It serves as one of the main gateways to South India and has a thriving local culture and art scene and is one of the major destinations for medical tourism.
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It is considered as one of the world's fastest growing cities although ranks 13th in terms of cleanliness. It is on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal and has the second longest beach front of any municipality in the world. Long the site of earlier coastal settlements, Madras was founded in 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 the local Telugu ruler Nayak of the suburb of Vandavasi, Damerla Venkatapathy Naidu on his father's name Damerla Chennappa Naidu.
The document of the land grant is dated 22 August , and hence Madras celebrates its birthday on 22 August each year as Madras day. Madras was one of the first outposts of British East India Company.
Colonel William Lambton, superintendent of the great Trigonometrical Survey of India, started his journey of triangulating India from St. Thomas Mount. The British built Fort St. George today the legislative and administrative seat of the state. Fort St George was completed on St George's day in 23 April and hence was named after the patron saint. George Town then developed becoming the modern city of Madras, absorbing several nearby boroughs.
Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, is associated with Chennai. He is said to have come to India as an evangelist and died in what is now Chennai. Two suburbs, Santhome and St. Thomas Mount, are named in his memory. In , the Tamilnadu government renamed Madras to Chennai providing the reason that 'Chennai' was the city's traditional name while Madras was one derived during colonial rule. Madras is derived from Madraspatnam , a name given to the area when the British negotiated settling there with Damerla Venkatapathy Nayakudu.
The origin of the name is from Muthuraja Chennappa Nayakudu as Chennapatnam. Later he took the Udayagiri Fort and began to massacre the locals. However he was defeated after a brief fight with the Raya's army. Qutb Shah later took the fort of Vinukonda.
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Sriranga defeated the Sultan's forces with the assistance of his generals muthuraja Chennappa[damarla was his surname] and Kasturiranga. During this fight, Chennappa lost his life. He was succeeded by Kasturiranga. When East India Company was established the St. George fort in the present day Chennai, for which the permission was granted by Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu,the local palegar of that area ,under the condition that area is to be named in the honour of his father Muthuraja chennapa nayakudu as muthuraja chennapatanam.
The East India Company in brief named the area as madras[madras is a corrupt form of muthuraj].
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In earlier days this area was called as madraspattanam and also chennapatnam. Later Govt. Some elder population still refer to the city as Madras but the name Chennai has caught up with much of the population. Under the British, the then city of Madras grew to be a major city, It was the capital of the Madras presidency, a province that covered the parts of Southern India that were not governed by any of the other princely states.
After independence, it became the capital of the Madras state, and when the states were reorganized on a linguistic basis, it became the capital of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is gateway to the South, and its culture is distinctly different from that of any other city in India. Tamil tradition and culture are indigenous to this region and is essentially the celebration of the beauty, which is exemplified through dance, clothing, and sculptures.
Chennai is both an orthodox and a modern cosmopolitan city; the culture of the city reflects its diverse population. The traditional arts, music, dance and all other art forms of Tamilnadu grow and flourish here.
The food is a unique blend of traditional, to fast foods and filter kaapi.
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The architecture ranges from ancient temples to modern high-rises. Music is classical and western, to the growing nightlife in the city. Chennai checks reflects its traditionalism every December when the music season is in full swing. Clothes are generally conservative but young people are contemporary.
Chennai is situated in the Thermal Equator zone which prevents extreme changes in temperature. It receives scanty rainfall from the south-west monsoon Jun-Sep while rest of India is lashed by heavy rains, but gets its bountiful rains from the north-east monsoon from October through December, thus amounting to about cm in of rainfall annually.
Rainfalls occur usually from October to December and dried up scrub lands bloom with greenery during this period.
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Climate is humid pretty much throughout the year because the city is on the coast. Summers are very hot and humid. Be sure take along light not flimsy clothing. Winter fashion has never been of any use in Chennai, wearing a sweater will leave you drenched in sweat in less than five minutes. Tamil is the official language in Chennai, and also the first language of most locals. Almost all people speak Tamil, a classical language.
Picking up some knowledge of the local language is useful to get by in Chennai as in every city in the world. However, knowledge of English is sufficient for the average visitor to the city. English education is widespread in Chennai. All educated people in Chennai can speak English while few understand simple English and can speak a few words.
All important signboards are in English. All transactions with commercial establishments are in English. The English accent is different, there is a tendency to end sentences and words with -uh Eg: I'm going there-uh. Unlike other major cities in Northern India, Hindi is not widely understood. While there has been a significant increase in Hindi speakers in recent years, most locals will find it difficult to understand when you try to speak to them in Hindi.
You are better off speaking English than Hindi in most southern cities except Bangalore and Hyderabad. Those native to Chennai and its suburbs speak the language of Tamil with a characteristic accent. Due to the proximity of the city to the State of Andhra Pradesh where the official language is Telugu and the presence of a sizable quasi Telugu speaking population in the city, there is heavy borrowing of Telugu words into the vocabulary of 'Chennai Tamil'.
Another characteristic of Chennai Tamil is that the words are spoken fast, possibly in line with the fast-paced life in Chennai when compared with the rest of the state.
Nevertheless, all educated people are taught standard Tamil in school, and standard Tamil is still used in more formal settings as well as in the news. All international flights arrive at Anna Terminal, while the domestic flights arrive at Kamraj Terminal. The two terminals are on the same road and are m ft away from each other.
It is in the process of being upgraded to a world class airport with direct Metro rail connection to the city. AirAsia  connects passengers to Kuala Lumpur, Penang with affordable fares while Malaysia Airlines offers nonstop service to Malaysia.
Cathay Pacific flies non-stop to Hong Kong. Africa : Air Mauritius flies non-stop to Mauritius. Air Austral flies non-stop twice a week to Reunion. Chennai is the traveling hub for Colombo.
Domestic : All the major Indian domestic carriers Spice, Go Air, Indigo connect Chennai with multiple flights to points all over India and most use Chennai as a hub for flights to smaller cities in South India. Paramount Airways is a low cost all business class airline that offers flights from Chennai to points in South India.
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Chennai is also a staging point for flights to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. The suburban train connects you to Chennai Park and Egmore, the two main passenger train stations. Note this train does not go through Chennai Central station but Chennai Park station is within the walking distance.
This is best if you don't have large amounts of baggage. Tickets bought don't have to be validated but save the ticket in case there is an inspection.
It is advisable to take a first class ticket in the train if you happen to reach the airport during peak hours. The general compartments are often over-crowded as they transport regular commuters to work. In peak hours even the first class compartments may also be crowded. The Chennai metro is also now connected to the airport and the airport metro station is now connected thru Walkalator to level 1 of international terminal. However, you can interchange at Alandur for the Green line, to go to either St.
Otherwise, use the pre-paid taxi booth. Aviation Express is massively overpriced. Using the pre-paid taxi to get to the city, each terminal has several booths for several taxi companies when you exit the airport, outside before you meet the crowd. The fares are different for the domestic and international terminals though the terminals are next to each other.
You can either choose the standard Taxis Black with Yellow tops which are usually the ancient Ambassador cars or the private call-taxi which can come in any model and in any color. As in any Indian airport, you will be immediately haggled for transportation with promised offerings of the best price. A firm No should make them lose interest, ignore them if they continue harassing you. It's better to keep small change in hand while paying at the counters. Note the taxi number written on your charge slip one copy is for the passenger and the other is for the driver to collect the fare from the counter.
Make your way to the taxi stand and get the taxi number allotted at the designated desk. The helpful drivers offer to take your luggage and guide you to the taxi that drives up quickly near the allotment desk. Prepaid and yellow top taxis are not air-conditioned, are of vintages right from 70s and 80s, rickety, prone to stop midway, drivers exhibit rough behaviour, sometimes could be dangerous, demand exorbitant fares, pre-paid may mean nothing and they may demand more when you get down.
Keep away from these types.
Or know that you can always negotiate.