Chennai is the capital city of Tamil Nadu, located on the Bay of Bengal and is the third most populous city in India.Chennai or Madras, by whatever name you call it, it is a city of an interesting mix. Chennai is a city which has something to offer for everyone. Chennai has got a long coastline and some really lovely beaches you can chill out in. It has the planetarium, science museum, the government museum of arts , Kalakshetra school of fine arts, Mahabalipuram ,The Zoo, Crocodile bank and Snake park,Vedanthangal, St.Thomas Mount, Santhome Cathedral, Kapaleeswarar temple and whole pile of other places which will keep you entertained. All this combined with a plenty of options of good food, good places to stay, friendly people and good infrastructure for travel is what makes Chennai really attractive to tourists.

1. Marina Beach

Marina Beach

Photo by Thangaraj Kumaravel, CC BY 2.0

Talk about Chennai and the first thing anyone will remember is the beach. Chennai has the advantage of having long lovely clean stretches of beaches. This is the eleventh longest beach in the world. Because of the crowd the beach can hardly be called a clean beach though it is cleaned on a regular basis by the government and NGOs. The fun about going to Marina is not just the about playing in the water, but the being able to play in the sand as well as it is a naturally sandy beach. Marina is also a fun place for everyone as there are rides for the kids, shops for the family that sells trinkets and toys, plenty of street food on offer and it is an ideal place for kids to run around play.

2. Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram

Mahabalipuram

Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, CC BY 2.0

A bit of history, a bit of the beach, a bit of shopping and a bit of art – This place has it all. Mahabalipuram is about 60 kms from the heart of Chennai along the coast on the way to Pondicherry. It was a major seaport around 7th century AD . What remains of the 7th-century structures are the shore temple, the five rathas and some huge monolithic rock carvings. There is also a lighthouse which was built in 1894. It has been declared as a world heritage site It is ideal to stay locally for a day or if travelling, then drive from Chennai and visit all the places on the way including Tiger Caves, Kovalam beach, Fisherman’s Cove, Dakshin Chitra, Crocodile Bank, etc. Also along this coast are some pristine beaches that you will want to spend time in.

3. Birla Planetarium

The Planetarium complex houses a huge planetarium with shows in English and Tamil. Also in the complex are a 3D science theatre, a few galleries including transport, material science, innovation, life science, electronics and communication, physical science, fun mirrors, etc. Also, there is a huge outdoor science park, and exhibits like a real steam engine, a model of a rocket, etc. The outside area also includes a traffic park, an energy park, a park which shows the five types of lands, a dinosaur park, etc.

4. Fort St. George

Fort St. George

From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Built way back in 1644, this is the first British fort in India. The fort is currently used to house official buildings and the Tamil Nadu Assembly. There is a Museum open to the public which exhibits relics from the British period. Also, this museum has the first ever Indian flag that was hoisted. The St.Mary’s Church, which is the oldest Anglican church is also in this campus. Robert Clive’s marriage was solemnised here.

5. Vandalur Zoo

Vandalur Zoo

Photo by Rasnaboy, CC BY-SA 3.0

Aringnar Anna Zoological Park is one of the largest zoological parks in Southeast Asia. This is one of the most modern and well-managed zoo and is also the centre for breeding many animals in captivity. Though there are separate snake parks and crocodile bank, the zoo houses all kinds of animals including them. This is kind of an all in all place with an aquarium, aviary, serpentarium, butterfly garden, nocturnal house, etc.

6. Government Museum

Government Museum

From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chennai government museum is the second oldest museum in India. It is a museum of art, history and culture. Among other buildings, the campus also houses the huge Connemara public library, a National art library and a Science museum for children. The museum is supposed to house the biggest collection of Roman antiquities anywhere outside of Europe!

7. St. Thomas Mount

St. Thomas Mount

Photo by Nvvchar, CC BY-SA 3.0

The speciality of this places is that St.Thomas attained martyrdom here in 72 AD. The church itself was built in 1523 by the Portuguese on the small hillock. At some stage, for a few years, this place was also used as a lighthouse. It is a nice place to visit whether as a religious visit or a touristy trip.