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Best Cultural and Historical Tourist Sites in Chennai

Tamil Nadu’s vast and feverish state capital is the fourth most populous city in India. Chennai (once Madras) is a modern metropolis of close to 9 million people and a dynamic linchpin in the subcontinent’s economy.

This epicentre of information technology, industry, Tamil and Dravidian cultures, Carnatic music and Kollywood films is a singular gateway to South India. Chennai’s notable throng of cultural and historical tourist sites includes:

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

This masterpiece of Dravidian aesthetics dates back to the 7th century. Prepare to view it cheek by jowl with others; the Shiva temple lures scores of pilgrims and tourists on a daily basis.

National Art Gallery of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu’s state gallery of art contains one of India’s most impressive collections of domestic art. The pink sandstone, Gothic Revival museum is a distinctive Chennai landmark.

Madras High Court

The de facto Supreme Court of Tamil Nadu is the second largest judicial complex in the world. The court’s Indo-Saracenic owes much to Henry Irwin, one of British India’s most eminent architects.

Vivekananda House

The avant-garde, semi-circular Vivekananda House (or Ice House or Castle Kernan) is a museum devoted to Swami Vivekananda, a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India in the 19th century.

Ripon Building

The oldest municipal body in the Commonwealth outside of Britain governs Chennai from the extraordinary Ripon Building, a stellar exemplar of Indo-Saracenic architecture that dates to 1913.

San Thome Basilica

The Portuguese first built it in the 16th century but some 250 years on, the British re-made San Thome Basilica in the then fashionable Neo-Gothic style. The principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore is a Basilica Minor and National Shrine of India.

Sri Ramakrishna Math

The senior-most centre of the monastic Ramakrishna Order in South India fuses Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Rajput and Christian architectural styles and is nominally known as the Universal Temple in Chennai.

M. A. Chidambaram Stadium

One of the most venerable cricket ovals on the planet, M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, or Chepauk, is a century old. Appropriate, because Sachin Tendulkar has had more success here than at any other stadium.

Wallajah Mosque

Chennai’s oldest mosque was built in 1795. The marvel of gray granite hosts myriad cultural events throughout the year.

Fort St. George

The first British military outpost in India dates to 1644 and, in a practical sense, modern Chennai did indeed evolve from Fort St. George, aka White Town. The most significant landmarks still in evidence today are St. Mary’s Church and the Fort Museum.

Parthasarathy Temple

This 8th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Krishna is one of the oldest structures in Tamil Nadu, let alone Chennai. For scholars of Dravidian architecture, Parthasarathy is akin to the Taj Mahal.

Enfield Factory

A point of interest unlike any other in Chennai, the Enfield Factory is a hub for the legendary motorcycle brand. Workers still pump out Royal Enfield Bullets to this day.

B. M. Birla Planetarium

A throwback in the best sense of the word, B. M. Birla Planetarium is as much a tourist curiosity as a place for avid stargazers.

Score choice Chennai hotel deals before you travel to India and Tamil Nadu.

On his recent travel to India, Brett discovered some of the greatest places to visit while you are there. He is trying to get these tips and tricks all written up to inform future Indian travellers of the best things they can do while travelling.

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