Chennai moves to the beat of its own drum, with a culture noticeably different than most other Indian cities. Life here is simple and modest, so it’s a terrific place to unwind from the fast-paced 21st-century lifestyle. Clothing, cuisine, architecture and art combine in one big burst of beauty and Tamil tradition.
Tower of the Hindu temple Kapaleeswarar
Formerly known as Madras, the city was renamed Chennai in 1996 to shake off its colonial roots. Alongside ancient Hindu temples like Kapaleeswarar and Sri Parthasarathy, you’ll find a Gothic basilica and the former outpost of Fort Saint George – still one of the city’s most significant landmarks. But nowadays, it thrives on its lively shop-filled streets, super-cheap public transport, and the beaming pride of the Chennai people, who are undoubtedly the soul of the city.
Day at Marina Beach
The energetic, commercial hub of Pondy Bazaar is a great place for seeking out souvenirs. Its pavements are packed with stalls and shops, selling everything from traditional clothing like sarees to delicious vegetarian cuisine. Big brands are available, but you’ll find the real bargains in the colourful street markets. After exploring the buzzing city centre, a bit of sea air is just the ticket. Located along the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is home to some wonderful stretches of sandy coastline, including Marina Beach – one of the longest shores in the world.
Mylapore cultural festival
When to go?
With summer temperatures reaching a scorching 45 °C, it’s best to visit Chennai in the cooler winter season, between November and February. This also coincides with the internationally renowned Madras Music Season, which starts in mid-December and showcases the finest South Indian music and dance over six weeks.
ITC Grand Chola A Luxury Collection Hotel
Where to stay?
ITC Grand Chola A Luxury Collection Hotel – Chennai, India
Booking.com guests rate this five-star hotel highly for its great location, in the heart of the landmark-rich Guindy district. Accommodation ranges from stylish air-conditioned rooms to serviced apartments. Foodies are seriously spoiled for choice, with five on-site restaurants serving a mix of Italian, Pan-Asian and typical Indian cuisine.
Taj Club House
Taj Club House – Chennai, India
Located just off the historic Mount Road, this hotel’s super-cool neon exterior looks like the world’s biggest game of Tetris. The inside is even more impressive, fusing traditional charm with contemporary design. Rooms come with a balcony, modern en-suite bathrooms and free WiFi.
Avenue 11 Boutique Residences, Poes Garden Chennai
Avenue 11 Boutique Residences, Poes Garden Chennai – Chennai, India
Avenue 11 Boutique Residences is lauded by Booking.com travellers for its ideal location, less than two kilometres from the shopping mecca of Pondy Bazaar. The suite-style rooms give you the feel of an apartment with the perks of a hotel. Guests also love the friendly staff and the tasty South Indian breakfast.