( General information )
also known as Madras, the fourth largest city in India and the capital
of Tamilnadu. The city sprawls over more than 70 square km. The
population of Chennai is 5.9 million. Many of the Indian languages
are spoken in Chennai, though the main language of Chennai is Tamil.
For travelers with an interest in the colonial history of India,
Chennai has much worth exploring and abundant transport operations
make other parts of the country readily accessible.
For more than 2000 years the area has been popular with seafarers,
spice traders and cloth merchants.
The 16th century saw the arrival of the Portuguese, followed by
the Dutch. In 1693, the British East India Company established a
settlement in the fishing village of Madraspatnam. For St. George
was constructed over a period of 15 years and finally completed
in 1653. George town grew in the area of the fort and was granted
its first municipal charter in 1688 by James II, making it the oldest
municipality in India. During the 18th and 19th centuries, French
and British traders competed for supremacy in India. In the 19th
century, the city became the seat of the Madras presidency, one
of the four divisions of British imperial India. After independence,
it continue to grow into what is now a significant southern gateway.
You can change cash and travelers cheques at American Express
on the G-17, Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai and at Thomas Cook on its
four branches - (i) 45 Ceebros Centre, Montieth road, Egmore (ii)
20 Rajaji Salai, George Town (iii) International Airport (iv) Eldorado
Bldg, 112 Nungambakkam High road. The State Bank of India's main
branch is on Rajaji Salai in George Town. There are also branches
on Anna Salai and at the International and the domestic airport
terminals. Several of the banks in Spencer Plaza give cash advances
on MasterCard and Visa. Central Bank (Monitech road, Egmore) handles
Visa Cards. There are ATM's at Nilgiri's Nest and the Global Trust
Bank opposite the New Woodland's Hotel.
The main post office is on Rajaji Salai. There's also a post
office in Kennet Lane, near Egmore station, and on Anna Salai. For
poste restante it's more convenient to use the Anna Salai post office.
The full address is Poste Restante, Anna Salai (Mount road) Post
Office, Anna Salai, Chennai. The Anna Salai post office is also
the best place to post parcels. It's much less congested than the
main post office and there's a super-efficient Professional Parcel
Packer. Both the main and the Anna Salai post office have telegraph
offices. Alternatively, you can make use of one of the many STD/
ISD /Fax booths around town.
Carnatic Music & Dance held in mid Dec to mid Jan is the
best overview of the classical south Indian music & dance and
the Kalakshetra Arts Festival is famous for cultural arts, held
Landmark Books in Apex Plaza (3 Nungambakkam High Rd) has an
excellent selection. The popular Higginbothams is at 814 Anna Salai
with kiosks at central station and the domestic airport. The Book
point at 160 Anna Salai and the Bookshop in Spencer Plaza are both
well stocked. The tiny Giggles bookshop in the Connemara Hotel is
definitely worth a visit because it's collection is excellent.