A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’

Tripoto
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID

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.

Photo of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by SONIA DAVID
Photo of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by SONIA DAVID
Photo of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by SONIA DAVID
Photo of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by SONIA DAVID
Photo of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by SONIA DAVID
Photo of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by SONIA DAVID

2. Kapaleeswarar Temple

One of the sacred shrines in Mylapore, Tamil Nadu, it is a Siva Temple, and the name of the Lord is ARULMIGU KAPALEESWARAR. The name of the Goddess is ARULMIGU KARPAGAMBAL. It is a lovely and lively temple with a Stately Spire or ‘Gopuram’ as it is called. There is a big tank on its West. The view of the temple and the tank is picturesque. The name Mylapore is derived from the legend that the Goddess Uma worshipped Siva in the form of a peacock (or mayil in Tamil). A representation can be seen of this legend on stone in a small Shrine under a Punnai tree (Sthala Vriksha) in the Courtyard of the temple. This is one of my favourites, as the vibe of this temple is on another level. One must visit this place to experience this. Let’s not miss out on the grand entrance.

Visiting Charge : Not Applicable

Visiting Hours: 0530 HRS to 1200 HRS

1600 HRS TO 2100 HRS

Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID

3. Sri Parthasarathy Temple

An abode to Lord Venkat Krishna, Sri Parthasarathy Temple was built by the Pallavas in the 8th century, situated at Tiruvallikeni or Triplicane and is the oldest temple in Chennai. The temple has incarnations of Lord Vishnu in his four forms namely Narasimha, Rama, Varaha and Krishna. It also has shrines which were built during the rule of Cholas and Vijayanagara Kings. An exquisite feature of the temple is the colored Gopuram. There are two gopurams within the temple one of which is facing east and the other is facing west. The intricately carved pillars of the temple are sure to leave one spellbound. The water tank situated within the temple is considered holy and sacred because it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi was born to sage Bhrigu in the form of Vedavalli. Do not miss out on taking sweets and other eatables inside the temple complex itself.

Visiting Charge : Not Applicable

Visiting Hours: 0530 HRS to 1200 HRS and 1600 HRS To 2100 HRS

Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID

4. Government Museum.

Egmore museum or Government Museum, Chennai is a multi-purpose State Government Museum located in Egmore, which is the heart of the city, spreading to an area of 16.25 acres of land. Museum has Sections like Archaeology, Numismatics, Art, Anthropology, Geology, Botany, Zoology and a Children's Museum. The Galleries are organized in five buildings. You can start with whatever amazes you, as the museum is huge.

Visiting Charge : ₹15 for adults / ₹10 for children (₹250 / ₹125 for foreigners respectively)

Visiting Hours: 0930 HRS to 1700 HRS

Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID

5. Chennai Light House.

A lighthouse facing the Bay of Bengal on the east coast of the Indian Subcontinent, is a famous landmark on the Marina Beach in Chennai, India. It was built in 1976 replacing the old lighthouse in the northern direction and was opened in January 1977 and re-opened again on 16 November 2013. It is one of the few lighthouses in the world with an elevator and is also the only lighthouse in India within the city limits. It is also a green lighthouse, with a solar panel for power. The view from the top is obviously, breathtaking.

Visiting Charge : ₹20 for adults / ₹10 for children (3-12yrs)

Visiting Hours: Monday closed - 1000 HRS to 1300 HRS & 1500 HRS to 1800 HRS

Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID

6. Marina Beach.

Marina Beach is the second longest urban beach in the world. The white sands of this beach in Chennai stretch far into the horizon and this makes it one of the most stunning beaches on the Indian coast. Essentially an urban beach and tourist hot spot, this place welcomes around thirty thousand tourists and locals every day. Other than the waves, this beach offers statues of heroes of the past, as well as an aquarium housing rare and beautiful sea and freshwater creatures.

Things to Do

• Go on a horseback ride along the shore.

• Take a walk with your loved ones by the beach.

• See the various statues present on the beach and learn the inspiring stories behind them.

• Buy lip-smacking south Indian snacks from the vendors on the beach.

• Go on a tour to the aquarium and observe the deep-sea fishes. It’s also India’s first aquarium that was built in 1909.

• Visit the Ice House which houses ice brought from North American lakes during the British era.

Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
Photo of A Day Well Spent In ‘Detroit Of Asia’ by SONIA DAVID
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