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Chennai (Madras) Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Chennai (Madras) vacation

Getting to Chennai Airport 4 stars
Chennai Airport is located very close to the city, nevertheless to get there by taxi or autorikshaw won’t be cheap. Expect to pay 300-500 Rupees for the ride. But there is also the way to get to the airport by public transport. Take one of the suburban trains from Chennai Egmor to Tirusalam station, which is located just 500 meters away from the airport. Trains are running from early morning till late evening. The 45-minutes ride would cost you just 6 Rupees in second class. On arrival to the airport make sure, that you printed out your electronic ticket. Without it you won’t be allowed to enter the terminal building.


Chennai weather : Nature’s flaw 1 stars
Gosh, Chennai is an exasperating city. I’ve always been there in passing (thank goodness) and even those few hours or days have been agonizing. Besides the maddening crowds and illogical communication and flowing garbage that abound in the city, it’s the weather that really fries my cerebral cortex.
The weather in Chennai is always (or every time I’ve been there) hot and humid. I learnt the meaning of ‘sultry’ and felt like a gingerbread man being re-baked.
If the weather didn’t beat down on me like a crabby old woman with a rolling pin, I might even have explored the prettier parts of town. I hear there are some.


Local Hospitality 5 stars
Walking along the rivers in Indian cities will eventually lead you to the poorer districts of the city. Polluted stretches of river where some Indian families live together in ramshackle structures made from mud bricks, plastic sheets, wood and occasional sheets of corrugated iron. Sticking out like a blind cobblers thumb in theses areas I would usually be surrounded by crowds of enthusiastic kids who’d want their picture taken.

On this particular occasion one kid’s father was sitting outside his door and instructed his kid to bring me in. So I went into a one room house as big as the smallest room in my small council house and met this man’s wife, some elderly relatives and a couple of his kids. He made tea from a blackened kettle over a fire on the floor as his family talked to me in mimes and gestures. By the time he had the boiled the water, let it cool and boiled it again (obviously as a precaution due to my weak western stomach) I think every kid in the neighbourhood was outside craning their necks for better views of the sunburned baldy westerner with the big beard inside. The kid who brought me in just stood at the door, loving the power, shouting at kids he didn’t like and allowing his friends in until his Dad would kick them out again.


Birla Planetarium 5 stars
The Tamilnadu or the Periyar Science and Technology Centre as it is popularly known, encompasses a Science Centre and a Planetarium. Eight galleries on themes of Physical Science, Transport, Electronics & Communication, Energy, Materials Science, Life Science, Innovation, International Dolls and Children, with over 500 exhibits, make the visit to the Centre, a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience.

Galleries display exhibits of the interactive variety. So, you can participate directly in the learning process and satisfy your curiosity about scientific principles and developments taking place in Science and Technology from time to time.

The Solar System, Cycle of Stars, Sky and Seasons, Comets, Man on the Moon - exciting celestial topics envelop you in a unique imbibing process. Incidentally, they also happen to be the highlights of the Planetarium’s unique programs since its inception in 1988. An entirely novel concept is being used to carry the message of science to the remotest areas - Science on Wheels – a mobile science exhibition.

What’s more, the planetarium plays home to the most modern, sophisticated and versatile GM II projector. The accompanying special effects projector, recreates some of the most awe inspiring heavenly phenomena on the specially perforated aluminium inner dome.

If you’re a nature lover or an environmentalist for that matter, then the energy and eco park would be just the right place for you to step across. Get acquainted with the working utilities of solar energy, wind energy and bio-gas in the former park. An entire forest has been simulated in the eco park - water, plants, life models of animals, the lion, tiger and deer, a definite crowd-puller with kids.

The Science and Technology Centre is open on all days except on national holidays, from 10 a.m. to 5.45 p.m. Timings for cosmic shows in the planetarium (English) are 10.45 a.m., 1.15 p.m. and 3.45 p.m. In Tamil, the show timings are 12 noon and 2.30 p.m.


High Court 3 stars
The Chennai high court is made of red brick and is a very historic place. It is believed to be one of the second largest judicial buildings in the world.

Red sand stone construction, Ornamental decorations on the walls, stained glass windows and minarets add beauty to this building. The compound has a pyramid shape tomb, which belongs to the only son of Elihu Yale, who died in infancy. A fine example is Court No 13, which has stained glass, fretted wood work, carved furniture, silvered panels and a painted ceiling.

The High Court is on Parry's Corner, which is also Chennai's biggest market, so you can do plenty of shopping while you're in the area!


The MGR Film City 2 stars
If you've heard of Bollywood, you must have heard of it's Tamil counterpart - Kollywood! It's as exciting and glamourous and is found in Chennai. The MGR Film City is a recently built complex featuring the sets and studios of Tamil Nadu Film Industry. The complex was built by the state government to facilitate the business of state film industry.

The place provides some lavishly built sets for outdoor shooting. The film complex includes a great strech of land encompassing artificial scenery like forests, market places, waterfalls, etc. The place is also provided with hi tech equipment required in professional film making. The film city complex has the largest air-conditioned floors throughout the lands of Asia.

Best of all: free public access all day long! And you're almost a hundred per cent sure to run into at least one star!


Chennai 5 stars
I have lived in Chennai for twenty years and I have loved every bit of it. It is my favourite place in the world. Chennai is full of different types of people and I think it is the only metropolis in India that retains its individual culture. Chennai never bothers to ape the West. Chennai's culture reflects its diverse population.

The city is known for its classical dance shows and Hindu temples. Every December, Chennai holds a five week long Music Season, which has been described as one of the world's largest cultural events. In December, there is always something going on in every single part of the city. Chennai comes alive.

Chennai is also known for the classical Indian dance, the Bharatanatyam, which is also the official dance of Tamil Nadu. An important cultural center for Bharatanatyam is Kalakshetra (Sanskrit for "place of the arts"), located on the beach in the south of the city.

Chennai has a vibrant theatre scene, with a large number of Tamil plays being performed. In general, Tamil theatre is divided into the sabha-oriented theatres, which are parodies on political issues or trends supported by slapstick comedy, and the non-sabha oriented theatre, which includes serious plays and historical plays.

Chennai is the base for the large Tamil movie industry, dubbed Kollywood after the locality of Kodambakkam where most of the movie studios are located. The industry makes about 300 Tamil movies a year and its film soundtracks dominate the music scene in the city. If you're a mivie buff, visit the Film City!

Chennai definitely has the best cuisine in South India. You could live in Chennai for years and still not have sampled all its cuisine. If you're in Chennai, make it a point to eat out often.

Shopping in Chennai is all about beautiful fabrics. That's the thing that Chennai is most famous for. Sarees and cloth are available all over the city and pretty cheap too.


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