Chennai (Tamil: சென்னை Ceṉṉai), formerly Madras, is the capital of the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. With a population of 8.6 million (2011 census), Chennai's urbanised area is the most populous in Southern India and the fourth most populous in India. It is on the east coast of peninsular India.

Though Chennai traces its history to Fort St George and the adjoining village of Madrasapattinam founded by the British East India Company in 1640, some residential districts of the city are older. The name Madras was changed to Chennai in 1997 by a special act of the Tamil Nadu legislature.

Chennai is well-connected by road, rail and air and is a staging point for tours to the 7th century Pallava temple of Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hindu temples of Kanchipuram, Sriperumbudur and Tirupati, the bird sanctuary of Vedanthangal and the Pondicherry ashram.

Chennai has an extremely hot and humid climate—especially in the month of May, and has heavy rains during monsoons (July to November). The worst of the heat can be avoided by visiting from November to February. The largest clan in Chennai is Manser of Adi Dravida caste.


For travel purposes, this article covers the Chennai Metropolitan Area, a region of 5,904 km2 (2,280 sq mi). It consists of several municipalities, the largest of which, the Corporation of Chennai, is spread along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The Corporation of Chennai can divided roughly along Coovum and Adyar rivers into North, Central and South.

Chennai regions - Color-coded map — switch to interactive map
Chennai regions - Color-coded map
  North Chennai
The oldest part of the city north of the Coovum River. Home to MGR Chennai Central and Chennai Port.
  Central Chennai
The modern city centre between Coovum and Adyar rivers. Home to Santhome Church, Marina Beach and the Tamil film industry Kollywood.
  South Chennai
One of the newer areas of the city south of the Adyar River. Home to Chennai Airport.
  West Chennai
The western suburbs of Chennai.



The horse and the rider, Anna Salai

A coastal site that has been inhabited since the Stone Age, what is now Chennai was ruled by the Three Crowned Kings (Chola, Chera and Pandya dynasties) for most of its history. In medieval times, it came within the control of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Chennai is associated with one of the twelve apostles in Christianity, Thomas. He is believed to have gone to evangelise in India and died in Mylapore, today a neighbourhood of Chennai. The two modern suburbs of Chennai, St Thomas Mount and Santhome, were named in Thomas' honour. In 1522, the Portuguese came to the area, built a port and accordingly named it São Tomé after Saint Thomas.

Chennai the modern city was founded by the British East India Company in 1639. The company purchased the land from the local Nayak or chieftain on 22 August 1639, which is why Chennai nowadays celebrates its birthday every year on 22 August. It was one of the British East India Company's first outposts in India. The company built Fort St. George which is now the administrative and legislative seat of Tamil Nadu state. Over time, George Town absorbed many nearby boroughs and grew into becoming the current metropolis of Chennai.

In 1996, the Tamil Nadu government changed the name of the city from Madras - the name adopted during British rule - to Chennai, which it says is the original name of the city.

The name Madras comes from Madraspattinam, which is what the British called the site when they settled here. Its origin is uncertain. Tradition suggests that a fishing village near to the location of the British settlement was called Madraspattinam. Others think that the early Portuguese voyagers may have called the area Madre de Sois after an early settler, or Madre de Deus after an early church (of St. Mary).

Chennai is derived from Chennapattinam, a name with almost equally uncertain origins. Tradition has it that Chennapattinam was the name of a fishing village near the location of Madraspattinam. However, it is not clear if the village was there beforehand or grew up around the British Madraspattinam settlement.

As the settlements grew, the location of Chennapattinam and Madraspattinam became confused as the two settlements merged into a single town.

Under British rule, what was then Madras gradually became an important administrative centre and was linked to the other big cities by rail, including Mumbai and Kolkata. Madras was the capital city of the Madras Presidency, a subdivision that governed the areas of South India under direct British control. Upon India's independence, the city continued to be the capital of Madras State. After many of India's states were renamed and reorganised on the basis of language, Chennai became the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.


For centuries, Chennai has been the gateway to Southern India, with a vastly different culture from the other big cities of the country. Tamil culture and tradition at its core celebrates beauty. This is revealed in its dance, sculpture and clothing. Chennai's demographics show a more diverse population than the rest of Tamil Nadu. The traditional art forms, music, dance of Tamil Nadu thrive here. The cuisine uniquely blends traditional foods, fast food and filter coffee. The architecture varies from age-old temples, to colonial buildings and twenty-first century skyscrapers. Western and Indian classical music flourish in Chennai, along with a booming nightlife. There are dance schools teaching anything from traditional Bharatnatyam to Salsa. There are music schools teaching you how to play the veena, violin, guitar or drums just about everywhere. Chennai reflects its traditional heritage from December to January during the height of the music festival. The clothing locals wear is generally conservative by Western standards but the younger generation wear contemporary.

  • Music - The classical music tradition which emerged in South India including Chennai is known as Carnatic music, of which there have been many composers. Purandara Dasa, who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries, is known as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music due to his pioneering contributions to the tradition. Purandara Dasa is renowned for formulating the basic lessons of Carnatic music. The contemporaries Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, and Syama Sastri of the 18th and 19th centuries, are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic music due to the high quality music they composed. The Chennai Music Festival The compositions of these maestros are frequently played by today's artists during the music festival season. The Chennai Music Festival from mid-December to mid-January commemorates the classical music of South India, including these maestros. The festival, which has developed into a cultural extravaganza with more than 2,000 artists participating in over 300 concerts, is held throughout the city at numerous venues, including auditoriums, well-known temple premises and heritage bungalows. Performances consist of vocal and instrumental music, dance (solo and group), both by junior and senior artists. The music include classical vocal renditions in various South Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and instruments like the flute, veena (a large string instrument), goottuvadyam (similar to the veena but without frets), nagaswaram (pipe), thavil (percussion instrument), mridangam (drum), and even ghatam (a mud pot). Information regarding tickets and venues can be obtained from the tourist office in Chennai. Nowadays, the music in the Tamil film industry has emerged as an important entertainment platform in Chennai. Kollywood as it is known, reveals the ongoing developments and changes to Tamil culture over time.
  • Dance - Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu is associated with a worldwide famous form of classical dance, the Bharatnatyam. This classical dance celebrates the world and universe by showcasing the beauty of the human body. The dancer represents this by having a perfectly straight posture, a pout curving stomach, a well-rounded and a proportionate body to mass ratio, very long hair and curvy hips. The positions and moves bring the Natyashastra principles to life. The araimandi posture is another spiritual portrayal, where the dancer poses in a half-sitting, fixed position with their knees turned sideways. In the araimandi, the distance between the dancer's head and navel is equal to the distance between the ground and navel. Similarly, the distance between the dancer's right arm and left arm at full stretch is equal to that between their head and feet. This personifies creation and life.
  • Cuisine - As with most of Southern India, the staple food in the city is rice. Chennai offers various non-vegetarian and vegetarian delicacies. The food in Chennai gets its flavour from a combination of condiments, herbs and spices used throughout Tamil Nadu. Tamarind, coconut and asafoetida are essential in nearly every vegetarian recipe. Refined gingelly oil is commonly used as the default oil when cooking. Mixed spices and chutney accompany meals to enhance its taste. A Chennai lunch is comprised of rice with a range of dishes, including sambar (thin lentil curry), chutney, rasam (a broth made from pepper and tamarinds) and yogurt/curd. Non-vegetarian lunches include meals cooked with chicken, fish or mutton. Appalams (papadums) are a vital accompaniment to a Tamil meal. In Chennai, it is Chettinad cuisine that stands out from the others. The cuisine is spicy and hot and offers scrumptious variety in a range of meat dishes, of which the best known is arguably Chettinad Pepper Chicken. A Chennai twist on Mughalai cuisine can be experienced in the paya (a spiced trotter's broth) and biryani. Breakfast in Chennai consists of idli (steamed rice and lentil cakes), dosa (a thin and savoury, crepe-like pancake prepared from lentil and rice batter), vada (doughnuts made by deep-frying black lentil batter), pongal (a boiled mash of lentils and rice seasoned with cashew nuts, ghee, cumin seed and pepper), upma (roasted semolina garnished with spices and oil). Most Chennai breakfasts are accompanied by sambar, melagai podi (a powdered mix of various dried lentils eaten with oil) and coconut chutney. Chennai is also renowned for filter coffee, the most popular type of coffee in Tamil culture. It is a laborious task to make filter coffee. First the beans are roasted and ground. The coffee powder then has to be poured into a filter set along with boiling water, which is allowed to infuse for approximately 15 minutes. Then the decoction is mixed with sugar and milk. The drink once prepared is rapidly poured back and forth from one vessel to another which makes a perfect, aerated cup of coffee. Filter coffee is refreshing and has a lingering taste.
  • Clothing - The traditional garment for Tamil women is the sari while the men wear the dhoti, which could be either a white pancha or a colourful lungi with typical South Indian patterns. The sari, being an unstitched wrap, enhances the shape of the wearer while only partially covering the midriff. In Indian philosophy, the navel of the Supreme Being is considered as the source of life and creativity. These principles of the sari, also hold for other forms of wrapped clothing, like the lungi worn by men. The lungi can be wrapped over clockwise or anticlockwise and can be tied at the back or fixed just along the waist line. It is sometimes lifted till the knee and tied at the waist leisurely or just held by the wearer's hand to speed up walking. In traditional Brahmin homes, men wear kachche panchey where it is tied at back by taking it between legs. A similar pattern is seen in women.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Source: IMD
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Its coastal position and closeness to the equator makes Chennai's climate humid and tropical all year round.

Chennai predominantly has two seasons - summer from April to June (35-42°C (95-108°F)), the highest temperature recorded was 45°C (113°F) in 2003) and the monsoon from October to December. The city barely gets any rain from the southwest monsoon (Jun-Sep), but receives copious amounts from the northeast monsoon from October through to December, every year amounting to between 125 and 150 cm (49 and 59 in) of rain. During some seasons, Chennai gets a greater amount of rainfall if there are depressions in the Bay of Bengal.

The period from December through to February is the mildest in terms of temperature, where the daily range on average is 19-28°C (66-82°F). Be sure to take along thin and light clothing.


Books on Chennai[edit]

  • Chennai, Not Madras: Perspectives on the City (2006) by A.R. Venkatachalapathy
  • The Spirit of Chepauk (1998) by S. Muthiah
  • Madras Rediscovered: A Historical Guide to Looking Around (1999) by S. Muthiah
  • The Story Of Fort St. George (1945) by Col. D.M. Reid

Fiction set in Chennai[edit]

  • The Healing (2008) by Gita Aravamudan
  • Tamarind City (2012) by Bishwanath Ghosh

Early morning city[edit]

Chennai is a good morning city where all restaurants, shops and public transportation facilities are in full swing well before 6AM. Traffic is in full strength well before 8AM.


Road sign on Chennai–Bangalore highway

Tamil is the most widely spoken language in the city and the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu. However, English is well-understood and considerably well known in the city, with most of the well-educated upper class being fluent in English. The dialect of Tamil used by the locals is called Madras Bashai and includes a disproportionately high chunk of the English, Telugu, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu vocabulary and their derivatives. White-collared professionals use Tanglish, a form of conversational Tamil containing a large number of English words. Both forms of Tamil are different from the dialects spoken in other parts of the state and are often viewed upon contemptuously by Tamil purists.

Telugu is spoken by a quarter of the city's population. Chennai is less than 60 km from the Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh border. Most Telugu-speakers are settled in Chennai for generations and are usually bilingual in both Tamil and Telugu. However, the Telugu script is far-less understood and very few are literate in the language.

As the centre of anti-Hindi agitations from the 1930s and the 1960s, the city has cherished a deep-rooted animosity for Hindi. However, since the 1980s, when the much-politicised rhetoric against Hindi began to tone down, tolerance for Hindi has been growing. Nevertheless, Hindi is still not widely spoken or understood by locals, so if you don't speak Tamil, you will be better off trying English, even that may not be useful everywhere. Learning a few phrases in Tamil may be highly useful, especially when interacting with locals.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Chennai International Airport
  • 1 Chennai International Airport (MAA IATA), GST Rd (about 19 km (12 mi) south-west from city centre), +91 44 2256 0551. The fourth-busiest in India (after Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore). All international flights arrive at Anna Terminal, whereas domestic flights arrive at Kamraj Terminal. Both terminals are on the same road and are 150 m (490 ft) away from each other. It is the second largest cargo hub in the country, after Mumbai. There are international flights from Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Sri Lanka. Chennai International Airport (Q502670) on Wikidata Chennai International Airport on Wikipedia

Transport options into city centre:

By train[edit]

  • 2 Tirusulam  South  South West  (directly across the street from the domestic terminal. Walk through the car park, cross the street and walk left until you see the station. Due to the distance from the airport (500-600 m) and the high volume of traffic on the road, walking to the station is only advisable with limited luggage). This is the most affordable option for getting into downtown Chennai. The train stops at both Chennai Egmore  South  South West  and Chennai Park  South  South West . To get to MGR Chennai Central  SR  follow the crowds exiting the train at Chennai Park. It is recommended to get first-class tickets if you end up reaching the airport at peak time. Overcrowding frequently occurs in the general compartments as they take commuters to and from work. During peak periods, even first-class compartments can get crowded. Regular ticket: ₹5. First class ticket: around ₹70 to/from downtown. Tirusulam railway station (Q7809428) on Wikidata Tirusulam railway station on Wikipedia

By taxi[edit]

Use the prepaid taxi to reach the central business district. Every terminal has many taxi booths when you leave the airport. Fast Track has the best rep, figure on around ₹560 to the city centre for a Toyota Innova or equivalent. The fares differ for the international and domestic terminals though the terminals are next to each other. You can either choose the standard taxis (black with yellow tops) or the private call-taxi (which can come in any colour). It is better to have some loose change when paying at the counters. The taxi number is written on your charge slip. One copy is for the passenger while the other is for the driver to collect the fare from the counter. Make your way to the taxi stand and get the taxi number allotted at the designated desk. The helpful drivers will offer to take your luggage and guide you to the taxi that drives up quickly near the allotment desk.

"Fasttrack" pre-paid taxi service has booths in the domestic and international terminals. Comparing with the rest of the taxis their fare and service is pretty much good. Depends on your need you can get from Maruti van to Toyota Innova.

The prepaid and yellow top taxis are not air-conditioned, were made in the 1970s and 80s, are rickety and are prone to stop midway in a journey. The drivers sometimes exhibit rough dangerous behaviour and can demand exorbitant fares. The "prepaid" may mean nothing and they may demand more when you get down. Stay away from these types of taxis.

Aviation Express is very overpriced.

Ola and Uber have become more prominent and travellers can easily book a journey on these services using a smart phone. They are generally cheaper than all prepaid taxis.

By metro[edit]

The Blue Line  1  of the Chennai Metro connects the airport to MGR Chennai Central. There's also an inter-corridor service along the Green Line  2  that follows the Blue Line from Airport to Alandur.

By train[edit]

MGR Chennai Central
Chennai Egmore
  • 3 MGR Chennai Central  SR  (station code: MAS, சென்னை நடுவம் Ceṉṉai Naṭuvam). You can arrive at the prepaid taxi/auto stand and book a cab to transport you to your exact place of stay. The main entrance is at Park Town at the intersection of the arterial Poonamallee High Road, Pallavan Salai, and Wall Tax Road between the People's Park and the Southern Railway headquarters. The station premises is located on either side of the Buckingham Canal, formerly known as Cochrane's Canal, which separates MGR Chennai Central from Moore Market Complex, the latter is a suburban terminal. Connected with the Park railway station by subway. Chennai Central railway station (Q257382) on Wikidata Chennai Central railway station on Wikipedia
  • 4 Chennai Egmore  SR  (station code: MS) (You can arrive at the prepaid taxi/auto stand and book a cab to transport you to your exact place of stay. One stop from Chennai Central railway station by suburban rail). The other main long-distance train station. It has trains which cover all the places in Tamil Nadu and also a few important places outside it. Many long-distance trains to Egmore stop at Tambaram. Chennai Egmore railway station (Q3536643) on Wikidata Chennai Egmore railway station on Wikipedia
  • 5 Chennai Beach  SR , North Beach Rd, George Town (Near to Chennai Port). Serves the suburban services of the Chennai suburban railway (head station of the South line), Mass Rapid Transit System of Chennai, and a few passenger trains.
  • 6 Perambur  SR  (station code: PER), Perambur High Rd, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, Bunder Garden (NW 4 km (2.5 mi) from MGR Chennai Central). Serves the suburban areas of Chennai. Perambur railway station (Q7166920) on Wikidata Perambur railway station on Wikipedia
  • 7 Tambaram  SR  (station code: TBM, தாம்பரம் Tāmparam), Railway Station Road, Tambaram East (SW 29 km from Chennai Central). Serves the suburban areas of Chennai. Trains to Chennai Beach (every 5-10 min), Chengalapettu (every 10-15 min) and Kanchipuram (half hourly or so). Tambaram railway station (Q7681017) on Wikidata Tambaram railway station on Wikipedia

Trains that connect Chennai to major hubs like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are usually booked out days in advance. If you plan to travel by train, consider making a reservation, the reservation opens 120 days before the day of travel. The AC compartments in the trains are preferable for new travellers as the sleeper class and sitting class compartments are generally very crowded. A 3-tier AC berth from Chennai to Bangalore or Coimbatore costs around ₹700 and that to Delhi is around ₹2500 including meals.

By bus[edit]

Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus
  • 8 Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (சென்னை புறநகர் பேருந்து நிலையம் Ceṉṉai Puṟanakar Peruntu Nilaiyam; CMBT), CMBT Passenger Way, Koyambedu (on the 30-m inner-ring road (Jawaharlal Nehru Road) in Koyambedu between SAF Games Village and Koyambedu Wholesale Market Complex; metro: CMBT  2 ), +91 44 24794705 (Enquiry). One of Asia's largest bus stations. Seven different state-owned corporations drive buses to and from various destinations within Southern India. There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli. You will get the option of AC or Non-AC coaches for cities like Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad. It has six platforms in three bus fingers with 180 bus bays. Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (Q3522609) on Wikidata Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus on Wikipedia
  • 9 Omni bus terminus (Chennai Contract Carriage Bus Terminus, CCCBT), Kaliamman Koil St, Virrugambakkam, Koyambedu (West to Kaliamman Koil St. Take a bus to stop Arihant Towers Bus Stop. CMBT Metro Station 400 m away). This one is used by several private players that also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. Omni Bus Booking: No:B-15, Ground Floor, Sriji majestic complex (right next to Omni bus terminus).

All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state-owned (CMBT) and private buses (Omni bus terminus). The two terminals are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/auto-rickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. Ask the driver or fellow passengers at the closest drop-off point to your destination.

Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state-owned (CMBT) and private buses (Omni bus terminus). The two terminals are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/auto-rickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. Feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers for the closest drop-off point to your destination.

By car[edit]

Chennai is very well connected to other parts of India by road. Five major national highways radiate outward towards Kolkata, Bangalore, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. With the progress of the Golden Quadrilateral project, driving down from Bangalore is an option too. There are many car rental companies available.

Get around[edit]

Getting around the heart of Chennai city often takes time, due to traffic and heavy congestion. So it is advisable to plan your journey accordingly. Travelling within Chennai is not so cheap by Indian metropolitan standards, and is quite cheap by European and USA standards.

By train[edit]

Chennai suburban rail and bus inter-connectivity map

Chennai has a suburban train network. There are six suburban lines as of June 2023:

  • North Line  North  (Moore Market Complex–Bitragunta)
  • South Line  South  (Chennai Beach–Tambaram–Villupuram)
  • South West Line  South West  (Chennai Beach–Arakkonam)
  • West Line  West  (Moore Market Complex–Jolarpet)
  • West North Line  West North  (Moore Market Complex–Tirupati)
  • West South Line  West South  (Chennai Beach–Vellore–Villupuram)

The suburban trains are generally reliable and fast. The frequency of suburban trains is generally good and it is advisable to take a first-class ticket during peak hours. Trains offer a reliable alternative to quickly reach your destination when compared to buses which might get trapped in traffic jams. The fare in Chennai suburban trains is the lowest in the country and you don't have to compromise comfort for the meagre amount that you pay as in other Indian metros. There is a separate ladies' compartment in the suburban trains that are relatively less crowded even in peak hours. The lowest second-class train fare is ₹5. However, you might need to wait even for almost half an hour in a queue for a ticket during peak hours. So it would be best if you buy a card that is available at every station that can be used to buy tickets from a ticket vending machine that almost nobody uses. Always keep your baggage safe when you are travelling in the suburban railway system.

The Mass Rapid Transit System  MRTS  is an elevated railway line from Chennai Beach to Velachery. It is very similar to the suburban railway and only suburban trains run through it.

By metro[edit]

The Chennai Metro, a sign of India's economic development

The Chennai Metro is regularly being extended. As of June 2023, there are two metro lines:

  • Blue Line  1  (Airport–Wimco Nagar)
  • Green Line  2  (St. Thomas Mount–MGR Chennai Central)

Three new metro lines are under construction and are expected to open partially by as soon as 2026. The Blue and Green lines intersect at MGR Chennai Central and Alandur. Besides, there's an inter-corridor service along the Green Line that follows the Blue Line from Airport to Alandur.

The maximum fare between Chennai Airport to Nehru Park (which is 1½ km from Egmore and 2½ km from MGR Chennai Central) is ₹60 per person. The Tourist Travel Card offers unlimited travel within the Chennai Metro network for a day. It costs ₹100, of which ₹50 when it is returned. Chennai Metro has baggage checking like the airport and is very safe.

Also, tourists can use the Chennai Metro Rail app (Google Play Store/Apple iTunes). The app provides details about train timings, exit gates and platforms, fares between two stations, the nearest metro station, and how to reach the station by car, public transport and walking.

By bus[edit]

Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap.

  • 10 Broadway city bus terminus, NSC Bose Rd, Esplanade, George Town (In the centre of the city- Parry's corner & Fort. Very close to Chennai Central railway station. The nearest suburban railway station is Chennai Fort.). The largest city bus terminus of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (Chennai), Chennai.; It lies opposite the Madras High Court along the Esplanade in George Town. It is a connecting point to several areas in the city. The bus terminus is at the southern end of Broadway.

Normally bus fares in MTC range from ₹4-30. State corporation also has Deluxe and A/C Buses for Chennai Passengers. The fare for the deluxe bus is almost two times as compared to the normal bus. For the same route, deluxe and normal buses have the same number but deluxe buses are being run targeting long-distance journeys since they will stop at major bus stops only. So if you find normal buses too crowded, take a deluxe one. Non-AC deluxe also have power gates and better suspension which you won't find in the normal bus. If you have luggage with you, you might have to pay the cost of an extra person depending upon its size.

MTC Chennai operates an AC bus service between important routes like Parrys - Tambaram, Parrys - CMBT, Chennai Central - CMBT, Chennai central - Tambaram, etc. The most frequent AC bus runs between CMBT towards Pondicherry and is known as the East coast road (ECR) bus and is very popular for intracity travel too.

Daily and weekly bus passes are available for tourists costing ₹50 or ₹300. They can be used on normal and deluxe bus services (but not AC) on all routes within the city. It is worthwhile to purchase the daily pass if you plan to visit more than a couple of places in a day and it will save you from the trouble of maintaining loose change. The daily pass can be purchased on the first bus you board from the conductor, while the weekly and monthly passes are sold at kiosks in major termini.

Bus route information for MTC Chennai is available online at official site and Jaanlo.

State Express Transport Corporation buses go to different parts of the state. Private carriers also run to other towns/cities in the state. You can buy these bus tickets online at redBus or readIndia or RathiMeena or Myticketbuddy[dead link].

By auto-rickshaw[edit]

Chennai has about 71,000 autorickshaws.

The fares of Chennai auto-rickshaws have been an enormous political topic for many years and have contributed to the perception that the city's auto-rickshaw drivers never use meters and continually fleece passengers. However, despite the reputation, trips by auto rickshaw actually are quick, but rarely based on the metered price.

The minimum fare is set at ₹25 for the first 1.8 km and ₹12/km for every additional kilometre (2013). Waiting charges were set at ₹3.50 for every five minutes and ₹42 per hour. Between 11PM and 5 AM, the fare is 50% higher than the normal daytime rate.

Auto rickshaw meters are being outfitted with GPS and electronic digital receipt printers. As of 2015, though, only a small fraction of autos have these features.

Despite the official fares, the situation as of 2015 is for the driver and passenger to agree before the ride begins to a price of a) meter, b) meter + some additional amount, or c) a fixed price.

Whether the auto driver will agree to a metered fare depends on many factors. Generally, many drivers will agree to a fare of a meter plus ₹10-30 additional. But at busy times such as rush hours on weekdays, almost no drivers will agree to the metered price and will insist on a fixed price, or at a minimum demand a fare of meter plus ₹30-100. On the other hand, at slower times, for example, Sundays, many drivers will agree to metered prices with no surcharge. Some drivers will simply never accept metered fares no matter what time it is.

The fixed prices that auto drivers demand is related to distance. They generally have a good sense of how much the fare would be for a given route and ask for fixed prices around double what it would cost by the meter. For shorter distances which would cost ₹25-50 by the meter, the fixed price demanded is ₹100-150. For longer distances which would cost ₹50-150 per meter, the fixed price demanded will be ₹200-300. Depending on the situation, it's possible to negotiate down the demanded fixed price.

For short distances up to 1.8 km, auto drivers as of 2015 very rarely will agree to the metered price of ₹25. Generally, ₹40-50 is the minimum most will require for any trip, although at off-peak hours, it might be possible with negotiation and speaking to many autos to find a driver who will agree to ₹30-40. For a typical trip in the city of 3-5 km, many drivers will demand ₹100-150, but at non-peak hours a fare of ₹50-₹0 will usually be sufficient after speaking to a few drivers.

At all times, the price agreed depends very much on the passenger's knowledge of the distance involved and the price it would cost by meter, his/her negotiation skill, and the time s/he is willing to spend asking auto after auto. In almost any central area, there are many autos around, so if you have the time, it's possible to save quite a bit by speaking to many auto drivers until you find an acceptable fare.

Many passengers now opt for Ola, Uber or other similar taxi-order services simply to avoid the frustration and time involved with negotiating with auto after auto.

All autos in Chennai have meters, but at least a quarter of drivers have disabled their meter in some way in order to make it not functional and the passenger must agree to a fixed price if s/he wants to use that auto. For those meters that function, you can see the price, kilometres and waiting time, and thereby confirm that the meter is fairly following the official tariff structure.

Share autos have emerged as an alternative mode of transport in Chennai. They are oversized three-wheelers running on diesel and charge slightly more than the bus. There are four-wheelers known as meter taxis, which don't have a meter and are not taxis. Another four-wheeler, Magic (manufactured by Tata), has started running in and around the city, which operates similarly to share autos and meter taxis. They are all overcrowded and the drivers indulge in rash driving, owing to the competition. The only advantage is that it is cost-effective.

If you are fascinated by the idea of going around in an auto, think about all those foreigners, who are riding an auto from Chennai to Mumbai.

A Chennai-based event management company, Chennai Event Management Services, has been having auto-rickshaw rallies from Chennai to Mumbai, or Kanyakumari, etc., and has developed a great fan following for them.

By taxi[edit]

Taxis (locally called "call-taxis" since they must be pre-arranged) are available by phone. They are most reliable, can be ordered air-conditioned, and have digital fare meters, although time-based hire is also possible with some companies. Most companies charge a minimum fare of ₹150, which is for 5 km (3 mi) and for every subsequent kilometre they charge ₹18. Alternatively, you can hire a car for a half/full day for around ₹800/1300. These figures are for basic non-AC Ambassadors, add about 50% if you want a comfier aircon Tata Indica. Waiting charges are included in the meter cost but you are required to pay parking and toll fees in addition to the fare displayed on the meter. If your trip is time-sensitive, it's best to book your taxi a few hours in advance and call shortly before your trip to confirm.

Most prepaid taxi operators have a choice of vehicles. Indica is the ubiquitous hatchback that can seat 3 passengers, but it is almost impossible to find one well-maintained. Opt for a Figo or Liva instead of the Indica when you book the taxi, these are newer models and likely to be in a better state of maintenance. If you prefer a sedan, choices are Etios, Maruti Suzuki DZire and Ford Fiesta. SUV models Innova or Xylo have more space and are suitable for small groups (up to 7). Innova has a well-deserved reputation with travellers for airport transfers due to its reliability, spacious seats and capacity to carry more luggage.

By car[edit]

It is generally not advisable for foreign travellers to drive on their own as they might be unaware of the traffic rules and congestion in the city. The roads in Chennai are better maintained than the average Indian road. The main highway is Anna Salai also known as Mount Road. It has been acting for a decade and still as one of the prime arterial roads of Chennai starting from Chintadripet to Alandur at the Kathipara Flyover, continuing as GST Road. It also connect the Central railway station to the International Airport. Major parts of the blue line of metro are built about this road.

The complex road routes may confuse novice drivers and it is a sheer waste of time. If you choose to rent a car, it's strongly advised to hire a driver as well. The typical driver fee comes to around ₹250 for a 4-hour shift and an additional ₹50 every hour thereafter. Outstation trips cost a driver fee of ₹750 for a 12-hour journey.

Diesel and petrol are used as fuel in India and it varies with the model of the car. Some cars have identical models with only a D badge to indicate diesel. Make sure you find out what type of fuel the car uses from the rental company.

East Coast Road (ECR), also known as New Mahabalipuram Road, is one of the very few places around Chennai that is best enjoyed by car. There are a lot of scenic views with many sightseeing options along the route. For most of the sights within the city limits, travellers would be better served by public transport or a taxi.

East Coast Road could very well be termed the entertainment highway of Chennai. The road is new, flanked by the sea on the left and dotted with amusement spots throughout the entire stretch. Driving down ECR is an experience. Really! You can pick and choose from amusement parks, water sports centres, beaches, eco-conservation, cultural and religious centres, restaurants or resorts to spend your day in. The road caters to practically every type of pastime that one could think about. Be prepared to pay a small toll fee.


Individual listings can be found in Chennai's district articles

Places of worship[edit]

Chennai is home to numerous churches, with the oldest being Santhome Church, named after the Christian apostle, St. Thomas, who has preached in the area between 52 and 70 CE.


Chennai has several well-known beaches. The Marina Beach in Central Chennai is the second-longest beach in the world after Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Chennai is home to Guindy National Park, the smallest national park in India.


  • During summers it becomes too hot and humid to venture out during the day. So go out for a stroll during the night (7-9PM) on the Marina beach and Elliots Beach (Besant Nagar). It's a nice idea to pack dinner and have a picnic on the beach as most locals do. If you happen to drive a car you can also consider taking along a few foldable chairs. Beyond 10PM, no one is permitted to be on the beach. There are policemen on the beach to ensure people follow this rule, and on some occasions they tend to shoo people out by 9PM. However, if you are an early riser, you might consider visiting the beaches early morning around 6 to 8AM The sunrise is wonderful and there is a slight breeze as well. However, be warned that there are dogs lying all over the place and you have a high chance of getting hit by a cricket ball if you aren't looking.
  • Stroll along the over crowded Pondy Bazaar and Ranganathan Street and try your skills in bargaining for knick-knacks. Be warned that it is an intensely crowded place, where you have to elbow your way through.
  • Take a bus or an auto to Mylapore Tank and take a walk around Mylapore especially in and around the Kapaleeshwarar Temple. The crowds, sounds, fragrances of temple incense and flowers and the tiny shops are to be definitely experienced though keep away on Fridays. It gets too hectic even for experienced Mylaporeans.

Music and dance[edit]

Chennai is famous for its concerts and performances that take place in various auditoriums and temples throughout the year, which are announced in The Hindu and other local newspapers. During the Tamil month of Maargazhi (December - January) there is a series of classical Carnatic music concerts and classical dance performances in various parts of the city, but the best are organized in various Sabhas (loosely translates to "concert house"). You will see mostly older celebrities, although occasionally there will be some world-class young virtuosos. Free entry passes are usually given out for debutante performances (called Arangetram in Tamil) and for performances held on weekdays (before 4PM when the crowd starts filling up).

Chennai is a major centre of Bharata Natyam with over 1,000 dance performances a year. More dance forms are now encouraged and taught like Kuchipudi (Traditional dance form from Andhra Pradesh), Mohini Attam, etc. Some other dances like Odissi Manipuri can be found, but are rarer.


When in Chennai, do not miss a chance to watch a movie. There are several new Tamil movie releases every Friday or to coincide with holidays. Apart from Tamil, movies in other Indian languages like Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam also get wide releases in Chennai. Many of the Hollywood franchise movies enjoy a huge fan following and are screened at some theaters (dubbed) in Tamil. Make sure to book your tickets in advance especially for the weekend, because most of the cinemas will be sold out. Chennai also provides best cinematic experience at lowest cost ₹120/- and lesser, which is very less compared to other metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Check out any local newspaper or websites to get to know the movies running in and around Chennai. Some of the cinema halls are

  • Abhirami Cine Complex. Purasawalkam, in the Abirami Mega mall.
  • AGS Cinemas OMR, Coromandel Plaza 87/1A, 5th Floor, Navalur.
  • AGS Royal. Villivakkam.
  • Devi Cineplex. In the heart of Chennai on Anna Salai. The Cineplex is a huge complex and a great architectural beauty.
  • Ega Cinemas (formerly Ega Theatres), 810 Poonamallee High Road , Kilpauk, +91 9840499445 (bookings), +91 9940699336 (general enquiries), . Features Hindi, Tamil, other South Indian and English movies. The cinemas halls are air-conditioned.
  • Escape Cinemas, Express Avenue, Royapettah, +91 44 4224 4224. 8 premier quality screens with 3D, Dolby Atmos and RDX technology. Each of the 8 screens has a different decor which adds to the style quotient of the place.
  • Ganga Theatre Complex. Kolathur.
  • Inox. Chennai Citi Centre, R.K.Salai
  • Kamala Cinemas. Vadapalani, opposite the Green Park hotel.
  • Mayajaal Cine Complex, #34 East Coast Road, Kanathur, . ECR. 14-screen multiplex, far away from the bustle of the city. Except in rare cases, reservation is not a must and seats can be booked at the counter.
  • PVR. AMPA SkyWalk Mall, Nelson Manickam Rd. The Grand Mall,Velachery, Heritage RSL ECR.
  • 1 Rakki Theatre. Ambattur.
  • Rohini Cinema Complex. Koyambedu.
  • Sangam Cine Complex. In kilpauk. For tickets.
  • Sathyam Cine Complex, Thiru-vi-ka Rd, +91 44 42244224. One of the best theaters. Provides quality food and the main screen is one of the biggest in India. Celebrities and cine stars frequent this complex.
  • Shanti Cine Complex. Anna Salai
  • S2 Thiagaraya Cinemas.
  • Udhayam Theatre. Ashok Pillar.
  • Vetri Theatre. Chromepet.
  • Palazzo IMAX (Palazzo Cinemas-Vadapalani), The Forum Vijaya Mall, NSK Salai, Arcot Road, Vadapalani (Auto, Taxi, Bus, Metro Train), +91 44 4224 4224.
  • Prathana Drive-in Theatre, SH 49, Cholamandal Artists Village, Injambakkam, +91 44 2449 1402. Beachside drive-in cinema screening current movies and offering a casual restaurant & kids' play area. This theatre screens two shows per day. Check the weather before you head there, as the shows often get cancelled during rainy days.


Chennai has been one of the prominent sporting location in India, with wide variety of sports played almost everywhere right from every street corners to big stadium matches.

Cricket is a festival per se in India. Every TV in the mall is tuned to cricket during the match season and the whole city tunes in to the sport by one means or another. Chennai is an international venue for cricket and is also a home ground for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) cricket team. While in Chennai it might be interesting to catch a game and enjoy the electric spirit of Indian cricket. Close to Chepauk there are several sporting goods stores where you can buy good quality cricket equipment at low prices.

Book fair[edit]

If you happen to be in Chennai in January, Chennai Book Fair is an event not to miss. Location and dates may vary annually.Plan to visit on a weekday as they attract lesser crowds and you can browse through the collections peacefully. If you pick a weekend or holiday, try to visit in the morning instead of the evening. Look through all the shops but it is usually better to skip the marquee stalls and visit the smaller ones which have books stacked all around. You will be rewarded with some great finds as these shops have lesser known but excellent titles from all around the world. Carry cash as many of the smaller shops do not accept credit/debit cards and cash also helps to bargain down the price of the books to some extent. On average, paperback novels in bargain shops cost ₹100 to ₹200. A budget of ₹3000 should be enough to purchase a good collection of books.


Chennai has dozens of different institutes of higher learning from arts to engineering. The city also offers plenty of opportunities to learn Yoga, Bhartanatyam, Carnatic music and the Bhagavad Gita.


Chennai coffee shop
Chennai jasmine vendor at Pondy Bazaar


Chennai has a wide selection of rare books and maps in the many second-hand book stalls.

  • Alwar's Roadside bookshop. Opposite Kamadhenu theatre in Mylapore.
  • Bookfield (opposite the LIC building on Anna Salai, Mount Road).
  • Higginbothams. Anna Salai.
  • Kennedys Book House. Anna Salai.
  • Vendors near the Central Station
  • Vendors on Mount Rd outside Devi Theatre and the GPO (General Post Office)

For more current publications:

  • Giggles, Connemara Hotel Binny Rd. General books from a friendly shop keeper.
  • Odyssey. Behind Gandhi Nagar Bus Stand, Adyar and Express Avenue,Royapettah
  • Words & worth, No.E28, 2nd Avenue, Besant Nagar, +91 44 2446 8659. 10:00am - 8:30pm.


  • Aavaranaa, 27/14, C V Raman Road, Alwarpet, +91 44 4500 0020, . Boutique clothing from natural fabrics for women.
  • FabIndia, 3 Woods Rd. The Ilford House location at is probably the best in terms of choices and selections. This is the place to go for all your natural-dyed, hand loomed and hand made textiles. The prices have been going up the last few years, but FabIndia is the only source for this sort of textile in Chennai at any retail outlet.
  • Handloom Exhibitions. Year-round there is always a handloom exhibition profiling the work of one state or the other. These temporary installations (you'll have to check the local papers to find out where they set up) generally have a good selection of interesting fabrics and textile products. And there is always the option to bargain, which makes it a better bet than oft-overpriced retail stores. The Royapettah YMCA (across from Royapettah Hospital) has a regular handloom exhibition.
  • Just Casuals, Nungambakkam, 1, Sterling Rd., +91 44 28273882. A good place to head if you're in the mood for the Banana Republic/Abercrombie/Old Navy/Gap type stuff. They seem to get all the export rejects or overstocks. You'll find that all the brand tags are cut out due to some agreement with the manufacturer. The quality and prices are good, but unfortunately there's no bargaining possible.
  • Raymond shop, 162 Anna Salai (Opposite to Spencers). There are several outlets of Raymond shop around Chennai. Custom tailored shirts, suits and other wardrobe accessories for men.
  • Shanti Colony. Annanagar is a hub for "seconds" clothing as in the above description for "Just Casuals".


  • Amethyst, Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Rd, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, +91 44 2820 3582. Handicrafts.
  • Ashvita - Arts and Artifacts, 11 2nd St Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, +91 44 2847 6063. Art, jewellery, photo prints.
  • Crafts and Weaves, #1, 1st Main Road, CIT Colony, Mylapore, +91 44 2466 0232. Handicrafts.
  • Giri Stores. Adjacent to Kabaleeswarar Temple, (opposite the Radha Silk Emporium, Mylapore Tank). Hindu spiritual items like Rudraksha garlands, books, CDs & tapes for chanting, incense sticks, camphor and lamps.
  • Hidesign, Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam High Rd & Phase 3, Spencers Plaza. Leather goods.
  • Jidoka Store, 1st Lane, Nungambakkam High Rd, +91 44 2822 3516, +91 44 2822 3317. Handicrafts.
  • Manasthala, 12 Cenotaph Rd, +91 44 2433 2842. Terracotta ceramics.
  • Poombukar, 108 Anna Salai, Plandmark (opposite the LIC building in Annasalai and next to Higgingbothams book store). They sell handicrafts.
  • Poppat Jamals, Mount Rd Anna Salai (opp. Spencers Plaza). Crockery.
  • Victoria Technical Institute, 180, (old No.765) Anna Salai (Close to Spencer Plaza), +91-44-2852 3141. 10AM-7:30PM. They have a huge display of handicraft items, paintings, wood carvings and metal work statues. ₹20 to any amount.
  • Vimonisha Art Gallery, 12 Khadar Nawaz Khan Rd. Handicrafts.

Art galleries[edit]


  • Aavaranaa, 15, Ashoka Street, Alwarpet., +91 44 24988292.
  • Co-Optex, No.350, Pantheon Road, Egmore (Close by Govt Museum and Connemara library), +91 44 28193175. State government operated store. Good place to buy authentic silk sarees and dhotis. They also sell other items like salwar sets, curtains, bedsheets, pillow covers, etc.
  • Radha Silk Emporium (Rasi). Silk sarees, ethnic wear, arts & crafts in multiple locations.
  • Revathy Stores, No. 7/8, RK Mutt Rd (Luz Bazaar Building), +91 44 24934328. Small store with a wide variety of Kalyani and Indian hand-loomed sarees.
  • Shilpi, 29 C.P. Ramaswamy Rd. Alwarpet.
  • Vardhrams and Son's Silks. Harington Rd, Chetpat.
  • Palam silk, Old no. 67, New no. 153, Luz Church Road, Mylapore, +91 44-2499 0259. 10:00 am.


  • Aarthi Thanga Maligai, 60 East Kalamandapam Rd. Royapuram. Gold for reasonable prices.
  • Aishwarya Jewellery. Mylapore Tank. Gold and silverware.
  • B.B Jewellery, 6/127 Arcot Rd. Porur. Specializing in gold.
  • Bapalal Jewellers. Kakani Towers, Cathedral Road. Diamond merchants.
  • Jaipur Gems, 50 Cathedral Rd. Exclusive designer StarFire Diamond jewellery, authentic Jadau jewellery.
  • Joyalukkas, 39 North Usman Rd. T'Nagar. India's largest exclusive jewellery mall, housing the worlds largest jewellery showroom of international retailer Joyalukkas amongst other world renowned retailers.
  • Jugalkishore Jewellers. CP Ramaswaamy Road, Alwarpet. Traditional and antique jewellery.
  • Kanishk. Usman Road, T'Nagar. Great value for money & wide range.
  • N. Gopaldas, New No. 59, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore. Jewellers since 1929. For exclusive diamond jewellery.
  • Narayana Pearls, Kasi Arcade, T.Nagar. Good collection.
  • Rasvihar. 138 Luz Church Road, Mylapore. For exclusive contemporary jewellery.
  • Tanishq, 100 Ft Bypass Road, near Velachery Lake, Velachery (close to Phoenix Market City mall). From the house of Titan. Gold, diamond and platinum jewelery. Trendy collections, transparent pricing and clear billing. Tanishq also operates other outlets in Adyar, Anna Nagar and T.Nagar
  • Vummidi Bangaru Jewellery, Nungambakkam. Features diamonds and gold. There is also a location T'Nagar.
  • GRT Jewellers (GR Thangamaligai), T.Nagar (Auto, Taxi, Bus, Local Train). G. R. Thanga Maligai (Q5512418) on Wikidata G. R. Thanga Maligai on Wikipedia

Musical instruments[edit]

  • Lakshman shruthi, Vadapalani Signal, Vadapalani. Musical instruments, CDs.
  • Sapthaswara Musicals. Features Western and Indian musical instruments.
  • Shruthi Musicals, 10 Harleys Rd., Kilpauk, +91 44 2660 3630.
  • Sruthilayais, 93 Royapettah High Rd, Mylapore, +91 44 2499 4045, +91 44 2498 2625. Musical instruments.

In addition to these there are several exhibitions at Das Community Hall (Cathedral Rd) and Shankara Hall (TTK Rd), where artisans display their work. Check the local newspapers for details and timings.


Chennai has numerous restaurants, offering an assortment of cuisine. The beach restaurants are well-maintained and serve great food during the evenings. The eat-outs in Chennai range from budget, midrange and to up-market. There are swanky star-quality restaurants, plain open traditional vegetarian or non-vegetarian restaurants- where you share a table with strangers, street stalls, tea kadais, Indian fast food centres, western fast food centres, food courts, coffee shops, bakeries to exclusive speciality establishments. Vegetarian restaurants serve tiffin and vegetarian meals. There are also a number of restaurants that serve a variety of Tamil, Andhra and Kerala vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. Many of these restaurants have nowadays diversified and offer other Indian and Indianized Chinese dishes as well. Usually, the check includes a service charge, written next to 'S.C.' If no service charge is added, it is customary to leave a moderate tip.

The East Coast Road abounds with restaurants and eating spots, which offer a wide range of cuisines and a tasteful ambience. And you can plan your dinner or lunch in one of these hotels.


All these budget eateries serve only vegetarian food and are very cheap.

  • Cholayil Sanjeevanam, New No. 97, Old No.45, Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam, +91 44 4549 0324. A popular vegetarian "health" restaurant that cooks its foods using ayurvedic principles. The food is truly delicious, and the concept is that they are cooked with low amounts of oil, using healthy ingredients. The chain also features ayurvedic and yogic classes.
  • Eat N Drink, 570-N, Anna Salai, Teynampet (next to Courtyard Marriott). South Indian fast food, from masala dosas to uttapam and pongal. Fast, cheap, tasty and hygienic. ₹20-40.
  • Geetha Café,. Pondy Bazaar. South Indian tiffin.
  • Hot Chips. T.Nagar and Anna Nagar for budget priced South Indian tiffin, including North Indian chat (snack) items.
  • Hotel Saravana Bhavan. Probably Chennai's best known vegetarian restaurant chain, with 25 branches in Chennai itself (incl. one next to Kapaleeswarar Temple). Pure vegetarian Indian food with high standards of hygiene.
  • Karpagambal Mess, Mylapore, opposite the Kapaleeswarar temple. Cheap and authentic South Indian Food.
  • Kebab Junction, No. 19, Mount Road, Royapettah, NV (opp. Express Ave, near Melody theatre), +91 44 4215 8036.
  • Mansuk's, T.Nagar.. Best for Bombay Chat, Lassi and an unlimited Gujarati Thali.
  • Palimar, Parsn Complex, Mount Rd, Anna Salai. South Indian cuisine.
  • Rathna Cafe, Triplicane. also Thiruvanmiyur, opposite the RTO. For fluffy hot idlis, hot vadai, delicious pongal dripping in ghee and accompanied by sambhar. Quality maintained for more than 100 years. More expensive than Murugan Idli shop.
  • Sangeetha, No. 82, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam (at intersection of Valluvar Kottam High Rd and Nungambakkam High Rd). Vegetarian chain restaurant with a mix of good-quality and tasty South Indian, North Indian, and "Indo-Chinese" cuisine at very reasonable prices.
  • The Spice Box, Thiruvanmyur, +91 44 4304 2365. Lunch deliveries and gourmet outdoor catering. Wholesome, innovative lunch-dinner in 6 options is great to try out.
  • Sri Krishna Sweets, Mount Rd, Spencers Plaza, Adayar, Anna Salai, also at MG Rd, Shastri Nagar. Indian sweets & salad bar. North Indian "chat" (snack) items.
  • Vasantha Bhavan (near Vadapalani Bus stand). Chain of vegetarian restaurants.


  • Aiwo (Vegetarian), 7 Rosy Towers, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam., +91 44 66514241. Fusion and health foods. A 14-course meal served on a conveyer belt that moves around the room. Various dishes served are supposed to be cooked in olive oil. Healthy tasty food for the health conscious. Table reservations. South Indian ₹199 per meal inclusive of taxes.
  • Amaravathi (non-vegetarian), 1 Cathedral Road Gopalpuram, +91 44 28116416, +91 44 28110305. Daily 11AM-11PM. South Indian sea food cuisines and is known for its spicy Andhra food. Their famous Andhra meals, chicken and mutton biryani. Vazahapoo and keerai vadi are a must try. Chilly chicken, chili paneer, momos, soups, burgers, rolls, etc. Punjabi dishes like kadhai chicken, butter chicken, daal makhni, roti, butter naan, paneer butter masala, allu matar etc. Special fish prawns and Amaravathi chicken are the main dishs of the restaurant. Seating: 135 covers. Valet parking and take away. Table reservations. South Indian. Average for 2 persons ₹500.
  • Amethyst cafe and restaurant, Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Road, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, +91 44 2820 3582, +91 44 28353581 (resv). Vegetarian. Multi-cuisine. Garden and patio cafe and restaurant with a mix of western (pastas, burgers) and Indian fare. Cuisines served by Amethyst are Coffee and International. It is a nice, cozy, romantic place to chill out on weekends. Their cuisine is nice and so is their interiors. Its a colonial house turned into a restaurant. Table reservations available.
  • Amma, 1 Dr. Giri Rd, T Nagar (near Bharathi Raja Hospital), +91 44 28340242. 11:30AM-3:30PM and 7PM-10:30PM. Non-vegetarian South Indian. Known for authentic Chettinadu cuisine. Table reservations (non-vegetarian). Meals for 2 around ₹350.
  • Anjappar. non-vegetarian South Indian. Speciality: Anjappar Popular Meals: White Rice, Chettinad Chicken, Mutton Gravy, Fish Gravy, Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Porial, Keerai, Curd, Buttermilk, Appalam. Also famous for Spl. Mutton Dum Biriyani, Nattu Koli Biriyani and Chettinaad Fish Masala. Meals for two ₹500.
  • Annalakshmi, 18/3, Rukmani Lakshmipathy Rd (Marshall Rd), Sigapi Achi Building I Floor, Egmore (Adjacent to Raja Muthaiah & Rani Meyyammai Hall), +91 44 228525109. Tu-Su noon-2:30PM, 7:30PM-9:45PM. Vegetarian. This is a must-try expensive South Indian food restaurant. Elegant ambience, friendly service and good food. Filling portions served. Best selling dishes- Elumichai Sevai, Badam-saffron milkshake. Elite crowd. Table reservations. South Indian. ₹1,000 for 2 meals.
  • Anupama Southern Spice, 25, 1st Floor, G.N. Chetty Road, Thyagaraya Nagar, +91 44 31000733. Non-Vegetarian. Specialty Andhra Cuisine. Table reservations. South Indian.
  • The Cascade, +91 44 2834 3030. Quality Inn Sabari, 1. floor, 29 Thirumalai Pillai Rd, T.Nagar. Chinese food
  • The Chimney (non-vegetarian), +91 44 2472 5950. Liberty Park Hotel 9, 1st Main Road, U.I. Colony, Kodambakkam. Predominantly North-Indian kebabs & Chinese cuisines served. A very pleasant place on the cooler evenings when there's always a gentle breeze. Table reservations. Rooftop Dining
  • Curry House, 2, Block AB, 11th Ave, Anna Nagar, +91 44 42611167, +91 44 42611168. Noon-3PM, 7PM-11PM. Non-vegetarian. Multi-cuisine. Chettinad, and Kerala delicacies. Good tandoori fare of the non-veg variety popular among the Punjabi's and found all over Delhi. Table reservations. Meals for two around ₹350.
  • Dynasty, 315, Valluvarkottam High Rd, Nungambakkam (Harrisons Hotel), +91 44 22227775. Non-vegetarian. Good quality Chinese-Indian cuisine. Reservations available. Chinese food.
  • Shanghai Annaachi, 9B, 1st Floor, Kakani Tower, New No. 34, Old No. 15, Khader Nawaz Khan Rd, +91 93 2357063. Chinese food
  • Dhaba Express (non-vegetarian), 9 Cenotaph Rd, +91 44 2432 8212. 11AM-3PM, 7PM-11PM daily. Teynampet, and Nungambakkam High Rd. Cuisines served by Dhaba Express are North Indian. They serve Chicken Tikka Masala, Mutton Rogan Josh, Tandoori Aloo (starter), Naans and Roomali Rotis. Valet parking. Table reservations. Meals for two ₹500.
  • ECR Dhaba, 9/76, Kunnukadu, East Coast Rd (Near Muttukadu Boat House), +91 44 44 27472943. 11AM-11:45PM. Non-vegetarian. Punjabi food. Table reservations.
  • Coastline (non-vegetarian), 118, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, +91 44 28251128. South Indian seafood. Freshly done interiors, slow service but delicious food. Crab rasam, prawn or fish biryani. Vide variety of sea food offerings. Must-try place. Table reservations Meals for two ₹600.
  • Barbeque Nation, Sri Devi Park hotel, . Buffet costs ₹1,000 per person, advance reservation is strongly recommended.
  • Eden's, Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam. Wonderful Continental cuisine, fully vegetarian.
  • Gallopin Gooseberries. Burgers, sandwiches and entrees. Has two outlets:
    1. 4/359,Gatsby Village, Mgr Road, +91 44 24493924
    2. 11, Shop 2, 2nd Floor, Greams Road, Landmark: Near Thousand Lights Police Station Phone: +91 44 28291077, 28292190
  • Gyan Vaishnav. Mount Road, near Anand Theatre. North Indian.
  • Kadalivanam. Mogappair, 100% natural, fully vegetarian restaurant.
  • Karaikudi, +91 44 2815 1021. VeeraRaghava Road, T. Nagar (also at Anna Nagar, Besant Nagar, Mylapore, Thiruvanmiyur) Chettinadu cuisine.
  • Murugans Idli Shop. 2 locations: GN Chetty Road T. Nagar and Besant Nagar. Murugan Idli Shop is a chain restaurant, and the GN Chetty Road shop in particular is a well-kept secret among locals as a purveyor of high-quality food; on weekends, there is a long line for entry. South Indian. One meal is ₹20-40.
  • Noodle House. A chain restaurant, whoese locations include: 1. Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) and 2. the Intersection of Sterling Road and Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam. Chinese.
  • Pizzaurant. Velachery Road, Little Mount, Saidapet. Cuisine pizza & pasta. (Without MSG.) Home delivery for nearby areas, very Indian.
  • Poonamallee, Breeze Hotel, 850, Poonamallee High Road, +91 44 2641 3334. +91 44 2643 0596. Multi-cuisine.
  • Ponnusamy, Commander-in-Chief Road (opp Ethiraj College), Egmore. Chettinadu cuisine
  • Rangis, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. Chinese.
  • Swati and Swayam, At Saravana Bhavan, Peters Road. South Indian.


  • Cedars, Wallace Garden Road, Nungambakkam, +91 44 42182397. Dim lit ambience is beautiful with exquisite furnishing in Mediterranean style. They serve the most authentic Lebanese, Middle Eastern delicacies and some interesting Mediterranean cuisines.
  • Kayal, Le Royal Meridien, 1, G.S.T. Road, St. Thomas Mount, +91 44 22314343, +91 44 43534545 (reservations). 7PM-11:30PM. Seafood restaurant. Coriander prawn, seafood platter, Kadia lobster, prawn biryani. Nice complimentary garlic bread with butter. very expensive.
  • Dakshin, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, 132, T.T.K. Road, Alwarpet, +91 44 24994101. 12:30PM-2:45PM, 7:30PM-11:45PM. South Indian Cuisines- Dakshin offers the 'rare' pleasures of ethnic coastal and regional cuisines. The choicest cuisine of the four Southern states served in a regal setting. Live Carnatic Music. Expensive but excellent food- Starters include traditional, kuli paniyaram. Try the Idi appam or Appam with mutton stew. Desert: Kulfi.
  • Southern Spice, Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, +91 44 55002827.


Chennai is a difficult place to drink. Government rule states that only establishments with a minimum of 21 rooms can obtain a bar or liquor license. Hence there are no standalone bars or pubs here. All the bars that are around are part of some hotel or the other and in general overpriced.

Government-run liquor stores called TASMAC are all over the place but in general not at all a pleasant experience. They usually have unpleasant staff and environment and usually will have local brands. Also, they always tend to mark up each bottle by ₹5-10 over the listed price. Go for it if you want a one-time war-like experience in order to obtain some booze!

Nightclubs close at 11PM, even on Fridays and Saturdays, according to government rule.


  • Hudson, Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvar Kottam High Road, Nungambakkam, +91 44 4222 2777. Has two levels. Hudson Upper and H2O. Cramped seating providing very little privacy. The liquor stable is limited to the local brands and a bottle or two of scotch.
  • Million Dollars, 100 Feet Rd. Hotel Ambica Empire, Vadapalani
  • Star Rock. Kodambakkam High Road (Next to Palmgrove hotel), Nungambakkam
  • Zero° bar, 29 Thirumalai Pillai Rd. Quality Inn Sabari, ground floor, T.Nagar


  • Distil Bar. Taj Connemara, Binny Road
  • Dublin. Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet, +91 24994101
  • Durrants Bar. Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road, +91 28110101
  • Above Sea Level, Hotel Raintree, St.Mary's Road, Alwarpet.
  • 10 Downing Street, Kences Inn Hotel, North Boag Road, T Nagar.
  • The Westminister, +91 44 2499 4101. Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet
  • Zara. Cathedral Road.
  • Zodiac- Lounge Bar, The Accord Metropolitan, 35,G.N.Chetty Road, T'Nagar, +91 44 28161000. 11AM–midnight. Popular labels, ingenious cocktails, rare blends of liquor & a wide selection of hot and cold canapés. Seating capacity 76.

Local specialities - soft drinks[edit]

  • Fruit Bizz (Adyar signal), left corner building from ananda bhavan road to guindy. This is one of the best juice shops very famous in adyar region. Shop open from morning 10AM till 1AM. ₹30-50.
  • NeerMoar. Spicy butter milk, with local seasoning. Available at most South Indian restaurants.
  • Tender Coconut. Definitely try a tender coconut on a hot summer's day. Available on roadside stalls at ₹35 to 40, a coconut.


Individual listings can be found in Chennai's district articles

The closest hotels to the airport are The Trident, Le Royal Meridian, Hilton and Radisson GRT Hotel all five-star properties.

Stay safe[edit]

Chennai is generally a safer area of India in terms of crime, although pickpocketing, muggings, and robberies sporadically occur. Keep your doors and windows shut and locked at night and do not carry or display large amounts of cash if possible.

It is advisable for women, especially unaccompanied ones, to dress modestly and limit their interaction with unfamiliar local men. Foreigners are generally overcharged by autorickshaws simply because they are ignorant of the prevailing fares. It is necessary to confirm whether the driver knows the exact destination and to fix the fare before boarding. 'Autos', as autorickshaws are known in Chennai, are notorious for fleecing customers, tourists and locals alike.

Be alert to your surroundings and watch where you step, especially if you get caught in a large crowd where it is difficult to look at what is in front of you. Cross streets extremely carefully as traffic is generally heavy. On major roads, use the underground crossings (locally called "subways"). Avoid using underground road-crossing/ subways in the night or if you notice them to be empty. Traffic signals are frequently ignored by drivers and pedestrians alike, and it is not at all advisable for tourists to try driving in Chennai.

Stay healthy[edit]

While in Chennai it is advisable to drink bottled water and keep a bottle handy as it is extremely hot. Eating fresh vegetables and fruits that have sat outside in the presence of insects can also be unhealthy, although bananas and coconuts are usually safe because they are opened only immediately before eating. Hot drinks in restaurants such as tea, coffee, and other local specialities are safe, as are packaged/bottled drinks such as Aquafina water, Frooti (a popular local mango drink) and others. If you have access to a stove, boiling tap water before drinking is also an option. Chennai summers are humid and sultry; it's better to step out with an umbrella, bottled water and some oral rehydration salts (available from pharmacies, the brand name is Electral). These come in handy if you happen to get dehydrated.



  • Apollo Pharmacy, All Over the City
  • Health & Glow, Spencers Plaza (Phase 3), Mount Road; Nungambakkam High Road
  • Madras Medical Mission[dead link], 24 Hr. Pharmacy, Mogappiar
  • The Psychotherapy Clinic,26/1, Arcot Street,T.nagar
  • My Mother Pharmacy,E.B.Colony
  • Parasu Dental Pharmacy 11, 3rd cross st kasthurbha nagar adyar chennai - 20 ph 4211 5000
  • MedPlus India, All Over the City



BSNL and Airtel Reliance Jio, Tata, are main providers of terrestrial telephone lines in Chennai. You can make long-distance calls from one of the many booths that display NSD/ISD i.e. National Subscriber Dialling (National Long Distance) and International Subscriber Dialling (International Long Distance).

Mobile phones[edit]

Mobile phone rates are among the cheapest in the world. There are mainly 4 service providers:

  • BSNL[dead link] GSM Triband with 3G services
  • AirTel GSM Triband with 4G services
  • Vodafone[dead link] GSM Triband with 4G services
  • Jio 4G Services with Advanced High Speed Network

You can buy a sim card with a photo and a copy of your passport or local ID should you have any.

CDMA service providers are Reliance[dead link],TATA Indicom[dead link], Virgin Mobile and MTS.

Starter packs and top-up cards can be picked up from numerous outlets. Seamless roaming across the country is provided by all providers.


There are several Internet cafes from where you can access the internet for sending email or uploading your digital photos, however they are not very common now.

Mobile data is very cheap. 1.5GB per day costs around Rs.250 for 28 days. You may find it sufficient to roam throughout the city on this data.

  • MTS MBLAZE High Speed Broadband Internet Through USB Modems. Call +91 9150-955-955

Apart from that you can access Internet provided in your hotel or if you are staying long you can buy a local SIM card and use a portable Hotspot.



  • ABN Amro, Harrington Road, Opp Residency Hotel on GN Chetty Road, Adyar - Sardar Patel Road, TTK Road, next to Citibank branch
  • Andhra Bank, All over Chennai
  • HSBC, Adyar, Mylapore, Pondy Bazzar, Tidel Park, Kadar Nawaz Khan Road, Annanagar, Rajaji Salai, Kathipara Junction
  • American Express, Near Anand Theatre, Anna Salai (Mount Road)
  • Citibank, Opp Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road); Opp Hotel Parthan, GN Chetty Road, Opposite Citi Centre, Velachery Highway, near Vijaya Nagar Bus terminus, Nanganallur.
  • HDFC Bank, ITC Centre, Anna Salai (Mount Road),Anna Nagar(West); All over Chennai
  • ICICI Bank, All over Chennai
  • Axis Bank, All over Chennai
  • Standard Chartered Bank, Haddows Road
  • State Bank of India, All over Chennai. They have an ATM locator online.
  • Indian Overseas Bank, All over Chennai,they have InstaCash ATMs.
  • Indian bank, All over Chennai
  • Oriental Bank of Commerce, Adyar LB Road, Mylapore, G N Chetty Road T nagar.

ATM cards issued by any bank will work with ATM of any other bank, but they may impose restrictions on number of transactions, amount per transaction and may also charge a small transaction fee of ₹20.

Money changers[edit]

Many hotels will change money for you at the front desk. However, they may not have the best rates.

It is best to change money at the city-based money changers than the ones at the airports. The ones at the airport offer much less for exchanging forex into Indian rupees (₹) and sell forex for a much higher rate than the market rate.

  • American Express, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
  • Thomas Cook, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai

Beauty parlors & hair salons[edit]

  • Ayush, Anna Nagar (+91 26223102/26223446/26203862), Kilpauk (+91 52179635/26472298), Mylapore (+91 52067071/30907691) - Therapy includes Abhyangam, Abhyangam with Pichu, Abhyangam with local Pizhichil, Abhyangam with Thalam, Udvartanam, Abhyangam with Nasyam, Abhyangam with local Navarakizhi, Muka Lepam
  • Anushka,6,Thyagaraya Road,Pondy Bazaar, T.Nagar, +91 52179197
  • Celeste Beauty Salon, Spencer Plaza,(Mobile -9941130508) F-26, Phase 1, First floor
  • Dollys beauty parlour, Elcanso Plaza, Egmore, +91 9840118882
  • Green Trends, 1576, 13th Main Road, Anna Nagar (+91 26161534); Ashok Nagar (+91 52193636); Adyar (+91 24451759); Purusawakkam (+91 52174414); Taylors Road, Kilpauk (+91 26453331); T. Nagar (+91 28143886); Velachery (+91 22445590); Virugambakkam (+91 55511973) - Exotic natural treatments like Strawberry facial, Avocado Butter Massage Facial, Red Banana Facial, Baby-Corn under eye treatment! etc.
  • Jazzy, North Boag Road, T. Nagar
  • Lakme[dead link], Adayar (+91 24469730), Alwarpet (+91 24662481), Anna Nagar (+91 26268841), Ashok Nagar (+91 23750207), Kilpauk (+91 52179634), Nungambakkam (+91 28333050), T. Nagar (+91 28155577)
  • Naturals, Unisex beauty salon with more than 100 salons around Chennai.
  • Salon Nayana, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar, +91 28256064
  • Style Mantra- Makeover Concepts, Nungambakkam (+91 28280066), R.K. Salai (+91 28110707)


  • Blue 'Boutique Gym'-329, TTK Road, Alwarpet.#24996045,24996064.
  • Body Sports Gym-Govindan Road, Saidapet. #9841151091
  • Gold's Gym 17, Kasturi Rangan Road Alwarpet, +91 44 42088201
  • Mind N Body 360 degree Fitness Studio - Ramapuram & Mugalivakkam. #9600030058, 8754409900, 044-42014949
  • O2 Gym, Kader Nawaz Road, Nungambakkam, Velachery
  • Soldiers Gym, Triplicane High Road, Triplicane (and on Anna Salai)
  • Talwalkars, Near Khader Nawaz Road, Nungambakkam
  • Talwalkars, 23rd Cross Street,Indira Nagar, Adyar

Post & telegraphs[edit]

The telegraph office on Anna Salai (Mount Rd), near Higgin Bothoms accepts letters and parcels up to 8PM with a small late fee. Snail Mail in India is by a Post Card (25Ps), Inland Letter ₹5, or envelope ₹5. Speed Post[dead link] facility allows you to send mail more conveniently than a courier service. They have a pan India coverage and also provide international service. International delivery is considerably slower than private competitors like FedEX or UPS but it is also much cheaper. Telegraph services have been discontinued from July 2013 citing very poor response.

Due to proliferation of mobile phones and VOIP, the public telephones are fast disappearing. Telephone Booths or public telephones in India can still be found near travel hotspots like the airport, railway station or CMBT and usually painted with the letters PCO (Public Call office,local calls), STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling) and ISD (International Subscriber Dialling). All booths have electronic metering and you pay what's displayed on the meter (included in the metering is a nominal ₹2 as service charges). You'll also get a receipt if you insist on one. Coin operated phones ₹1 are located in many busy junctions (easily identified by bright yellow or red colour) but support only local calls.

Libraries & cultural centres[edit]



  • Ahaa Water Park: A spot for frolicking in the water, the Ahaa Water Park offers a variety of water sports and fun activities. It has a wave generator, which can generate waves of up to 3.5 ft.
  • Little Folks Specifically aimed at providing entertainment for the children, this park has a longer history than MGM. (Dolphin City was closed after all of its dolphins and sea lions had died. It is no longer operational now.)
  • Radio Control Car Racing at ECR RC Track: Chennai has the only active RC Car race track in India. On a weekend, you can find several RC car racers at the ECR RC Track located near Hot Kitchen Restaurant on ECR Road. It is very close to the Kart Attack track. Visit IRCRA on Facebook for more details.
  • Tiruvidanthai Nithya Kalyana Perumal Koil: As the name denotes, a temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara is found on East Coast Road.

Go next[edit]

Krishna's Butter Ball, Mamallapuram
  • Chengalpattu — home to Karikili and Vedhantangal bird sanctuaries and Vedagiriswarar Temple
  • Covelong and Muttukadu — two adjacent coastal towns south of Chennai. They have some beach resorts and a heritage museum.
  • Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) — Site of the famous Vivekananda memorial.
  • Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram has many temples, mostly built during the Pallava Dynasty, including several on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The town is also famous for stone carving and has schools that train most of India's carvers. Carvings and other handicrafts are sold all over town. It is easy to visit Mahabalipuram as a day trip from Chennai, but there are enough attractions to make staying overnight or for a few days an attractive proposition as well, and the town has extensive tourist facilities. One of the most famous temples here is the Shore Temple, next to the beach; if coming from Chennai ensure you reach this temple between 6AM and 6PM, as it is shut down after 6PM.
  • Pondicherry (163 km. Take a bus) — Go on a spiritual trip or volunteer at Auroville - an experimental township with no religion or politics. The drive down the East Coast Road (ECR) is delightful, with lovely beaches all along the way, and on the way you can stop over at the Botanical Gardens.
  • Rameswaram (569 km. Take a bus or a train)
  • Tiruvannamalai (185 km. Take a bus)
  • Tirupati (158 km. Take a bus or a train)
This city travel guide to Chennai is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.