Known as Madras during the British reign, Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu and India’s southernmost metropolis. It is located on the Bay of Bengal’s Coromandel Coast, boasting the world’s second-longest urban beach, Marina Beach, stretching for over 13 kilometres. Home to the Tamil film industry, Carnatic music festivals and temples dating back to the 7th century, the city is a thriving cultural centre with plenty to see and do.
Chennai offers impressive examples of art and architecture from different eras and cultures. Its most famous monument is the colourful Kapaleeshwarar Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. A few steps away lies the neo-Gothic San Thome Cathedral, built on the final resting place of one of Christ's apostles. Influences of the city’s colonial past can also be seen in some of its main buildings, such as the Gothic Revival Chennai Central, the busiest railway station in South India. For further insight into the country’s history, you can visit its first British fortress, Fort St George, housing St Mary's Church and the Fort Museum.
When in Chennai, kick-start your day with a freshly brewed cup of South Indian filter coffee, locally known as ‘kaapi’. Make some time to savour South Indian staples, traditionally served on banana leaves. Try dosa (rice and lentil crêpe), idli (steamed rice cake) and vada (savoury doughnut) served with sambar (a spicy broth) and an assortment of coconut chutneys. Thanks to its coastal location, the city also offers several delicious seafood preparations and fish curries.