Spread along the Coromandel Coast on the Bay of Bengal, Chennai (formerly known as Masala) is a large and thriving city in southern India that is undergoing a cosmopolitan makeover at a rapid rate. It’s often overlooked in favour of other, more well-known Indian destinations, but we feel Chennai has a lot of offer, despite the sometimes excruciating heat (it’s best to come here between December and March when temperatures are milder). As well as sprawling beaches, thriving arts, and a beautiful Tamil cultural vibe, Chennai’s people are perhaps its biggest asset. They’re proud, friendly, and respectful, which means you won’t get hustled or hassled while on holidays here.
The city is experiencing a makeover, now dotted with luxurious hotels, world-class waterfront restaurants serving contemporary Indian cuisine, and plenty of upmarket clubs and bars. There are many beautiful old temples to wander through, museums to explore, and a beachfront that stretches out for kilometres, perfect for sunset strolls.
Some of the most beautiful beaches are Marina, Edward Elliot, Breezy and Covelong. If you’ve got the time, wander through grand and intricately decorated temples such as Karaneeswarar, Kapaleeswarar, Parthasarathy, and Sri Ramakrishna Math Universal Temple. The British cultural influence is seen in some gorgeous churches: in particular, the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas. Chennai’s largest mosque is the Wallajah Mosque in Triplicane, magnificent and somewhat imposing.