Chennai (Madras) Things to Do
There are many things for visitors to enjoy in Chennai (formerly Madras), a city in the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Sites and activities range from museums to beaches, and there is something for everyone.
Museums, Historic Sites, and Cultural Centers
Chennai’s many museums and historic sites reflect its long history, from pre-colonial times to the present. Some of the most significant include Fort St. George, the first British colonial outpost in India, whose oldest standing building is now a museum housing many artifacts of British colonialism. Chennai’s other museums include the Government Museum, which houses the National Art Gallery, as well as archaeology and anthropology exhibits. Chennai is also home to arts and cultural centers that include Dashinkachitra, which showcases to South Indian cultures, and the Cholomandal Artists’ Village, and artist community known for having pioneered Modernism in Chennai art.
Houses of Worship
Points of interest in Chennai include numerous houses of worship, both Hindu and Christian, including some pre colonial churches. The oldest and most famous Hindu temple in Chennai is the ornate Kapaleeswarar Temple, which is also famous for the fish tank in the garden outside the temple. Newer Hindu temples of interest include the Ashtalakshmi Temple and the Ramakrishna Temple, the latter a self-proclaimed house of worship for all. Notable Christian churches include the Church of Our Lady of Light and the St. Thome Cathedral, both of which predate British colonialism. The oldest colonial-era church is St. George’s Cathedral, built by the British East India Company in 1815. Other churches worth of visit include St. Andrew Cathedral, St. Mary’s Church, and the Anderson Church (Evangelical Hall).
Beaches, Zoos, and Parks
Chennai is also known for its beaches, and the most popular beach (and destination) in the area is the Marina Beach, although Edward Elliott’s Beach, also known as Besant Nagar Beach, is regarded as the best beach in Chennai. Other outdoor attractions include natural parks and game reserves, especially the Guindy National Park, a cityside game reserve that includes the Guindy (Chennai) Snake Park. On the outskirts of Chennai, the Anna Zoological Park is one of the biggest zoological parks in South Asia, and home to over 170 species.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Chennai.