When we think of the city of Chennai, the things that instantly come to mind are – technology, IT, industrial development, culture, beaches, and of course food. Now it may not share dynastic history like the cities of Delhi or even Hyderabad, but Chennai has seen its share of rulers through the years.
As a result, it is home to an amalgamation of architecture – one of the most tangible ways for us to learn history. From the stunning monolithic temples built by the Pallavas to the shiny high rise structures in the industrial belts today, the city has a lot to offer the tourist looking to explore its buildings.
If you’re in travelling to Chennai on business, to shop, or stopping by as a tourist, these are some of the structures that can give you a glimpse into what used to be.
Begin with the 1200 year old Pallava temples in Triplicane and Tiruvottiyur. Presenting classic Dravidian architecture, these are some of the oldest standing structures in Chennai. Interestingly, they were enhanced and expanded by future dynasties as well, thus continually restoring their glory. The temples host festivals throughout the year that worshippers can visit.
Speaking of the mighty Pallavas, a trip to Chennai is incomplete without a trip to Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram as it is also known. This ancient town is dotted with monolithic structures that display great architectural skill. Discover the 5 Rathas, the Shore Temple, the Decent of the Ganges (largest open air bas-relief) and the naturally-balanced Krishna’s Butter Ball.
Take a walking or bicycle tour to truly soak in the environment!
The British era also saw plenty of architecture spring up in Chennai. Inspired by the indigenous elements, the British constructed many long-lasting structures in the Indo-Saracenic style which was pioneered in erstwhile Madras.
Head to Fort St George, which to date continues to be the seat of the Tamil Nadu government. It is home to St. Mary’s Church which is the oldest Anglican church in the country. Other beautiful structures from this era include the Chennai Central Railway Station, the Madras High Court, the Government Museum buildings, the Egmore Railway Station, the Rippon Building and the Government College of Arts among many others.
So hop into an auto, go for a good long walk, or simply get our hotels to arrange a tour of Chennai’s architectural gems for you.