Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Known as the gateway to South India, Chennai is a vibrant city that offers a harmonious blend of rich cultural heritage and modern urban charm. With its sprawling beaches, grand temples, colonial architecture, and thriving arts and music scene, Chennai is a city that carries its traditions with pride while embracing the new. This article introduces some of the must-visit destinations in Chennai that capture the essence of this dynamic city.

Best Time to Visit Chennai

Chennai, located on the southeastern coast of India, experiences a tropical climate and has three major seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter.

  • Winter (November to February): Winter is the best time to visit Chennai. During these months, the weather is pleasant and cool, making it ideal for sightseeing and other outdoor activities. The temperatures range from 15°C to 25°C (59°F – 77°F), and it’s also the season for the famous Madras Music Festival, which attracts classical music and dance lovers from across the globe.
  • Summer (March to June): Summers in Chennai can be very hot and humid, with temperatures rising up to 40°C (104°F). While the city is less crowded during this time, the high temperatures can make outdoor activities and sightseeing uncomfortable.
  • Monsoon (July to September): Chennai receives its rainfall from the southwest and northeast monsoons. The city experiences heavy rainfall, especially during the months of October and November, which can sometimes lead to waterlogging and disrupt travel plans. However, the rain brings relief from the summer heat and adds to the scenic beauty of the city.

In conclusion, the period from November to February is generally considered the best time to visit Chennai due to the pleasant weather, making sightseeing and outdoor activities enjoyable.

Best Tourist Attractions in Chennai

1. Marina Beach

Marina Beach
Photo: Pixabay/Dinesh Kag

Stretching over 13 kilometers, Marina Beach is the second-longest urban beach in the world. It is a natural sandy beach, shaped by the retreating sea. The beach is a popular recreational spot for both locals and tourists, offering picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal.

From horse riding and kite flying to beach cricket and enjoying local snacks, Marina Beach bustles with various activities. The beach also has memorials and statues, including the Anna Memorial and MGR Memorial, dedicated to former Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers. A visit to Chennai is incomplete without witnessing a sunrise or sunset at Marina Beach.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Tamil Nadu, India.

2. Thousand Lights Mosque

Thousand Lights Mosque
Photo: Twitter/Weird City

The Thousand Lights Mosque, located in Anna Salai, is one of the largest mosques in the country and a revered place of worship for the Shia community. The mosque is named so because of a legend that 1,000 lamps needed to be lit to illuminate the assembly hall.

The mosque, with its multi-domes and twin minarets, exhibits a unique architectural style. The main hall is adorned with verses from the Quran, offering a serene ambiance for prayer and meditation. The mosque also houses a library with a rich collection of religious books.

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Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Royapettah, Peter’s Rd, Peters Colony, Thousand Lights, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

3. Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam
Photo: Facebook/Cherif Ila

Valluvar Kottam is a historic monument dedicated to the celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher, Thiruvalluvar. The monument, shaped like a temple chariot, is an architectural marvel featuring intricate carvings inspired by South Indian temple architecture.

The main hall of the monument has inscriptions of Thirukkural, Thiruvalluvar’s renowned work, on granite pillars. The towering stone car statue of Thiruvalluvar is a sight to behold. Valluvar Kottam serves as a symbol of the Tamil spirit and is a testament to the city’s respect for its literary and cultural heritage.

Entry Fee: 3 INR Location: Check Map
Address: Doraiswamy Rd, Ramakrishnapuram, West Mambalam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

4. Edward Elliot’s Beach

Edward Elliot's Beach
Photo: Twitter/Ram

Edward Elliot’s Beach, also known as Besant Nagar Beach, is one of the cleanest and most tranquil beaches in Chennai. Named after Edward Elliot, the then Chief Magistrate and Superintendent of Madras, the beach is a quieter and less crowded alternative to Marina Beach.

The beach is popular among locals and tourists for its serene environment. The Karl Schmidt Memorial, named after a European sailor who lost his life while saving others from drowning, is a notable landmark at the beach. With its numerous eateries serving local cuisine, the beach is a perfect place for a relaxing evening.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

5. Sri Parthasarathy Temple

Sri Parthasarathy Temple
Photo: Twitter/Supreme

Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Sri Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane is one of the oldest temples in Chennai. The temple, dating back to the 8th century, was built by the Pallava kings and later renovated by the Vijayanagara rulers.

The temple is unique as it houses the deities of all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The temple’s architecture is a beautiful blend of Dravidian and Vijayanagara styles, with intricately carved gopurams (towers) and mandapams (pillared halls). A visit to the Sri Parthasarathy Temple offers a spiritual retreat amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Car St, Narayana Krishnaraja Puram, Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

6. Mylapore

Mylapore
Photo: Facebook/Euphorically Sree

Mylapore, a neighborhood in Chennai, is a cultural hotspot and a historical area known for its traditional South Indian lifestyle. The area is home to the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, renowned for its Dravidian architecture and religious festivals.

Mylapore is also known for its vibrant music and dance scene, especially during the Madras Music Season. The bustling streets of Mylapore are filled with small shops selling traditional items, silk sarees, and South Indian snacks. Walking through Mylapore is like stepping into a cultural kaleidoscope, offering a glimpse into the traditional side of Chennai.

Entry Fee: –; Location: Check Map
Address: Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

7. Ashtalakshmi Temple

Ashtalakshmi Temple
Photo: Twitter/P. lakshminarayana

Situated on the Elliot’s Beach, the Ashtalakshmi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and her eight divine forms. This relatively modern temple, constructed in 1976, is unique due to its multi-level structure, which is unlike the typical South Indian temple architecture.

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The temple provides a peaceful ambiance with a stunning view of the Bay of Bengal. Its architecture is noteworthy, with beautifully crafted idols and intricate designs. The temple is particularly vibrant during the festivals of Diwali and Navaratri when devotees throng to celebrate and pray.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Beach Rd, Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

8. Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park Chennai
Photo: Twitter/Search Parks

Guindy National Park, located in the heart of Chennai, is one of the few national parks situated within a city in India. The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including spotted deer, blackbucks, jackals, and a wide array of bird species.

Spread over 2.70 km², the park also encompasses a Children’s Park and a Snake Park, making it a popular spot for family outings. The park’s lush greenery and diverse wildlife offer a refreshing escape from the urban landscape and a great opportunity for nature photography.

Entry Fee: 15 INR; Location: Check Map
Address: Rangeguindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

9. Marundeeswarar Temple

Marundeeswarar Temple
Photo: Pexels/Saravanan Narayanan

Marundeeswarar Temple, located in Thiruvanmiyur, is a significant place of worship in Chennai. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Marundeeswarar or the ‘Lord of Medicines’, the temple has been a place of worship for people with diseases and health problems since ancient times.

The temple, dating back to the Chola period, is known for its architectural beauty, with intricately carved pillars and magnificent gopurams (towering gateways). It is believed that the temple tree, known as the ‘Palmyra tree’, possesses curative properties. The serene ambiance and spiritual energy of the temple offer a peaceful retreat.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: W Tank St, Ambedkar Nagar, Lalitha Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

10. MGR Film City

MGR Film City Cennai
Photo: Facebook/Pranab Das

Named after the popular actor and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.G. Ramachandran, MGR Film City is a special treat for movie buffs. Located in Taramani, MGR Film City has been the shooting location for various Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi films.

The film city covers a large area featuring different settings like a church, a prison, a court, and landscaped gardens. It also houses a film school, studios, and editing suites. Although parts of the film city are restricted to visitors, the accessible areas offer an interesting insight into the world of cinema.

Entry Fee: 25 INR; Location: Check Map
Address: Kazhikundram, Tharamani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

11. Kapaleeswarar Temple

Kapaleeswarar Temple
Photo: Facebook/Ne Bondha ra Ne Bondha

Kapaleeswarar Temple, located in Mylapore, is one of the most popular and oldest temples in Chennai. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its magnificent architecture, featuring the classic Dravidian style with a colorful gopuram adorned with detailed carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses.

The temple complex houses shrines of various deities, with the main shrine dedicated to Lord Kapaleeswarar (a form of Shiva) and Goddess Karpagambal. The temple’s tank is also quite famous and is the focal point during the Float Festival. A visit to Kapaleeswarar Temple provides a deep dive into the spiritual and architectural splendor of Chennai.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Ramakrishna Mutt Rd, Vinayaka Nagar Colony, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
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12. VGP Golden Beach

VGP Golden Beach
Photo: Facebook/Ananda Paul

VGP Golden Beach, located on the East Coast Road, is a well-known beach resort in Chennai. With its pristine sandy beach and serene ambiance, it serves as an ideal getaway from the city’s bustle.

Apart from the beach, the resort features a water park, an amusement park, a go-karting track, and various entertainment options, making it a perfect destination for a fun-filled family outing. The beautifully landscaped gardens and numerous eateries serving delicious local cuisine add to the charm of VGP Golden Beach.

Entry Fee: 450 INR; Location: Check Map
Address: SH 49, Injambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600115, India.

13. Semmozhi Poonga

Semmozhi Poonga
Photo: Twitter/Puram

Semmozhi Poonga, translating to “Classical Language Park”, is a botanical garden located in the heart of Chennai. Spread across 20 acres, the park is home to a wide range of exotic flora, including medicinal and aromatic herbs, shrubs, and flower beds.

The park’s serene environment, with water bodies, fountains, and well-manicured gardens, provides a refreshing break from the city’s concrete structures. It also features a rock garden and a butterfly garden, making it a favorite spot for nature lovers and photographers.

Entry Fee: 15 INR; Location: Check Map
Address: Ellaiamman Colony, Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

14. Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Photo: Pexels/Antony Trivet

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as the Vandalur Zoo, is the largest zoological park in India. Located in Vandalur, on the outskirts of Chennai, the park is home to more than 2,300 species of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, and lions, as well as numerous bird species.

The park, spread over 602 hectares, is well-known for its safari tours, allowing visitors to observe animals in their naturalistic habitats. It also houses a butterfly house, an aquarium, and an amphitheater. With its focus on conservation and education, the zoo provides an enriching experience for all age groups.

Entry Fee: 90 INR; Location: Check Map
Address: Grand Southern Trunk Rd, Vandalur, Tamil Nadu, India.

15. Vadapalani Murugan Temple

Vadapalani Murugan Temple
Photo: Twitter/Lokesh Prabhu

Vadapalani Murugan Temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan, is one of the most frequented temples in Chennai, especially by devotees seeking blessings for marriage and career success. The temple, over 125 years old, is renowned for its beautiful architecture, with a towering rajagopuram (main gateway tower) adorned with intricate carvings of Hindu deities.

The temple complex houses shrines of various deities, with the main shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan. The vibrant atmosphere, coupled with the spiritual energy of the temple, offers a peaceful retreat amidst the city’s hustle.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Palani Andavar Koil St, Vadapalani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Conclusion

Chennai is a city where the past and the present coexist harmoniously. This vibrant city, with its beautiful temples, serene beaches, and bustling streets, invites you to immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage and captivating charm. Whether you’re seeking spiritual solace, historical insights, cultural experiences, or the simple joy of a beachside stroll, Chennai promises a multitude of experiences that are both diverse and unique.