The middle of the artistic and cultural heart of India, Chennai is considered to be a gateway city and the cultural capital of South India. This area was at one time known as Madras and often counted as one of the world’s best cities to visit for culture and food among other reasons. Chennai stands out in the country as a destination for tourists just by its number of architectural, cultural, and historical sites. The bustling city has also become a center for hospitality, fashion, and classic southern Indian fare. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Arignar Anna Zoological Park-Vandalur Zoo
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The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as the Vandalur Zoo, is one of the largest zoological parks within the country of India, attracting thousands of guests to view the variety of animals that call the grounds home every day. The history of this zoo dates back to when it first opened as the Madras Zoo in the year 1855, established by conservationist Edward Balfour in the Government Museum complex as the country’s first public zoo. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park today boasts over 1,500 wild species of animals, including more than forty endangered species of reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Grand Southern Trunk Rd, Vandalur, Tamil Nadu 600048, Phone: +91-44-22-75-10-89
2.Government Museum, Egmore
One of the oldest and first public museums in India, the Government Museum complex on Pantheon Road in Egmore has been one of the most famous educational and recreational attractions of Chennai for over 150 years. This interesting museum is perhaps known best for its extensive numismatics collection, as well as its artifacts associated with Tamil history. The Government Museum complex is also home to several other attractions frequently visited among travelers and locals alike, such as the Connemara Public Library, one of the country’s oldest libraries, and the Museum Theatre, one of the city’s most popular stage venues.
Pantheon Rd, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600008, Phone: +91-44-28-19-32-38
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3.St. Mary’s Church, Chennai, India
St. Mary’s Church is well known for being India’s first Anglican church. Located within the boundaries of the Fort Saint George compound this historic church continues to be one of the city’s important Christian religious centers. Boasting an illustrious past, St. Mary’s Church was built by the British East India Company and was originally the fort’s only bomb-proof building when it was consecrated back in the year 1680. Situated at the church’s altar is a prized Last Supper painting, brought to the city from Pondicherry as “spoils of war.” The church also has a Bible dating back to 1660.
Rajaji Rd, Fort St George, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600009
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4.Things to Do in Chennai, India: Kapaleeswarar Temple
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The Kapaleeswarar Temple in the Mylapore area of Chennai boasts a history going back around 1,300 years, making it one of the city’s oldest places of worship. In addition to being a historic religious landmark, the Kapaleeswarar Temple serves as an important cultural center and hosts many dance and classical music performances on a regular basis. There are several things to see in the temple and on the surrounding grounds. The area around the temple still maintains its traditional Agraharam architectural style, and there is also a large water tank on the temple complex property with a Gopuram facing it.
Kapaleesvarar Sannadhi St, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004, Phone: +91-44-24-64-16-70
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5.Santhome Cathedral Basilica, Chennai, India
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Located in the Mylapore neighborhood of Chennai, the Santhome Cathedral Basilica is not only an important site for Christians in this South Indian city, but throughout the country and the world beyond as well. The basilica is thought to be one of just three basilicas anywhere in the world to be built over a tomb of one of the direct Apostles of Jesus Christ. Constructed by the Portuguese back in the year 1523 and becoming a cathedral later in 1606, the Santhome Cathedral Basilica features a neo-gothic architecture style and was raised to a “minor basilica” status in 1956.
38, Santhome High Rd, Dummingkuppam, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004
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6.Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Chennai, India
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is one of the best known wildlife attractions in the city of Chennai, India, as well as a leading conservation and research agency that works in the fields of herpetology and reptile conservation. The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust features an exhibit area with over 2,400 species of reptiles, including over a dozen major species of alligators and crocodiles of the world. In fact, the grounds are boasted as the country’s largest sanctuary for crocodiles. The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust was started by Romulus and Zai Whitaker, two pioneering conservationists, in 1976.
Post Bag No 4, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu 603104
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7.Things to Do in Chennai, India: Birla Planetarium
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Located at the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Center, Chennai’s Birla Planetarium is one of India’s three major planetariums of its kind and is one of the city’s important educational sites. The planetarium is fully computerized and can accommodate over 200 people. Established in 1988, this iconic planetarium is home to a number of astronomical models, educational materials, and exhibits spread out across eight different galleries that cover a variety of science disciplines, such as transport, electronics, energy, and physics. The Birla Planetarium also features a spacious gallery for visitors that offers an interesting virtual experience of viewing the night sky.
Gandhi Mandapam Rd, Duraisamy Nagar, Kotturpuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600025, Phone: +91-44-24-41-00-25
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8.Theosophical Society, Chennai, India
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The Theosophical Society of Chennai is one of the oldest organizations in the city, boasting a continuing history dating back over one hundred years. The organization is possibly known best in Chennai, India for the sprawling campus of its international headquarters in Adyar. The grounds cut across the Adyar river estuary and are considered to be one of the city’s most well maintained green spaces. The campus of the Theosophical Society also serves as a spiritual and cultural center, hosting many events and talks throughout the year and home to a fully fledged library and historic Adyar banyan tree.
Blavatsky Avenue, 600020 Adyar
9.Anna Centenary Library, Chennai, India
© Anna Centenary Library
Completed in 2010, the Anna Centenary Library is one of the city’s newer complexes and is also one of the most modern and largest libraries in India. Home to more than 1.2 million books, volumes, and encyclopedias, the library is frequented by experts, locals, and students from all over the country. The Anna Centenary Library also features a number of state-of-the-art facilities for guests to take advantage of, including a section for children, an extensive braille collection, an internet center, and a digital library. There is a whole floor solely dedicated to Tamil language and regional books as well.
Gandhi Mandapam Rd, Surya Nagar, Kotturpuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600085, Phone: +91-44-22-20-10-11
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10.Heritage District, Chennai, India
With a history dating back around four hundred years, the city of Chennai is one of the oldest colonial cities in the country of India. While the city as a whole has changed significantly following independence, a portion of Chennai, particularly the area near Poonamallee High Road and Fort St. George, still has a colonial charm to it with many British-era architectural marvels and landmarks that can be seen today. This region of the city has come to be known as the Heritage District. A few notable heritage structures in the area include Victoria Public Hall and the Ripon Building.
11.Dakshin Chitra, Chennai, India
© Dakshin Chitra
The Dakshinachitra Museum is a living history museum in Chennai that offers an opportunity to experience the artwork, traditions, and culture of South India without the need to take an extensive tour of the region. The cultural museum serves as a cultural repository of five major states of South India and features a variety of exhibits for visitors to explore, covering topics like architecture, dance forms, music, farming, and pre-colonial clothing. Located along the region’s scenic ECR Highway, the Dakshinachitra complex is popular for having several stalls selling a wide array items as well, such as ethnic and traditional jewelry.
SH 49, Muthukadu, Tamil Nadu 603118, Phone: +91-98-41-42-51-49
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12.Things to Do in Chennai, India: The Brew Room
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The Brew Room in the Savera Hotel of Chennai, India is an award-winning cafe that offers some of the area’s best crafted coffees in a pleasant setting. This coffee house at a garden restaurant is often described as being European in its attitude, however, “Indian by heart.” Providing its customers with some of the finest coffees around, The Brew Room serves cold coffees, Italian coffees, and specialty coffees, as well as fitness beverages, teas, and other drinks. In addition to beverages, the coffee house also offers baked goods, ice cream, sandwiches, salads, soups, pastas, specialty breakfasts, and more.
146, Dr Radha Krishnan Salai, CIT Colony, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004, Phone: +91-44-28-11-47-00
13.Wild Garden, Amethyst Cafe
© Wild Garden, Amethyst Café
The Wild Garden Cafe at Amethyst is a cafe in Chennai that’s beloved among locals and visitors alike not only for the food it serves, but for its setting as well. Open daily, there are several spots for guests to choose from at the cafe, whether they choose to sit at one of the several tables that dot the gardens, the sweeping verandah, or indoors in the enclosed hall. Once seated, customers will find a menu with a selection that the owners have carefully curated to meet their “standards.” There are also regularly updated options and daily specials available.
No 28, Whites Road, Amethyst, Royapettah, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600014, Phone: +91-44-45-99-16-33
14.Things to Do in Chennai, India: Writer's Cafe
© Writer's Café
A dining establishment with heart, the Writer’s Cafe is a cafe oasis offering delight treats that surrounds its guests with a hodgepodge of books to browse. Situated in the Gopalapuram area of Chennai, this quaint cafe is run by a friendly and dedicated staff and was created for a particular cause. In addition to being a place where visitors and locals can grab a bite to eat, the Writer’s Cafe is also a non-profit organization providing a platform for women of the International Foundation for Prevention of Crime and Victim Care, with all profits going to support the cause.
127, Peters Rd, Gopalapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600086, Phone: +91-44-48-61-16-04
15.Things to Do in Chennai, India: Chamiers Cafe
© Chamiers Café
Chamiers is a rare find in the city, a lovely shop and charming tea shop-type cafe. The space has become an eclectic blend of urban pastimes, mixing quiet retail therapy with talking about life in a cozy setting over a delicious cup of coffee. A great deal of effort has gone into creating a homely and warm atmosphere. Customers at the Chamiers Cafe can enjoy a healthy fruit juice or a cup of the coffee shop’s signature coffee blend. As for food, the cafe’s menu features several options, such as bruschetta platters, pastas, sandwiches, salads, and more.
Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar Rd, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600028, Phone: +91-44-42-03-07-34
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16.Ciclo Cafe, Chennai, India
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The Ciclo Café began in March of 2015 as a meeting place for the city’s cycling enthusiasts, featuring both “top-class lifestyle facilities” for hospitality and cycling. When it opened in 2015, NDTV voted the Ciclo Cafe as one of the “10 Most Exciting Restaurants in India” that opened that year. The cafe was also named by the India Times as one of the “Top 11 Global Cafes” and has been featured in a number of lifestyle publications. Boasting a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, the cafe is a great place for simple food and spending time with friends and family.
32, 47E, Gandhi Mandapam Rd, Kotturpuram, Chennai 600085, Phone: +91-95-00-06-51-64
17.Things to Do in Chennai, India: Ashvita Bistro
© Ashvita Bistro
A restaurant specializing in fusion cuisine in the center of Chennai, the Ashvita Bistro serves a variety of dishes featuring pan-Asian and Italian flavors within a cozy and relaxed environment. The bistro is also known throughout the city for hosting pop-up restaurants every now and then, as well as for its “Monster Shakes.” These shakes basically contain “everything but the kitchen sink” and have become extremely popular among the college students in Chennai. Open seven days a week, the Ashvita Bistro is also known for being very budget friendly and offering a menu that’s easy to order.
11, Bawa Rd, Sriram Colony, Alwarpet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600018, Phone: +91-44-42-10-99-90
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17 Best Things to Do in Chennai, India
- Arignar Anna Zoological Park-Vandalur Zoo, Photo: Iordanis Pallikaras/stock.adobe.com
- Government Museum, Egmore, Photo: matiplanas/stock.adobe.com
- St. Mary’s Church, Chennai, India, Photo: narayankumar/stock.adobe.com
- Things to Do in Chennai, India: Kapaleeswarar Temple, Photo: PHOTO JUNCTION/stock.adobe.com
- Santhome Cathedral Basilica, Chennai, India, Photo: Arvind Balaraman/stock.adobe.com
- Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Chennai, India, Photo: karthikeyan/stock.adobe.com
- Things to Do in Chennai, India: Birla Planetarium, Photo: PAVEL GERASIMENKO/stock.adobe.com
- Theosophical Society, Chennai, India, Photo: Manivannan T/stock.adobe.com
- Anna Centenary Library, Chennai, India, Photo: Anna Centenary Library
- Heritage District, Chennai, India, Photo: Aniruddha/stock.adobe.com
- Dakshin Chitra, Chennai, India, Photo: Dakshin Chitra
- Things to Do in Chennai, India: The Brew Room, Photo: The Brew Room
- Wild Garden, Amethyst Cafe, Photo: Wild Garden, Amethyst Café
- Things to Do in Chennai, India: Writer's Cafe, Photo: Writer's Café
- Things to Do in Chennai, India: Chamiers Cafe, Photo: Chamiers Café
- Ciclo Cafe, Chennai, India, Photo: Ciclo Café
- Things to Do in Chennai, India: Ashvita Bistro, Photo: Ashvita Bistro
- Cover Photo: Arpan/stock.adobe.com
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