From Unknown to Known to Own (Namma) Chennai with #XploreBharat

Hope you are enjoying the ride on #XploreBharat express with a recent trip to Daman with Supriya yesterday. Today the train reaches a major city, the land of temples, beaches and of course superstar Rajnikanth – Chennai!

I was born and raised in Delhi and for me Saddi Dilli is much more than just a motto- it’s a culture. Being married to a Tamilian and settled in Gurgaon after marriage, Chennai was never on my radar till my husband and I came to live here about 3.5 years back.

As the locals say, Chennai is a city and Madras is an emotion. Being the capital of Tamil Nadu it is a major center of activity and boasts of being one of the oldest cities in India.

Here’s how my relationship has evolved with ‘Namma’ Chennai.

                               P.C. – Marina beach  from Wikimedia Commons

It was definitely not love at first sight. But I came with an open mind. This place and its biggest treasure – its people, welcomed me with open arms and made me comfortable. Some cultural differences were evident. I was fascinated right from taking off shoes before entering a house to having rice, rice and more rice for every meal! I was surprised by the concept of getting served with only hot drinks everywhere despite the hot weather.

Chennai made me realize some very distinct caste differences, not just in terms of the line of work or appearances but also in the way certain customs were done only by few and not others. Temples dot every nook and corner of the city and the beach is its greatest attraction.

                                                     P.C. – A jasmine vendor from Wikimedia Commons

After a year or so it felt like home. While relatives had been nice and loving right from the beginning and made me comfortable in their city, I had made new friends too. I started soaking in the sight of vibrant temples, fresh flowers, women in bright saris and men in dhotis / lungis all around me. I stopped looking for the high rise buildings I got so used to in the millennial city of Gurgaon and started enjoying the buzzing city and crowded streets. Over time, with IT sector booming here and lots of job opportunities being created, one has started seeing many more immigrants come into this city. You can overhear more of Hindi being spoken compared to the traditional bias against the use of that language. I am still to adapt to the three seasons of Chennai- Hot, Hotter, Hottest!

Here are some tips for your next Chennai visit. For further details, drop a comment here and I would love to help you out! 

How to get here – You can reach by road, rail or air. The city is well connected to other major cities in India and abroad.

Where to stay – You can stay in any part of the city in any budget, depending on your preference. For those who want to be in the midst of the entire buzz, stay in the heart of the city. For a resort vacation, go down East Coast Road (ECR) running parallel to the ocean and pick one of the numerous lavish properties there. It’s a nice drive and well connected to the city.

                                                       P.C. – Kapaleeswarar temple  from Wikimedia Commons

Places to visit in Chennai – The top places to visit are beaches, temples, churches and parks.

  • Marina beach is the second longest urban beach in the world.
  • Edward Elliot’s beach, also known as Besant nagar beach, is a popular hangout for the youth. The beach ends with Velankanni church and the Ashtalakshmi temple.
  • Breezy beach is located in the quiet neighbourhood of Valmiki Nagar (Thiruvanmiyur) and is very close to my place. It’s nice and breezy and usually not as crowded as the other beaches.
  • Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore is one of Chennai’s oldest and best-known temples. It’s beautiful and spectacular.
  • Guindy National Park is a delight to visit with kids and is well maintained
  • Shore temple in Mahabalipuram is a must visit
  • Taj Fisherman’s cove is a great beach resort with many activities and wonderful food to relish

                                                  P.C. – Basketball at Thiruvanmiyur beach by Satyam

What to do – This place is a paradise for literary geniuses and music lovers with its local music festivals, book festivals, Lit fest etc. 

Places to visit around Chennai – Chennai is surrounded by beautiful places and you can plan a weekend getaway to many of them when you visit. Some of my favourite destinations over the years have been Ooty, Coorg, Conoor, Munnar, Bangalore and of course the closest one being Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry.

                                                  P.C. – Shore temple in Mahabalipuram from Pixabay

I have summed up my journey in Chennai in these few lines –

It took several years to get to know each other
For when I came, my heart was still in Delhi
Now, a part of me will be left here forever
The city taught me something
And I gave back the city some others
Amid all noise, I will always hear the temple bells ring
I discovered in my time here, there’s more to me
Through so many friends, family and experiences
I never imagined I would see

                                              P.C. – Bharatnatyam performance  from Wikimedia Commons

India with its diverse cultures, languages, customs and food options offers a vast variety of wonderful places to visit and stay in. There are so many places that I’m yet to explore and I’m glad that at least I’m exploring them virtually as a part of the #XploreBharat blog train, till I go there physically.

Share your experiences of your visit to Chennai. Check out my previous post on Pondicherry as a part of #Xplorebharat with #BlogBoosterIndia blog train.

Tomorrow the express will leave for its next destination as Manas takes discovers the hidden gems of Goa.

P.C. – Title image is of Thiruvanmiyur beach clicked by Satyam (

This post is a part of the #XploreBharat Blog Train hosted by
AditiEshaMaheshwaranPreetiSabaPragun, SanjotaSoniaSudipSuhasini, and Supriya, sponsored by KAIV and FABZANIA.

KAIV is a personal grooming accessory and appliances brand offering a wide range of world-class products.
FabZania is an upcoming food, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle web portal.

51 thoughts on “From Unknown to Known to Own (Namma) Chennai with #XploreBharat

  1. In your travel posts, what I the most is how you share your connection with the city. I have never been to Chennai, would definitely refer to your post once I plan my visit. Loved the poem too.

  2. I have visited all these places. I had my TCS training in Chennai. Those 3 months were the most memorable days of my life. We wandered the streets of Chennai without knowing the language & the city. We learned many things 🙂

  3. Very nice post , want to know more about this city , i heard that they don’t talk to you if you speak hindi ? Is this true ? And second thing I want to know, i heard that people in Chennai or tamilnadu are crazy for tamil actress and actors, really ?

    1. Thanks. Things have changed but yes locals don’t understand hindi as much as other parts of the country. The craze and fan following is immense for movie stars. Theatres offer some of the cheapest tickets in the country due to a cap on ticket prices to let them get entertained.

  4. I can relate to much to this post, Prerna! An Aamchi Mumbai girl myself, even I had to make the transition to being a Namma Chennai girl post marriage. And Madras truly has so much to give. I have as much love for it now, as I have for Mumbai.

  5. Guess it is #WhistlePodu season down there now. I hope you’re enjoying that one too. 🙂

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Just wanted to share one small tidbit, which you might be familiar with yourself. Guindy was a corruption/adaptation of Hindi, with the change coming from he way Tamils pronounce ‘h,’ or so I think.

  6. Wow prerna it’s simply a wow post! I loved reading about your journey from Delhi to Chennai and this place couldn’t have got a more honest opinion from an outsider than your outlook. Just loved the way you presented it with a personal touch to a travelers guide.

  7. Enjoyed reading about your experience prerna. Especially the rice thing. Haven’t been to this city though have wanted to for a long time. That’s some good places covered in Chennai. Will make it a point to get there.

  8. Loved the way you gave your personal touch to a travel blog. Open mind is very important when you go to a new place. And yes, taking shoes outside before entering anybody’s house is also also followed in Maharashtra. In fact, here in US also we practice the same when visiting any Indian family.

  9. That’s a wonderful post, it shows that with open mind and loving relations, a person can settle and love a totally new place with a lot of difference in culture. Tamil Nadu is beautiful

  10. Beaches, beaches and beaches, that’s namma chennai 🙂
    Having the chappals on one hand, and another one helping to taste the Bajji and walking on those beach sand on vare foot… is something to die for !!!

  11. I landed up in this metro city 10 years ago, started my career here, had my post grad here. I have spent 5 years in the city and do love it immensely. What is there not to love about it, right? Culture, food, that sizzling weather. It takes time to fall for the city but it just grows on you. I loved reading this post Prerna. It took me back in time.

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