A city where tradition and modernity coexist in light of a rich heritage and cultural past. Chennai is fast becoming one of the most sophisticated metropolitans. With its plethora of historical features, ancient temples, dance and art forms, Chennai is popularly known as the Gateway to South India.
Located on the Coromandel Coast, Chennai (Madras) is an intriguing mix of the ancient and the modern. With an enthralling past, it is a window to the culture and art forms of south India. From Bharatnatyam to Carnatic music, ancient temples to historical churches, the city is a delight for explorers. The alluring temple of Kapileshwar and the grand St. Thomas Basilica situated in Mylapore provide an insight into age-old traditions and beliefs. A blooming software and automobile hub, the city plays host to diverse cultures and yet upholds its traditional charm and vigour.
The smallest among the four largest Indian metros, Chennai has much to offer. Affordable real estate makes it the retail capital of India, home to chain stores, shopping malls and old-world family-run establishments. The first British settlement in India, Chennai is also the country’s oldest municipal corporation, based on a charter issued by James II in 1688. Only briefly occupied by the French and the Portuguese, the seaport grew and ebbed with the changing fortunes of the Raj. In Hollywood, they build museums for their movie stars. In Tamil Nadu, they (sometimes) build temples. The late matinee idol MG Ramachandran and actress Kushboo are consecrated in several shrines in rural Tamil Nadu. Chennai’s tryst with moving pictures goes back to 1897, when the Lumiére brothers made their presentation here. The Electric Theatre and Gaiety Theatre were its first movie-halls. By the early 20th century, Chennai turned into a film studio hub. Its first silent film was the mythological Keechaka Vatham, screened in 1917. Of the many studios that were set up here, the most famous was the Gemini Studio, founded by SS Vasan in 1941.