The Gateway to South India, Chennai, located along the Coromandel Coast initially grew around the British settlement of Fort St. George and is today India's fourth largest metropolis. Chennai has retained its traditional Tamil roots while acquiring a modern and cosmopolitan character. Chennai is famous for its sandy beaches, parks and historic landmarks. With a very distinct culture, the people of Chennai have a special interest in music, dance and all other art forms of South India. Capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and with an estimated population of 6.96 million (2006), Chennai is a commercial and industrial hub. The 12-kilometre long Marina Beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world. Of late, Chennai has grown into a software hub and technological city. It is a city which has embraced both the new and the old with ease. Chennai is spread over an area of 200 square kilometers and still growing.
Chennai is situated at the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is a metropolitan city and is recognized as the 4th most populous city in India. Chennai is an ancient city that boosts of its ancient culture and heritage.
The city was known by the name of Madras and has now changed to Chennai. Chennai is a land of ancient history that has increased the charm of the city. Before the foreigners arrived, it was the Cholas, Pandyas and the Pallavas who ruled over the present day Chennai. It was the Portuguese who arrived first in the 16th century. The Dutch and the East India Company followed later. Within a short period, the British were able to establish their supremacy. It later became the major naval base of the British and the south administrative center. After independence, the city became the capital of Tamil Nadu, formerly known as Madras state.
Chennai has a long and rich history. Ruled by a succession of South Indian kingdoms, like the Pallava, Chola, Pandya, and Vijaynagar kingdoms, Chennai has attracted to its shores waves of traders, merchants and religious preachers from foreign shores. A year later, the Fort St. George was constructed which served as the center around which the settlement grew. Neighboring villages like Triplicane, Purasawalkam, Egmore and Chetput merged with the new settlement to form Chennapatnam, as it was earlier known.
The Portuguese landed in 1522 and built a port, which they named Sao Tome, after the Christian apostle St. Thomas. The region then came under the Dutch, who established themselves near Pulicat, north of present-day Chennai in 1612. Its fortunes alternated between the British and the French. Robert Clive of the British East India Company used it as a base for his military expeditions. It was the seat of the Chennai Presidency, one of the four divisions of British Imperial India.
The British could regain control of the town only in 1749. The city witnessed a quick growth and was connected to other important cities by rail. After India's independence in 1947, it became the capital of Madras State, which was subsequently renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969. It was renamed as Chennai from its earlier name Madras in 1996.
Long the site of earlier coastal settlements, Madras was founded in 1639 when the British East India Company (represented by Francis Day and Andrew Cogan and aided by a local translator Beri Thimappa) was granted land to build a trading settlement by
Chennai is gateway to the South, and its culture is distinctly different from that of any other city in India.
Chennai is situated in the Thermal Equator zone which prevents extreme changes in temperature.
Tamil is the official language in Chennai, and also the first language of most locals
India, the land of cultures, traditions and diversity has yet another facet of its varying nature hidden in Chennai, the Gateway of South.
Chennai has a bustling economy. The main industries in Chennai are automobile, software services, petrochemicals, textiles, hardware manufacturing and financial services.
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