Check-In Madras (Tourist Attraction)
Why You Visit a Tourist Attraction In Your Home Town? It’s hard to not love your place of birth, I find, regardless of what it’s like. Fortunately for me, I’ve had the good fortune to be born in Chennai (formally Madras), one of South India’s booming cities. Of course, like any city, it has its ups and downs, but here is my attempt to set the record straight (was it wobbly in the first place?) on why you should visit Chennai.
In terms of history, as a former colonial centre, its most striking points lie close to Marina Beach (I’ll get back to her later.) Fort St. George houses an impressive array of historical artefacts, weapons, and paintings, and details the struggles between the various European powers for control over India (with the cases in point of French Pondicherry and Portuguese Goa.)
Close by lies the old Ice House – a great building where chunks of ice were used as a preservative, the first arriving from Boston centuries ago. Since the late 19th Century, it has been linked inextricably to the great Hindu monk, Swami Vivekanda, gaining the name Vivekanda Illam (Vivekanda House) in 1963. For those interested in the cultural richness of Hinduism (rather than the generic ‘lots of Gods with lots of arms’ nonsense forced down on us by ‘civilised’ popular culture) it is well worth a look.
Marina Beach is, well, a beach. There’s not much to be said about it, bar the fact that it’s the second longest natural beach in the world. It does have an array of traditional vendors and you can still see the fishermen out plying their trade, but as I will come back to later, rubbish remains a problem.
The Shrine of Saint Thomas (known in Chennai as San Thome Church), a gleaming white Gothic church, is also another site of interest. Saint Thomas is the Apostle who came to India and was martyred nearby, on a Hill known as Saint Thomas’ Mount which houses further information about him. On the other hand, if you are looking for a very different religious experience, try going to any of the many temples which dot the city. I can guarantee that if you haven’t been to a HIndu ceremony, it will be quite an
Other Attractions (Why You Visit a Tourist Attraction In Your Home Town?)
My other two favourite parts of the city are the Snake Park and the Crocodile Park. Whilst the Crocodile Park does only hold crocodiles (a fabulous assortment at that!), the Snake Park does have a variety of other reptilians on display. It’s all very safe, and more fun than the average zoo in my estimation!
Now, the downsides. One that strikes me every time I go back, is pollution. Despite ironically being the first smoke-free city in India (lighting up may get you a hefty fine and a free trip to the station)
, the huge congestion produces a very unpleasant roiling mass of fumes. In addition, rubbish remains a problem as in many places in India. Though of course it is always improving, don’t be surprised to be wrappers scattered about, especially on Marina Beach.
Secondly, being foreign means that everyone who can make money out of you will try. From the shop folk to the auto-rickshaw drivers, be prepared to be fleeced unless you can barter well or now a little Tamil. Going with a Tamil speaking friend is advised for this reason.
One other point – when it comes to water, be sure to stock up on lots of bottles. This isn’t only a problem in Chennai, but across the whole subcontinent – you will get hot fast, and non-bottled water just isn’t an option.
Aside from these, Chennai is great! Though, perhaps being born there, I have a biased view: so you’ll have to try it out yourselves!
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