Things To Do In Chennai

‘Chennai smells of sambar, idli, dosa, vada (South Indian food); temple prasad (devotional offering); sea breeze; cultural carnatic songs and friendly people’- Chinna Morthy 

While everything in the city of Chennai is extreme from the weather to the crowds, to the roads. You won’t be able to let go of the fuzzy feeling when you first step in the city. However, it is the hospitality and charm of the people here that make you warm up to the city. While you are here, there are a couple of places for you to explore, which will give you a better understanding of the city. 

Tip: We highly recommend exploring this monument with Pinakin Audio App – http://pinakinapp.com/. This app will give you information about the place, history, ticket prices, parking details, dress code, etc OR you can even download the Audio Tour by Storytrails for a similar experience  Please download the app and content prior to exploring the monument as you can use the content offline.

Dances in India, Bharatanatyam, Chennai Bharatanatyam dancers on stage (Photo Credit – Prasad Pillai)

Kapaleeshwarar Temple 

India is a land with ancient and magnificent temples. If you want to witness its grandeur coupled with the intricate designs a visit to the Kapaleeshwarar temple is a must. This temple is in the region of Mylapore and is one of the oldest temples in Chennai.

Built about 1,400 years ago, dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple has the Dravidian style of architecture. Right as you enter the premises of this temple, the first thing that will catch your eye is the structures of various Gods and Goddesses in vibrant colors.

As a sign of respect to the Gods, you would have to remove your footwear outside the premises. The most interesting aspect of this temple for which most of the people visit is the ‘Wishing Tree’. There is a tree on the premises and rumor has it that if you tie a yellow thread around the tree, you might just tie the knot with the person of your dreams.

VISITING HOURS: 05:00 to 12:00 hours, 16:00 to 21:30 hours

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 mins

COST: Free

Temples in India The colorful Gopuram of the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai (Photo Credit – Nagesh Jayaraman)

San Thome Cathedral

A mile away from the Ka[aleeshwarar temple comes The San Thome Cathedral, India is known for its diversity and this further endorses this idea. A special characteristic of San Thome Cathedral is it is one of the only 3 churches in the world to be built over the tomb of an Apostle of Jesus.

St Thomas was the apostle that landed in Chennai at around 52 AD and stayed here till he passed away. There is a tomb and a fragment of his figure that is kept here as a relic. Now even if you are not too interested in spirituality, we would still highly recommend visiting this church, for the simple reason of its architecture.

Built-in a neo-Gothic style, the long slender structure is a feast to the eyes and the stained glass windows on the cathedral narrate stories of the life of Saint Thomas. You can take a tuk-tuk to get here.    

VISITING HOURS: 06:00 to 21:00 hours 

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 mins

COST: Free

Things to do in Chennai Views of the beautiful San Thome Cathedral, Chennai (Photo Credit – Bikash Das)

Dakshinachitra

If you have limited time in India and want to get a glimpse of the culture and diversity of what this country offers, you cannot miss visiting this exhibition. It’s about an hour’s drive from the main city of Chennai. When you visit this exhibition you get an insight into the life of the people in all of South India, the way their homes are designed to meet that specific cultures need the music and art forms of their culture.

So you don’t feel left out, you even get to partake in the various activities like puppet making, weaving and you can even shake a leg on their traditional song. You have no reason at all to miss this, as you get the best of all the worlds here. 

VISITING HOURS: 10:00 to 18:00 hours (closed on Tuesdays)

ESTIMATED TIME: 2 – 3 hours

COST: INR 250 per person for foreign tourists, INR 100 per person for Indian tourists,

Places to visit in Chennai Women getting ready to perform the folk dance at Dakshinachitra (Photo Credit – Sudhamshu Hebbar)

Cholamandal Artist Village 

Art Lover? This is the perfect place for you to keep your interest alive. The Cholamandal Artist Village has an indoor and outdoor exhibition of sculptures and paintings of modern art. There are plenty of pieces of different art movements. The artwork here made by the people living in the village, making them a self-sufficient entity.

You can even step out and watch the local artists work on their next masterpiece. From terracotta figurines, handicrafts, metal and stone structures, paintings of modern art. It’s about a 40-minute drive from the main town in Chennai and you would need about an hour to explore this. 

VISITING HOURS: 09:30 to 18:00 hours 

ESTIMATED TIME: 2 – 3 hours

COST: INR 20 per person 

Fort Saint George  

From the look of this structure itself, one can guess that this building holds a lot of importance to the city. Built by the British East India Company, this fort as well as a museum and church. The fort was previously used for administrative and commercial events and till date, it holds importance for the legislative meetings of the state.

If you wish to understand more about history during the British Raj period, as the museum houses coins, weapons, letters, and personal items of the Royal family. 

VISITING HOURS: 09:00 to 17:00 hours (closed on Fridays)

ESTIMATED TIME: 2 – 3 hours

COST: INR 100 per person for foreign tourists, INR 5 per person for Indian tourists 

Forts in Chennai Ruins of Fort St George: Arthur Wellesley’s house (Photo Credits – Rictor Norton & David Allen)

ACTIVITIES

Food Tour

Most of the time the one thing that travelers love the most about India is the food here. The distinct variety and favors that the country offers is a delight for foodies. So if you are a food lover and love trying the local cuisine of the country, make sure to book a food tour when in Chennai. You get to enjoy the authentic local cuisines from famous eateries, along with that you will get a better idea of how different countries have influenced the food here as well. 

VISITING HOURS: 17:00 to 21:00 hours 

ESTIMATED TIME: About 4 hours

COST: INR 2,500 for 2 people 

Food In South India, Chennai The famous South Indian Thali (Photo Credit – George Augustine)

Have a look at this blog to get an idea of the famous dishes in South India.

Explore The Markets 

The streets of Chennai are the most interesting aspect of the city. You experience the hustle and bustle along with the vibrant energy of the city. Watch the locals haggling for the best price, fill your sense with the aromatic spices, and experience the beautiful chaos of the city. 

VISITING HOURS: 08:30 to 11:00 hours, 16:00 to 18:30 hours 

ESTIMATED TIME: 2.5 hours

COST: INR 3,600 for 2 people 

Markets of Chennai Koyambedu flower market, Chennai (Photo Credit – Aravindan Ganesan)

We hope this list helps you get around Chennai and experience all that the city has to offer. If you are wondering what next, here are some most common routes across South India.

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