Recently there was a query in Reddit on what are the places in Chennai as a tourist one must see if they have, say, two weeks in the city. I shared the following list, that I am reposting here after considerably expanding it.
Welcome to our city with lovely people.
I was born in Chennai (aka Madras), have been living here for over 4 decades and so I know a bit about the city!
Remember, these are my personal picks and they are not meant to be comprehensive.
I have tried to categorize them below for your convenience.
Museum & Memorials
- Fort Museum – This is the first place in India the British bought in 1639 and started their colonization
- Egmore Museum – Bronze gallery and Art gallery
- Central Railway Station – The iconic building that is the symbol of the city, while there don’t miss visiting the Lilly Pond market next door
- Tamil Nadu Police Museum, Egmore
- Railway Museum inside the ICF (Integral Coach Factory) Perambur
- Poet Subramanya Bharathiyar House
- Kamarajar Memorial House
- Dr MGR Memorial House, T.Nagar
- Anna and MGR Memorial, Dr Kalaignar’s Memorial & J Jayalalithaa’s Memorial – These memorials for the four chief ministers of the state are next to each other, near the Marina beach
- Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperumbudur – This is about 50 km from the city on the Chennai-Bengaluru Highway
- Chepauk Palace and Amir Mahal – You need to be part of a tour with prior permission to go inside, as the first is a functioning government office and the second is the residence for current Arcot Nawab
- Vivekanandar Illam (Ice House)
- Anna Centenary Library
For the museums, a guided tour will make it more appreciatable. The information signs will not be very informative.
Parks & Nature
- Marina Beach
- Guindy Children’s Park
- To see Crocodiles, Madras Crocodile Bank
- Mahabalipuram (aka Mamallapuram), is a historic town 50 kilometres from Chennai city. Hon’ble Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping (习近平) along with Hon’ble Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi visited in October 2019. Here is a brief history (2000 years old) of the place
- Vandalur Zoo
- Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
- Chetpet Eco Park has boat rides
- BirdWatch at Pallikaranai Marshland – In 2022, the local body developed and opened a park for the public to visit.
- Anna Nagar Tower Park
- Ranganathan Street – You can everything under the sun here, be aware of the heavy crowd
- Pondy Bazaar and the pedestrian Plaza – The best time to shop here – The famous place for clothes, shoes, bags and more
- Saravana Stores shopping – the place will be crowded, go there only if you like the crowd. From here, within walking distance will be the newly renovated Pondy Bazaar (Market) – walking market.
- Sowcarpet area (NSC Bose Road) the best place in Chennai for North Indian food and fashion
- Lilly Pond Market (near the old Moore market) – Famous for its used products and antique shops
- Higginbothams Book Shop
- Phoenix Market City, Velachery
- VR Mall, Anna Nagar
Food & Restaurants
- Menaka Restaurant in Hotel Palmgrove – Traditional South Indian vegetarian lunch
- Annalakshmi – The South Indian vegetarian restaurant
- The Dhaba, Estd 1986 – One of the best places for authentic North Indian (Punjabi) cuisine
- Paati Veedu, T.Nagar – Another Tamil Nadu vegetarian restaurant
- Chin Chin – The Residency, T.Nagar – Chinese Cuisine
- Sri Gujarati Mandal, Broadway – Authentic Gujarati Cuisine
- Codd-Neck Soda – The local cool drink
Temples & Places of Worship
- Mylai Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore
- Santhome Church (San Thome Basilica)
- Sri Parthasarathy Perumal Temple, Triplicane
- Vadapalani Murugan temple
- Tiruneermalai temple
- Nithyakalayana Perumal temple in Thiruvidandai (About 50 Kms near Mahabalipuram)
- Temples In and Around Chennai by Chitra Madhavan in 2017
Heritage walks & the history of the city
- Dakshina Chitra – A living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India. It is about 25 kilometres from the city, i.e. halfway to Mahabalipuram.
- High Court of Madras – Not open to the public unless you are on a group tour
- Boat Club – Madras Week Heritage Walk in 2018
- Heritage walk to Chintadripet, Chennai in 2014
- Rare book exhibition in Connemara Public Library in 2019
- Heritage walk on the island in 2017
- Kapaleeshwarar Temple – Madras Week Heritage Walk in 2018
- Royapuram–Chennai Heritage Walk in 2013
- The heritage walk of Alwarpet in 2013
- Arcot Nawab’s trail at Triplicane by Kombai S Anwar in 2017
- Madras Week Heritage walk to Madras Port in 2015
- Tracing the old fort wall of Madras in 2012
Lastly, if you are visiting the city during the month of December you can attend a few performances in the annual Carnatic Music Season and the food in the canteens, if you are here in the months of January and February, then check out the annual Trade Fair at Island Grounds (2020, 2019, 2018) and Chennai Book Fair (2022, 2020).