Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, situated on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal. It is the fifth largest urbane settlement in India, a hub for culture, commerce, and education in all of South India. The main city and its adjoining regions form the limits of what was initially known as Madras, presently called the Chennai Metropolitan Area. Chennai is visited by many foreign and domestic tourists. While one of the reasons is that Chennai is considered among the safest cities in India, many tourists come here seeking health.
How to reach Chennai
• Chennai By Air
– Chennai International Airport (IATA: MAA) is the main airport serving people taking flights to Chennai or from Chennai. Located in Meenambakkam, the airport is 21 km from Chennai’s city centre. Major domestic carriers operate direct flights to Chennai and from the city, while all major international carriers fly from and to the city too.
• Chennai By Rail
– Chennai houses the headquarters of Southern Railway, one of the 17 zones of the Indian Railways. Three of the major railway stations in the city are Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore (2 km from the city) and Tambaram (which lies in the suburbs). Most super-fast and express trains travel to Chennai on a daily basis, with direct connectivity to top metropolitan cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Kochi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata.
• Chennai By Road
– The Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal (CMBT) connects cities like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore, and Tirunelveli. Among the bus services offered, one could select between deluxe, semi-deluxe, hi-tech, Rajahamsa executive, and sleeper buses; they also connect major cities like Bangalore and Calicut to Chennai.
Chennai is well connected to most neighbouring cities by a network of highways. The five major highways connect Kolkata, Bengaluru, Madurai, Tiruvallur, Nellore, Vellore, and Pondicherry to Chennai.
What to do in Chennai
Chennai has some very classical looking structures and is one of the metropolitan cities in the country, which has the largest number of heritage monuments. The Marina Beach has a 6 km coastline, the longest coastline in India. The San Thomas Cathedral Basilica, built by the Portuguese in 1523 and designed in the Neo–Gothic style, is one of the only 23 Basilicas in India. Chennai is also about 74 km away from spiritual destinations like Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram. Pondicherry and Vellore are two cities that are a drive’s distance from the metropolitan capital city. This city is combination of experiences that bring in foreign and domestic tourists on a daily basis. One must-explore beyond the obvious to really soak in that well-preserved southern culture of the country. If you also want to experience the famous Pongal festival, try to travel here around January. Following places should form your list of must-see places when in Chennai.
1. Mylapore temple
2. Fort Saint George Secretariat
3. Madras High Court
4. George Town Markets and Bazaars
5. Marina Beach
6. T Nagar
7. Cholamandal Artists’ Village
8. Kalakshetra Arts Academy
9. Vivekananda House (Vivekananda Illam)
10. The Turtle Walk: To See Olive Ridley Turtle
11. The Ripon Building
The best time to visit the city is from November until February, when the temperatures range between 20°C and 25°C. During the day, cool breeze from the sea provides relief from the regular sultry weather. Pongal, celebrated in the month of January, makes this a special season to travel to Chennai. From March to June, summers make the city extremely hot and humid, with temperatures rising to a whopping 40°C and above. However, the city is less crowded then, and one can expect good hotel deals during this time. Monsoons in Chennai last from July to September, with the city being engulfed in heavy rainfall and strong winds.
Major Airports in and near Chennai
Chennai International Airport (IATA: MAA) is the main international airport, serving people taking flights to Chennai or from the city. It is located in Meenambakkam, which is 21 km from Chennai. The airport is ranked as the fourth busiest airport in India. The Chennai International Airport has two adjacent domestic and international terminals, which were the first of its kind back in the day. They are named after former chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, K. Kamaraj and C. N. Annadurai.
• The Chennai airport serves as the South Indian regional headquarters for the Airports Authority of India.
• The airport also serves as the nucleus for Blue Dart Aviation, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo airlines, and a focal point city for Air India and GoAir airlines.
MakeMyTrip offers a wide range of flights to Chennai. One can easily use the website to book a flight to Chennai or from Chennai, with the major airport being a hub to domestic and international airlines. MakeMyTrip flights to Chennai can be availed at highly discounted rates during festivals and off seasons.