For those looking for a holiday in India which offers something a little different, and opens the doorway to a unique culture filled with fascinating historical sites alongside modern city life, the city of Chennai will provide all of this, and much more. Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is now affectionately referred to as ‘the gateway to South India’ and is the successful port which acts as the capital of the diverse state of Tamil Nadu. If Chennai is known for one thing, it is a diversity and richness of culture, with a long history of Indian arts, literature, dance and theatre which thrives to this day and delights locals and visitors alike. A trip to Chennai will offer experiences a world away from other large cities in India such as Delhi or Mumbai, as the vibrant Tamil culture permeates through every street, and this city brings together urban, coastal and jungle cultures in a pulsing, yet harmonious vibe.
A Cultural Capital
For the culturally minded, Chennai is a hotspot for a range of unique theatrical practices which can be seen and enjoyed all year round. One of the most important symbolic practices in the city is the native art of the Bharatanatyam, a form of theatre famous for its elegant poses, complex dances and beautiful Carnatic music played on traditional instruments such as the thattukuzhi and mannai, a form of Indian drum. In dozens of theatres throughout Chennai, you can witness exclusive performances of this beautiful theatrical dance, complete with religious ceremonies dedicated to Ganesh and lengthy epic poetry recitals which date back almost three thousand years.
For those looking for more contemporary culture, few can resist the vibrancy and seduction of the Tamil movie scene, known as ‘Kollywood’, where the latest film technologies blend traditional storytelling and dance with action sequences and epic romances. Chennai has several renowned movie theatres, but ask any local, and they will tell you that by far the best is the Sathyam Cinema, situated in the heart of the city and famed for its quality, range of films on show and exquisite, high class service, food and drinks.
Beautiful Temples and Oases of Calm
If you are seeking some spiritual respite from the thronging heart of the city, head out to the district of Mylapore where you can find one of the most impressive, and one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva anywhere in India. Just a 20 minute taxi ride from the city centre, this temple represents everything wonderful about the state of Tamil Nadu; unique architectural styles, bright and entrancing colours, complexity of design and live devotional music and dance performed each and every night. A visit to the ancient Kapaleeshwar temple will truly provide a once in a lifetime experience – seeing the devotees milling around the altars of Shiva, Hanuman and Ganesh, bathing in the sacred waters and connecting with the colourful and joyful nature of their culture is something which can truly never be forgotten.
The Chennai Coast
It would be something of a travesty to come to this stunning part of coastal India and not make the most of the oceanic landscape which makes it unique. Nowhere can you get closer to the sea and its bounty than with the help of the fishermen of Barracuda Bay, who now regularly set of tours of the coastline and even allow you to do a spot of sport fishing. Just two kilometres from the district of Royapuram, near the centre of Chennai, the waters around here provide some of the finest fish which characterises the cuisine, and the chance to catch one could be a real thrill set against some beautiful scenery.
Hotels in Chennai
As a buzzing and thriving urban centre, there are dozens of hotels in Chennai which can provide you and your family with everything you need to really make the most of the city. With elegant and high class hotels such as the Raintree Hotel in Teynampet near central Chennai, you can enjoy all the finer things of Chennai culture alongside a relaxing rest in gorgeous settings. There are also several Radisson Blu hotels in Chennai which are ideal for a business trip or short break, and dozens of friendly and rustic guesthouses where you can get to know the famous hospitality of the region.
About the Author : Aakesh Adhikari is an Independent travel consultant and blogger who loves to explore new destinations. Check out his travel portal to learn more. It is about the things that are cool about travel, that inspire us to travel.