Must see must do in Chennai Think you know everything about your city? Shilpa Rathnam trawls through chennai's nooks and crannies to bring you a list of all that is iconic in your city as well as a few little known jewels.
Silk route Nalli: The souvenir to buy in Chennai is a Kanchipuram silk saree. Though technically it is Kancheepuram where these sarees are woven, they are emblematic of the metro. Many stores here sell Kanchipuram silks but buying a Kanchipuram saree from Nalli is no less than a tradition for residents here. The store follows a no discount policy in stark contrast to the other stores it is flanked by. Tel: 42604567. Sacred tales Kapaleeswarar Temple: Not to visit a temple while in Chennai would be nothing short of cultural blasphemy. One of the oldest temples in the city, the Kapaleeshwarar temple is a Shiva temple built in 7th century AD by the ruling Pallavas. Legend has it that a repentant Brahma installed a lingam in Mylapore to appease a miffed Shiva and the temple was built around it. The architecture is textbook Dravidian with two gopurams (a step design consisting of many statues of deities) and a sacred tank. Inside the temple there are bronze idols of 63 Saivite Saints (Nayanmars) and the Punnai (Calophyllum inophyllum) tree in the courtyard is the oldest one in the city. Streynsham Master, one of the pioneers of the East India Company, initiated the construction of the church because he found the existing arrangement for religious services inconvenient. Built in 1680, the church's five feet thick walls are built to withstand explosions, and a bomb proof roof designed to ricochet cannon balls. Over the years the church has seen some architectural additions like the sanctuary, steeple, tower and the vestry but there are still some remnants of the original woodwork in the interiors. There is a stunning replica of Da Vinci's Last Supper at the altar and also a copy of the Bible that dates back to 1660 AD. Traders, potters and weavers can be observed at work here and some of their wares are for sale. The craftsmen are willing to demonstrate and teach, so you can also try your hand at these activities. The centre is filled with life size models of traditional Southern Indian homes to transport you back to an older and simpler time. Tel: 27472603. Cool comfort Cotton Street: The sultry weather of Chennai makes cotton the most preferred material for all seasons, even winter. Head to 'Cotton Street' for all your wardrobe needs. Bright florals, somber pastels, pristine whites and rich mahogany the range of patterns and spectrum of colours here is eye boggling. There are about 60 vendors lined along the street and most of them have their own mixed and matched salwar kameez materials. You can choose from their ensembles or mix and match your own. Materials for louis vuitton neverfull or totally curtains, tablecloths and bedspreads are also available here. Remember to bargain when here. At: Pantheon Road, Egmore. By the bay Marina Beach: Even those who know nothing about Chennai may know of the Marina beach. Despite being crowded and not too clean, it's a regular haunt for many locals and is always buzzing with activity. In the morning you have the joggers, in the afternoon couples behind umbrellas seek solace from the sun and prying eyes and in the evening families come out for a stroll along the seaside. The beach is dotted with food stalls selling everything from biryani to Chinese cuisine. What's most popular though, are the short louis vuitton purses grey eats by way of cotton candy, raw mango with chilli powder and salt as well as bajjis. There are many activities here for children, ranging from pony rides to miniature ferris wheels and merry go rounds. There's even a state of the art skating rink where kids can skate under the supervision of a trainer. Go for a stroll in the evening and soak up the ambience. Tell tale Storytrails: Chennai is a city steeped in history and culture and every sight here has a story to tell, as does every mundane ritual from daily life. Storytrails attempts to dig out such stories for the locals and give visitors a glimpse into the local way of life. The organisation offers walks and short tours to showcase unique elements of life in the city. Vijay Prabhat Kamalakara, who started this venture in Chennai four years ago says each trail is a veritable mix of history, mythology and folklore. Storytrails also specialises in creating trails and workshops for children. George, the first British fortress in India founded in 1639, is known as George Town. In the 1950s, Marwaris settled in and around the area and the neighbourhood was rechristened Sahukar pet, or Sowcarpet. The vicinity may be dominated by Northern Indians but the buildings are still traditional and local. A wholesale market area, you can find an assortment of motley goods ranging from saris to stationery. The lanes are narrow and often dirty but if you don't mind that, you can find great bargains. Each street here is dedicated to a certain product. Electrical goods on Audiappa Naicken Street, medicinal herbs on Nainiappa Naicken Street, tailoring accessories on Deva Raja Mudali Street and so on. Set up in 1964 the restaurant chain has seen no competition in its niche. Chettinad is a region in Tamil Nadu and the food of the region is predominantly meat based and spicy. At Anjappar you can have a taste of the exotic by way of rabbit, quail, turkey and even prawn biryanis apart from the evergreen mutton and chicken varieties. Most non vegetarian dishes here are topped off with a boiled egg; it is an essential part of Chettinad dishes. Or try the Anjappar Popular Meals which are a great way to introduce yourself to the cuisine. The engraved wooden pillars and paintings from Chettinad make for a lovely setting for your meal. At: Building No. louis vuitton authentication website 71 Dr Radha Krishnan Salai, Mylapore. Tel: 28114555. Book worm Anna Centenary Library: Libraries invariably invoke images of old structures steeped in history and musty books tinged with time. In stark contrast is the newly constructed Anna Centenary Library that is 'corporate' and all business like. This state of the art library, the second largest in Asia, was inaugurated in September 2010 by then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. Sprawled over 3.75 lakh sq ft and eight floors, it holds five lakh books. Located in the heart of the most traffic prone area in the city, it provides some reprieve from the pollution all around. Five hundred new species of plants were planted in the garden, in addition to the existing foliage some of which are over a century old. Miniature manmade louis vuitton buckhead atlanta waterfalls and duck ponds are speckled across the park, making it a picturesque setting for an evening stroll. The air is heavy with the smell of flowers and if you're lucky you might even find an empty park bench to relax on. The upkeep of this garden is fantastic, making it the cleanest public park in the city. Philosopher Swami Vivekananda stayed here briefly in 1897 after which the building was converted into a museum. It houses a collection of his photographs, plaques engraved with his sayings and paintings on the cultural evolution of India. Vivekanada's bedroom has been converted into a space for meditation but the dining room, kitchen and parlour have been preserved for visitors to see how he lived. The Ramakrishna Math conducts meditation, yoga and personality development classes for the youth at the premises. The semi spherical structure has distinctive architectural features such as the circular core, the semicircular corridors and a dome. Interestingly the building was originally built by "Ice King" Frederic Tudor in 1842 to store ice from the Great Lakes of America and is even now referred to as the Ice House. Narrow roads packed with shoppers and a wide variety of goods for sale make this the busiest stretch in the city. A vegetable market at the farthest end near the railway station makes way for a row of textile shops that are interrupted by 'fancy goods' (read: imitation goods) stores. Whether ribbons from roadside hawkers, lingerie unabashedly displayed on mannequins or even gold there is little you can't find on this street. A word of caution: keep an eye on your wallet at all times. Theosophical Society: This is the best place to quite literally be in 'nature's lap'. Spread over 250 acres, it is a veritable haven of tall trees and clean air. There are no commercial establishments within the premises, which helps in keeping the place clean.
The premises is open to non members for two hours in the morning and for three in the evening. The 450 year old giant banyan tree here, under which Annie Besant is said to have discoursed, now sees children playing under it. At: Adyar.
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