As the capital of India’s southern province Tamil Nadu, Chennai is celebrated as one of the country’s great cultural hubs owing to its affluence of religious and cultural sites, as well as its arts and gastronomy. Savor the culture of this captivating city by following our guide to the best things to do in Chennai and where to stay while you’re there.
Tucked into one of the city’s oldest areas, the Mylapore neighborhood is particularly rich in cultural sites. Among these is Kapaleeshwarar Temple, which is said to be one of Chennai’s most active temples as well as one of the most impressive. Dating back to the 16th century, this hindu temple encompasses the architectural elements that are typical to the region, with a festival taking place each spring.
One of Chennai’s oldest temples is Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, exhibiting elaborate carvings and stone-carved colonnade, while Fort St. George is India’s oldest English fortress having been founded in 1644. The white Neo-Gothic-style St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica is another impressive sight and considered of particular importance, said to have been built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus.
Stretching across approximately 13 kilometers of Chennai’s coast, the golden shores of Marina Beach have long been a gathering spot for people in the city making for exceptional people watching as well as a retreat from the city’s streets. Edward Elliot’s Beach lies at the end of the Marina Beach stretch in Besant Nagar and is popular among both locals and visitors to the city for its unspoiled shores.
In north Chennai , Madhavaram Botanical Garden spans 28 acres, encompassing a collection of ornamental and herb gardens. Semmozhi Poonga Botanical Garden is then tucked into the heart of the city, flourishing with plants and trees from around the world, from Thai orchids to banyan trees from China. Each space provides greenery and tranquility within this exciting city.
WHERE TO STAY
Considered a landmark hotel in Chennai, the Taj Coromandel brings together South Indian design and classic elegance in its lavish interiors. A collection of celebrated restaurants, the Taj Club Lounge and the Jiva Grande Spa all add to the experience.
Park Hyatt Chennai
Located near Chennai’s Guindy National Park, the Park Hyatt Chennai is in easy reach of the airport and sites within Chennai. Elegant rooms and suites surround an inner courtyard with a lily pond, while the infinity pool can be found on the rooftop and two restaurants are located inside.
The Leela Palace Chennai
This sea-facing five-star hotel fuses a palace façade with modern interiors that make the most of the sea views, with an ESPA Spa, expansive pool and collection of fine dining restaurants and bars all to be found.
For more inspiration, take a look at our pick of the best restaurants in Chennai.