Chennai - The Gateway To The South
Popularly regarded as "The Gateway to the South", Chennai is the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamil Nadu state. With a vast population of about six million people, Chennai is a city that is growing, expanding and changing vigorously.
The History Of The City
Modern Chennai grew out of a small village when in 1639 a fishing hamlet called 'Madraspatnam' was selected by early English merchants of the East India Company as a site for the settlement.
Chennai was the first British major settlement in India and it was here that many who went on to build the Empire first learnt their trade. As a consequence, the city is replete with much that is of significance in British Indian history. But the much older settlements have stories to tell too, and so the city is an amalgam of ancient and more modern history. Everywhere one goes in Chennai, one can find history written in every name.
The City Of Chennai
Chennai, previously called Madras, is comparatively a new city, about 350 years old. The erstwhile villages of Mylapore, Triplicane, Ezhambur (Egmore), etc., all now a part of Chennai, have a recorded historical past centuries older than Chennai.
Chennai is a gracious city that has a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks, historic landmarks and tourist infrastructural facilities which make it a convenient entry point or base to start a tour of Tamil Nadu and South India.
Music, dance and all other art forms of South India are cherished and nurtured in this city. Although the city has long been an important center of textile manufacturing, a great deal of industrial expansion has taken place in recent years.
Chennai has the Bay of Bengal bordering its east, while the state of Andhra Pradesh is on its northwest. It has the Kanchipuram on its south and the states of Kerala and Karnataka on its western side.
The Growth Of Chennai
For more than 2000 years the area has been popular with seafarers, spice traders and cloth merchants. The 16th century saw the arrival of the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch. In 1693, the British East India Company established a settlement in the fishing village of 'Madraspatnam'. For St. George was constructed over a period of 15 years and finally completed in 1653. George town grew in the area of the fort and was granted its first municipal charter in 1688 by James II, making it the oldest municipality in India. During the 18th and 19th centuries, French and British traders competed for supremacy in India. In the 19th century, the city became the seat of the Madras presidency, one of the four divisions of British imperial India. After independence, it continued to grow into what is now a significant southern gateway.
Centre Of South India's Film Industry
Chennai is the centre of South India's film industry; its skyline is ablaze with bright movie billboards advertising the latest celluloid fantasies. There are many big film studios.
The Traditional And Modern Outlook Of Chennai
It presents a culture that is distinct from that of the northern part of India and is famous for its traditional yet modern outlook. Chennai is a city where the traditional and the modern blend in life everywhere. From traditional vegetarian fare to fast foods, from nine-yard saris to the latest in fashion, from ancient temple architecture to modern high-rise - with Indo-Saracenic and Victorian as stops along the way - from classical music and dance to discos throbbing to heady beats, Chennai has them all and many more vivid contrasts that are a pleasant surprise.
Being situated at the tropical zone, Chennai normally has a very hot and humid climate. The best time to visit this city is the winter season. Winter and summer temperature does not vary much as it rains frequently through the year.