Chennai bears a distinctive new look. The skyline is dotted with posh multi-storied offices, aesthetically designed hotels and plush residential complexes. The streets are lined with Internet cafes, mobile phone rentals for easy communication, and forex moneychangers, banks and ATMs for quick cash access. Glitzy multi-cuisine restaurants, fast food cafes, pubs and discos have sprung up to cater to the new generation of global workers. Trendy coffee bars like Barista, Café Coffee Day and Qwikys serve cappuccino, mocha or café latte alongside the South Indian filter coffee.
Today, Chennai is a busy trading centre for exports, particularly leather and textiles. It is fast emerging as an important healthcare destination with a number of speciality hospitals that have opened up in recent years. It is also one of the leaders in Information Technology with the prestigious Tidel Park as the hub of many Indian and multinational software companies. Chennai has evolved into an IT savvy city at par with any international metropolis. But the city retains its identity by preserving its rich cultural heritage and integrating traditions into modern day living. It remains a place where the past, present, and future intermingle effortlessly.
The fourth largest metropolis and the third important port in India, Chennai is flanked by the breathtakingly beautiful Marina beach on the eastern side and the city skyscape with its eclectic mix of temple towers, steeples, minarets and star hotels on the other. From classical concerts to trendy nightclubs, Chettinad to multi-cuisine restaurants, museums to Internet cafes, Chennai offers choices that range from the quaint to the ultra modern.
For lot of travellers a visit to Chennai essentially means a visit to the Marina Beach. But this is a city that is culturally alive and an ideal evening out would include a visit to a traditional dance performance and a visit to its museums.
A marvelous 13 km stretch of sea and sand. Ideal for walks and wading in the surf. Not advisable for swimming as the currents are too strong. Across the road are marvellous buildings erected during the British Raj.
San Thomas Basilica: at the south end of Marina Beach was named after Saint Thomas "doubting apostle of Jesus Christ". It is belived he has come to Madras in 52 AD and kill at St. Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD. Built in 16th Century by the Portuguese, in 1896 it was made a basilica. The beautiful stained glass window at the basilica portrays the story of St Thomas and the central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ.. In the cathedral is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin Mary which is believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543