If you don’t mind the heat of the sun but love to enjoy some warmth from the hearts, if you don’t mind the lack of rich greenery but happy with the richness of reception and if you consider the rich cultural background and the unassuming people more important, then Chennai is the city for you to be on a holiday. Chennai is not only the 4th largest Indian city but it is the 36th metropolitan city the world over. It is also one of must-visit places in Tamil Nadu. The rich heritage and tradition of the city are the reasons for it being referred to as the cultural capital of India. Chennai was established by the British during the 17th century. However, the city has a great historical past that is evident from some of the famous constructions in the city that stand the test of time to prove that the city is much more ancient than its accounted years. If you are planning a visit to Chennai, make sure that you do not miss the following 10 places to visit in Chennai.
1. Marina Beach
Marina Beach is naturally the instant choice for everyone that visits Chennai. This is the second longest beach in the world. The large expanse of silver sand allows for a great walk along the seashore. Sunrise and sun set views are picturesque in this perfect setting. Some of the sports activities possible in Marina Beach include fishing, wind surfing and beach volley ball.
Though Marina Beach owns the credit of being the second longest beach in the world, it is not as well maintained as it should be. However, if you love the soul of the city, you will love the place. This a place where you do not have an entrance fee but a lot of entertainment. You can watch fishermen starting their day out on the sea if you are here in the morning. The evenings are quite busy with people coming along with their families to have some entertainment here. The richest and the poor, famous celebrities and unknown common man frequent the beach. If you love to watch people, you could have a whale of a time here in the beautiful atmosphere.
2. Semmozhi Poonga
Semmozhi Poonga offers a great escapade from the scorching sun and it is a visual delight for your eyes tired seeing manmade buildings. The park was opened towards the end of 2010. Located at city’s center, the 20-acre park offers to view scenic landscapes and lush gardens. The well-maintained gardens have over 500 varieties of trees and plants from all parts of the world. This is apart from the trees that already exist in the area before the establishment of the park. Some of the trees are over 100 years old. The species of plants include medicinal plants and aromatic herbs. The artificial waterfall in the park looks real. Children will love the park, as there are many play structures to keep them entertained. Elders can go for a walk and several seating arrangements are provided to stretch. Semmozhi Poonga seems so far to have made genuine efforts to keep the place clean and green unlike some other places in Chennai, which do not enjoy the attention they need to be given.
3. The Huddleston Gardens Of Theosophical Society
The aim behind the establishment of Theosophical society is to create universal brotherhood where there is no distinction among human beings. The essence of the society is to blend the best of teachings of all religions to elevate the quality of humanity and its power. The world headquarters of Theosophical society is in Chennai. Located in Adyar, a part of Chennai, it commands respect from people belonging to all faiths. The society was established here in the year 1883. The 260-acre Huddleston Gardens is a birdwatchers’ paradise. You will find a wide range of migratory birds here. The banyan tree at the center of the garden immediately comes to mind amongst the people of Chennai, as the 450 and odd year old tree is one amongst the largest trees the world over. The tree covers a massive 59500 sq. ft area of land. This is one of the few places to feel one with nature and enjoy fresh air. This place elevates your soul.
The library inside the campus has great collections exceeding two lakh books. Other collections include palm-leaf manuscripts and many ancient books of various faiths.
4. Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Arignar Anna Zoological Park is the first ever zoo in India. The zoo was established in the year 1855. The zoo was initially in the Moor market from where it was shifted to Vandalur in 1976. The massive 510-hectare zoo houses over 170 species of wildlife. Some of the wildlife found here includes tiger, hyena, lion, panther, elephants and many more. Elephant rides and lion safaris are available. If you are up to it, you could walk the entire stretch of the park. If not, you can tour on the battery operated vehicle rides.
5. Pulicat Lake
Pulicat Lake is a ‘must visit’ place if you are in Chennai. Chennai is not green and you do not chance upon many places in Chennai that help you get closer to nature. Hence, taking a time away to be at Pulicat Lake becomes all the more important. Pulicat Lake is located on Tamilnadu’s border. The atmosphere is serene and you can have a relaxed day here. Boat rides are very popular here. While at boat, you are allowed to indulge in fishing. This is a great place for bird watching. Do not miss Nellapattu Bird Sanctuary located near Pulicat Lake as you will find rare species of birds such as flamingoes, kingfishers, pelican, ibis and many more. You could also find the ruins of a 17th century Danish fort.
6. Kapaleeswarar Temple
Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city. It is not clear as to who built the temple. Going by the songs by Nayanmars, it is believed that Kapaleeswarar Temple was built during the 7th century by Pallava Kings. The architecture is not as old as they seem to be around 400 years old. Hence, it is considered that Portuguese destroyed the original temple mentioned in the songs of Nayanmars and the present construction belongs to the 16th century. The temple stands a classic example of the Dravidian style of sculpture and architecture.
7. Breezy Beach
Chennai has many beaches and while Marina beach is the longest in Chennai, Breezy beach holds attraction for the unpolluted atmosphere. It is situated in Valmiki Nagar in Chennai. This small beach remains untouched by commercialization and hence very serene. This is a perfect place for a breezy walk and the sunsets are picturesque. The sea is clean and hence water sports are popular. People love to swim here. You could also go on a boat ride.
8. National Art Gallery
National Art Gallery was established in 1907. The influence of Indo-Saracenic architecture is evident in the red sandstone construction, which has four sections namely Tanjore Painting Gallery, Ravi Varma Painting Gallery, Indian Traditional Art Gallery and Decorative Art Gallery. Artists would love this place as it has on display some of the ancient paintings and handicrafts that date back to 11th century. The Rock and Cave Art Gallery here offers interesting moments with the setting of caves looking natural and with facilities such as interactive Son-et-lumiere, Tran slides and touch screen in the caves to make the session interesting.
9. Connemara Public Library
Connemara Public Library was established in the year 1896. You could find many unique and rare collections in the library, which boasts of possessing wealthier information across various subjects. The library itself is intricately designed and the architecture is a blend of Southern Hindu Deccani, Gothic, Rajput and Mughal. The library houses periodic hall, a video room and a reference room. Braille library is also found here. The collection of books is very impressive and they cater to the needs of the students and professors alike. The library is one among the four National Depository Libraries in India that receives copies of all newspapers, periodicals and books published in India.
10. Little Mount Shrine
Little Mount Shrine has a rich history associated with it. You can find the cave where St. Thomas went hiding before being martyred here. The lack of attention in preserving important structures and monuments is evident here too as you can find a rock that bears St. Thomas’ footprints, which was not given due attention earlier to preserve it for future generation’s view. The place offers a good view of the city and the Chennai airport. It is a worth a visit if you want to experience a touch of the past and enjoy some pleasant atmosphere.
Chennai’s top attraction is the warmth of the people. You will find perfect harmony among the people of Chennai, who do not take into account the forced differences in terms of religion, race and color. While the worst failing in Chennai is the lack of effort to preserve places of historic significance and keep the city clean, the awareness seems to be increasing. You will find that sincere efforts are being taken by individuals and organizations and one such example is Chennai Turtle Walk to save the endangered species. With consistent and genuine efforts, there may be more attractions to mention in Chennai, which is of world class.
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