When Indians refer to “the South”, it’s usually Tamil Nadu they’re talking about. While Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are essentially cultural transition zones buffering the Hindi-speaking north and Kerala maintains its own distinctively idiosyncratic identities, the peninsula’s massive Tamil-speaking state is India’s Dravidian Hindu heartland with Chennai (formerly called as Madras) as a capital city! With its seafront fort, grand mansions and excellence as a centre for the performing arts, the state capital Chennai is nonetheless a hot, chaotic, noisy Indian metropolis, offering many potentially interesting locations to visitors.
I had one whole day to spend in Chennai (also known as Detroit of Asia, Gateway of South India, Health Capital of India) and thus decided to visit only the main and ‘not-to-miss’ places within the city limits. Though there are numerous places to visit in the outskirts of the city, I was running out of the ‘usual’ time! And if you are looking for a quick guide on the mainstream places of interest to visit, then here is the list.
1. Santhome Cathedral Basilica:
Santhome Church in Chennai also known as Santhome Cathedral Basilica and International Shrine of Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica, sits on the tomb built over the mortal remains of one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. Saint Thomas had come to India in A.D.52, was martyred in A.D.72 and buried in this very site then known as Mylapore. ‘San Thome’ assumes its name from Saint Thomas.
There are only two other Basilicas in the world other than Santhome Cathedral that have been built over the tomb of an apostle. One of them being “St.Peters Basilica”, in Rome and the other being “church of St.James the great”, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. There is an underground tomb chapel below the Basilica. Do not miss out on visiting the tomb. St. Thomas is being hailed as the Father of Indian Christianity since he is largely considered to have brought christianity to India.