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Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It has a population of about 7 million people. Almost 10% of all of the people in the state live in Chennai. The city is the fourth largest city of India. It was founded in 1661 by the British East India Company. The city is on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the automobile capital of India. It is also referred as the Detroit of South Asia. The 12 km (7 mi) long Marina Beach in Chennai, is one of the longest beaches in the world. The city is separated into three parts by two rivers. The Cooum River divides the city into almost half and the Adyar River divides the southern half of the city into two parts. The historic Buckingham Canal runs through the city. It is almost parallel to the coast. The 350 year old city still has much of its old charm. Today, it is a big commercial and industrial centre. The city has much cultural heritage. The temples, shrines, forts and palaces of the city combine its past with the present.
Chennai and its nearby area has been an important administrative, military and economic centre back to the 1st century. Many South India kingdoms like the Pallava, the Chola, the Pandya and Vijayanagara Empires have ruled over the area. The British controlled the town in 1749. Under British control, the city grew into a major urban centre and naval base. The city grew up around the English settlement of Fort Saint George. It slowly grew in the nearby towns and villages. Chennai became the capital of Madras state (renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1968) when India became independent in 1947.
- Marina Beach - The world’s second longest beach. It is 12 km (7 mi) long.
- Sri Parthasarathy Temple - Built by the Pallavas in the 8th century. The temple was dedicated to Lord Krishna. It has many images of Lord Vishnu.
- Santhome Cathedral - The 500 year old cathedral was built by the Portuguese in honor of Saint Thomas.
- Saint Thomas Mount -Built by the Portuguese, the church offers the very good views of the city.
- Corporation Complex - The Ripon Building is in the Corporation Complex. It is the home of the oldest municipal government in India. It was built in 1913. The complex has a building with the design based on the Taj Mahal. The domed white building has parks and gardens, Nehru Stadium, Victoria Public Hall, a public meeting place out of the gas light era and Moore market.
- Government Museum - The museum was created in the 1857. It is one of the country’s best museums. It has the collection of relics of 2nd century from the Buddhist site of Amaravati. The museum shows prehistoric antiques of South India and carvings of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths. There is also a collection of wood carvings from processional temple chariots. The museum also has a collection of South Indian musical instruments and jewellery, ancient icons and modern bronzes, including the famous bronze Natraja and the beautiful set of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman.
- George Town-George Town is the commercial heart of the city. The streets are full with traders, buyers and their employees. Rajaji Salai (North Beach Road) separates George Town from the harbour. Along one side of it, there is much imperial architecture. George Town is bounded in the north by Old Jail Road and Clive Battery.
- Valluvar Kottam - at Nungambakkam, the memorial was built for Tamil poet-saint, Thiruvalluvar. The memorial has also an auditorium. It can seat up to 4000 people.
Chennai is linked with roads from rest of the country. The distance of major cities and towns from Chennai are:
- Mumbai - 1,329 km (826 mi)
- Bangalore - 334 km (208 mi)
- Hyderabad - 669 km (416 mi)
- Kanyakumari - 693 km (431 mi)
- Madurai - 461 km (286 mi)
- Mahabalipuram - 60 km (37 mi)
- Pondicherry - 162 km (101 mi)
- Cuddalore - 180 km (112 mi)
- Rameshwaram - 619 km (385 mi)
- Kanchipuram - 71 km (44 mi)
- Tirupati - 143 km (89 mi)
- Ooty - 535 km (332 mi)
- Kodaikanal - 498 km (309 mi)
- Thiruvananthapuram 709 km (441 mi)
- Thanjavur 334 km (208 mi)
It is one of the busiest airports in Asia.