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 Chennai General Info

Introduction :-

Chennai, also known as Madras, the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamilnadu. The city sprawls over more than 70 square km. The population of Chennai is 5.9 million. Many of the Indian languages are spoken in Chennai, though the main language of Chennai is Tamil. For travelers with an interest in the colonial history of India, Chennai has much worth exploring and abundant transport operations make other parts of the country readily accessible.

History :-

For more than 2000 years the area has been popular with seafarers, spice traders and cloth merchants. The 16th century saw the arrival of the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch. In 1693, the British East India Company established a settlement in the fishing village of Madraspatnam. For St. George was constructed over a period of 15 years and finally completed in 1653. George town grew in the area of the fort and was granted its first municipal charter in 1688 by James II, making it the oldest municipality in India. During the 18th and 19th centuries, French and British traders competed for supremacy in India. In the 19th century, the city became the seat of the Madras presidency, one of the four divisions of British imperial India. After independence, it continue to grow into what is now a significant southern gateway.

Money :-

You can change cash and travelers cheques at American Express on the G-17, Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai and at Thomas Cook on its four branches - (i) 45 Ceebros Centre, Montieth road, Egmore (ii) 20 Rajaji Salai, George Town (iii) International Airport (iv) Eldorado Bldg, 112 Nungambakkam High road. The State Bank of India's main branch is on Rajaji Salai in George Town. There are also branches on Anna Salai and at the International and the domestic airport terminals. Several of the banks in Spencer Plaza give cash advances on MasterCard and Visa. Central Bank (Monitech road, Egmore) handles Visa Cards. There are ATM's at Nilgiri's Nest and the Global Trust Bank opposite the New Woodland's Hotel.

Post & Communications :-

The main post office is on Rajaji Salai. There's also a post office in Kennet Lane, near Egmore station, and on Anna Salai. For poste restante it's more convenient to use the Anna Salai post office. The full address is Poste Restante, Anna Salai (Mount road) Post Office, Anna Salai, Chennai. The Anna Salai post office is also the best place to post parcels. It's much less congested than the main post office and there's a super-efficient Professional Parcel Packer. Both the main and the Anna Salai post office have telegraph offices. Alternatively, you can make use of one of the many STD/ ISD /Fax booths around town.

Special Events :-

Carnatic Music & Dance held in mid Dec to mid Jan is the best overview of the classical south Indian music & dance and the Kalakshetra Arts Festival is famous for cultural arts, held in Dec/Jan.

Book Shops :-

Landmark Books in Apex Plaza (3 Nungambakkam High Rd) has an excellent selection. The popular Higginbothams is at 814 Anna Salai with kiosks at central station and the domestic airport. The Book point at 160 Anna Salai and the Bookshop in Spencer Plaza are both well stocked. The tiny Giggles bookshop in the Connemara Hotel is definitely worth a visit because it's collection is excellent.



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