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Chennai (formerly Madras) is the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the gateway to the varied culture of south India. The fishery towns that were situated here along the Coromandel coast grew together during the British colonial times, forming the major city of Chennai. Now Chennai is the cultural and commercial capital of southern India and fourth biggest metropolitan area of India. Chennai is a modern city with beautiful buildings and a lot of green areas.
In the 17th century two merchants (Francis Day and Andrew Cogan) of the East India Company established a trading post between the with palmtrees surrounded rice fields and fishery towns. The fortified settlement was finished in 1640 and was called Fort saint George. Outside the walls of the fort was situated George town, the "indigenous" town, where the British stored their goods. Every street in George town was devoted to another handicraft. Under British rule the villages in the surroundings grew together. One of these villages was the 16th century Portugese settlement of San Thome, the sacred location where apostle Thomas would have stayed (and from where Christianity in India was spread).
Long before the arrival of the Europeans, in the 7th century, the Pallavas (an ancient Tamil kingdom) built a seaport at Mylapore. The Kapeleshvara temple shows the old age of the city, as well as the Parthasarathi temple in Triplicane. With the colonial time started the commercial advance of the city. Nowadays most trade buildings and enterprices are established in George Town. Fort Saint George is the location where the government of Tamil Nadu is seated. The area of Chennai is 172 square kilometres, where the old and the new, the stately colonial buildings and the modern skyscrapers form a dynamic picture. The rich cultural heritage of Tamil literature, music, and dance finds a continuation at the universities and cultural stages.
Chennai has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather year-round. The average maximum temperature ranges from around 28 °C in December to 37 °C in June. Average lows range from around 20 °C in January to 28 °C in May. Average annual precipitation is almost 1,300 mm with half of that falling in the months of October and November alone! January to April is fairly dry and the best time for a visit.
|Avg Max||28.9 °C||30.6 °C||32.7 °C||34.7 °C||37.5 °C||37.3 °C||35.4 °C||34.5 °C||33.9 °C||31.9 °C||29.5 °C||28.5 °C|
|Avg Min||20.4 °C||21.2 °C||23.1 °C||25.8 °C||27.6 °C||27.4 °C||26.2 °C||25.6 °C||25.3 °C||24.3 °C||22.7 °C||21.2 °C|
|Rainfall||34.5 mm||12.5 mm||15.3 mm||17.7 mm||42.9 mm||53.7 mm||100.8 mm||129.2 mm||125.3 mm||290.9 mm||348.9 mm||145.6 mm|
Chennai International Airport (MAA), located at Tirusulam is around 8 kilometres south of the city centre. The airport has both domestc and international terminals. Domestic flights are available to almost all the big cities in India. International flights are avialable to many cities around Asia and Europe, which include Frankfurt, London, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Muscat, Singapore and Colombo, amongst others.
The airport is situated on the busy Grand Southern Trunk Road (National Highway 45) and is also served by the Airport station (Tirusulam) on the Suburban railway network. The proposed Metro Rail System (Chennai Metro) will also connect the Airport with other important places in Chennai.
Chennai is an important railway station on the southern railway network. It is well connected to all the major cities of India by express trains, including those to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad. The city has two main railway stations: Chennai Central, used mostly by the long distance inter-state trains, and Chennai Egmore for regional trains. For more details about timings, fare and availability of seats have a look at the Indian Railways official website.
The Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT), the terminus for all intercity buses from Chennai, is the largest bus station in Asia and has buses throughout Tamil Nadu and further afield in India.
Chennai has a port, but the only relevant connection is the long trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
There are many budget hotels near the Egmore train station, especially around Kennet Lane and Triplicane.
|Guest Inn||No1, 3rd Cross Street, Habibullah Road , T. Nagar, Tamilnadu, South India||Hotel||33|
|Hotel Oriental Inn||71, Cathedral Road Gopalapuram||Hotel||70|
|Ibzi Guest House||137&138 Peters Road (New # 324) 0pp Saravana Bhavan. (Near thousand light Mosque).||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Lemon Tree Hotel, Chennai||72, Sardar Patel Road Guindy||Hotel||-|
|M.N Guest House||180.jawaharlal Nehru Road Opp. Radha Park Inn||Guesthouse||-|
|The Pride Hotel Chennai||216, EVR Periyar Salai Kilpauk||HOTEL||-|
|Zama Lodge||331,333 Anna Salai Teynampet||Hostel||67|
|Esthell Continental Hostels & Resorts||No.1, Royal Enclave Besant Avenue, Adyar||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Melody||# 281,Purasawalkam High Road Purasawalkam||Hotel||-|
|Global Eves' Inn||New No;7,first cross street new colony velachery||Hostel||-|
|Fortel||3 Gandhi Irwin Road Egmore||HOTEL||-|
|Le Waterina - The Boutique Hotel||No.35, Kaveri Nagar, waterland drive , New beach rd Thiruvanmiyur||Hotel||-|
|Dancing Waves Resort||Othavadai Street Beach Mahabalipuram||Hostel||-|
There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.
Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.
The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.
Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.
If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.
Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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