Famous As: Temple city of India
Chennai Climate: Normal
One of the British first toe-holds in India, Chennai is
a teeming, rambling, bustling industrial city established on the site
of a fishing village in 1639. The capital of the Southern state of Tamil
Nadu, Chennai is also the natural starting point for a trip to Kanchipuram,
city of "a thousand temples" and Mamallapuram, a magnificent
World Heritage Site.
History of Chennai
Though Chennai stepped into the historical limelight when the European
settlers set up this city on the site of a fishing village, the area was
an important place throughout the historical period. Ooriginally known
as Madras Patnam, the area was located in the province of Tondaimandalam,
that lied between Pennar river of Nellore and the Pennar river of Cuddalore.
The first to reach the site were the Portuguese in 1522. They built a
port and named it Sao Tome, after St. Thomas, one of Christ's disciples,
was martyred at the place after spending the final years of his life preaching
on a nearby beach.
The British regained control of Chennai in 1749 through the treaty of
AiX-la-Chapelle. Chennai rose to prominence under the British regime.
The city became an important English naval base during the latter half
of the 18th century. Chennai was the capital of the Madras Presidency.
After Indian independence in 1947 Chennai became the administrative and
legislative capital of Madras State that was renamed as Tamil Nadu in
Places of interest:
Chennai attracts its fair share of tourists, a majority of whom cannot
resist the seductive temptations of this intoxicating city.
Fort St. George –
An imposing architectural heritage, Fort St. George was built in 1640
AD by Andrew Cogon. A bastion of the British power in India, the fort
derives its name from St. George, the patron saint of England. Within
the compound of the fort are St. Mary's Church, Asia’s oldest existing
Anglican Church built in 1680, and Fort Museum, a treasure trove of paintings,
sketches, coins, weapons, uniforms, costumes and some other artifacts
dating back to the British period. St. Mary's church has several 17th-
and 18th-century tombstones.
The 8th-century Parthasarathy Temple, located off Triplicane High Rd.
is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Built originally by the Pallava rulers,
it was later modified by the Chola and Vijayanagara kings
Santhome Cathedral Basilica
Built on the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle, Santhome Cathedral Basilica
is a gothic style cathedral. Tradition has it that St. Thomas, one of
Christ's disciples, was martyred at the place after spending the final
years of his life preaching on a nearby beach.
In recent times shopping malls are mushrooming everywhere in Chennai
and you can buy anything in this metro. But the city has an extensive
range and variety of goods on offer, if you are going for souvenir shopping.
One of the better shops, Chennai’s Kalpa Druma (tel 242/356-5584)
guarantees offer good quality housewares, handicrafts, and antique pieces
of furniture. Fabindia (Ilford House, 3 Woods Rd.; tel. 044/2851-0395
or 044/5202-7015) sells fine cotton garments, kurtas (tunics), and ethnic
furnishings and linens. Cane & Bamboo (21 Marshalls Rd., Egmore; tel.
044/2852-8672) specializes in good-quality, attractive curios, trays,
bowls, spoons, lamps, and other wooden handicrafts.
There are many other antique and handicraft shops in Chennai including
Anokhi and Amethyst known for exquisite Western-style clothing and other
souvenir handicrafts made with Indian fabrics and design elements.
Make a beeline for the silk store of Nalli Chinnasami Chetty, in the
T. Nagar, near Panagal Park, known for its exquisite silk items. On C.
P. Ramaswami Road is located the Design Store excellent for chic, top
quality home decor with an ethnic touch.
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