Cosmopolitan, cultural, colourful and charming Chennai
Chennai was founded in 1687. This traditional, yet modern city is rooted firmly in the past - which is reflected in its cityscape. It's also home to "Kollywood", the Tamil film industry, and "HIgginbothams", India's very first and oldest publisher and bookshop, in existence since 1844.
Ideal Chennai travel seasons
Chennai has a tropical climate. The highest temperatures are witnessed between late May till June, at around 40 degrees Celsius. The city is at its coolest around January, with temperatures falling to approximately 25 degrees Celsius. The monsoon season starts in October and continues up until December, and cyclones can also occur here.
There are many events to enjoy in Chennai, including Pongal, the harvest festival, which is held in January, for three days. Karthikai Deepam occurs during the full moon in November till December and is welcomed with lights and firecrackers. In September, Vinayak Chaturhi runs for 10 days, in honour of Ganesh. On the final day of the festival a procession occurs. From mid-December to mid-January, the renowned Chennai Music and Dance Festival is held and attendees are treated to classical music from south India.
Pre-travel advice for Chennai visits
The risk of Malaria is low to zero, although Hepatitis B, rabies and Japanese encephalitis vaccines are recommended for some travellers.
Tamil is the official language of Chennai. However, Madras Bashai, a local Tamil language is most commonly spoken.
The cost of living is very low in Chennai, and you can find cheap meals for around Rs 20.
Local Chennai traveller's facts
The suburban train to central city travels to Chennai Park and costs around 5 Rs. Egmore trains leave from Tirusulam station, situated around 500m from the airport. Prepaid taxis, to central Chennai, cost around 300 rupees. Taxi numbers are written on receipts after fares have been collected at the booths.
A single room in a hostel, or boarding house, costs around 400 rupees, while hotels in the mid-price range cost approximately 1000 rupees.
Be aware, metered and unmetered auto rickshaw drivers tend to overcharge. However, prices should cost around Rs. 25 for 1.8 km. Heavy traffic prolongs journey times.
The cheapest MTC bus fare is around Rs. 3, and day bus passes cost around 50 rupees. A weekly pass costs about 300 rupees and is valid on all services.
Minimum fares in taxis without air conditioning cost around 100 Rs for 4 km, then 12 rupees per km.