Chennai, also known as Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is the country’s fourth largest city. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted. Chennai was the site of the first settlement of the East India Company. It was founded in 1639, on a piece of land given by the Raja of Chandragiri, the last representative of the Vijayanagar rulers of Hampi. Chennai, the gracious capital city of Tamil Nadu is the fourth largest metropolis in India. Located on a 17km stretch of the Coramandel coast, the city is trisected by the waterways of Cooum and Adyar and the Buckingham Canal. With a population of 6 million people, Chennai is a vibrant city ever growing, expanding and changing every year. Popularly regarded as the “Gateway to the South”, Chennai presents culture that is distinctly different from that of northern India. Music, dance and all other art forms of the South are cherished and nurtured in this city which, though industrialized, continues to be traditional and conventional in many ways.
Banks in India are generally open from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Monday to Saturday. Most banks are closed on Sunday. You can use ATMs to withdraw money beyond the hours of operation.
Most major credit cards are widely accepted in major establishments in Chennai. It is recommended to always carry some cash with you in case credit cards are not accepted. The most popular credit cards in India are Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
General Hours of Operation
Most sights and museums are open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with one day off per week. Most shops are open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm with a lunch break from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm The big shopping malls are open until 9:00 pm and also during lunch time.
Tipping is usually required in restaurants and can be 5-10% of your bill. Do not tip in fast food eateries or cafes. It is not required to tip taxi drivers and tour guides, but if you feel that they did an exceptional job you can certainly do so.
Chennai offers a large variety of good quality restaurants. Whilst hearty Indian and South Indian cuisine often takes a prominent place on menus, many other strong international influences have now firmly made their mark in Chennai. You can expect to see eateries specializing in Italian, Chinese, Japanese and more. The concierge at your hotel can assist you with recommendations.
As in other major cities either in other parts of the world, petty crime can be a problem for tourists as they are more likely to be carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. Please be on the watch out when visiting the metro or crowded areas such as tourist attractions and keep your belongings with you at all times. To avoid being a victim, follow the obvious precautions: do not carry more cash than necessary and try not to display large sums in public places, keep credit cards separately, and don’t carry valuables in a backpack or easily opened bag.
Chennai is an international airport connected by several international airlines while the domestic traffic is handled by Indian Airlines. There are regular flights to several cities around the world from the International Terminal. There are also daily flights to all important centers in India from the Domestic Terminal. There are two major railway stations in Chennai. Chennai Central is the bigger one and connects the city by broad gauge as also broad gauge trains to all major cities and towns of India.