15 Best Tourist Attractions in Chennai

Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is the largest city in the state in terms of area and population. Chennai formerly known as Madras. Located on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal, it is the most important cultural, economic and educational center of South India. The Cooum (Koovam) River flows through its centre and the Adyar River through its southern portion. The Buckingham Canal runs parallel to the coast, joining the Kortalaiyar (Kosasthalaiyar) River in the northern edges of the city and the Muttukadu Backwaters south of the city.

Chennai is well connected by road, rail, air, and sea. It has an international airport and seaport. A network of bus services and autorickshaws are common modes of transportation within the city.  

There are more than 600 Hindu temples in Chennai and its suburbs.  The oldest is the Parthasarathy temple built by the Pallava kings in the 8th century.  Kapaleeswara Temple (16th century) is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. About7 miles (60 km) south of Chennai, historic Mamallapuram and its shore temple are a popular tourist destination. 

Other places of worship within the city include Luz Church (1547–82), one of the oldest churches in Chennai St. Mary’s Church (1678–80), the first British church in India the San Thome Basilica (1898), built over the tomb of the apostle St. Thomas and Wallajah Mosque (1795), built by the nawab of Karnataka. The Armenian Church of the Holy Virgin Mary (1772), in the George Town section of Chennai, surrounds a courtyard cemetery with Armenian tombstones dating from the mid-17th century. 

The city has training centres for kuchipudi and bharata natyam. Kalakshetra and Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, a cultural institution, both host annual dance festivals. The suburban town of Kodambakkam, with its numerous film studios, is described as the Hollywood of Tamil-language cinema. 

Squash, cricket, tennis, and hockey are popular sports in Chennai and its surrounding region. The Madras Cricket Club (1848), located behind the Chepauk Palace, is host to major national sports tournaments. The city has many other clubs and associations including motor sports, chess, and equestrian events. 

1. Marina Beach 

Marina Beach is the second longest beach in the world, running 13 km long. Situated on the beach, the Anna Park, named after the founder of D.M.K Anna durai and the tomb of M.G. Ramachandran who was a film star and the Statue of Labour is a splendid sculpture depicting the efforts of a team of labourers who are at hard manual labour. It is a virtual ground with food stalls and other entertainment. Early morning or late evening is ideal for visiting the beach. 

Marina beach, Chennai

Located on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal, one of the city's most photographed beaches stretches from Fort St. George in the north to Besant Nagar in the south. It is the most active beach in summer with 15000 to 20000 visitors every day. Other notable attractions are statues and inspirational monuments built on the beach. The promenade is lined with statues of famous personalities like Robert Caldwell, Ilango Atigall, Kannagi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekanandan, Kamaraj, Periyar, GU Marpappa and Annie Besant. 

Location: Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 600005, India

Entry Fee : Free entry

Timing: Monday to Sunday 12:00 am – 12:00 am

2.Valluvar Kottam 

Valluvar Kottam is a monument built to pay homage to Tamil Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar. Inaugurated in 1976, the monument takes the form of a 101 feet tall temple chariot, a replica of the temple chariot at Tiruvarur. A 33 meter tall statue of the saint is installed in the chariot. Another amazing feature of the auditorium is that it is not supported by a single pillar and stands without any support. 

Valluvar Kottam

The 133 chapters of the famous work Thirukkural are depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridor of the chariot. All 1330 verses of the poet's epic are depicted on granite pillars around the auditorium. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is the largest auditorium in Asia and can seat around 4000 people. 

Visiting Hours: 8.30 AM - 5.30 PM 

Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Adults & Rs. 5 for Children 

3.Birla Planetarium 

The Birla Planetarium is the most modern planetarium in India. It houses a fully computerised projector that depicts the heavens on a hemispherical dome. The Planetarium presents audiovisual programmes on various themes in astronomy. 

Birla Planetarium

B. M. Birla Planetarium providing a virtual tour of the night sky and holding cosmic shows on a specially perforated hemispherical aluminium inner dome. The fifth B. M. Birla planetarium in the country, it is located at Kotturpuram in the Periyar Science and Technology Centre campus which houses eight galleries, namely, Physical Science, Electronics and Communication, Energy, Life Science, Innovation, Transport, International Dolls and Children and Materials Science, with over 500 exhibits. Built in 1988 in the memory of the great industrialist and visionary of India B. M. Birla, it is the most modern planetarium in India. 

Location: Gandhi Mandapam Rd, Duraisamy Nagar, Kotturpuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600025, India

Timing : 10 AM to 5 PM, Closed on National Holidays only

English Programme Timings: 10.45 AM, 1.45pm and 3.45 pm.

Tamil Programme Timings: 12.30 AM and 2.30 PM.

Entry Fee: Rs. 45 for Adults & Rs. 25 for Children (which includes Science Centre, Planetarium, 3D Science Movie & Science Park) 

4.Government Museum Chennai 

The Government Museum near Egmore is a museum of human history and culture. Started in 1851, it is the second oldest museum in India after the Indian Museum in Kolkata. It is particularly rich in archaeological and numismatic collections. It has the largest collection of Roman antiquities outside Europe. The colossal Museum Theatre is one of the most impressive.  

Government Museum Chennai

The National Art Gallery is also present in the museum premises. Built in Indo-Saracenic style, it houses rare European and Asian painting of renowned artists, including that of Raja Ravi Varma. It has the richest collections of bronze idols, 500 of them dating to 1000 BCE, in Asia. 

The museum complex consisting of six buildings and 46 galleries covers an area of around 16.25 acres (66,000 m²) of land. The objects displayed in the museum cover a variety of artifacts and objects covering diverse fields including archeology, numismatics, zoology, natural history, sculptures, palm-leaf manuscripts, and Amravati paintings. 

Since August 2004, the museum is also a designated "Manuscript Conservation Centre" (MCC) under the National Mission for Manuscripts established in 2003. The museum has taken preventive care of about 19,007 manuscripts and given curative conservation treatment to about 7,402 manuscripts. 

Location: Government Maternity Hospital, Pantheon Rd, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600008, India 

Visiting Hours: 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM, Closed on Fridays & on National Holidays

Entry Fee: Rs. 15 for Indians, Rs. 250 for Foreigners, Rs. 200 for Camera & Rs. 500 for Video 

5.MGR Memorial 

M.G.R Memorial Complex is a memorial complex built on the Marina beach in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Spread over 8.25 acres, the memorial is located adjacent to the Anna Memorial. It was built in memory of former chief ministers of Tamil Nadu who died in office, M. G. Ramachandran and his protégé J. Jayalalithaa, whose bodies were buried at the site on 25 December 1987 and 6 December 2016, respectively. 

MGR Memorial

The memorial was built in 1988 and inaugurated by V. N. Janaki Ramachandran, wife of M. G. Ramachandran, in May 1990. The memorial was rebuilt and the complex was laid out in marble in 1992 by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu last year, J. Jayalalithaa also inaugurated. 

When J. Jayalalithaa died on 5 December 2016, she was buried next to MGR. This structure was designed by architect K. Ramachandran, retired chief architect of PWD. Between 1996 and 1998, the mausoleum was again renovated at a cost of about ₹ 27.5 million. 

In 2012, the memorial was again renovated at a cost of ₹ 43 million, including ₹ 34 million for remodelling the facade and the surrounding wall. This renovation included a new entrance with the AIADMK party's two-leaves symbol and Pegasus, the horse from Greek mythology, landscaping of the open area around the memorial using Korean grass, and the planting of exotic, decorative plants such as palmyra alpha, date palm, spider lily and adenium. Also included were a granite pathway shaped like a guitar, stainless steel handles around the memorial, a fountain in the middle, waterfall at the rear, decorative lamps, and an overhead tower with lights both at the entrance and on the arch. 

Location: Marina Beach Road, Navalar Nagar, Chepauk, Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600005, India 

National Art Gallery 

The National Art Gallery situated in Egmore, Chennai, is one of the oldest art galleries in India. It is located in the Government Museum Complex on Pantheon Road, Egmore, which also houses the Government Museum and the Connemara Public Library. Constructed with red stones sourced from Satyavedu in Andhra Pradesh, the Gallery was built in 1906 in Indo-Sarsenic architecture and houses paintings from Thanjavur, Rajasthan, Kangra and Deccan areas, as well as sandalwood sculptures. The Gallery has remained closed since 2002, as part of the structure suffered damage. 

National Art Gallery , Chennai

The National Art Gallery was built during the celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in Indo-Saracenic style, designed by architect Henry Irwin. The Gallery has been identified as a Heritage site by the CMDA. As of 2002 the gallery has been closed for tourists, due to several building flaws and structural instability, which triggered severe criticism from art critics. 

In 2013, the Gallery was set for a major face lift with Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa allocating ₹ 110 million for repairs and forming an expert committee for its restoration. After renovation, it will have 200 unique exhibits on display, including paintings of Ravi Varma, sandalwood artefacts, ivory objects, miniature artefacts, Tanjore paintings, Rajput paintings and traditional paintings from across India. 

Location: 3794+RF9, PANTHIAN ROAD, எழும்பூர், Chennai, India

7.Ripon Building 

The Ripon Building is the seat and headquarters of the Greater Chennai Corporation in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The Ripon Building was designed by G.T.S. Harris. 

Commissioned in 1909, the Ripon Building was designed by G.T.S. Harris. Its foundation stone was laid on 11 December 1909 by Lord Minto, the Viceroy of India. It was built by Loganatha Mudaliar and took four years to build at a cost of Rs 750,000, including Rs 550,000 paid to Mudaliar.  It is an example of neoclassical architecture, a combination of Ionic and Corinthian styles. The Ripon Building is an all-white structure and is located near the Dr. M.G.R Railway Station. 

Ripon Building

The Ripon Building is named after Lord Ripon, the Governor General of British India and the father of local self-government. The foundation stone was laid by the then Viceroy and Governor General of India, Earl of Minto, on 12 December 1909. The Madras Municipal Corporation, after operating from several locations including Erabalu Chetty Street, settled in Ripon Building in 1913, P.L. Moore became president.

Location: 53, Raja Muthiah Rd, Kannappar Thidal, Periyamet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600003, India. 

8. Chennai Snake Park 

The Chennai Snake Park also known as the Guindy Snake Park. It is located next to the Children's Park in the Guindy National Park campus. Located on the former home of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, the park is home to a wide range of snakes such as adders, pythons, vipers, cobras and other reptiles. 

The  Park, officially the Chennai Snake Park Trust, is a not-for-profit NGO constituted in 1972 by herpetologist Romulus Whitaker and is India's first reptile park. The park gained statutory recognition as a medium zoo from the Central Zoo Authority in 1995. 

After 1994 the park underwent various renovations, including an aquarium for sea snakes and sea turtles, restoration of enclosures and additional facilities. The park was renamed Chennai Snake Park in 1997 after the city was renamed Madras in 1996. 

The park conducts various outreach programmes for schools in and around Chennai on snakes and other reptiles and their environment and one-day workshops for personnel of the forest department and fire and rescue services department to train them in identifying snakes, rescuing them from human habitations and translocating them to wild habitats. 

The park undertook the process of extracting venom from snakes for pharmaceutical companies to prepare anti-venom drugs. However, after the government imposed a ban on the sale of snake skin, the task was given to Irulas Co-operative Group of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.

Location: 263Q+MFR, Raj Bhavan post, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600022, India

9.Arignar Anna Zoological Park 

Arignar Anna Zoological Park  is a zoological garden located in Vandalur, is in the southwestern part of Chennai.  It is the first public zoo in India. It is affiliated with the Central Zoo Authority of India. Spread over an area of 602 hectares (1,490 acres), including a 92.45-hectare (228.4-acre) rescue and rehabilitation centre, the park is the largest zoological park in India. 

The main objectives of the park are ex-situ propagation of critically endangered species to prevent their extinction, wildlife education and interpretation aimed at a wider public appreciation of wildlife, and wildlife research to promote wildlife conservation and management. 

Arignar Anna Zoological

The park has 81 enclosures and more than 170 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, The park contains about 138 plant species, including cashew and eucalyptus. The dense vegetation of the park supports about 56 species of butterfly. The park was designed to keep the natural vegetation of the area intact except where enclosures, roads, and structures had to be constructed. 

The zoo is located within the Vandalur Reserve Forest area. The zoo's ecosystem consists of dry deciduous and dry evergreen scrub forest vegetation of the Eastern Ghats, a degraded forest consisting of mostly thorny bushes, receiving an average annual rainfall of 1,400 millimetres (55 in) and an average annual temperature of 26 °C. 

Location: Grand Southern Trunk Rd, Vandalur, Tamil Nadu 600048, India

10.Cholamandal Artists' Village 

Cholamandal Artists' Village is Established in 1966. It is the largest artists' commune in India. The community is located in the southern coastal neighborhood of Injambakkam. Several Cholamandal artists have also shown in Europe, the United States and South America. 

Cholamandal Artist’s village also hosts different kinds of artists like a painter, sculptor, etc.  There are art galleries, open air theatre, dance performances, sculptures, museums, handicrafts, sand and clay art, photography and a thousand amazing things that will amaze you. 

It would be fun to go there with family, kids, colleagues or even someone who appreciates the art sense and wants to be an artist of some kind someday. There are many private flats and rental homes around the village which many of the visitors use for accommodation.  Apart from this there are 2 in-house guest houses which can be rented by anyone if available. Artists also have options to rent galleries. An artist can rent a small apartment on an 11-month contract.

Visiting Hours : 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM 

Entry Fee: Rs 20 for adults and Rs 5 for kids 

 11.DakshinChitra Museum, Chennai 

Dakshinachitra is a living-history museum in Chennai dedicated to South Indian heritage and culture. It is located 25 kilometres to the south of Chennai. Opened to the public on 14 December 1996, the museum was founded and is being managed by the Madras Craft Foundation (MCF). The MCF was established in 1984. Deborah Thiagarajan, an Indian art historian of American origin, governs the museum. The museum is built on 10 acres of land taken on a 33-year lease from the Government of Tamil Nadu. Located at Muttukadu, on the East Coast Road connecting Chennai and Pondicherry, the site overlooks Bay of Bengal. 

The exhibits depict architecture, art, folk art and handicrafts of South Indian traditions. Facilities include a research unit, handicraft bazaar, playground, religious ceremony space, stone workshop and souvenir kiosks. The museum has 18 heritage houses representing the living styles of people from the states. DakshinaChitra has collection of over 14,000 books and journals on South Indian arts, crafts, performance, anthropology and folklore. Some of the archives are of old journal collections such as Marg, India Magazine, Lalit Kala, Sangeet Natak as well as other journal collections such as South Asian Studies, Art India etc. 

The museum is a center of living traditions of art, folk performing arts and handicrafts formed with the aim of preserving and promoting the heritage and culture of South India. Special events include dances, crafting of necklaces, basket weaving and puppet shows. The museum also conducts workshops for training in traditional crafts such as indigo dyeing.

Location: SH 49, Muthukadu, Tamil Nadu 603112, India

Visiting Hours: 10am to 6 pm.

Weekly holiday: Tuesday (open on all national holidays except on Diwali day) 

Entry fee: DakshinChitra entrance fee for Indians:

Indian Adult – 100/- ( During Festival- Rs. 120/-)

Indian Child (5-12yrs) – 30/-

Indian Student (13-18yrs) – 50/-

Camera - 20

Video Camera - 75

SLR & professional camera – 50

Teachers – 75/- (or at the discretion of the management)

School Student package – 120/- 

DakshinChitra entrance fee for the foreigners:

Adult- 250

Students- 70 

12. Edward Elliot's Beach 

Edward Elliot's Beach popularly known as Besant Nagar Beach or the Bessie. It is located next to the southern tip of the Marina Beach.  It has the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health also known as Annai Vailankanni Church on its shore, and the Ashtalakshmi Temple nearby. Elliot's Beach is one of the cleanest and safest beaches in the city of Chennai. 

Witnessing the sunset and sunrise at Edward Elliot Beach is a beautiful experience. This beach which is very prominent like Besant Nagar Beach attracts tourists due to its calmness and cleanliness. 

Edward Elliot's Beach

The only architectural monument built on the beach by Lt. Col. Sir George Frederick Stanley, the then Governor of Madras, has badly collapsed due to its weak foundation and the influence of sea water. It was renovated in 2014 with a solid foundation made of granite and brick. The memorial stone bears the inscription "In memory of K. A. J. Schmidt, who drowned near this spot on 30th December 1930 while helping to save the lives of others." 

There are plenty of options near the beach to satisfy your craving for different tastes. Major eateries are Ponnusamy Restaurant, Donut House, By the Bay, Ibaco, Emilio's, Cozy, Dhaba Express, Amma Short Eats and Murugan Jigarthanda.

Location: 6th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 600090, India 

Visiting hours: 12:00 am – 12:00 am 

Entry Fee:  Free entry

13. Queens Land Amusement & Water Park Chennai 

The Queens Land Amusement park is located by the Chennai-Bangalore Trunk Road between Sriperumpudhur and Poonamalle.  It was established in 2003 by Rajam Hotel (P) Ltd. A Queensland amusement park is an ideal place to visit as it guarantees fun and entertainment for the whole family. The park covers a large area of 70 acres. The Queensland theme park sells protective clothing for the water rides. Swimming pools are also present for those who love swimming. 

There are 51 rides, 33 for adults and 18 for children. A child can go on some adult rides if accompanied by an adult. Rides include: Free Fall Tower and Super Waves. There are some water rides that operate in the afternoon. There are also separate swimming pools for women.

Location: Chennai - Banglore Trunk Road, Palanjur, Sembarambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 600123, India 

Visiting Hours: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm, Monday- closed / Holiday 

Saturday to Sunday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Entry Fee: The entry fee for children is Rs. 450 and for adults is Rs. 550. There is no entry fee for children shorter than 2 feet. 

14. Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathy Perumal Temple 

The Parthasarathy temple dedicated to Vishnu, located at Thiruvallikeni, Chennai, India. The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th to 9th centuries CE and is classified as among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The name 'Parthasarathy' means the 'charioteer of Arjuna', referring to Krishna's role as a charioteer to Arjuna in the epic Mahabaratha. 

Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathy Perumal Temple

The temple is one of the oldest structures in Chennai.The temple was built in the typical Dravidian architecture style, It was originally built by the Pallavas in the 6th century by king Narasimhavarman I. The temple has icons of five forms of Vishnu: Yoga Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Ranganatha and Krishna as Parthasarathy. 

The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Parthasarathy along with his consort Rukmani, his brother Balaram, friend Satyaki, son Prathymnan and grandson Anirudhan. Together the five warriors make the Pancha Veera and conform to many stories from Mahabharata or the Vaishnav canonical works. The temple has a holy tank, which is said to be the birthplace of Goddess Mahalaxmi, Vishnu's consort.

Brahmotsavam is celebrated grandly in the temple in April/May. Udayavar festival, Sri Varadarajar festival, Sri Nammalwar festival and Vasantotsavam are other festivals celebrated here with great pomp.

Location: Car St, Narayana Krishnaraja Puram, Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600005, India 

Visiting Hours: 6 AM - 12 PM & 4 PM - 8 PM

Entry Fee: Free Entry 

15. V.G.P. Golden Beach 

VGP Golden Beach is the only resort in Chennai city limits. This is one of the popular tourist places to visit near Chennai. This beach-cum-amusement park is developed by the Tourism and Entertainment Corridor of Tamil Nadu and offers many entertainment options like gokarting, dashing cars, water chute, giant wheel, break-dancing, dragon's belly, super trooper and more. Kids can enjoy special views of Jurassic Park and the Aquarium. There is an art center selling handicrafts and items made of sea shells. 

The VGP Universal Kingdom is spread over an area of 45 acres, complete with the private beach of VGP Golden Beach. It is home to more than 45 rides and a huge water park.  The beautiful backdrop and pristine sea impart a surreal ambience to this place. Their mascot is the fun and quirky, Kutti Raja, who is an all-time favourite among the kids. 

VGP 2000 millennium tower, Go Karting, Dashing cars, Water Chutes, Cultural Shows, Dance Musical Performances, aquarium, Jurassic Park and the statue man are some of the main attractions of this theme park.

Location: 5, 159, SH 49, Injambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600115, India

Entry fee: Entrance - Rs. 100 for Adults and Rs. 50 per Children. No Holidays.

 Visiting Hours: Monday to Friday 11:00 am – 7:30 pm 

Saturday to Sunday 10:30 am – 8:00 pm


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