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Chennai travel guide — Chennai tourism and travel information

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about Chennai

Chennai (சென்னை), formerly known in English as Madras, is a sprawling port city on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. One of the major Metropolitan cities of India, it is also the capital of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. It is India's fourth largest city and ranks 35th among the fifty most populous urban agglomerations in the world. The name was officially changed to Chennai in 1996, but the older name Madras is still widely used. The city used to be the nerve centre of the British colonial empire in India. The city's diverse and rich cultural heritage is world-renowned.

Chennai geography

Chennai is a city on the Coromandel Coast in South India. It is found at the north-eastern tip of Tamil Nadu state, of which it is the capital city. It is the oldest of British colonial possessions, and thereby has a long history and has inherited a rich cultural heritage. It has a long shoreline bordering the Bay of Bengal and a large manmade harbour. Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world, is in Chennai.

Connemara Public Library in Chennai is one of the oldest libaries (1890) and is one of the four National depository libraries which receive a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India free of charge. Guindy Engineering College, a part of the Anna University campus, is the oldest institute of engineering studies outside of Europe. It is also home to an Indian Institute of Technology.

Many large businesses, especially manufacturing and automobile industries, are situated there. Chennai is well connected with most cities in India by road, rail and air. Chennai is also the closest major Indian city to the economical hubs of South-East Asia. This is illustrated best by the fact that Chennai is closer to Singapore and Thailand than to the national capital of New Delhi.

Chennai is thus a favoured maritime port, servicing sea-lines to South East Asia and the Pacific.

Chennai history

Chennai had its origins as a colonial city and its initial growth was closely tied to its importance as an artificial port and trading centre. Originally there were only a few ancient villages in the area.

The Portuguese were the first to establish a fort, that of Sao Tome or San Thome in 1522, pushing back the ancient Pallava port of Mylapore. By 1612 the Dutch established themselves in Pulicat to the North. In 1639 the British East India Company was granted land between these settlements by the Nayak of Wandiwash, where they built Fort St George in 1640. First little more than a fortified warehouse, it became the nucleus around which the city grew and from which it was administered. Even today the official legislative and administrative headquarters of the state is located there.

British governors of Madras include:

George Town grew into modern Madras city, encompassing several neighboring regions. As of 2000, the government has renamed the city as Chennai - the name of the city in vernacular Tamil, with disputed origins.

St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ and believed to be the first ever Christian missionary to set foot on Indian soil, is associated with Chennai. He is supposed to have visited India in the first century A.D and died in Chennai. He supposedly set up a church near the southern shoreline and made a small hillock his home. Legend has it that he used to walk to the church - a distance of over 15 kilometers - and back everyday through what was then, a menacing jungle. The names of the two suburbs in Chennai, Santhome and St. Thomas Mount, have cemented this link. This belief, however, is contested. Although the Catholic Church has claimed St. Thomas probably never came anywhere near India or south India - and there is no proof he ever went beyond Syria - this myth has staunch believers in Chennai, most likely propagated by the first Christians who came to the Malabar coast in the 3rd century AD, fleeing persecution at home in Syria.

Tiruvalluvar, author of the renowned Thirukkural, lived in Chennai.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chennai".

This city is also known as: Chennai (formerly Madras).

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