CHENNAI

Things to do

Things to do in Chennai


Parks

  • Arignar Anna Zoological Park (The Vandalur Zoo),  +91 44 22751089fax: +91 44 22750741, e-mail: . 9AM-6PM daily except Tu. This zoological park is situated in the outskirts of the Chennai metropolitan (nearly 40KM from the city center). Chennai has the distinction of having the first zoo in India, which was started in 1855. This park is said to be one of the biggest in South East Asia. The wildlife population is exhibited in a large open moated island enclosure with a simulated natural environment. More than 170 species of mammals, birds and reptiles are housed in this park. Lion safari vehicles, elephant rides, battery operated vehicles are some of the facilities available. The peak time is during Pongal and weekend holidays. ₹30, Free below 5 years, 5 to 12 ₹10, still camera ₹25, video camera ₹150.
  • Guindy National Park (Children's Park), Sardar Vallabhai Patel Rd, Adyar, Guindy. M-F 9AM-5:30PM except Tu. The current park area stands close to 280 hectares. Guindy Park happens to be almost certainly the smallest national park in the country and the only park within the city suburbs of India. The park is inhabited by more than 20 species of trees, about 14 varieties of shrubs and more than 14 species of woodland mammals. The place also houses many species of rare birds and amphibians. The dry deciduous forests of Guindy are lined with tree species like Amona Squamosa, Atlanta Monophylla, Feronia Limonia and Azadirachta India. The popular park animals include species like Indian Antelope (Black Buck), Elephant, Spotted Deer, Indian Civet, Jungle Cat, Hedgehog, Pangolin and Jackal. Some rare bird species found in the park include Black Winged Kite, Honey Buzzard, and Pariah Kite. The park is also home to many reptile and amphibian species. ₹15, Free below 10 years, 11 to above ₹5, School Children age 5-12 from government and aided schools ₹2, children from private schools age 5-12 ₹10, still camera ₹10, video camera ₹75.
  • Guindy Snake Park (next to Guindy National Park). M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM except Tu. Founded by one of the prominent wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitaker. The park houses a number of snake species, lizards, crocodiles and turtles. The park breeds more than 30 species of Indian snakes. Some of the most sought after species include King Cobra, Indian Rock Python, Reticulated Python, Adders and Vipers. In addition to the snakes the park also breeds species of lizards, crocodiles and turtles. The museum in the park premises contains preserved specimens of many reptiles and amphibians. They have asnake display show 4 times daily, and live snakes of different species are shown to the audience with a voice over in 3 languages (English, Tamil and Hindi). ₹15, ₹5 for children below 12.
  • Semmozhi Poonga is a botanical garden situated opposite to the American consulate in cathedral road, it has wide variety of Bonsai plants and has a very nominal entry fee.

Others

  • 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.
  • Chennai is also home to one of the best preserved Art Deco architectural areas in India, Parry's Corner. Its also Chennai's oldest Central Business District though it has long since given way to Nungambakkam and T Nagar. If you're particularly interested in architecture or photography, this is a must visit place. Don't forget the nooks and crannies.

Music and Dance

Chennai is famous for its concerts and performances that take place in various auditoriums and temples throughout the year, which are announced in the Hinduand 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 variousSabhas (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).

  • Brahma Gana Sabha,  +91 92821 06425, +91 98412 96684. Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, M.Ct.M School, 179, Luz Church Road.
  • GK Parigi, e-mail: . In Cine Abinayam star night programme.
  • Indian Institute of Music and ArtsR.K Swamy Auditorium, Sir Sivaswamy Kalalaya, 5, Sundareswarar Street, Mylapore.
  • Kalalayaa Art Academy, 2nd Floor, 100 ft Bye Pass Road, Velachery(Opposite Bharat Petroleum Petrol Bunk, Above Nuts & Spices),  +91 98408 77546.
  • Kartik Fine Arts,  +91 44 2499 7788, +91 44 2495 2695. Narada Gana Sabha Hall, TTk Road. (30th Year Art Festival).
  • Nungambakkam Cultural Academy Trust.
  • Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Dr. Nalli Gana Vihar, 20. Maharajapuram Santhanam Road, T.Nagar,  +91 44 2814 0806. The 49th Art and Dance Festival & Pongal Nagaswara Isai Vizha And the 24th Natya Kala Conference.₹50 to ₹500 (daily rates).
  • VDS Arts Academy. MOP Vaishnava College for Women, Nungambakkam. Music and Bharatanatyam dance concerts throughout the year at 6:30PM., every Friday, Saturday and Sunday by young artists. Admission: free.

Chennai is a major centre of Bharata Natyam with over 1000 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.


Cinema

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. Located in the Abirami Mega mall.
  • AGS Cinemas OMR. 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.
  • Escape Cinemas,  +91 44 4224 4224. Express Avenue, Royapettah. 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
  • Mayajaal Cine Complex. ECR. 14 Screen Multiplex. Located 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.
  • Rakki Theatre. Ambattur.
  • Rohini Cinema Complex. Koyambedu.
  • Sangam Cine Complex. In kilpauk. For tickets check [www].
  • Sathyam Cine Complex,  +91 44 42244224. Thiru-vi-ka Rd. 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.

Sports

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.

M. A. Chidambaram Stadium (Famously known as Chepauk Stadium)

Cricket by itself is a festival in India,every TV in the Mall is tuned to cricket during the match season and the whole city would be tuned in to the sport some way or another. Chennai is an international venue for cricket and is also a home ground for the Chennai super Kings 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.

Chennai Open. A prominent ATP250 tennis tournament that happens around January every year, the event has attracted lot of high ranked players such as Rafael Nadal, Carlos Moyá, Stanislas Wawrinka and Leader Paes. The SDAT Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam (a short walk from Valluvar Kottam) is the venue for the event since 1997. The event is well organized with details including ticket sales published online.

  • Nehru Stadium. Nehru stadium was built during 1990s and has hosted many hockey and football matches. Apart from this, there's a huge indoor stadium next to Nehru stadium.

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