Top 20 Must Do Things to Experience Chennai
Chennai is one of the oldest metropolitan city in India which has unique and diverse culture. Though the city is fast developing and westernizing, Chennai still maintains its traditional appeal unlike other cities. Chennai is also a most preferred destination for the international travelers since this city has many historical places, and it is the Gateway to the South India. Also, it was raining recognition from all quaters in recent times where Chennai was featured as favorite city to visit around the world.
LonelyPlanet featured Chennai in one of the top 10 cities to visit around the world. Nat Geo featured Chennai in top 10 cities for best food around the world. New York Times featured Chennai in 52 places to go in 2014.
If you are a traveler or a Chennaite, these are 20 must do things to experience Chennai.
Visit Koyambedu Market
Photo Credit:McKay Savage(https://www.flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/)
Koyambedu is a very busy locality in Chennai which houses Asia’s largest bus terminal and the wholesale food market. Vegetables and other food grains produced across the country reaches this wholesale market for distribution to the city and suburban areas. It is a very busy market, particularly in the morning since every vendors from across the city visit this market to buy goods for their daily inventory. Plan a visit to this market to see the fresh green vegetables and food grains in loads.
Shop at Ranganathan Street and Usman Road
Photo Credit:Nagaraj Lakshmanan(https://www.flickr.com/photos/126313685@N08/)
Ranganathan Street is a crowded busy street in T.Nagar which houses some of the city’s bigger textile outlets like Saravana stores, JayaChandran, Pothys (nearby) etc. A visit to Chennai will not be complete for anyone without shopping in this place. This street is always crowded regardless the occasion and it is super crowded during festival times.
Watch Chennai’s Favorite star Movie First day First Show
Chennai watches lots of movie and the Tamil Film Industry here is fondly called as Kollywood. People here celebrate cinema and their favorite heroes to the extent of electing them to the state’s top most post. For long time, it’s only Super Star Rajinikanth whose movie release is celebrated as a festival. Now, we have the young generation movie stars like “Thala” Ajith, “Ilaya Thalapathi” Vijay, etc. who have mass openings at the Box office. So, next time you visit Chennai plan for a movie time if possible first day first show to see fans rejoicing their stars.
Taste Idli and Dosa for Breakfast
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Idli and Dosa are favorite food of South India like Pizza and burger in Western countries. A breakfast and dinner is not complete without any one of this dish. Both this items are prepared using the mix of Rice and Black gram flour. Many health magazines recently endorsed Idli as one of the healthiest food around the world. There are many variety of Dosa like Masala Dosa, Ghee Dosa, Onion Dosa, etc which are heavenly when tasted with varieties of Chutneys and Sambar. Almost every Hotels and Restaurants serves this dish but some famous ones are Saravana Bhavan, A2B, Sangeetha, Vasantha Bhavan, Rathna Café and Balaji Bhavan. All these restaurants have multiple outlets across the city, so step in to the nearest one in your locality.
Sip a Filter Kaapi (Coffee)
Photo Credit:Karthik Ganapathi(https://www.flickr.com/photos/123661799@N04/)
Filter Coffee is very famous in every Tamilian homes. It is prepared by mixing boiled milk and decoction brewed from Coffee powder through a special process. All the outlets that serves you breakfast discussed in last section (4) will serve this too. Kumbakonam Degree Coffee is another form of filter coffee that is served in copper bowl which is gaining ground in the city. So look for a nearest outlet if you are an avid Coffee lover and take a sip of this divine drink.
Order Chicken 65 at Buhari Hotel
Photo Credit:Divya P(https://www.flickr.com/photos/113955566@N08/)
Chicken 65 is a deep fried chicken dish (Starter) which was first introduced in the Hotel Buhari, Chennai by its founder A.M. Buhari. It was first introduced in the year 1965 and hence it got the name Chicken 65. Today, it is one of most widely preferred and very famous Chicken starter in most South Indian Restaurants. Hotel Buhari now has many number of outlets in Chennai, so book a table nearby your locality and taste this yummy dish.
Visit Marina Beach
Photo Credit:Arjun Venugopal(https://www.flickr.com/photos/arjunvenugopal/)
Chennai is a coastal city with many scenic beaches. But of all the beaches, Marina is special for many reasons. It is the world’s second largest urban beach and it’s where city’s main landmarks like St. George Fort (State Legislative assembly), Memorials, lighthouse and various other statues are located. Marina Beach is one of the most visited place by Chennaites for every occasions. So, a visit to Chennai should have Marina Beach in the itinerary.
Take a Walk on the Streets of Agraharam in Mylapore
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Agraharam is the colonies where the Brahmin community people live. A typical Agraharam will have houses built with Thinnai (a sit out raised like table) with pillars. Thinnai are generally built at the entrance of every house for the passer-by people to rest and do social chit-chat. Mylapore is a posh locality in Chennai where we can still find these old Agraharams.
Visit Kasimedu Fish Market
Phot credit:L SARAVANAN(https://www.flickr.com/photos/126809264@N08/)
Kasimedu Fish Market is a wholesale fish market located in Royapuram area of Chennai. It is one of the biggest fish market where you will get almost all variety of fish and other sea food freshly. Fish in bulk quantities are sold here by auction and over 3000 people from across city and nearby places visit this market every day. The auction starts as early as 4:00 AM in the morning. It’s a different experience to see this place and understand how the wholesale fish market business operates.
Visit Parry’s Corner
Photo Credit:Jayanth Anuranjan(https://www.flickr.com/photos/113395038@N08/)
Parry’s Corner is one of the oldest locality of Chennai city which has many landmarks and business establishments. One can easily say that this place has the wholesale showrooms of everything you use to live on this planet. It has flower market, textile wholesales, all home needs wholesales, Electrical and surgical equipments, hardwares, eateries and the list goes on. One distinct thing about this place is, there is almost a dedicated street for each and everything we could buy.
Buy a Silk Saree
Photo Credit:McKay Savage(https://www.flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/)
OK, this one is for ladies. Sarees, that too silk sarees are hot selling cake and women’s here throng the textile shops for buying it. Tamil Nadu has many varieties of Silk Sarees in which Kanchi Pattu or Kanjeevaram Silk is very famous. Visit Pothys, Chennai Silks, or Nalli silks to grab one.
Visit Higginbothams Book Store
Photo Credit:MUSTANSIR LOKHANDWALA(https://www.flickr.com/photos/mustan_pics/)
Higginbothams is the India’s oldest book store located at Mount Road, Chennai. This book store was opened in 1844 during British rule and has a lot of history associated to it. This book store is still operated at the same place and it is one of the oldest landmark of Madras(Madras was renamed to Chennai). Visit this store if you are a avid book lover and for its history when you are in Chennai.
Learn some Chennai Tamil
A Tamil movie poster as meme with Chennai Tamil,
Tamil is language of Chennai city and the state Tamil Nadu. Today, Tamil is only the widely spoken oldest language in the world. Tamil language is spoken in different slangs in different area, Chennai Tamil is one of the most widely known and used slang which has many amusing words that sounds fun and more colloquial. It is also popular because it is widely used in movies. Though Tamil is very rich and oldest language, the Chennai Tamil is more adulterated with other languages like English, Portuguese, Sanskrit, etc. Some frequently used words worth mentioning are Kaidha( a donkey, a word to scold), Kasmalam(a Sanskrit word for dirty),Dubakoor(Fraud), Mokka (not good) etc. The wiki link here has some good examples.
A Ride to Pondicherry in ECR Road
The East Coast Road called as ECR Road is a scenic 2-lane road that runs parallel to the east coast (Bay of Bengal Ocean). This road starts at Thiruvanmiyur and currently ends at Cuddalore via Pondicherry. Pondicherry or Puducherry is 140 kilometers on this road and there are lot of Tourists spots, resorts on the way. Enjoy the refreshing sea breeze with a bike ride or a car ride in this road.
Shopping at Spencer plaza
Photo Credit:Nirmal Kumar(https://www.flickr.com/photos/beyondtherules/)
Spencer Plaza is the oldest shopping mall in India constructed during British rule. It is also one of the biggest shopping malls in South Asia when it was built. Though there are lot of other shopping malls in the city, Spencer plaza is still one of the busy mall in the heart of the city. Like Higginbothams store, it is also one of the important landmark located in Mount Road.
Visit some famous Temples
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Temples are most important part of Indian culture and most Chennaites visit temple at least once a day. Chennai houses many old and famous temples. Some of them are Kapaleeshwarar temple at Mylapore, Vadapalani Murugan Temple, Parathasarathy Temple, Ashtalakshmi Temple, Thiruneermalai Vishnu Temple, etc. Visit some famous temple in Chennai to understand Tamil culture, tradition and Dravidian architecture.
Enjoy a Katcheri During Margazhi Music Season
Photo Credit:Sreenivasan Ramakrishnan(https://www.flickr.com/photos/sreenivasan/)
If you are Carnatic music lover, then Chennai is a must visit place since there are many music and cultural academies operated in the city. Every year during the Tamil month of Marghazhi(December-January), there are various Carnatic music Katcheri are organized in the areas like Alwarpet and Mylapore. Visit a Katcheri during this period and get yourselves immersed into the Carnatic music.
Visit Valluvar Kottam
Thirukkural, commonly called Ulaga Pothu Marai is famous Tamil literature authored by Poet named Thiruvalluvar. Ulaga Pothu Marai means, a Veda that is relevant for the whole world. Thirukkural teaches moral values in the form of Kurals and there are 1330 number of Kurals in total. Valluvar Kottam is a monument located inside Chennai city and it is dedicated to great Poet Thiruvalluvar. Visit this place to know more Thirukural and Thiruvalluvar.
A Beach Walk During Sunrise
There are lot of sandy beaches in and around Chennai. Take a morning walk in a beach nearby your locality to enjoy the early morning breeze.
Enjoy a Gaana Pattu with Dappan Kuthu
Gaana Paattu or Pettai Rap and Dappan Kuthu or Kuthu dance are famous in Chennai for every occasions. Most of the Tamil movies will have a gaana paatu and a kuthu dance since the music and the dance are powerful enough to make anyone dance.