabalipuram. The magnificent Shore Temple, although ravaged by the elements and the pounding ocean waves, still reflects the glorious past of these intrepid merchants
Pondicherry has an unusual, enchanting Mediterranean atmosphere not felt anywhere else in India. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, and today it stands as a living monument to French culture in India as it was only ceded to the Indian union in 1954. The White Town with its tree-shaded, leafy lanes is still reminiscent of the Mediterranean with its seaside promenade, immaculately white painted buildings, cobbled paths of the French Quarters and its pretty colonial bungalows all of which lend a quaint charm to this tiny city.