Chennai (Madras)

If you have time to explore Chennai (formerly Madras), this 284-sq-mi (400-sq-km) conglomerate of urban villages and diverse neighborhoods making up Tamil Nadu's capital will pleasantly surprise you. Its role is as keeper of South Indian artistic, religious and culinary traditions.

With its sweltering southern heat and lack of outstanding sights, Chennai has often been seen as the dowdier sibling among India’s four biggest cities. But it’s well worth poking around its museums and temples, savouring deliciously authentic South Indian delicacies or taking a sunset saunter along Marina Beach – the world's second-longest urban beach.

Among Chennai’s greatest assets are its people, infectiously enthusiastic about their home town. Recent years have thrown in a new layer of cosmopolitan glamour: luxe hotels, sparkling boutiques, quirky cafes, and smart contemporary restaurants – but the best of Chennai remains its old soul.

Explore Chennai (Madras)

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Chennai (Madras).

Featured videos

The Travel Kitchen: Chennai Chicken 65

3:13

Guidebooks

Learn more about Chennai (Madras)

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.