Chennai Travel Guide

On the eastern side of India’s poking peninsula to the south of the country, Chennai is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. The fourth largest city in India, it is a place of colonial heritage and modernity rarely seen elsewhere in the country. Once known as Madras, its long coastline affords the chance to escape the hot summers ahead of the monsoon when temperatures often climb higher than 100°F, meaning it’s best to visit in December and January when it’s much cooler.

Although badly devastated by the 2004 tsunami, Chennai’s long eight-mile beach is in recovery and welcoming back visitors. Without it, the city is hot and humid meaning that any trip here should be punctuated by a dip in the Bay of Bengal. Like many large Indian cities, Chennai features a huge number of religious buildings, most of which are Hindu along with a number of mosques as well as colonial-era churches and cathedrals. Most notable is the Santhome Cathedral Basilica, supposedly the final resting place of the Apostle St Thomas.

Fort St George is a British colonial structure – one of many in Chennai – built in the mid 1600s with grounds that also feature the oldest Anglican church in India. Also worth visiting is the Government Museum, with its fascinating collection of archaeological artifacts. In and around Chennai are a number of parks like MGM Dizzy World with its many rides and Ahaa Water Park which offers a further chance to cool off during the hot season.


Marina Beach: at around eight miles long, this is one of the longest stretches of beach in the world and a great place to hang out day or night.

Fort St George: built in the middle of the 17th century, this old British fort is the highlight of Chennai’s colonial architecture.

Government Museum: historical and modern works abound in this large exhibition.

Santhome Cathedral Basilica: is the alleged burial ground of Apostle St Thomas.

MGM Dizzy World: roller coasters and numerous other rides make this huge theme park a popular south Indian hit.