- For other places with the same name, see Madras (disambiguation).
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.
The Horse and rider, Anna Salai.
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 Kolkata 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
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 the Bombay Industry 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.
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.
Europe and the United States: Lufthansa (Frankfurt), Air France (Paris), and British Airways (London-Heathrow), fly nonstop to Chennai with connecting service from their European hubs to points in the United States. Air India offers direct (as opposed to nonstop) flights to Europe and the US but be aware that these direct flights often involve a change of plane in Mumbai or Delhi.
South-East Asia: Thai Airways offers nonstop service to Bangkok from where it is easy to get connections to almost anywhere in South-East Asia. Singapore Airlines and Malaysian offer nonstop service to Singapore an Kuala Lumpur respectively.
Middle East: Nonstop services are available from Chennai to Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Ra's al Khaimah and Sharjah on Air India, Oman, and Gulf Air.
Sri-Lanka: Chennai is a hub for flights to Colombo with both SriLankan Airlines and Indian Airlines serving the route.
Domestic: All the major Indian domestic carriers (Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Spice, Indigo, Air Deccan) connect Chennai with multiple flights to points all over India and most use Chennai as a hub for flights to smaller cities in South India. Paramount Airways is a low cost all business class airline that offers flights from Chennai to points in South India. Chennai is also a staging point for flights to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.
Important phone numbers
- 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
Airport to City connection
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, run by Indian Railways 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.
Chennai has one of Asia's largest bus stations, CMBT. Seven different state owned corporations ply buses to and from various destinations within South India. There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore. You will get the option of A/C or Non-A/C coaches for cities like Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad.
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 Kolkata, Bangalore, Tiruchy/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 often takes a long time, due to traffic and heavy congestion; plan accordingly. Travel within Chennai is expensive by Indian standards, but still extremely cheap by typical Western standards.
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. The suburban trains are generally reliable and fast. However, tourists are strongly advised to take first class (it is not expensive to the average tourist) as second class suburban trains are notorious for overcrowding and having passengers hang off the edge of the train while it is moving.
Metropolitan Transport Corporation  buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap. You can buy bus tickets online at redBus  or realIndia  or RathiMeena . Extreme caution is advised in using these buses as they are often out of shape, will begin moving before passengers are fully boarded, and are, like second class suburban trains, notorious for passengers having to hang off the edge or outside of the bus while in motion.
Auto-rickshaw drivers in Chennai are notorious for overcharging, rigged meters, and general harrassment of foreign passengers, although they are ubiquitous and possibly the easiest form of transportation to locate. Use Auto-rickshaw's only for short distances (If you know exactly how far you are going).
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. Consult local friends beforehand to find out reasonable market prices for the distance you intend to go.
- Try to hail individual rickshaws in traffic which are heading in the general direction of your destination and avoid those parked in groups as they may try to gang-up on you.
- Make sure you hold on tight and keep all parts of your body inside the vehicle. If you have asthma, allergies to smoke, or generally do not fair well under traffic pollution, it is highly unrecommended to take an auto-rickshaw.
As a general rule, expect to pay about Rs.10 for every kilometre 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.
The call taxis are better regulated and can be ordered air-conditioned, although unlike auto-rickshaws, advance reservations are needed and they cannot usually be flagged on the street.
Visit this link for an idea of pre-paid auto fares from Chennai Central to various parts of the City.
Taxis (locally called "call-taxis" since they must be pre-arranged) are available by phone. They are mostly reliable, can be ordered air-conditioned, and have digital fare meters, although time-based hire is also possible with some companies.
- Bharati Call Taxi, +91 44 2814 2233
- Chennai Call Taxi, +91 44 2598 4455
- Fast Track, +91 44 2473 2020
- Rajesh Call Taxi, +91 98408 15058
- Sruthi Call Taxi, +91 44 4211 0044
There are several other call taxi companies operating in Chennai, which send taxis to your place, on a phone call. They charge by the distance. The minimun fare is Rs. 100/-, which is for 5 km and for every subsequent km they charge Rs. 10/-. It is advisable to book your taxi a few hours in advance and call shortly before your trip to confirm, if your trip is time-sensitive.
The only places where taxis can be hired directly on the street are Chennai Central Railway Station and Chennai Airport.
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 INR 10/-Rs per KM and 50 Rs per hour as hire charges. Also generally there is special price if you need to go Chennai Central or Chennai Airport.
- Bala Tourist, +91 44 2822 4444
- 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-rickshaw go in the wrong direction on highways, large trucks making dangerous double-passes on narrow streets at high speeds, motorcycles with four people, and pedestrians across when you least expect them. That said, the roads are better maintained than the average Indian road. The main highway is Anna Salai also known as Mount road. Driving is highly unrecommended for tourists unless you come from a country with similar traffic nightmares!
- Hertz, Counter at the Petrol Bunk (Gas Filling station) next to Spencers Plaza
Acting Driver Service - If you have a vehicle, but are not sure about how to get around the city, you can avail the service of an acting driver. Charges are about Rs.150/- for an 8 hour shift, if you use the services beyond 8 hours, you are charged Rs.25/- per additional hour.
- Manpower Services, +91 44 2825 2526
This has emerged in the recent years as an alternative mode of transport in Chennai. They are oversized three wheelers running on diesel and charge slightly more than the bus. Travelling in them is quite a risky thing, as they often overload and are unstable on three wheels. They also cause extreme pollution.
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. All important signboards are in English.
Almost all 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 Telugu and Malayalam are also widely spoken here.
- Connemara Library, Pantheon Road, Egmore 
- 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.
- Breezy Beach is located in the quiet neighbourhood of Valmiki Nagar. It is smaller and less popular than the Elliots beach. This beach is not as commercialized as the Elliots beach, and is hence more quiet and peaceful.
- 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 Children'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.
- Integral Coach Factory- The Railway Coach manufacturing unit of Indian Railways, which has a Rail Museum.
- National Shrine of St.Thomas Basilica Christians believe that one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ came to India in A.D.52 and died in A.D.72. His body was buried in Mylapore and the national Shrine of St.Thomas basilica, Santhome, Mylapore is built over the tomb of the Apostle.
- 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.
Temples and churches
- Aarupadaiveedu Temple, Besant Nagar (Kalakshetra Colony)
- Ananthaa Padmanabha Swaamy Temple, Adayar
- Annai Velankani Church, Besant Nagar
- 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
- ISKCON (Hare Rama Hare Krishna) Temple, Injambakkam
- ISKCON Temple, Perumbur
- 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,Mylapore, Santhome, where the Apostle St.Thomas is buried according to christian tradition 
- Shirdi Sai Temple, Mylapore Tank
- Shiva Vishnu Temple, T.Nagar
- Sringeri Saradha Peetam Temple, Venkatnarayana Road, T.Nagar
- Sri Santhana Srinivasa Perumal Temple-Mogappair
- St. Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, Stringer's St, Broadway, Chennai-600108
- St. Peters & St. Paul Orthodox Chapel, Koyambedu, Near Anna Nagar, Chennai-600107
- Thirumalai Thirupathi Devasthanam Temple, Venkatnarayana Road, T.Nagar
- Thousand Lights Mosque, Anna Salai
- Vadapalani Murugan Temple, Vadapalani
- 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.
- Walk and walk some more: A Paradox called Chennai by Colin Todhunter in the New Sunday Express (New Indian Express)
- Stroll along the over crowded Pondy Bazaar and Ranganathan Street and try your skills in bargaining for stuff and knick-knacks.
Music and Dance
Chennai is famous for its concerts and peformances that take place in various auditoriums and temples throughout the year, which are announced in the Hindu and other local newspapers. During the Tamil month of Maargazhi (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 "concert house"). You will see mostly older celebrities, although occasionally there will be some world-class young virtuosos.
- 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.
- 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, Sir Sivaswamy 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)
- 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 Odissi Manipuri can be found, but are rarer.
When in Chennai, do not miss a chance to watch a movie. Movies form a part and parcel of south Indian community, and since Tamil movies rank among the top of quality films being made in India, Chennai definitely forms an important part of the vibrant movie culture of India. There are several cinemas in the city. Check out any local newspaper or websites to get to know the movies running in and around Chennai.
Visit http://www.chennaionline.com/findex.asp to get the details of movies currently running in Chennai.
Some of the cinema halls are
- Sathyam Cine Complex, Gopalapuram
- Inox, Chennai City Centre, R.K.Salai
- Abhirami Cine Complex, Purasawalkam
- Shanti Cine Complex, Anna Salai
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.
- Aurobindo Ashram
- Bharatia Vidya Bhavan
- Chinmaya Mission, #2, 13th avenue Harrington Road Chetpet, Chennai 600 031. +91 44 2826 5641, +91 44 2827 4046
- ISKCON (International Society For Krishna Consciousness), Hare Krishna Land Injambakkam, Chennai - 600041 Phones - +91 44 2501 9303, +91 44 2501 9147
- Isha Yoga, New No.55, (upstairs), Moosa Street, T.Nagar, Chennai 600 017. Other centers at http://www.ishafoundation.org/home.asp
- Kalakshethra, Kalakshetra Foundation, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai 600 041. +91 44 2491 1836, +91 44 2491 4359(fax +91 44 2491 4359) 
- Kishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, 31, 4th Cross Street, R.K. Nagar, Chennai 600 028. +91 44 2493 7998, +91 44 2493 3092, +91 44 2462 0202, +91 44 2462 0005 (fax: +91 44 2461 334) 
- Krishnamurthi Foundation, 124, 126 (Old #64/65) Greenways Road, Chennai 600 028. +91 44 2493 7803, +91 44 2493 7596 
- Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai 600 020. +91 44 2491 2815 (fax: +91 44 2490 2706, +91 44 2490 1399, [email protected]) 
- Spencer Plaza  769, Anna Salai. Billed as the largest shopping mall in India, Spencer is a Chennai landmark that dates back to colonial times.
- Chennai Citi Centre  10, Radhakrishnan Salai - Chennai's newest retail mecca, opened March 2006
- Shoppers' Stop 2, Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai. The K.Raheja groups Shoppers' Stop is a departmental store.
Chennai has a wide selection of rare books and maps in the many second-hand book stalls.
- Alwar's Roadside bookshop opp Kamadhenu theatre in Mylapore.
- Bookfield, Opp. LIC building on Anna Salai (Mount Road)
- Vendors near the Central Station
- Vendors on Mount Road outside Devi Theatre and the GPO (General Post Office)
- Higginbothams, Anna Salai - Books
- Kennedys Book House, Anna Salai - Books
For more current publications
- Landmark , Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) - Books, Toys, CD's etc. Three locations:
- Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) - 37,000 sq. ft.
- Apex Plaza, Nungambakkam High Road - 12,000 sq. ft. - The original store
- Chennai Citi Centre, Radhakrishnan Salai - Newest location, opened March 2006
- Odyssey, Behind Adyar Bus Stand, Adyar - Books, Music, Toys, Gift Articles
- Giggles, Connemara Hotel Binny Road - General books from a friendly shop keeper
Books on or set in Chennai include:
- Madras Discovered, Tales of Old and New Madras, Madras (1992) by S. Muthiah
- Madras – its Past and its Present (1995) by S. Muthiah
- Madras – its Yesterdays and Todays and Tomorrows by S. Muthiah
- At Home in Madras (1989) by S. Muthiah
- The Spirit of Chepauk (1998) by S. Muthiah
- Kalyani’s Husband by S. Y. Krishnaswamy
- The Story Of Fort St. George (1945) by Col. D.M. Reid
- Chasing Rainbows in Chennai (2003) by Colin Todhunter
- Amethyst, Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Road, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram Ph - +91 442820 3582 - Handicrafts
- Ashvita - Arts and Artifacts, 11, 2nd Street, Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, 600004 Ph:+91 44 2847 6063.- Art, Design Jewellery, photo prints.
- Crafts and Weaves, #1, 1st Main Road, CIT Colony, Mylapore Ph - +91 44 2466 0232 - Handicrafts
- Dakshinachitra, Muthukkadu - Handicrafts
- Giri Stores, Adjacent to Kabaleeswarar Temple, Opposite to Radha Silk Emporium, Mylapore Tank - Hindu Spiritual Items like Rudraksha Garlands, Books, CDs & Tapes for chanting, incense sticks, camphor, lamps etc..
- Hidesign, Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam High Road & Phase 3, Spencers Plaza.  - Leather Goods
- Victoria Technical Institute, Anna Salai - Handicrafts
- Vimonisha Art Gallery, 12, Khadar Nawaz Khan Road - Handicrafts
- Vinyasa Art Gallery - Handicrafts
- Jidoka Store, 1st Lane, Nungambakkam High Road Ph - +91 44 2822 3516, +91 44 2822 3317 - Handicrafts
- Kalpadruma, Cathedral Road - Handicrafts
- Poppat Jamals, Opp. Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) - Crockery
- Pot holes, Music College - Ceramics
- Manasthala, #12, Cenotaph Road Ph - +91 44 2433 2842 - Terracotta Ware
- Music World, Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) - Music CD's, cassettes
- Lakshmi Ethiraj Art Gallery, #70, 1st Main Road, CIT Nagar ph - +91 44 4359 223
- Raasi Art Gallery, #1, anna Avenue, Bakthavatsala nagar, Adayar Ph - +91 44 2441 0389
- Apparao Galleries, 7th Street, Wallace Garden Ph - +91 44 2827 226
- Contemporary arts and crafts showroom, #41, CP Ramaswamy Road, Alwarpet. Ph - +91 44 2499 7069, +91 44 2466 0159
- Chennai Studio, 222, Peters Road, Royapettah, Ph - +91 44 98405 43420, .
- Nalli Silks, Panagal Park - Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
- Kumaran Silks, Panagal Park - Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
- Chennai Silks, Panagal Park - Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
- Hayagrivas, GN Chetty Road, Near Panagal Park - Sarees
- RMKV Silks, Panagal Park - Kanchipuram Silk Sarees
- Radha Silk Emporium (Rasi), #1, Sannadhi Street, Mylapore Ph - +91 44 2494 1906; #827, Dhun Building, Mount Road, Ph - +91 44 2852 0251; #23, 1st Main Road, Nanganallur, Ph - +91 44 2232 4176 - Silk Sarees, (also in anna Nagar, opp Ayappa temple) Ethnic Wear, Arts & Crafts
- L.K.S Gold House, Usman Road, T.Nagar Chennai- 17.
- Jaipur Gems,,Exclusie Designer StarFire Diamond jewellery,authentic Jadau jewellery,Bridal Gold jewellery,& Hand crafted Platinum Jewellery. Only at 50,Cathedral Road,Chennai-600 086.
- Vummidi Bangaru Jewellery, , Nungambakkam for Diamonds, Gold. Also in T.Nagar.
- Keerthilal Kaalidas-diamond Merchants Gold and Silver, CP Ramaswamy Road Alwaarpet Chennai-18
- NAC -Nathella Anjaneyalu Jewellery, Mylapore Tank
- Aishwarya Jewellery, Mylapore Tank, Gold and Silverware
- Bapalal Jewellers, Diamond Merchants,Kakani Towers Cathedral Road
- Jugalkishore Jewellers, CP Ramaswaamy Road Alwarpet,for Traditional Antique Jewellery,Silver jewellery and Beads.
- GRT Thangamaligai,, south usman T-NAGAR CHENNAI
- Aarthi Thanga Maligai, 60, East Kalamandapam Road. Royapuram , Chennai- 13. Reliable Gold. Reasonable Prices.
- B.B Jewellery, 6/127, Arcot Road. Porur , Chennai- 116. Reliable Gold. Reasonable Prices.
- KANISHK, Usman road, T.Nagar, Chennai. Great value for money & wide range.
- Saravana Stores Thanga Naga Maaligai, Usman Road, T.Nagar Chennai- 17.
- Sapthaswara musicals, luz , mylapore, all musical instruments western indian classical music books hindustani instruments
- Shruthi Musicals, #10, Harleys Road, Kilpauk Ph - 26603630
- Sruthilayais, #93, Royapettah High Road, Mylapore Ph - 24994045 / 24982625 - Musical Instruments
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.
Tamil Nadu is famous for its hospitality and its deep belief that serving food to others is a service to humanity, so eating-out in its capital city Chennai, is a great experience and provides a glimpse of the unique lifestyle of the city.
Tiffin or Light meals is served for breakfast or as a snack. The staple diet for most of the population is rice. These Tiffin items are usually one or more rice based dishes like idli, dosai, pongal, vadai along with with coconut chutney, sambar and mulagapodi. Tiffin is usually accompanied by hot filter coffee, the signature beverage of the city.
A typical Tamil meal (Lunch or Dinner) will be served on a banana leaf. It consists of steamed rice served with about two to six vegetable dishes like sambar, dry curry, rasam, kootu along with curd and buttermilk. For a non-vegetarian meal, curries or dishes cooked with mutton, chicken or fish are included. Meals are often accompanied by crisp appalams. After a final round of rice and curds or buttermilk or both, a traditional meal is concluded with a small banana and a few betel leaves and nuts.
An Indian meal in fast food restaurants is called 'Thali'. Its usually served on a round tray made of either stainless steel or Silver, with a selection of different dishes in small bowls.
While North Indian Thali starts with Pooris, Chappattis(Rotis), South Indian Thali comes with rice. The rest of the items like different Curries, Sweet and other miscellaneous items (Applams, Papad, Pickles and Beeda) is similar for both North Indian and South Indian Talis.
Thalis sometimes go even by the regional characteristic of the items they have. For example one may encounter Rajasthani thali or Gujarati thali. In some restaurants, a thali may include "bottom-less" refills on all components of food; the idea is that one eats until fully satisfied. Such thalis are referred to as 'unlimited' thalis. In some places the term means that everything in the plate excepting a few items like the sweet preparation or dahi wada is open to unlimited helpings.
Restaurants near Music Academy and those on the Beach coast are well maintained and serve 'Indian Cuisine' with an ambience to match, while most others cater South Indian Cuisine at very reasonable prices. . 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.
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
- Enfield Agrobase, +91 44 2442 0605. Mangoes, dried bananas, cashew and coconut
- Future Foods,+91 44 2440 4937. Soya, dals and coffee powder
- 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
Hot soup stand outside Santome, Chennai
- Geetha Café , Pondy Bazaar - South Indian tiffin.
- Hot Chips, T.Nagar and Anna Nagar for budget priced South Indian tiffin, including North Indian chat (snack) items
- Komalas, Kodambakkam High Road. Cuisine - South Indian Fast Food.
- Mansuk's, T.Nagar - Best for Bombay Chat, Lassi and an unlimited Gujarati Thali.
- Palimar, Parsn Complex, Anna Salai (Mount Road). Cuisine - South Indian.
- Rathna Cafe, Triplicane for fluffy hot idlis, piping hot vadai, delicious pongal dripping in ghee and accompanied by sambhar. Quality maintained for more than 100 years.
- Sangeetha, chain of vegetarian restaurants. Sangeeta offers a mix of good-quality and tasty South Indian, North Indian, and "Indo-Chinese" cuisine at very reasonable prices. A chain restaurant, including one shop at the intersection of Valluvar Kottam High Road and Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam. Cuisine - South Indian.
- Sri Krishna Sweets, Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road)(also at MG Road, Shastri nagar) Indian Sweets & Salad Bar. Visit "Sri Krishna" for a unique assortment of North Indian "chat" (snack) items as well as well-made Indian sweets
- Vasantha Bhavan chain of vegetarian restaurants, one near Vadapalani Bus stand titled Vasantha Bhavan 'Namma Veedu' is quite famous.
- Woodlands Drive-In, Gemini Circle for good South Indian Tiffin.
- Saravana Bhavan the much hyped chennai based international chain of Vegetarian Restaurants where you can get consistently over priced South Indian tiffin items.
- Aiwo, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, located next to Barista Cafe. Cuisine - Fusion and health foods. Aiwo features a 14-course meal served on a conveyer belt that moves around the room; various dishes are served, and the food is very good and rather expensive.
- Amaravathy, No.1, Cathedral Road, Gopalpuram. Andhra Special and also Tandoori, Chinese 28116416, 28110305.
- Amethyst, Sundar Mahal, Padmavathi Road, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram Ph - +91 442820 3582. Garden and patio cafe and restaurant with a mix of western (pastas, burgers) and Indian fare. The patio is a cool place to while away a hot afternoon.
- Amma, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar. Cuisine - Chettinadu (Region of South India).
- Anjappar, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. +91 44 2628 9344 (Anna Nagar). Chettinadu cuisine.
- Anupama, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar. Andhra cuisine.
- Coastline, Radhakrishna Salai, Mylapore. +91 44 2825 1128. Seafood.
- Dhaba Express, Cenotaph Road, Tenampet and Nungambakkam High Road (opposite the ICICI Bank and near Little Italy restaurant). +91 44 2432 8213. North Indian.
- Dynasty, Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam. +91 44 5222 2777. Good-quality Chinese-Indian cuisine
- ECR Dhaba, On ECR Road, Next to Muttukadu Boat House, Muttukadu. +91 98407 04050. Indian, Tandoor, Chinese
- Gyan Vaishnav, Mount Road, Near Anand Theatre. North Indian
- Kadalivanam, Mogappair. , 100% natural, fully vegetarian restaurant
- Karaikudi, VeeraRaghava Road, T. Nagar, +91 44 2815 1021. (also at Anna Nagar, Besant Nagar, Mylapore, Thiruvanmiyur) Chettinadu cuisine.
- Eden's, Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam. Wonderful Continental cuisine, fully vegetarian.
- Murugans Idli Shop, 2 locations: GN Chetty Road T. Nagar and Besant Nagar. Murugan Idli Shop is a chain restaurant, and the GN Chetty Road shop in particular is a well-kept secret among locals as a purveyor of high-quality food; on weekends, there is a long line for entry. The price for one meal is around 20-40 rupees, or around $1. South Indian.
- Noodle House, A chain restaurant, whoese locations include: 1. Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road) and 2.the Intersection of Sterling Road and Nungambakkam High Road in Nungambakkam. Chinese.
- Pizzaurant, Velachery Road, Little Mount, Saidapet. Cuisine - Pizza & Pasta.(Without MSG) Home delivery for nearby areas, Very Indian.
- Poonamallee, Breeze Hotel, 850, Poonamallee High Road. +91 44 2641 3334, +91 44 2643 0596. Multicusine
- Ponnusamy, Commander-in-Chief Road (opp Ethiraj College), Egmore. Chettinadu cuisine
- Rangis, Nungambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam. Chinese.
- Swati and Swayam, at Saravana Bhavan, Peters Road. South Indian.
- Sparky's, located in Egmore, is an "American diner" operated by an American expatriate settled in Chennai. Mexican, Italian and American food. Prices range from 70-150 rps for a meal.
- 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 44 24511130 ---- 140, Nungambakkam High Road, Chhotabhai Center Chennai - 600 034 - Phone:+91 44 28330085 ---- Italian: Roman owner, Excellent Food and Real WoodFire oven Pizzas, lovely setting.
- Benjarong, 146 T.T.K. Rd, Alwarpet,044/2432-2640. Thai.
- Cafe Mercara, Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road. +91 44 2811 0101, Multicuisine.
- Cedars, #29, Gandhi Mandapam Road, Kotturpuram. +91 44 55855 111, +91 44 2447 5073, Mediterranean
- Cilantro, Le Royal Meridien, #1, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount. +91 44 2231 4343, Chinese
- Citrus, Savera Hotel, Radhakrishna Salai, Mediterranean.
- Copper Chimney, Cathedral Road. Mainly North Indian with the odd Iranian inspired dish on the menu. Opposite the Chola Sheraton.
- 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
- Little Italy, 12, Eldorado, Nungambakkam, Chennai 600034, ☎ +91 44 42601234.
- 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.
- Shansi Chinese & Tandoori Restaurant, AnnaNagar - Indian and Chinese - 26213109
- 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
- Tandoor, Aruna Hotel, 145 Sterling Road, Nungambakkam. +91 44 2826 2626, +91 44 2828 366, Gourmet dining.
- 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
- Bike and Barrel, Residency Towers, T.Nagar.
- Champagne & Cider, Grand Orient, Anna Salai (Mount Road).
- Crystal, Hotel Ranjit, Nungambakkam High road, Nungambakkam.
- Grammy, Hotel Sabhari, Thirumala Pillai Road, T.Nagar, Ph -
- Platinum, (Formerly HFO), Hotel Quality inn Aruna, Sterling Road, Nungambakkam
- Hudson, Harrisons Hotel, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam, Ph - 52222777
- 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
- DIstil Bar, Taj Connemara, Binny Road
- 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.
- Sri Krishna Residency, Ph: 044 24643617 South mada street , Mylapore.
- Hotel Karpagam International, Ph: 24613701, South mada street, Mylapore.
- Westin Park, Montieth Road, Egmore
- 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
- Dee-Cee Manor, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar
- GRT Grand Days
- Grand Orient, Anna Salai (Near Anand Theatre)
- Harrisons, 315, Valluvarkottam High Road, Nungambakkam, Ph - +91 44 5222 2777
- Liberty Park, 1st Main Road, Kodambakkam, Ph - +91 44 2472 5950. 
- Mowbrays Inn, TTK Road, Alwarpet
- New Woodlands, Radhakrishna Salai, Mylapore
- New Victoria, Kenneth Lane, Egmore
- Peninsula, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar
- President, Radhakrishna Salai, Mylapore
- Raj Residency, 22 Kennet Lane, Egmore (2 min walk from the Egmore railway station), . USD 17-147.
- Ranjit, Nungambakkam High Road,
- Residency, GN Chetty Road, T.Nagar
- Residency Towers, Boag Road, T.Nagar
The closest hotels to the airport are The Trident, Le Royal Meridian and Radisson GRT Hotel all five star properties.
- Ambassador Pallava, 30, Montieth Road, Egmore, tel: +91 44 2855 4476, Fax: +91 44 2855 4492, [email protected], . Reasonable value and friendly staff.
- Chola Sheraton, Cathedral Road, tel: +91 44 2811 0101, Fax: +91 44 2811 0202, .
- ITC Hotel Park Sheraton & Towers, T.T.K. Road, Alwarpet, tel: +91 44 2499 4101, Fax:+91 44 2499 7101, .
- Le Royal Meridian, Business District, 1 GST Road, St. Thomas Mount (Near Kathipara Junction), tel: +91 44 2231 4343, Fax: +91 44 2231 4344, .
- The Park, 601 Anna Salai (next to the Anna Flyover), tel: +91 44 5214 4000, Fax: +91 44 5214 4100, . Modern style with a film theme.
- Radisson GRT Hotel, Radisson GRT Hotel, #531, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount (Near Kathipara Junction), tel: +91 44 2231 0101.
- Taj Connamera, Binny Road, tel: +91 44 5500 0000, .
- Taj Coromandel, 37, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam, tel: +91 44 5500 2827, .
- Trident Hilton Chennai, 1/24, G.S.T. Road, tel: +91 44 2234 4747, Fax: +91 44 2234 4555, [email protected], .
You can use these websites to book your hotels in Chennai and other places in India.
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 GSM Triband
- AirTel GSM Triband
- Hutch GSM Triband
- AirCel GSM Triband
CDMA service providers are 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.
- Reliance WebWorld, incorporating JavaGreen coffee shops, Spencers Plaza, Anna Salai (Mount Road); TTK Road, Alwarpet, Besant Nagar, L.B.Road, Adyar
- Sify iway,  Several of them in the city
Chennai is generally one of the safer areas of India in terms of crime, although pickpocketing, muggings, and robberies occur. Keep your doors and windows shut and locked at night and do not carry or display large amounts of cash if possible.
The greatest dangers of visit Chennai are in the day-to-day hazards such as crowding and spreading of sicknesses, fire hazards left on the pavements especially near temples from services, and close approaches with motor vehicles. Be alert to your surroundings and watch where you step, especially if you get caught in a large crowd where it is difficult to look at what is in front of you. Cross streets with extreme care as traffic is very unregulated and drivers and especially motorcycles will NOT yield, and organized pedestrian crossings are nearly absent and ignored. On major roads, use the underground crossings (locally called "subways").
And beaware of the auto rikshaw and cab drivers as they might fool you and charge a lot thinking you are new to the city. Even the meter taxi is not safe as they use to manupulate the meter.
While in Chennai it is advisable to drink only bottled water. Do not trust water from restaurants as it may be from the tap, and avoid cold or iced drinks that are not commercially sold. Eating fresh vegetables and fruits that have sat outside in the presence of insects can also be unhealthy, although bananas and coconuts are usually safe because they are opened only immediately before eating. Hot drinks in restaurants such as tea, coffee, and other local specialties are safe, as are packaged/bottled drinks such as Aquafina water, Pepsi, Frooti (a popular local mango drink) and others. If you have access to a stove, boiling tap water before drinking is also an option.
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
- CSI Rainy Hospital, Royapuram, Tel - 25951329
- Hindu Mission Hospital, 103, G.S.T. Road, Tambaram West, Tel: 22262244, .
- Isabel Hospitals, Oliver Road, Mylapore,
- Madras Medical Mission, Moggapair, Chennai 37 -26565961 /91, .
- Malar Hospitals, Adyar
- RIGID Hospital
- Sankara Nethralaya, College Road (Eye Hospital),
- Sundaram Medical Foundation, Anna Nagar, Tel - 26268844
- Vijaya Hospital,Vadapalani
- 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,
- MIOT 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, , All Over the City
- 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, Annanagar, Rajaji Salai, Kathipara Junction
- 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),Anna Nagar(West); 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. You can locate SBI ATM here.
- 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
- Anushka,6,Thyagaraya Road,Pondy Bazaar, T.Nagar, Ph- 52179197
- Black and White, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar
- Blue diamond, Near guhan studio, Sardar patel Road Adayar Chennai - 600020
- Bounce, Ishpahani centre, Gemini, Nungambakkam
- Chinese Beauty Parlour, gokul arcade basement, adayar
- Green Trends, 1576, 13th Main Road, Anna Nagar (ph - 26161534); Ashok Nagar (Ph - 52193636); Adyar (Ph - 24451759); Purusawakkam (Ph - 52174414); Taylors Road, Kilpauk (Ph - 26453331); T. Nagar (Ph - 28143886); Velachery (Ph - 22445590); Virugambakkam (Ph - 55511973) - Exotic natural treatments like Strawberry facial, Avocado Butter Massage Facial, Red Banana Facial, Baby-Corn under eye treatment! etc etc
- Jazzy, North Boag Road, T. Nagar
- Lakme, Adayar (Ph - 24469730), Alwarpet (Ph - 24662481), Anna Nagar (Ph - 26268841), Ashok Nagar (Ph - 23750207), Kilpauk (Ph - 52179634), Nungambakkam (Ph - 28333050), T. Nagar (Ph - 28155577)
- Limelight, Off Greams Road
- Mahesh, Parsn Complex, Kodambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam
- Molly Ann, Gandhinagar, 4th Main Road, Adayar
- Salon Nayana, GN Chetty Road, T. Nagar, Ph - 28256064
- Style Mantra- Makeover Concepts, 5, WheatCrofts Road, Nungambakkam, Ph - 28280066
- Dollys beauty parlour, Elcanso Plaza, Egmore, ph: 9840118882
- Body Sports Gym-Govindan Road, Saidapet. #9841151091
- Blue 'Boutique Gym'-329, TTK Road, Alwarpet.#24996045,24996064.
- FitnessOne'Ascendas(Tharamani), Alwarpet, Kilpauk.
- Slim Line Gym, Kutchery Road, Mylapore, Branches Adayar
- Maverick Gym, Indira Nagar, 1st Main Road, Adayar
- Madams Corner, Sastri Nagar, 1st Main Road, Adayar
- Talwalkars, Near Khader Nawaz Road, Nungambakkam
- Talwalkars, 23rd Cross Street,Indira Nagar, Adyar
- O2, Kader Nawaz Road, Nungambakkam
- Soldiers Gym, Triplicane High Road, Triplicane (and on Anna Salai)
- MSM GYMPadi,Mugappair Road,Chennai-101.
- GYM PACKAnnanagar West ,(Near S.B.O.A School),Chennai-101
- DheergayushBlueStar,2nd Avenue,AnnaNagar West,Chennai - 40
- 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
- Mehta Optiks, Perungudi (Opp Perungudi Bus Stand), Chennai
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. 
- Connemara Library - Pantheon Road, Egmore, Phone 28193751. 
- Max Mueller Bhavan (German) - Khadar Nawaz Khan Rd., Nungambakkam. 
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.
- Consulate of Finland - 202 Anna Salai, Chennai, Tel: +91-(0)44-2852 4141 (Fax: +91-(0)44-2852 1253, ) Open Mon-Fri 1000-1200. 
- 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 Romulus 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.
Hotels in ECR:  Many hotels are spreaded along the East Coast Road. And you can plan your dinner or lunch in one of these hotels.
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. Dolphin city was closed after all of it's dolphins and sea lions had died. It is no longer operational now.
Muttukadu Boat House: Located at 23 Kms from Adayar, this backwater area is maintained by the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation, and offers rowing 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
Drive your way to fun and thrill. But be prepared to pay a small toll fee on the East Coast Road
- 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.
Pulicat : Cool Beach with no Crowd. Cal and Quit.
South India is famous for its temples. Even if you aren't on a pilgrimage, these are worth a visit if you are interested in grand buildings and architecture.
- Tiruvallur — Approximately 45 Kms from Chennai. It is famous for its Vaidhya Veera raghava Swami Temple and Sri Viswaroopa Panchamukha Anjaneya Swami Ashram which has a 40 ft tall Murti of Hanuman.
- Tirupati — Approximately 150 Kms from Chennai, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
- Madurai— Home to the famous Meenakshi temple.
- Swamithoppe— Ayya Vaikundar Pathi, religious head quarters of Ayyavazhi.
- Kanchipuram — Kamakshi temple, seat of one of the Shankaracharyas - the closest Hinduism comes to a spiritual head.
- Thanjavur — Brihadeswara temple (Big Temple).
- Tiruvannamalai Arunachala Temple famous for full moon day girivalam and Deepam