Chennai, also known as Madras, is the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India, and is the country's fourth-largest city. It is located on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal. With an estimated population of 7.45 million (2005), the 367 year old city is the 41st largest metropolitan area in the world.
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 city was founded in 1639 when the company was granted land to build a trading settlement by the local Indian administrators. The British built Fort St. George (today the legislative and administrative seat of the state). George Town then developed becoming the modern city of Madras, absorbing several nearby boroughs. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles 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 1996, in an uncharacteristic act of me-tooism, the Tamil nadu government emulated Bombay's example by renaming Madras to Chennai. This name change is somewhat inexplicable. While the foreign origins of "Bombay" or the "corrupted" pronunciation of Calcutta are not in doubt, it is by no means clear that "Madras" is of foreign origin.
Madras is derived from Madraspatnam, a name given to the area when the British negotiated settling there. The origin of the name is uncertain. Tradition suggests that a fishing village near to the location of the British settlement was called Madraspatnam. Others think early Portuguese may have called the area Madre de Sois after an early settler, or Madre de Deus after an early church (of St. Mary).
Chennai is derived from Chennapatnam, a name with almost equally uncertain origins. Tradition has it that Chennapatnam was the name of a fishing village near to the location of Madraspatnam. However it is not clear if the village was there beforehand or grew up around the British Madraspatnam settlement. There are some suggestions that the name was given to the developing Indian settlement honor a local Indian administrator.
As the settlements grew, the exact location of both Chennapatnam and Madraspatnam became confused as the two settlements merged into a single town. However, Madras was associated with the British while Chennai has Indian associations.
Under the British, the 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 Madras state, and when the states were reorganized on a linguistic basis, it narrowly escaped becoming the capital of Andhra Pradesh and became the capital of Tamil Nadu. Since then, it has had an uneventful history, except that in the 60s, it was the centre of the "Anti-Hindi" agitation against the Central government's attempts to impose Hindi on the state.
Culture and attitudes
While a city like Bombay frequently compares itself to New York and lately, aspires to be Shanghai, it would be difficult to imagine Chennai comparing itself with, or wanting to be anything else. A visitor might justifiably think that inside this metropolis is the heart of a small town struggling to get out, but he would be wrong. It is not parochialism that characterizes Chennai; it is self-assurance. Its citizens are keenly aware of being successors to the Dravidian civilization and they take great pains to distinguish it from, and put it on par with, North Indian (Aryan) civilization.
The city has a thriving Tamil film industry, rivalling Hindi Film Industry in scale and surpassing it in opulence - and once again, while most other regional language film industries are heavily influenced by the Bombay industry, the Tamil one not only marches to its own beat, but also occasionally manages to make Bollywood dance to it. There were many successful Tamils films, that have been remade in other Indian languages. While Chennai is not the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu - that honour belongs to either or to Thanjavur for the classical music and dance or to Madurai for the language, classical dance and music flow in the city's blood - for more, see the "Do" section.
Inward looking it may be, it is certainly not backward looking. Chennai is one of the undercelebrated successes of software development in India. It has also, in the past few years, become a car-manufacturing hub, drawing inevitable comparisons with Detroit.
The Hindu, is the city's most popular English-language newspaper. Other english dailies include the New Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle. According to the National Readership Survey (2006) seven out of ten people in Tamil Nadu who read an English language newspaper read The Hindu. Based on the same survey, The Hindu is the second most widely read English language newspaper in India; the New Indian Express is at number six. The relatively new entrant in Chennai, the Deccan Chronicle, has built a circulation of almost 300,000 copies everyday in Tamil Nadu and has the fourth biggest readership nationally.
There are over 10 newspapers in Tamil, the widely circulated being Dina Malar. Dina Thanthi, Dinakaran, Dinamani are some of the Tamil dailies. There are many weeklies and monthlies published in Tamil. Kumudam, Ananda Vikatan, Kunkumam are some of the most famous weeklies in Tamil.
It is jokingly said that Chennai has two seasons - a hot and humid season, and then summer, when it gets hotter and even more humid. It does not enjoy the South-west monsoon, but gets its bountiful rains from the North-east monsoon from October through December, thus amounting to about 125-150 cm of rainfall annually. December and January are the mildest months temperature-wise.
Historically Chennai has the problem of drinking water as no big river flows through it. Almost all the families ranging from lower middle class to higher class and all the offices buy the drinking water. Big players like Kinley and Aquafina suffice the need of bigger organizations and affordable families and small players like Aquafresh etc is ideal for middle class families. Chennai is on the top of the list of cities where lot of ground water is used. In recent years due to some heavy and consistent rains water issues have come down a lot, but still drinking water continues to be a bigger issue.
Chennai has an international airport and is the transport hub of South India. All international flights arrive at the Anna Terminal while the domestic flights arrive at the Kamraj terminal. The airport is served by 17 International and five Indian carriers (Air India, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Air Sahara and Air Deccan). Most large European airlines such as Lufthansa(Frankfurt),Air France(Paris) and British Airways(London-Heathrow) and many Asian airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Malaysian and Thai Airways serve Chennai.
Oman and Gulf Air have daily flights from Muscat and Bahrain. Srilankan Airlines connects Chennai to Colombo with multiple daily flights. Singapore airlines flies daily between Chennai and Singapore.
Indian (formerly known as "Indian Airlines"), Jet Airways , Air Sahara, Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, SpiceJet and Paramount Airways connect Chennai with daily flights to most other Indian cities. Important numbers are:
Indian Airlines General Enquiry 140
Indian Airlines Arrivals and Departures (Recorded) 142
Indian Airlines Reservations 141/+91 44 22561971
Jet Airways +91 44 2841 4141
Air Sahara +91 44 5211 0202/ +91 44 2498 0688
Air Deccan +91 9840377008
Use the pre-paid taxi to get to the city. The fares are different for the domestic and international terminals though both 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). It's better to keep small change in hand as the counter staff very often don't seem to have change! 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). Once out of the terminal you'll have a tough time warding off all the touts and taxi drivers soliciting passengers. Make your way through this crowd and across the drive to the taxi stand. Now its up to you to locate your taxi. You can ask the other drivers (clothed in khaki shirts and trousers) to help you locate the vehicle which usually is parked out of view right at the back of the line of cars. Drivers will offer to tow your luggage cart or help you put them in the dickey (trunk) but do it yourself to avoid missing luggage.
Chennai is also reachable by train from other Indian cities. Chennai Central and Egmore stations are the main hubs for all long-distance trains. There are daily trains from/to Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi and all other Indian cities. For train timings and on-line reservations (within India) visit the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation's website. For Railway enquiries call 131 or 132
For local travel there is a broadgauge suburban railway - from Beach, and Central. The frequency of these trains is about 10 minutes. The metre gauge section from Tambaram to South has temporarily been closed for Gauge conversion.
If you happen to arrive at the Central Station, you'll have to hand over your journey tickets to the Ticket Collector waiting at the exit. You'll have a tough time warding off all the touts and taxi drivers soliciting passengers the moment your are out of the concourse. Make your way through this crowd and reach the 'pre-paid' autorickshaw / Taxi stand.
Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state owned(CMBT), and private buses (Omni bus terminus). Both these terminuses are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/autorickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. So feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination.
CMBT Enquiry : +91 44 2479 5547.
Chennai is very well connected and to other parts of India by road. Five major national highways radiate outward towards Calcutta, Bangalore, Tiruchi/Madurai, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. With the progress of the Golden Quadrilateral project, driving down from Bangalore is actually an option, but driving in India is still dangerous if you are a foreigner unused to the idea that rules are to be ignored.
Getting around in Chennai is not cheaper by any means.
Chennai has a suburban train  network. There are four routes - Chennai Central - Arakkonam, Chennai Beach - Tambaram and Chengalpet, Chennai Beach - Thiruvanmyur, Chennai Central - Gummidipoondi . There are plans to link the last line to the Tambaram line.
Metropolitan Transport Corporation  buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap.
Auto-rickshaw drivers in Chennai are notorious for overcharging, rigged meters, and general harrassment of passengers. Use Auto-Rickshaw's only for short distances(If you know exactly how far you are going). Otherwise go for the call taxis which are better regulated.
If you do want to travel by the auto, stick to these rules
Don't go by the meter (if they have one), the meter is rigged to show a higher fare.
Negotiate a rate with the driver beforehand. Try to stick to the agreed price, though the driver may attempt to ask for more.
Try to hail individual rickshaws in traffic and avoid those parked in groups as they may try to gang-up on you.
As a general rule, expect to pay about 8 Rs for every kilometer you travel. Some auto-rickshaws will also try to tell you that you have to pay for the return trip. You don't have to pay for any return trips.
Examples of common fares:
Railway station to Old Woodlands Hotel- 40 Rs
Railway station to New Woodlands Hotel- 70 Rs
Railway station to Arumbakkam - 50 Rs
Railway station to Mylapore - 60 Rs
Taxis are only available by phone, not on the street. They are mostly reliable and have digital fare meters.
Bharati Call Taxi, +91 44 2814 2233
Chennai Call Taxi, +91 44 2538 4455
Fast Track, +91 44 2473 2020
Rajesh Call Taxi, +91 98408 15058
Tourist Cabs - Are the best choice in case you want to tour the city all day or visit nearby places like Mahabalipuram etc. Costs about 4.50 Rs per KM and 30 Rs per hour as hire charges. The minimum hire is for 5 hrs or 50 kms. i.e. (30*5) + running kms * 4.50 Rs. So if you travel say 50 kms then (50*4.5). So you would end up paying 150 + 225 = 375 Rs. Also generally there is special price if you need to go Chennai Central or Chennai Airport
Tiruvalluvar Travels, +91 44 2474 5807
Sharmila Tours and travels, +91 44 2827 4177
Driving in Chennai is even more of a nightmare than the average Indian city because the two-wheelers and autos have no fear of death and no knowledge of rules. It is a common sight to see an auto go in the wrong direction even on highways. That said, the roads are better maintained than the average Indian road. The main highway is Anna Salai also known as Mount road.
Hertz, Counter at the Petrol Bunk (Gas Filling station) next to Spencers Plaza
By Share Auto
This has emerged in the recent years as an alternative mode of transport in Chennai. They are three or four wheelers running on diesel and charge slightly more than the bus. Travelling in them is quite a risky thing, as they often overload.
Almost all the people speak Tamil, and picking up some knowledge of the language is useful to get by in Chennai.
Hindi is spoken by some, but in general, it is better to avoid speaking in the language, as you might encounter some hostility. Other South Indian languages like Malayalam and Telugu is also widely spoken here.
English education is widespread in Chennai, thanks to an excellent network of well-known schools throughout the city. Most educated people in Chennai can speak English. In most schools, the medium of instruction and communication is English.
Elliots Beach, is in the Besant Nagar suburb of Chennai. Sometimes called Besant Nagar beach, after the area it is located in. It popular a place to cool off from the city heat. It is a very nice beach, safe and good place for picnicking.
Ennore Port,and Ennore foundaries
Fort St. George, built in 1653 by the English Company of the Eastern Indies (CAIO), houses the Secretariat and the legislative Parliament of Nadu Tamil. There is a museum presenting of the objects of the time of the domination of the CAIO, and a banquetting suite going back to 1802 where the portraits of the governors of the fort are hung. The fort comprises also the oldest church Anglican of India, the church of St Mary.
Government Museum, or National Art Gallery on Pantheon Road, comprises an interesting archaeological collection and a room holding a significant and superb collection of Chola bronzes. One building has modern works, while the other has historical works.
Guindy National Park, The smallest national park in India and one of the few located in a metro. The park is an extension of the grounds surrounding the official residence of the governors of Tamilnadu.
Guindy Snake Park, next to the Guindy National Park. See the deadly King Cobra, pythons and vipers as well as other reptiles. There is a Childern's Park adjacent with collections of animals and birds.
Marina Beach, one of the worlds longest beaches is 13 km long. The tsunami on December 26, 2004, caused massive death and destruction along the beach. It has been difficult to recover, but the community is working hard to make the area attractive to tourists and vacationers once again.
St. Thomas Mount The hill where it is said St. Thomas died.
Valluvar Kottam, Nungambakkam An auditorium built in memory of the poet Thiruvalluvar. All of the verses of the poet's 'The Thirukkural' are inscribed on the pillars around the auditorium.
Ashtalakshmi Temple, Besant Nagar (Kalakshetra Colony) The temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. It looks different then other South Indian temples as it is of modern construction, less then 20 years old.
Ayya Vaikundar Nizhal Thangal, Manali Pudunagar
CSI Church House Of Prayer, Adayar
CSI Church, Near Gemini fly over
CSI Wesley Church, Royapettah
Guruvayurappan Temple, Nanganallur
Jain Temple, Kutchery Road, Mylapore
Kaalikaambaal Temple, Parrys
Kapaleeshwara Temple, Mylapore
Kaaraneeswarar Temple, Saidapet
Luz Anjaneyaar Temple, Mylapore
Madhya Kailash Temple, Adyar
Mary's Church, Built in 1680 it is the oldest Anglican Church in India. Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale (who later formed Yale University in the USA, were married here.)
Marundeeshwar temple, Thiruvanmiyur
Mundakaneeyaman Temple, Mylapore
Nizhal Thangal, Oragadam
Parthasarathy Temple, Triplicane
Periaapaalayath Amman Temple, Adayar
Puttaparthi Sairam Temple Sundaram, Chamiers Road
Qurasani Mosque, Adayar (near new bus terminus)
Ragavendhra Temple, Triplicane
Ratnagirishwarar Temple, Besant Nagar (near RBI)
Santhome Cathedral Basilica, where the Archdiocese of Mylapore is present
Varasidi vinayakar Temple, Besant Nagar (near bus terminus)
Visvaroopa Baktha Anjaneyaar Temple, Ramnagar, Nanganallur (The idol is 32ft. in height)
During summers it becomes hot and humid to venture out during the day. So go out for a stroll during the night (8-10pm) on the Marina beach and Besant Nagar Beach. It's a nice idea to pack dinner and have a picnic on the beach as most locals do. If you happen to drive a car you can also consider taking along a few foldable chairs.
Stroll along the over crowded Pondy Bazaar and Ranganathan Street and try your skills in bargaining for stuff and knick-knacks.
Music and Dance
During the Tamil month of Mazgazhi (December - January) there is a series of classical Carnatic music concerts and classical dance performances in various parts of the city, but the best are organized in various Sabhas (loosely translates to "concerts"). You will see mostly older celebrities, although occasionally there will be some world-class young virtuosos.
Brahma Gana Sabha, Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, M.Ct.M School, 179, Luz Church Road, Chennai - 600004, Phone - +91 92821 06425, +91 98412 96684
Indian Institute of Music and Arts, R.K Swamy Auditorium, Shivaswamy Kalalaya, 5, Sundareswarar Street, Mylapore, Chennai - 600004,
Kartik Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha Hall, TTk Road, Chennai - 600018. +91 44 2499 7788, +91 44 2495 2695 (30th Year Art Festival),
'Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, "Dr. Nalli Gana Vihar, 20. Maharajapuram Santhanam Road, T.Nagar, Chennai - 600017. Phone - +91 44 2814 0806 (The 49th Art and Dance Festival & Pongal Nagaswara Isai Vizha And the 24th Natya Kala Conference), Rs. 50 to Rs. 500 (daily rates)
Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Vani Mahal, 103, GN Chetty Road, T.Nagar, Chennai - 600017. +91 44 2815 2166 (The 25th Isai Iyal Nataka Vizha)
VDS Arts Academy, MOP Vaishnava College for Women, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600034. Music and Bharatanatyam dance concerts throughout the year at 6.30 p.m., every Friday, Saturday and Sunday by young artistes. Admission: free.
Nungambakkam Cultural Academy Trust
Chennai is a major centre of Bharata Natyam with over 1000 dance performances a year. More dance forms are now encouraged and taught like Kuchipudi(Traditional dance form from Andhra Pradesh), Mohini Attam, etc. Some other dances like OdissiManipuri can be found, but are rarer.
Chennai has literally dozens of different insitutes of higher learning from arts to engineering. The city also offers plenty of opportunities to learn Yoga, Bhartanatyam, Carnatic music and The Bhagavad Gita.
In addition to these there are several exhibitions that happen at Das Community Hall (Cathedral Road), Shankara Hall (TTK Road) where artisans display there wares. Check the local newspapers for details and timings.
Chennai has many restaurants offering various types of cuisine. Usually the check includes a service charge, written next to 'S.C.' If no service charge is added, it is customary to leave a moderate tip.
Beach coast restaurants are well maintained and serve great food during the evenings. Elliots beach near Adayar is a place to stroll and find a few celebrities.
Chennai has a fair share of stores selling organic food.
Ahumkaara , +91 44 2661 1818. Five seed mix, buckwheat, fresh aloe vera and whet grass
Arogyam, Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, +91 4114 230625, 04114-570855 B45 Alagesan Nagar, Opposite Govt. Hospital, Chengalpet - 603001. Organically grown indigenous rice varieties
Future Food,+91 44 2440 4937. Soya, dals and coffee powder
Naturagros, +91 44 5585 0122. Aloe vera tooth paste and soap, organic fruit juice concentrate, vegetables, greens
Naturally Auroville, +91 44 3833 0517. Kombucha (a beverage made by fermenting tea and sugar using the yeast kombucha), Spaghetti, ragi, spirulina and bread
Organic Harvest, 91 94444 04577, Gallery Sri Parvati, 28/160, Eldams Road, Alwarpet. Organic vegetables available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon; groceries are available throughout the week
Organic milk, +91 44 2499 1203 Murali, New 177, Old 77 Luz Church Road
Simply mmmm, AnnaNagar (near Blue Star). Organic vegetables available every Saturday and Wednesday, after 2 p.m.
Sunday Shandy, +91 44 2499 1203. Weekly fair of organic vegetables, milk and other farm produce, direct from the farm. Every Sunday 9AM to 12PM
The Eco Nut, +91 44 2491 9592. Sesame butter and homemade jams
Saravana Bhavan is a chain of vegetarian restaurants where you can get consistently good quality South Indian tiffin  items. They are highly concentrated in Chennai, but located all over Tamil Nadu and also have overseas franchises in the US, Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, UK and Canada.
Aaavin, Near LIC, Anna Salai, Cuisine - Dairy bar offering flavoured milk and sweets etc.
Ganges, Kodambakkam High Road. Cuisine - South Indian.
Komalas, Kodambakkam High Road. Cuisine - South Indian Fast Food.
Murugan Idli Shop, G.N Chetty Road, T.Nagar. Cuisine - South Indian. They serve the best idlies, dosas in the city
Palimar, Parsn Complex, Anna Salai (Mount Road). Cuisine - South Indian.
Vasantha Bhavan Like Saravana Bhavan, they also have chain of vegetarian restaurants. The one near Vadapalani Bus stand titled Vasantha Bhavan 'Namma Veedu' is quite famous.
Ponnuswamy, Raahat Plaza, Vadapalani. Cuisine - South Indian.
Sri Krishna Sweets, Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road)(also at MG Road, Shastri nagar) Indian Sweets & Salad Bar
Aiwo, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. Cuisine - Fusion.
Amaravathy, Radhakrishna Salai, Mylapore. Andhra Special and also Tandoori, Chinese
Amma, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar. Cuisine - Chettinadu (Region of South India).
Rangis, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. Chinese.
Swati and Swayam, at Saravana Bhavan, Peters Road. South Indian.
Akasaka, Suraj Towers, Ground Floor, 128 L.B. Road, Behind Jayanthi Theatre, Thiruvanmiyur. Japanese Chef, Own fishing boat, excellent sushi and sashimi
Arirang, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. Korean.
Bella Ciao The Italian Restaurant, 4, Sree Krishna Enclave, Kottivakkam, Chennai - 600 041 - Phone:+91 4424511130 ---- 140, Nungambakkam High Road, Chhotabhai Center Chennai - 600 034 - Phone:+91 4428330085 ---- Italian: Roman owner, Excellent Food and Real WoodFire oven Pizzas, lovely setting.
Copper Chimney, Cathedral Road. Mainly North Indian with the odd Iranian inspired dish on the menu. Opposite the Chola Sheraton.126.96.36.199 08:45, 25 January 2007 (EST)
Dakshin, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet. +91 44 2499 4101. Rose wood furniture, antique tanjore paintings, bronze idols, fresh water lilies and flower garlands create a festive mood. Live Carnatic Music. Excellent food - Starters include traditional fare like Kuli Paniyaram. Try the Idi Appam or Appam and Mutton Stew. Finish off with a Kulfi.
Don Pepes, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram. Mexican. +91 44 2822 1461
Kayal, Le Royal Meridien, #1, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount. +91 44 2231 4343, Seafood
Mainland China, Tulip Inn, Sterling Road, Nungambakkam. Chinese
Navaratna, Le Royal Meridien, #1, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount. +91 44 2231 4343. Indian
Peshwari, Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road. +91 44 2811 0101, North Indian, Afghan.
Shanghai Club, Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road. +91 44 2811 0101, Chinese
Southern Spice, Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. +91 44 5500 2827. South Indian
The Great Kabab Factory, Radisson GRT Hotel, #531, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount. +91 44 2231 0101. Mughlai.
The Patio, Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. +91 44 5500 2827. Gourmet dining
The Residency, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet. +91 44 2499 4101.
Vijays, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet. +91 44 2499 4101. Multicuisine Sports Cafe
The Westminister. Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet. +91 44 2499 4101.
The liquor trade in Chennai and rest of Tamilnadu is now run by the government. Most liquor shops have been taken over by the government. However bars and pubs in the city's major hotels are managed by the hotels.
The Pub, Liberty Park Hotel, 1st Main Road, Kodambakkam, Ph - 24725950
Has two levels. Hudson Upper and H2O. Cramped seating providing very little privacy. The Liquor stable is limited to the local brands and a bottle or two of Scotch.
Society, Hotel Ambassador Pallava, Montieth road, Egmore, Ph - 28554476
Diesel, G.N Chetty Road, T.Nagar
Cambridge, Hotel Dee Cee Manor, GN Chetty Road, T.Nagar
Million Dollars, Hotel Ambica Empire, 100 Feet road, Vadapalani
Star Rock, Kodambakkam High Road (Next to Palmgrove hotel), Nungambakkam
Geoffreys, Radha Park Inn, Arumbakkam.
Zara, Cathedral Road.
Dublin, Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chamiers Road, Alwarpet, Ph - 24994101
Durrants Bar, Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road, Ph - 28110101
Leather Bar, Park The, Nungambakkam High Road
The largest liquor stable in Chennai - includes hard to source Moet & Chandon, Glenfiddich and a variety of other scotch. Loud Music.
Dasaprakash, Poonamalle High Road
Kanchi, C-in-C Road, Egmore
Old Woodlands, in Royapettah. Phone: +91 44 2848 2150, +91 44 2848 2152. Little known, but an excellent place to stay. The The hotel building is at least one hundred years old and stands in the middle of sprawling grounds. The building has some connections to the old nawab of Arcot. Very old world! The auto-rickshaws / taxis will not tell you about the place as the hotel does not pay a commission to middlemen. Pay no more than 40 rupees to get there from the railway station.
New Woodlands Hotel,  It is sometimes crowded and a tad busy. There is a nice quiet art gallery and cafe nearby, the ashvitha cafe. Recommended for those wanting to slow down, and soak in the pace of life in Chennai. Theaters and shopping arcades are close by.
Elements Hostel, Address: 26A , Wallace Garden . 3rd Street, Phone : +91 44 5214 2552( India), Calling From UK :02070783946 or 08000968832 (toll free), Calling From US or Canada: 646 536 3472 or 888 694 9257 (toll free).  It is a new place which has come up right in the heart of the city. It has both dormitory style beds and suite's. . A very colourful, comfortable and clean place.
Comfort Inn Marina Towers, 2A Ponniamman Koiil Street Egmore, Phone: +91 44 2858 5454, Fax: +91 44 2858 5454, 
Dakshin, Venkatnarayana Road, Near Nandanam Signal, T.Nagar
BSNL and Airtel are the two main providers of terrestrial telephone lines in Chennai. You can make long distance calls from one of the many booths that display NSD/ISD i.e. National Subscriber Dialling (National Long Distance) and International Subscriber Dialling (International Long Distance). Rates are cheaper during the nights: sometimes one-half of what its costs during the day.
Cell phone rates are one of the cheapest in the world. There are four GSM service providers BSNL, AirTel, Hutch and AirCel. There are two CDMA service providers Reliance and TATA Indicom. Starter packs and top-up cards can be picked up from numerous outlets. Note that top-up cards generally only work within the home network: you can't use a Bangalore Airtel top-up card in Chennai, for example. Some providers offer roaming capabilities for that purpose which must be activated first.
There are several internet cafes from where you can access the internet for sending email or uploading your digital photos.
While in Chennai it is advisable to drink only bottled water. There are several brands that you can choose from: Aquafina (Pepsi), Kinley (Coca Cola), Bisleri , Hello . It's advisable to boil tap water before drinking.
Chennai summers are humid and sultry; it's better to step out with an umbrella, bottled water and some oral rehydration salts (available from pharmacies, the brand name is Electral). These come in handy if you happen to get dehydrated.
Apollo Hospitals, Greams Lane, Off Greams Road, Nungambakkam Tel - 28293333
Aysha Hospital, 91A Millers Rd., Tel: 26426930.
Balaji Hospital, Tel - 22345282
Bone and Joint, Anna Nagar, Tel - 26212137/1026
Child's Trust Hospital, Nungambakkam, Tel - 28277487
Madras Medical Mission, Moggapair, Chennai 37 -26565961 /91, .
Malar Hospitals, Adyar
Shankar Nethralaya (Eye Hospital),
Sundaram Medical Foundation, Anna Nagar, Tel - 26268844
Ramachandra Hospital, Porur
General Hospital, Opposite to Central Station
Stanley Medical Hospital
Balaji Dental Hospital,Velachery
Kalyan Hospital, Adayar
Kalyani Hospital, Triplicane
Govt Hospital, Royapettah
KMC College & Hospital,
Devaki Hospitals, Opposite to Rangachari cloth store mylapore
Madras ENT Research Foundation & Hospital, R.K.Salai, Mylapore Chennai
Padmapriya Hospital, Adayar
Shivasunder Hospital, Adayar
Apollo Pharmacy, , GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar
Health & Glow, Spencers Plaza (Phase 3), Mount Road; Nungambakkam High Road
Madras Medical Mission, 24 Hr. Pharmacy, Mogappiar, Chennai-37 
ABN Amro, Haddows Road, Opp Residency Hotel on GN Chetty Road, Adyar - Sardar Patel Road, TTK Road, next to Citibank branch
HSBC, Adyar, Mylapore, Pondy Bazzar, Tidel Park, Kadar Nawaz Khan Road
American Express, Near Anand Theatre, Anna Salai (Mount Road)
Citibank, Opp Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road); Opp Hotel Parthan, GN Chetty Road
HDFC Bank, ITC Centre, Anna Salai (Mount Road); All over Chennai
ICICI Bank, All over Chennai
UTI Bank, All over Chennai
Standard Chartered Bank, Haddows Road
State Bank of India, All over Chennai
Corporation Bank, All over Chennai
Canara Bank, All over Chennai
Indian bank,All over chennai
Many hotels will change money for you at the front desk. However, they may not have the best rates.
It is best to change money at the city based money changers than the ones located at the airports. The ones at the airport offer much less for exchanging forex into Indian Rupees and sell forex for a much higher rate than the market rate.
American Express, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
Thomas Cook, Spencers Plaza, Anna salai
Beauty parlors & hair salons
Ayush, Anna Nagar (Ph - 26223102/26223446/26203862), Kilpauk (Ph - 52179635/26472298), Mylapore (Ph - 52067071/30907691) - Therapy includes Abhyangam, Abhyangam with Pichu, Abhyangam with local Pizhichil, Abhyangam with Thalam, Udvartanam, Abhyangam with Nasyam, Abhyangam with local Navarakizhi, Muka Lepam
Mr. Pronto's, Spencers Plaza (Phase 3), Mount Road
C.K Devchand Opticians, Mylapore (Near Devaki Hospital) Chennai Tel - 98846 86959
Photo Optic, Perumbur Barraks Road, Near Doveton Clock Tower, Purushwalkkam, Chennai Tel - 26421479, 26428245
Post & telegraphs
The telegraph office on Anna Salai (Mount Road), near higginbothoms accepts letters and parcels up to 8pm with a small late fee. Snail Mail in India is by a Post Card (25Ps), Inland Letter (5Rs) or Envelope (5Rs). The 'Speed Post' facility allows you to send mail more conveniently than a courier service.
'Telephone Booths' or public telephones in India are available on almost every street usually painted with the letters PCO (Public Call office,local calls), STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling) and ISD (International Subscriber Dialling). All booths have electronic metering and you pay what's displayed on the meter. (Included in the metering is a nominal INR 2 as service charges)You'll also get a receipt if you insist on one.
Libraries & Cultural Centres
Alliance Française - College Road, Nungambakkam, Phone - 2827 9803/1477. 
British Council - Anna Salai, Phone - 52050600 Ext 350/351. 
American Information Resource Center Library (located within the American Consulate - see list of consulates)
American Consulate - 220, Anna Salai (Near Gemini Flyover). 
British Deputy High Commission - 20 Anderson Road, Nungambakkam, tel:+91 44 42192151 (fax: +91 44 42192322, ) Open Mon-Fri 0830-1300 and 1330-1600.
German Consulate - Commander-in-Chief Road (Ethiraj Salai), Egmore
Malaysian Embassy - Old Location: Off TTK Road, Alwarpet, Behind Park Sheraton moved to new office opp. Loyola College, Nungambakkam
Even as recently as about ten years ago, the ECR, which was then known as the New Mahabalipuram Road, had nothing much to offer by way of entertainment, except for VGP Golden Beach and Roger Whittaker's crocodile bank. Further down, the road led you to Mahabalipuram, and that was that.
The scenario that meets a traveller today is entirely different. The East Coast Road could very well be termed the entertainment highway of Chennai. The road is brand new, flanked by the sea on the left and dotted with amusement spots through the entire stretch. Driving down ECR is an experience. Really!
You can pick and choose from Amusement Parks, Water Sports Centres, Beaches, Eco Conservation, Cultural and Religious Centres, Restaurants or Resorts to spend your day in. The road caters to practically every type of pastime that one could think about.
Amusement Parks, Water Sports Centres, Beaches:Prarthana Drive In Theatre: Approximately 10 Kms out of Adyar, this complex offers both a drive in theatre and a drive in restaurant VGP
Golden Beach: The first amusement park in Chennai, just about 11 Kms away from Adyar. Still a landmark of Chennai, this park offers over 40 odd rides for the fun seeker. The only park with an access to the beach
Ahaa Water Park: A spot for frolicking in water, the Ahaa Water Park offers a variety of water sports and fun activities. It has a wave generator, which can generate waves of upto 3.5ft.
Kart Attack: A centre dedicated to fulfilling the speed maniac's desire for thrill in a safe and secure environment. The first go karting centre of Chennai, this has placed Chennai on the go karting map of India, and has been instrumental in creating a few go karting champions also.
Mayajaal: 100,000 sq.ft of air-conditioned space. A multitude of activities and entertainment avenues, including movie theatres, bowling alleys, video games parlours, multicuisine food courts, and much more. This is Mayajaal, a multidimensional entertainment centre, on par with any entertainment zone found abroad. Open from 11 am to 11 pm you can easily spend the entire day here. It offers that much and more.
MGM Dizzy World: Spread over 27 acres, this theme park offers joy rides, food stalls and other games. It features one of the first roller coaster rides of Chennai, and many of the rides offered could make your hair stand on edge. On the softer side, you have the dashing car drives, and the swimming pool with its water slides.
Little Folks & Dolphin City: Specifically aimed at providing entertainment for the children, this park has a longer history than MGM.
Muttukadu Boat House: Located at 23 Kms from Adayar, this backwater area is maintained by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation, and offers rowing, wind surfing, water skiing, and speedboat riding.
Eco Conservation, Cultural and Religious Centres:Marundeswarar Temple is the first temple that one comes across on the route. A Shiva temple having a rich sthala purana or location history.
Sai Baba Temple: Approximately 8.5 kms from Adyar, the temple is peaceful, clean and breezy.
Jagannathan Temple: An exact replica of the Puri Jagannath Temple. Those who have not been to Puri can take a look at this temple.
Cholamandalam Artists Village: Set up by a group of artists to serve as a recluse for artists of all genres. This village offers the ambience needed for creativity to flow and is inhabited only by artists. The village offers guesthouse facilities exclusively for artists from elsewhere so that they could also benefit from the environment provided by the place. A must visit for those who appreciate the finer things of life.
Tiruvidanthai Nithya Kalyana Perumal Koil: As the name denotes, a temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara found on East Coast Road.
Crocodile Bank: The brainchild of Romulus Whittaker, the acknowledged specialist on reptiles, this centre has gained fame as an endeavour for the preservation and propagation of endangered species of crocodiles. The centre also houses a large variety of snakes.
Dakshinachitra: A venture of Deborah Thiagarajan and her associates from the Madras Craft Foundation. Dakshinachitra is an amazing place to visit, as various kinds of traditional houses have been transported to Chennai from interior parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and rebuilt here piece by piece.
The internationally recognized heritage monument of our country, personifying the art and culture of the Pallava kings.
Restaurants: The ECR abounds with restaurants and eating spots, which offer a wide range of cuisines and tasteful ambience.
A few of the food outlets are listed below:
-Blue Lagoon -Thanjavur Restaurant
-Food Village -Coastal Kitchen
Beach Resorts: Another convenience that is found in plenty on the East Coast Road is the presence of several comfortable, pleasing, beach resorts, which enable you to take a break, and enjoy a seaside environment. Take your pick from those mentioned below:
-Green Country Resort
-Casuarina BayItalic text
Drive your way to fun and thrill. But be prepared to pay a small toll fee on the East Coast Road
Krishna's Butter Ball
Pondicherry — Go on a spiritual trip down to the Auroville ashram. The drive down the East Coast Road (ECR) is delightful, with lovely beaches all along the way, and on the way you can stop over at...
Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) There are several things to see on the way and in Mamallapuram 60 km south of Chennai.