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To describe a city as a “melting pot” or “potpourri” might be a bit of a cliché. But when you visit Chennai, you’ll see that even the most hackneyed sayings can sometimes have special relevance. Book a flight to Chennai with Qatar Airways and discover a unique location with a captivating.Located at the edge of the Bay of Bengal, the city has a timeless quality. It may be barely 400 years old, but the villages it has swallowed in its expansion date back more than 1,000 years.
Every part of Chennai has its own story to tell, making the capital of the eastern state of Tamil Nadu a memorable destination. The French, Dutch, British and Portuguese have all knocked on its doors, each leaving its own imprint.
Chennai’s diverse history can be seen in the monuments left behind by different cultures, during their colonial rule. For a slice of nature, head for the Marina Beach, a 4.5-kilometre stretch of urban coast along the Bay of Bengal. With its stunning coastline, silky sands and crystal-clear seas, it is one of the main reasons people travel to Chennai.
Another natural attraction in Chennai is the Semmozhi Poonga, a 20-acre park located in the city centre. In among the lush flora, you’ll find medicinal plants and fragrant herbs. There is an abundant green space for you to stroll along, and if you’re travelling with children, the park also has several play areas.
Alternatively, if you’d like to see some fauna with your flora during your trip to Chennai, head for Arignar Anna Zoological Park. India’s first zoo, it has tigers, panthers and hyenas. And for an extra-exotic experience, you can hire an elephant to carry you around the park. To get around town, hire a tuk-tuk (rickshaw), which is the most popular mode of transport.
Like the rest of India, cricket is big in Chennai and to take in some matches, head for the MA Chidhambaram Stadium. Located in Chepauk, the venue has already hosted 25 test matches and three World Cups. However, make sure you book your tournament tickets in advance.
Something else that is ingrained in Indian culture is the train. If you’re a railway enthusiast, visit Chennai’s Railway Museum, which will take you back in time, with its fine examples of old engines. For an eco-tourism adventure, take part in the Chennai Turtle Walk, where you can help relocate turtle eggs for safe release back into the sea. This walk takes place at midnight and the route starts at Neelangarai and ends at Besant Nagar beach.
Travel to Chennai and you’ll soon discover that it is a food-lover’s delight. Here, you will be presented with a range of offerings, from street food to fine-dining. As far as street food goes, chaats are to India what hot dogs are to Americans – popular and delicious. They come in various guises, from sweet or salty to soft or crispy.
For a fine-dining experience during your trip to Chennai, you should look up the more exclusive restaurants in Guindy. Alternatively, there are restaurants in the Alwarpet area, which are frequented by locals, and where you'll find tasty, traditional Indian food.
There are two distinct types of shopping in Chennai: street markets and high-end shopping. The markets are buzzing and heady with the scent of roasting spices.
However, there are a few that stand out from the crowd, so be sure to look out for the ones on Ritchie Street. What makes this area unusual is that, as well as the usual handicrafts, silks and spices, a large part of the area is devoted to electronics. If you’re looking for a gadget, this is the place to go.
When it comes to high-end shopping, then look no further than Express Avenue. With over 200 shops covering more than 900,000 square feet of retail space, it’s Chennai’s biggest shopping mall.
Essential facts about Chennai
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip