Heading to South India, and more specifically, to Chennai! Rajesh Kumar, East & South Station Manager at Velogic, enthusiastically shares about his city. Above and beyond its postcard-perfect Marina Beach, Chennai is renowned for its culinary heritage, as well as its rich history... A portrait of a vibrant city that never sleeps.
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Tradition meets modernity
“Chennai is a vibrant city endowed with a rich cultural heritage and a flourishing economy,” says Rajesh. And for good cause: sitting alongside the Bay of Bengal, the state capital of Tamil Nadu has a population of six million. This megalopolis, which doesn’t seem like one, is India’s fourth-largest city in terms of population. The commercial, cultural, and economic centre of this part of the country has a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere!
Before becoming modern Chennai, the city – formerly known as Madras – was a British colony. Bought from ruler Nayak Damarla Chenapan Nayaka in the 18th century by the British East India Company, the city still retains many traces of its colonial era. These include Fort St. George – the first British fortress in India, dating back to 1644 – and the Basilica of St. Thomas of Madras, erected over the tomb of the apostle St. Thomas.
What’s the best way to explore Chennai?
“On foot, of course,” Rajesh tells us. Chennai offers numerous modes of transport for those exploring the city (bus, electric trains, metro, taxis…), making it ideal for immersive walks: “One can find culinary tours, shopping routes, or the Bazaar… Above all, there’s the fascinating walk in Mylapore”. This walking tour offers the chance to immerse yourself in the history of the district, which stretches back to the Roman era, and to experience some of the city’s finest monuments, such as the Kapaleeshwarar temple, dating from the 7th century.
Cradled by the sea
“Chennai is a magnificent city,” says Rajesh. “The vast beaches give it a unique cachet. For me, the beach is the perfect place to relax when the weather is hot and humid”. With 13 kilometres of sand, Chennai’s beach is the second largest in the world. “I like taking my son there during my free time,” he adds.
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The must-visit location
For Rajesh, the ITC Grand Chola is a must-see for any visit to Chennai. A real institution, this hotel in the heart of the city pays tribute to the great empires of South India: the Imperial Cholas. The spectacular lobby evokes the cloister of a temple, and all its pastel interiors have been carved by traditional Tamil Nadu stonemasons.
Which other cities should we visit in India?
“There are so many historic locations to discover in India. The country offers a great variety of artistic, cultural, and culinary experiences. I recommend visiting the Pink City in Jaipur; Bangalore, the Indian Silicon Valley; and my favourite city, Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand. Sitting next to the Ganges River is a marvellous experience.”