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Chennai formerly known as Madras is the capital city of Tamil Nadu state and is the fourth largest metro city in India. The city grew up around the English settlement of Fort Saint George and gradually absorbed the surrounding towns and villages. However, despite the strong British influence, Chennai has retained its traditional Tamil Hindu culture and effectively blended it with the foreign influence. The city is widely spread in about 180 Sq. Kms. It is a major trade center, being well linked by road, rail and air to important cities besides being a sea port. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted.
Chennai is a journey into timeless India, a kaleidoscope of moods. rich in the treasures of history, from temples and shrines to forts and palaces, the landscape of the past lives easily with the present. Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamil Nadu. Retaining much of its traditional charm, this 350 year old city is the gateway to the south, providing many a fascinating vignette of southern heritage.
With the decorative domes and corridors reminiscent of Indo-Saracenic architecture and the adjacent Parry's corner are the important landmarks of Chennai . This area is always crowded and active. Built in 1892, the High Court of Chennai is believed to be the second largest judicial complex in the world.
Marina Beach, the pride of Chennai is the second longest beach in the World and has a wide sandy foreshore. Situated on the beach, the Anna and MGR Samadhis which are memorials of the most popular former Chief Ministers of the State attract good crowd everyday. An aquarium is also located on the Marina Beach. Some of the most beautiful buildings in Chennai such as the University of Chennai, Senate House, Chepauk Palace, Presidency College, and Ice House are located on this beach drive.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple was originally built by the Pallavas in the 8th century AD. Though additions were later made to it by the Chola and Vijayanagara Kings.
Not far from Triplicane, in Mylapore, there is yet another 8th Century Pallava Temple. The temple 'Gopuram' (tower) is in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple has some most beautiful sculptures, along with the bronze idols of 63 Saivaite Saints (Nayanmars) which adorn the outer courtyard are rare specimens. Also is the courtyard under the old Punnai tree is a small shrine depicting Goddess Parvathi in the form of a Peacock, worshipping Lord Shiva. It is from this legend that Mylapore derived its name - ''Myil" meaning peacock and 'Oor' meaning town. Mylapore swarms with life during the Arubathumoovar festival that is held in March-April every year.
San Thome at the southern end of Marina derives its name from St Thomas, the apostle of Christ who is believed to have come to Madras sometime during 52 AD. He was killed on St Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD. and was interned in San Thome beach where a church was later built. Several years later, another church was built further inland and his mortal remains were transferred from the old church to the new one. In 1606 the church was rebuilt as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica. The beautiful stained glass window at the basilica portrays the story of St Thomas and the central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. In the cathedral is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin Mary which is believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543.
The Deer Park 595 acres in extent, situated adjacent to Raj Bhavan was originally a part of the Governor's Estate. Now it is fragmented and the major part is a thickly forested game sanctuary where the spotted dear and the black buck roam about and a wealth of smaller fauna thrive. This is the country's only Wild Life Sanctuary within a city's limits. Raj Bhavan, the Governor's mansion, occupies one end of the park, and at the other is the beautiful forest-girt campus of Chennai's famous Indian Institute of Technology, one of Asia's foremost technical educational institutions. In between, and edging the road, are a famous Cancer Institute, a Children's Park with its own mini zoo and mini-railway, a Snake Park, rich in reptiles, and Memorials to Gandhiji, Rajaji, the first Indian Governor-General, and Kamaraj, a great national leader. Latest addition to this array of memorials is that of Bakthavatchalam, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Opposite the park are the Anna University of Technology, whose nucleous was the oldest technical school in the East, and the Central Leather Research Institute. To the east of the Park as well as at the back of it sprawls the campus of the Central Institute of Technology. Not far way is one of the country's finest Race-courses.
In Thiruvanmiyur, beyond Elliot's beach, is Kalakshetra or 'Temple of Art'. It was founded in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale to train, encourage and revive interest in Bharatanatyam which is the classical dance form of the state.
Set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the sprawling Tharamani area, MGR Film city houses various locations and settings for film-shooting besides dubbing and re-recording theatres. The software city is coming up nearby.
The Birla Planetarium at Kotturpuram, between Adyar and Guindy, is the most modern planetarium in the country. Adjoining the planetarium is a Periyar Science and Technology Museum which will be of interest to students and other science scholars.
The standing memorial to immortal Tamil Poet-Saint Thiruvalluvar is shaped like a temple chariot and is, in fact, the replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. A life-size statue of the saint has been installed in the chariot which is 33m. tall. The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can accommodate about 4000 people.
National Art Gallery, Gallery of Contemporary Arts and Children's Museum also lie in the Museum Complex.
Chennai has an international airport which is located at a distance of 7 km from the main city. The airport caters to al the domestic and international passengers coming to the city. There are a number of domestic flights to and from Chennai which connects it to all the major cities within the country. Besides, there are host of international airlines which operate from the international terminal and links it with the important world cities with the city.
Chennai has two railway stations, Chennai Cenral and Egmore Station. Chennai Central is the bigger one of the two and runs on broad gauge, connecting with all the major cities and towns of India such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Guwahati . The Egmore Station houses a number of meter gauge and broad gauge trains, which originate from here and ply to different destinations within the state as well as to the neighboring states. Chennai Central links North and West India, while Egmore links South India.
Chennai is also well connected via road. It is linked with all the important places in Tamil Nadu as well as India with the help of a good network of roads. There are even government bus services which operate within Tamil Nadu and other states. These buses operate from Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Salai, Koyembedu. It is considered to be the largest bus station in entire Asia.
Chennai is situated on the south east coast of India and lies in the tropical zone of climate. As a result, it mostly experiences hot and humid weather. However, it receives ample rainfall and therefore has a pleasant climate throughout the year. The best time to visit Madras city is from November to February i.e. during the winter months. During this time, the weather is very enjoyable for the tourists as well as the residents. It even receives rain during the winters, which is very pleasurable for a trip.
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