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Chennai, a Festive South Indian City
Hot, energetic, creative and devout, Chennai is a city for those who like to explore and find new experiences. Discover the museums, temples, beaches, historical landmarks, and experience the friendly community feel with growing sophistication and night life. India's second largest film industry, Kollywood, is a special treat for Tamil film fans.
Chennai's Climate and Festivals Shape Travellers' Memories
Chennai has a tropical climate with temperatures up to 40°C in late May and June, dropping to 25°C in January when the three-day Pongal harvest festival takes place. From the middle of October to mid December is monsoon season, also the time of the Karthikai Deepam, a full moon festival in November and December, which is celebrated with firecrackers and festive lights. The community honours Ganesh in September for the ten day Vinayak Chaturthi, finishing with a procession. The Chennai Music and Dance Festival spans mid-December to mid-January, and features south Indian classical music. Chennai experiences cyclones at times, so be aware and plan accordingly.
Preparing to Visit South India
The Indian High Commission website has information on required visas. Make sure passports have two blank pages and at least 180 days from entry date before they expire.
Malaria is a minimal risk, but routine vaccinations should be up to date before setting off. Consider Hepatitis B, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis immunisation. Drinking bottled water and peeling or cooking fruit and vegetables is important to avoid stomach upsets.
Cheap meals cost only around Rs. 20; overall, day to day prices are low. English is widely spoken, but Tamil is the official language.
Local Tips and Chennai's Transport Options
From the airport to the city centre by suburban train is about Rs. 5 to Chennai Park and Egmore. The nearest station is Tirusulam station, located 500m from the airport. Taxis can be prepaid at booths (to find the taxi, look at the number on the receipt) for about 300 rupees to central Chennai.
Once in the city, metered auto rickshaws can be hailed costing around Rs. 25 for 1.8 km, but these often try to overcharge. Heavy traffic means slow going. Suburban trains provide a faster alternative to rickshaws and buses, starting about Rs. 5. The MTC bus starts about Rs. 3, day passes start about 50 rupees, and weekly about 300 rupees for all services. City taxis begin at about 100 rupees for 4 km, 12 rupees per additional km, for travel without air conditioning.
A boarding house or hostel single room is around 400 rupees, mid-priced hotels start at about Rs. 1000.