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A Trip to Chennai’s Overlooked Paragons

Written by Sangeetha.

Every city has its own landmarks which have withstood the test of time. These landmarks have not only defined the city but have also enjoyed the centre stage for a long period of time. Chennai, one of the most populous cities in India, is renowned for its Marina beach, Egmore Museum and Mahabalipuram. However, there are several other places in Chennai that need to be explored. Gear up to travel to nine such underrated places in Chennai!

1. Ennore Beach

Ennore Beach

Photo by Leenas Clarance

     Chennai is known for its long coastlines and scintillating beaches. Marina, Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur are some of the famous beaches in Chennai. However, these beaches are heavily crowded. Situated at about 20 kilometres from Chennai Egmore, the Ennore beach offers to be an escape from the hustle of the city. The beach is often uncrowded offering the visitors a chance to embrace nature in solitude. The scenic beauty of the place highly resembles the Pondicherry Rock beach. Apart from such visual delights, one can also enjoy a boat ride with the local fishermen and gaze into the sky to look at a variety of birds scaping the horizons!

2. Senate House

Senate House

Photo by Ram from Pixabay

     If you are a person who loves classical buildings and is interested in architecture, you must visit the Senate House. This historical monument was constructed in Colonial India by Robert Chrisholm. It is now serving as the administrative centre of the University of Madras. Despite its interesting history and its location in the heart of the city, the Senate House remains in obscurity. Like the Egmore Government Museum, this place also deserves to be noted for its Indo – Saracenic architecture. Its domes and minarets create a European atmosphere in central Chennai. The interior designs of this 148-year-old monument would surely take your breath away!

3. Madras War Cemetery

Madras War Cemetery

Photo by Leenas Clarance

     The Madras War Memorial was established in 1952 to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the Second World War. This place which is situated at about 5 kilometres from the Airport bears the memory of around 1000 Commonwealth nationals. It is one of the few historical places in the city that reminds us of the past. The place is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Considering Chennai’s heat and humidity, it is ideal to visit this memorial during the evenings. You must visit this place if you are interested in history and would love to stroll through time!

4. Vivekananda House

Vivekananda House

Photo by Jayashree

The Vivekananda House is a historic building located on the opposite side of Marina’s shores. Swami Vivekananda is an Indian Hindu monk who is known throughout the world for his famous speech in the Parliament of World Religions (1893).  His spiritual ideologies, oratory skills and positive outlook on life brought him great fame. The Vivekananda House was constructed in 1842 by Frederic Tudor. After Swami Vivekananda’s stay in this building in 1897, it was renamed in his honour. Today, this iconic building offers insight into the legend’s life. You can know about his ideas, meditate in the building’s premises and even buy his books. Recently, Virtual Reality technology has been employed to engage the visitors actively and encourage them to know more about Vivekananda.

5. Santhome Cathedral Basilica

Santhome Cathedral Basilica

Photo by Leenas Clarance

     The Santhome church is a national shrine and an important pilgrimage centre for Christians in India. It was built as early as the 16th century by Portuguese explorers. The church is believed to have been built over the tomb of St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Apart from its religious significance, the church is known for its Neo-Gothic architecture. The British rebuilt the church in this form during the late 19th century. The well-lit interiors and coloured window panes garner the attention of the visitors. There is also a museum which displays various things related to St. Thomas’s life. If you are interested in history or religion, this place must be added to your bucket list!

6. Anna Centenary Library

Anna Centenary Library

Photo by Author

     Anna Centenary Library is one of the largest libraries in Asia. It was established in 2010 and named after C. N. Annadurai, a former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Spanning over 8 acres of land, the library has about 1.2 million books. These books cover a wide range of topics ranging from Travel, Fine Arts and Folklore to Medicine, Astronomy and Computer Science. The Braille section ensures the accessibility of books to the visually challenged. Apart from this, there is a Children’s section, Periodicals section, Own book reading section, a huge auditorium and an Amphitheatre. You just shouldn’t miss visiting this place if you are a book-lover!

7. Adyar Theosophical Society

Adyar Theosophical Society

Photo by Oormila Kamaraj

     The Adyar Theosophical society is a place that should be in everyone’s bucket list. This place has its own historical significance, defining architecture, library and bountiful gifts from Nature. The Theosophical Society is a worldwide body whose primary objective is the Universal Brotherhood. This place which was founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in 1882 serves as the headquarters of the Theosophical Society. People visit this place to meditate, relax and experience tranquillity. Theosophical Society is often uncrowded allowing the visitors to reflect on both their spiritual and material lives. The society hosts various events and workshops which are open to interested candidates.

Adyar Theosophical Society 2

Photo by Oormila Kamaraj

     The Huddleston Gardens of the Theosophical Society serves as a home to different species of animals, plants and birds. The garden is widely known for its 450-years-old Banyan tree. This tree is considered to be one of the oldest and largest Banyan trees in the world. This myriad of trees, animals and birds have attracted the attention of nature enthusiasts across India.

8. Chennai Lighthouse

Chennai Lighthouse

Photo by Leenas Clarance

     Marina Beach is one of Chennai’s greatest tourist attractions. However, many visitors would restrict their stroll to the shores of the beach. The Marina lighthouse which was built in 1976 by the East Coast Constructions and Industries was opened to visitors from 2013. The lighthouse is 11 stories high and has an elevator. Visitors are allowed to use the elevator and are directed to the top from where they could get an incredible view of the city. This view renders the sea boundless and makes the material life look diminutive. The lighthouse is open for visitors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. If you are not acrophobic, this place would surely offer you a visual delight!

9. Kapaleeswarar Temple

Kapaleeswarar Temple

Photo by Leenas Clarance

     The Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in Chennai. It is believed to have been built around the 7th century by the Pallavas. Located in the cultural hub of Chennai, the temple is an enduring example of Dravidian architecture. The antique sculptures of the temple have attracted tourists across India. The temple also hosts a variety of festivals and competitions. Beyond spirituality and religion, the temple allows the visitors to understand the history and culture of Tamil Nadu.

“Live life with no excuses and travel with no regrets”

— Oscar Wilde.

Every city has its own gleaming landmarks as well as its significant relics. So, the next time you pack your bags to visit some new city make sure to explore both!

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Sangeetha Author PicSangeetha is a contributor at The Strong Traveller. She lives in Chennai and is currently doing her Masters in English literature. She believes that it is important to read and write about different places and lifestyles to avoid reductionistic understandings about people. Besides travel and lifestyle, she is also interested in literature, philosophy, and politics.

Also, read another post by the writer, 

Sailing Around the World: How Noodles have become an Indispensable Part of Our Diet


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