Madras, as Chennai was known earlier, had been a cluster of villages with major influences from all the major dynasties of South India. With the establishment of factory-cum-trading post by two merchants from the English East India Company, Chennai began her glorious transition to a metropolitan city in the year 1639. The British settlement here saw the evolution of numerous trades with George Town as the headquarters. The entire area was fortified and Madras Presidency was born. Chennai became the commercial capital of South India. Railways and naval ports were introduced in Chennai thereby connecting Chennai with the other major cities Bombay (Mumbai) and Calcutta (Kolkata). As a result, trade and communication flourished. Post independence, Madras state was renamed as Tamil Nadu and Chennai was made the capital. In 1997, the Government of Tamil Nadu renamed Madras as Chennai.
Marina Beach: This 12 km long coastline of Chennai is one of the biggest attractions in Chennai. This sandy beach is a favorite among the morning joggers, holiday goers and the locals alike. Statues of local leaders and other eminent personalities adorn the entire stretch. Other attractions include Anna Square, the burial ground of former actor-politician Dr.M.G.Ramachandran and Light House, which provides a striking view of the city and the sea alike.
Pulicat Lake: The Lake has the distinction of being the second largest lagoon in India. The lagoon has been recognized as a Wildlife Sanctuary sheltering reptiles, aquatic animals, birds and terrestrial animals. Pulicat Lake plays host to a huge variety of migratory birds every year. A must visit for any nature lover, or tourists for the beauty and the ecological balance. Pulicat Lake is about 60 km from Chennai.
Muttukad: At 36 km from Chennai, Muttukad is known for the Lake that provides water amusements for tourists and visitors. Boat rides in the backwaters, wind surfing etc are the attractions. Situated close to Muttukad is an amusement park MGM DIZZEE World, that witnesses huge crowds of family and tourists alike on all days.
Dakshin Chitra: Dakshin Chitra is a cultural museum that celebrates arts, crafts, architecture and performing arts of South India. The center has recreated the dwellings and lifestyle of 18th, 19th and 20th century South India. The daily activities include traditional puppet shows, traditional dance forms and performing arts, pottery and glass making, etc.
Crocodile Bank: Located further at a distance of 40 km, the crocodile bank is a sanctuary for endangered species of reptiles. Initially started to preserve crocodiles, this park now houses a Snake Farm, research center for the study of reptiles, breeding center for reptiles, while providing habitat for endangered Indian and African species of reptiles.
Mahabalipuram: This world heritage center is located at a distance of 60 km from Chennai. A major tourist attraction, the monuments, ancient temples and stone sculptures are a true depiction of the flourishing arts and craftsmanship during the 7th and 8th century. Facing the sea is the Shore Temple, the walls of which have intricate carvings and sculptures of various deities. Providing a testimonial to the Dravidian style of architecture are the cave temples, monolithic chariots, temples and pillars.