Looking for a prime vacation location right here in India? Consider Chennai, which offers sun, sea and sand to its visitors — plus so much more tourist attractions. This article introduces 10 great attractions for visitors to see in the capital of Tamil Nadu.

10 – The Beaches

Chennai has a number of beaches, the most popular being Marina Beach. It’s perfect for strolling, checking out the Bay of Bengal and people-watching. Marina Beach is nearly 15 kilometres long. You don’t have to walk the whole length of it to appreciate the promenades lining it near the city centre, and to enjoy the food stalls and restaurants along the sand.

09 – Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Also called the Vandalur Zoo, this was the first public zoo in India when it opened in the mid-1800s. Now, the zoo houses more than 170 kinds of animals including many local to Tamil Nadu and almost 50 endangered species. In addition to being a must-see destination because of its animals, the zoo showcases thousands of tropical flowers and other plants.

08 – Kapaleeswarar Temple

The hours before sunset are especially good for visiting Kapaleeswarar Temple on North Mada Street in Mylapore. This Shiva temple dates from the seventh century and is a fascinating example of Dravidian style. It has tall, colourful gopuram with the east one a full 40 metres tall. The temple’s decorations and rituals commemorate the peacock form of Shiva — so caged peafowl are kept inside the temple. There are four daily pujas as well.

07 – Georgetown Wholesale Markets

In the centre where the British built their first fortification in the city in the 1600s, you’ll find the Georgetown wholesale markets. These winding streets are home to a huge variety of wares — each street has its own theme — where bargains can be found if you don’t mind the clutter and a bit of dust.

06 – Vivekananda House

The philosopher Swami Vivekananda passed through Chennai in the 1890s. After he left, the converted ice house where he stayed was repurposed as a museum. Visitors can see the preserved dining room and salon he would have used, though the bedroom he stayed in is now used for meditation only. This prominent structure is opposite the marina.

05 – Ranganathan Street Shopping

Perhaps the most famous place to shop in Chennai, Ranganathan Street is busy both day and night. To make sense of the bustle of commerce here, start at the vegetable market (near the railway station) and progress through the textile shops. Then, move on to stores selling other goods.

04 – Dakshinachitra

This living museum is located about 25 kilometres from the city centre. The dancers and other performers at Dakshinachitra demonstrate local culture, art and architecture through performances, hands-on tutorials and mock-ups of local building styles.

03 – Crocodile Park

Drive outside the city about 30 kilometres to find Crocodile Park, a popular tourist attraction. Though the star animal is the crocodile — and the park has 14 different kinds of croc — visitors can see reptiles from around the world. And yes, you can touch some of them if you dare.

02 – Valluvar Kottam

Dedicated to the great Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar, this monument is a quick but memorable stop on your journey around Chennai. Designed by the same architect who created the massive Thiruvalluvar statue at Kanniyakumari, the monument is inspired by a temple chariot. An auditorium that can seat 4,000 people is attached to the monument, and the hallways inside are inscribed with the 1,330 immortal verses of the poet’s masterpiece, “Thirukkural.”

01 – Cholamandal Artists’ Village

The first artist’s commune in India, the Cholamandal Artists’ Village was formed by K.C.S. Paniker in the 1960s. The village helped bring modernism to the art of Southern India, and soon became well-known for the quality and quantity of its art. Now, it holds a museum, several art galleries, shops, guesthouses and cafes.
Photo credit: Ajay Tallam / Foter / CC BY-SA

About the Author: Farzana Tamboli is a blogger and Web designer who has made it her ambition to visit each Indian capital.