Visiting Chennai– A City Guide
Spreading across the Coromandel Coast near the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. Formerly known as Madras, it’s one of South India’s burgeoning cultural and economic centres, teeming with technology, expatriates and religious sites, as well as some of India’s most delicious cuisine.
Chennai: City Layout and Top Attractions
Explosive growth in the IT sector fuels a cosmopolitan ambiance in South Chennai, giving rise to trendy boutiques, international cafes and upscale neighbourhoods such as Velachery. Technology parks along Old Mahabalipuram Road, nicknamed the “IT Corridor,” give way to many of the best hotels in Chennai as the strip merges into East Coast Road.
The Mylapore district reflects centuries of tradition, home to iconic structures such as the rainbow-hued Kapaleeshwarar Temple
and its pillared pavilions. Marina Beach
strings for 13 kilometres along the Bay of Bengal, with the Madras Lighthouse at its southern end. The main stretch of beach overflows with activity from kite flying to cricket matches, sprinkled in the evenings with food carts, seafood markets and fortune-tellers.
Eating Out in Chennai
Many street food vendors and cafes specialise in idlis and dosas, such as Prems Graama Bhojanam
in the Adyar area. To try Keralan dishes such as spiced pachakkari
and Moplah biryani
, head over to Enté Keralam
in Poes Garden, not far from Gandhi Beach.
Authentic Indian cuisine shines in restaurants such as Dakshin, inside Crowne Plaza®
Chennai Adyar Park on TTK Road. The chef serves specialty dishes from all over southern India, accompanied by live Carnatic music. You can join IHG®
Rewards Club to take advantage of special “YOUR RATE” offers to stay at this Chennai hotel.
Shopping in Chennai
Chennai shopping malls include Phoenix Market City
, home to international and Indian designer brands, as well as family-friendly activities such as movies, bowling, a rock-climbing wall and a haunted house.
Silk shops, including Nalli Silks,
offer rainbow-coloured Kanchipuram silks and white Maheshwari silk-cotton sarees with foil-printed designs. Tulsi Silks
on Luz Church Road in Alwarpet is the place to go for stylish dupatta scarves. For handmade candles, incense, perfumes and intricate woven bags from the Auroville community, visit Maroma
on White’s Road.
Also on White’s Road, boutique-and-café complex Amethyst sells brilliantly hued contemporary Indian fashion. After shopping, you can rejuvenate at Wild Garden Café
before returning to your Chennai hotel.
Culture and Nightlife in Chennai
Facing the sea along Marina Beach, Kamarajar Promenade hosts a fine collection of Indo-Saracenic architectural masterpieces
and 19th-century structures such as the University of Madras and Queen Mary’s College.
At the north end of the beach, the Fort Museum at Fort St. George
, built in the 1600s, displays military artefacts, colonial artwork and historical exhibitions. Stop by the Government Museum
on Pantheon Road to view South Indian bronze sculptures dating back centuries.
Nightlife in Chennai ranges from Bollywood-style discos to classic British pubs such as 10 Downing Street
. Most high-end hotels in Chennai have cosy cocktail clubs or themed bars such as The Gatsby Lounge, an American prohibition-style jazz club inside InterContinental®
Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort on East Coast Road. Book directly through the IHG website for the best rates and to use your IHG®
Rewards Club points.