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Once known as Madras, Chennai is the cultural and artistic center of India. Classic South Indian dishes, fashion and absolute hospitality can be found anywhere in the city: from the historic center to the relaxing beach. The main thing is to know where to look. And that's what we are talking about next.
Chennai International Airport is the main transport hub for arrivals in Southern India. It serves just over 20 million passengers a year, about a quarter of which fly around the world. This makes it the fourth busiest airport in India after Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. More than 400 planes arrive and depart from the airport every day.
Ppassenger traffic is growing by about 15% every year, and the Chennai airport is gradually becoming cramped. So get ready for crowds, lines and noise. They promise to open a new convenient terminal in 2021. In the meantime, you have to deal with Indians and other tourists. At the same time, the conveniences in existing terminals are rather modest and can unpleasantly disappoint travelers accustomed to complete comfort. Even to connect to the Internet, you have to buy a SIM card of a local operator. Who ever came up with that?
You can get to the city center in 30 minutes. There are plenty of options for inexpensive trips.
Both taxi services that can be ordered with application in India operate at the airport also: Ola and Uber. There are even special areas for waiting passengers. The trip will cost no more than 5 dollars.
The subway or bus will be even cheaper. A ticket will cost less than a dollar for both modes of transport. Metro trains run from 6 AM to 11 PM, departing during peak hours every 10 minutes. Or, outside the terminal, look for bus 18A. But note that you have to go a fairly large distance in the heat to the nearest stop.
Chennai is hot and humid. Upon arrival sometimes you just want to stay in your room under the cool air conditioning. But it’s better not to fall into this trap, gather all your strength together and go on long explorations of the city. Moreover, this part of India is filled with cultural impressions at every turn.
This is a school, a cultural academy, a museum, and a venue for performances. The main mission of Kalaksetra is to preserve the classical Indian dance, music, art and the historical heritage of India as a whole. This school was founded in 1936. If you want to get acquainted with South India in a few hours, you need to go straight to the Kalakshetra. Here you can go to the museum, visit the center of arts and crafts, or even just relax on the lawn while artists rehearse their dances.
This place was once called the Black City. The name has changed, but the essence remains the same: local residents come here to trade literally anything from vegetables and spices to jewelry and handicrafts.
Georgetown Bazaar is the most typical Chennai. This is not just a historical place, which is simply interesting to walk around, but here you can also chat with locals, bargain with them for exotic goods, or even go to the most interesting places with a guide.
It will be quite difficult to find local dishes in a city that has been influenced by various external cultures for centuries. Probably there aren’t even any local dishes there. But there are unusual hybrids that you definitely won’t try anywhere else in the world.
Try yellow pepper, chicken and coconut milk soup under the complex name Mulligatawny. This is a heritage of Tamil culture that cannot be missed in Chennai. Just like Chickpea Sundal, which is often made with fresh mango and grated coconut. Or Nethili Fry which is anchovies fried to a crust in spicy masala.
Oddly enough, real coffee snobs live in Chennai. Great coffee is brewed everywhere. And they do it by all the rules. No soluble 3-in-1, only natural and ground, passed through a filter. So go to any place and safely order.