A great day in charming Chennai!

Tripoto
16th Nov 2014

A great start to the day: sunrise at "Bessie

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Brilliant, shimmering sun rise

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Hauntingly beautiful: the crack of dawn

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Besant Nagar beach- the iconic memorial

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Kathipara flyover: refreshingly modern

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Croc away!

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

From different angles and perspectives: crocs

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Traditional lunch served on a banana leaf

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

T Nagar: find anything you can think of, and

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Great crowds

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

A delicious contemporary meal - nachos!

Photo of A great day in charming Chennai! by Shivaani Harmsen

Chennai seemlessly blends in the traditional and the modern, it is dotted with fascinating old temples, mosques and even some of the oldest churches around. Marina beach is known to be one of the longest beaches in the world, and the food, wow the food- it is mouth watering. Be sure to carry a camera, or even just a camera on your mobile phone because you are bound to get some spectacular shots.

My city has recently been listed in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2015, so here's a glimpse at a great day in Chennai. A day is just enough to give you a feel of the city, the richness of its culture and the fantastic atmosphere...and it is absolutely worth it. Look forward to intriguing sights, delicious (and healthy!) food and friendly people. (Well, apart from some auto-rickshaw drivers, although with good haggling skills you can find a good deal...this applies to all small roadside shops as well, you can find some incredibly cheap but decent goodies so keep an eye out!)

The itinerary includes a beach (free!), a trip to the MCBT reptile zoo, shopping and exploring T Nagar and great food! Apart from that, being such a richly cultured city, I would recommend that you walk in to a temple and marvel at the fantastic architecture and idols, and note how dedicated the people are. There are also bound to be some interesting carnatic music concerts around, a good place is the Music Academy (website: musicacademymadras.in/ ) and for dances and other forms of traditional art, Kalakshetra! (www.kalakshetra.in/)

When in Rome, do as the Romans, and when in Chennai - be like a Chennaiite, so for a great experience, I recommend taking public transport (the local train, rickshaws and buses), eating local healthy South Indian food and talking to the people who are richly cultured and very helpful. The website my.metrocommute.in/ is a very handy tool to plan your travels, it lets you enter a starting point and destination and gives you the connecting bus routes and suburban trains.

As for the food, India is a great place for vegetarians, and I would say Chennai is particularly so. Every restaurant and food stall will have something in store for the dedicated vegetarians, and at the same time, being a coastal city - the sea food fare is quite good as well. Of course, you can find nearly everything from different cuisines, but the local is food is absolutely fantastic. A warning though, travellers beware- sometimes some places are rather unhygienic so skip those, and also, food tends to be spicy, so specify if you would prefer a milder meal!

The beach is always a great place to relax and unwind, look at the wild ocean and feel the sand under your feet. Since Chennai is located on the East coast of India, the sun rises over the ocean in the morning and it makes for an absolutely glorious start to the day. Waking up early and reaching the beach at the crack of dawn is worth it all. Each sun rise is unique and beautiful, and the best part may be that the beach is calm and quiet at that early hour - there aren't any maddening crowds over powering nature's amazing show. Also, it's completely free! :)
Photo of Besant Nagar Beach, Elliot's Promenade, Urrur Kuppam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Photo of Besant Nagar Beach, Elliot's Promenade, Urrur Kuppam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Photo of Besant Nagar Beach, Elliot's Promenade, Urrur Kuppam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Photo of Besant Nagar Beach, Elliot's Promenade, Urrur Kuppam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Murugan Idli shop is located very conveniently right on the street that lies along side Besant Nagar beach (Elliot's beach), and specializes in...(well you guessed it) idlis! Idlis contain no fat, saturated fat and no cholestrol - they're made from rice and lentils, and they're steamed - so they're incredibly healthy and also filling and sumptuous! They also have a variety of other traditional South Indian breakfast dishes including dosa and vadais. A filling meal won't set you back by much - it costs about a 100 rupees.
The MCBT (Madras Crocodile Bank Trust) is a unique, fantastic place to explore. It is a large park- well, a reptile zoo, that houses literally hundreds of crocodiles and other reptiles in natural setting habitats, and has successful conservation programs. I visited the reptile zoo in the morning, before the scorching midday heat set in, and ideal visiting times would be either in the morning or late afternoon as it is an outdoor park (although there is a great green canopy in most places that do provide shade and cool the place down a bit too!). Spending a couple of hours walking around these beautiful lush green enclosures is a refreshing and educational experience, and it's fun to watch the crocodiles! (and snakes, turtles, birds, ...) The drive to MCBT takes about an hour as it lies outside the city but the road is very picturesque as it is along the coast line. There are public buses that ply the route for budget travellers, but I recommend taking a taxi - which will cost you about 700 for a round trip on a package deal. It is more comfortable and usually also air conditioned, and also allows you to take many pit stops and capture the scenery! There are many coconut water selling stalls along the way, one can be bought and enjoyed for just 10-20 rupees! Entry tickets cost 35 rupees.
Photo of Crocodile Bank, Semencheri, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Photo of Crocodile Bank, Semencheri, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Shopping in TNagar is like shopping in a never ending maze stuffed with pretty much anything you can imagine- and more! Starting from the bus stand, wading your way through the crowds is quite a powerful experience as you are a part of a massive wave of people from all stratas of life, all just happily shopping and drinking in the vast sights, sounds and smells. There are many small side lanes with shops spilling out from the buildings, huge fancy shops that have goods spread over multiple stories and medium size enterprises. The lanes are dotted with food stalls and juice carts. It's best to cover ground on foot and look around in all nooks and crannies- you never know what you may find. You can buy just about anything from clothes to art supplies, vegetables to gold jewellery and electronics to encyclopedias. Many places don't have fixed prices, so bring on your haggling game and get things at amazingly cheap prices! The experience may be a tad overwhelming for those who haven't been exposed to crowded places, but it makes for very interesting memories and stories!
Photo of Ranganathan Street, T Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
Photo of Ranganathan Street, T Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
After a long, exhausting day, the place to head is a cool air conditioned mall with some great restaurants! I recommend Cream Center, which is a completely vegetarian restaurant that serves a great range of dishes from different cuisines (Mexican, Indian and Italian!). I love the nachos and panna cotta, and they also have a mean panneer chilli sizzler! The place is a bit pricey, with a meal for one person ranging between 400-800 rupees, but it is still worth it. The mall also has a decent food court for those on a more limited budget, and one can still enjoy the comforts of a mall.
Photo of The Forum Vijaya Mall, Green Park Private Entrance, Vadapalani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India by Shivaani Harmsen
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Thu 04 04 19, 16:38 · Reply · Report
Hi Chennai, on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. The city is home to Fort St. George, built in 1644 and now a museum showcasing the city’s roots as a British military garrison and East India Company trading outpost, when it was called Madras. Religious sites include Kapaleeshwarar Temple, adorned with carved and painted gods, and St. Mary’s, a 17th-century Anglican church. Nice Post. Thanks for Sharing. i very impress your post, keep write wonderful trip post. If you want anyone go to visit this place and book your bus tickets in chennai to tirunelveli bus and get more offers.
Mon 12 31 18, 13:28 · Reply · Report