Chennai: unique cosmopolitan city in South India

Chennai is a city with a long past that blends tradition with modernity, inviting visitors to discover its unique culture. The capital of Tamil Nadu is a major hub in South India and its extensive beachfront on the Bay of Bengal, as well as a thriving arts scene, budding nightlife and local food encourage travellers to explore the cosmopolitan city.

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Seasons and attractions for Chennai travels

The climate in Chennai is tropical, with temperatures climbing up to 40°C in late May and June. The best time to visit is in January, when temperatures are around 25°C. Otherwise, the monsoon season lasts from mid-October to mid-December and cyclones can occur. In terms of events and holidays, the year starts with Pongal, a harvest festival held in January. Religious celebrations include the festival of light Karthikai Deepam in November-December, and Vinayak Chaturthi, a 10-day event honouring Ganesh in September. As for cultural events, the Chennai Music and Dance Festival is held from mid-December to mid-January, showcasing classical music from South India.

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Important things to know

The risk of malaria is low in Chennai. Routine vaccines should be updated and recommended shots are hepatitis B, and rabies and Japanese encephalitis in some cases. While the official language is Tamil, a local dialect called Madras Bashai is also spoken. The cost of living is pretty low, with cheap meals costing about Rs 20. Travellers can get familiar with Kollywood, the Tamil film industry.

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Public transport in Chennai and lodging

From the airport, the city centre can be reached via suburban train, with tickets costing around Rs 5. The trains stop at Chennai Park and Egmore and depart from Tirusulam station. Otherwise, prepaid taxis are available and can be booked from a booth. It costs about Rs 300 to travel to central Chennai by taxi cab. Cheap accommodation is available here, with hostels and boarding houses at approximately Rs 400 a night, while mid-range hotels cost around Rs 1,000. Public transport includes auto-rickshaws, which are metered and should cost about Rs 25 for 1.8 km. Tickets on MTC buses are about Rs 3, day passes costing around Rs 50 and weekly passes Rs 300 or so. Traffic can be heavy though, and suburban trains are faster, with tickets about Rs 5. The minimum fare for taxis with no air-conditioning is ca. Rs 100 for 4 km, and Rs 12 per additional km.

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