Chennai is the capital of the Indian state of Tamilnadu and is a major centre of india for education, industry and culture. It is well-connected by direct international flights. it is also a popular tourist destination with a number of attractions including beaches, temples, churches and museums.
Chennai has a tropical warm and wet climate as the city is on the thermal equator and is also on the coast. The city gets most of its rains from the monsoon (July to Dec). December to February are the mildest months with temperatures in the range of 19 deg C - 28 deg C. Indeed, December is the best time to visit Chennai for the weather is relatively pleasant and cool.
The rich and varied south-indian cuisine, especially the Tamil cuisine, is an important part of Chennai's Identity. Being one of the most important cities in the southern part of india, one can find a whole range of delicacies which are unique to this part of the country. To know more about the Tamil cuisine, please visit Tamil Cuisine wiki.
Cultural and Tourist Attractions inChennai
Chennai’s cultural identity comes from TamilNadu’s unique music and dance forms and architecture. In December (and ICVGIP2010 is in December!), Chennai holds a five-week long Music Season celebrating the 1927 opening of the Madras Music Academy. It features performances (kutcheries) of traditional Carnatic music by hundreds of artists in and around the city. Chennai was the centre of revival of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form. An important cultural centre for Bharatanatyam is Kalakshetra, on the beach in the south of the city.
The city has many temples, of exquisite architectural beauty, the most famous among those being the Kapaleeswarar Temple, Parthasarathy temple, Marundeeswarar Temple and.the Ashthalaksmi temple. The intricate detail of the gopurams of these temples is a treat to the eyes.
San Thome Basilica, built over the site where St. Thomas was believed originally to be interred, was originally built by the Portuguese in 16th century and rebuilt by the British in Gothic style in the 19th century.
Thousand Lights Mosque, a beautiful multi domed mosque, is one of the largest mosques in the country and is a revered place of worship for Muslims. It was built by Nawab Umdat-ul-Umrah in the year 1810.
For a Chennaiite (a resident of Chennai), the most common way to chill-off in the evenings is a visit to one of the many beaches in the city. The longest and most famous is the Marina Beach. With its natural sandy beauty and spacious promenade and beautiful gardens, the beach is a major attraction for tourists visiting Chennai.
Elliot Beach, located in Besant Nagar, is the favorite rendezvous of the younger generation. Good roads, pavements and proper lighting in the night, make a visit to this beach a real pleasure.
Tourism around Chennai
An important tourist attraction in Chennai is actually the neighbouring town of Mahabalipuram (aka Mamallapuram), which is about 50 km from the city, with its ancient temples and rock carvings of the 7th century Pallava kingdom. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On the way to Mahabalipuram, is Dakshinachitra, a centre developed by the Madras Craft Foundation (MCF) to depict the rural arts, culture and architechture of the four south-indian states of Tamilnau, Karnataka, Kerela and Andhra Pradesh. Kovalam Beach, located 40 km from Chennai, also on the way to Mahabalipuram, is a luxury beach resort.
Attractions in Pondicherry
Some 150 km from Chennai is the union territory of Pondicherry (aka Puducherry), which is an extremly popular tourist destination. The town of Pondicherry still preserves the French colonial heritage in form of the monuments, churches, museums and in much of its architechture. Pondicherry is also a spiritual center with the Aurobindo ashram setup by Sri Aurobindo in 1926 and Auroville, a town established in 1968 on the principles of peace, harmony and good-will. In addition, there are numerous other scenic locations in Pondicherry such as the beaches, gardens and backwaters.
Travelling to tourist places
Tamilnadu tourism organizes the numerous tours to see locations around Chennai. For instance, the Chennai hop-on-hop-off tour covers St. George Fort, Marina Beach, Santhome Church, Kapaleeswarar Temple, Theosophical society, Besant Nagar Beach, Guindy Children’s park, Birla Planetarium and Govt. Museum among others. This tour is modestly priced, covers all pertinent places and one of the boarding points for the tour “Guindy Children’s park” is right next to the IITM campus.
Tamilnadu tourism also operates a Chennai to Mamallapuram hop-on-hop-off tour which covers the most interesting places namely Dakshina Chithra, the Shore Temple and Five Rathas at Mamallapuram. The boarding point for this tour is from the Tamilnadu Tourism Complex in Chennai. There are also one-day tours for Pondicherry and Mammalapuram, also organized by Tamilnadu tourism. If you are planning on vacationing in Tamilnadu before/after the conference, you can choose to book tours from the Tamilnadu tourism website.
In addition, numerous buses and private taxi-services are also available to travel within and around chennai.