Chennai City Information
Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. Known for its beaches, old historic buildings, the very old colleges, great South Indian food, the heat, the lights and the traffic – this is one of the Indian cities which has a constant buzz ! It is one of the biggest cultural, economic and educational centres in South India and Chennai is among the most visited Indian cities by foreign tourists. It was ranked 43rd most visited city in the world for year 2015 and in the Quality of Living Survey, Chennai was rated as the safest city in India.
Chennai has a tropical wet and dry climate, but is prevented from extreme variation in seasonal temperature because it lies on the coast. Chennai was named the “hottest” city by BBC in 2015 as temperatures can soar to 42 degrees Celsius in peak summer season which extends from May to early June, while in December and January, the temperature ranges between 19 to 24 degrees Celsius. The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north–east monsoon winds, from mid–October to mid–December. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal sometimes hit the city.
Chennai is primarily divided into North, South, Central and West parts. The North side is mainly an industrial area whereas the Central part is the commercial heart of the city. Earlier, South and West Chennai used to primarily boast of residential areas but in recent years, many information technology firms, financial companies and call centres have mushroomed, slowly changing it to a commercial zone.
Chennai is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. It is a major centre for music, art and culture in India and is famous for its lively theatrical scene and more importantly is the hub for the classical National Dance of India, Bharatanatyam. Chennai is also home to most educational centres in South India.
As per an article published by Lonely Planet in 2015, Chennai is one of the top ten cities in the world to visit and they also ranked Chennai as the ninth best cosmopolitan city in the world with a mix of both traditional and modern values. Chennai is also known as “India’s health capital” and attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, as well as 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. Some leading medical institutes usher in the people looking for the best of treatments.
National Geographic ranked Chennai’s food as second best in the world and it was the only Indian city to feature in the list.
Some of the most conducive factors such as the location and its proximity from a sea port, infrastructure, flexible industrial and government policies have lured the best of the automobile industry like Ford, Mitsubishi, Daimler, BMW, Renault Nissan and Hyundai to set up their plants in the city and thus Chennai is nicknamed “The Detroit of India”, with more than one-third of India’s automobile industry being based in the city.
Automobile sector, software services, hardware manufacturing, healthcare and financial services are the pillars of Chennai’s economy. Chennai is also an important gold market in India. Companies like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Satyam, HCL, EDS, Accenture, Sun Microsystems and HP form the software industry, whereas Ashok Leyland, Royal Enfield, TAFE, MRF, Dunlop have also selected Chennai as a home.
Some popular places to visit in Chennai are the old churches and temples like the St.Thomas Mount, St.Thomas Cathedral Basilica, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Shirdi Sai Baba Temple – Mylapore, beaches like the Marina beach with the MGR Memorial, Edward’s Elliot Beach, St.George’s Fort, Guindy National Park, ISCKON Temple, Nanmangalam Reserve Forest and lots more. The sandy beach and the scenic backwaters of the Alamparai Fort on the outskirts of Chennai is a must-see even though it is in a destroyed state now. The beauty of this place makes it a favourite of notable Tamil movie makers.
Some of the other scenic places near Chennai, worth visiting are : Yercaud, Nandi Hills, Yelagiri, Vellore, Tirupati, Puducherry, Pulicat and Mahabalipuram amongst others.
AbhiBus Services (India) Private Limited, which is India’s 2nd largest Bus Ticket selling company, offers several bus services from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and many, many more into Chennai !
Picture credits – Siddhartha Joshi in the Wanderer