Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, attracts many visitors either as tourists or as part of its large workforce. The vast majority claim Chennai is one of the best cities in India.
We know that Chennai is popular for IIT and for being an IT and industrial hub. The city is also renowned for its passion for music. But, there’s more to the city than you think. From its varied culture and tradition, vibrant festivals, dainty delicacies to its quintessential “Chennai Tamil”, this city doesn’t fail to mesmerize the locals and the outsiders living here. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the things that Chennai is famous for.
What Chennai Is Well-Known For
1. Its Unique Culture
The people of Chennai are very proud of their culture. They are fiercely protective of their local language, Tamil, and many would rather prefer communicating in Tamil than in any other language. Even the important holidays and festivals celebrated in Chennai are different from those celebrated in the rest of India. The culture is definitely what Chennai is famous for.
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Jallikattu is an inseparable part of Tamil culture and tradition. This sport of taming the bull has been organised and played for ages, and every year locals participate in bullfighting with fierce enthusiasm. The festival began during the Tamil classical period and since then has flourished.
Today, despite a few controversies, Jallikattu is celebrated all over Chennai with pomp and show. For the festival, special Bos indicus bulls are bred and used. Jallikattu is so popular that it even has its own premier league called the Jallikattu Premier League.
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Pongal, one of the most popular festivals in India, is a harvest festival that is celebrated in Chennai. It is a four-day-long fair during which the farmers offer their prayers to God for a good yield and also seek His blessings to experience the same in the future as well. Pongal is generally celebrated in the second week of January.
People buy and wear new clothes and prepare special meals – sakkarai pongal – for their friends and family during this festival. Sakkarai Pongal consists of rice, milk and jaggery which is prepared by slowly cooking the ingredients on fire. Later, the dish is offered to the Sun God before it is distributed among all family members. Few other dishes are also prepared that are a must-try during this festival. If you are in Chennai in the month of January, witness the Pongal festival celebrated in the traditional way and enjoy the delectable delicacies prepared during this occasion.
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All over Chennai, you will find a variety of temples. They are artistically built with towering gopurams at the entrance followed by inner sanctums where the deity is housed and worshipped. Most of the temples are constructed according to the Dravidian architectural style. During festivals, these temples in Chennai come to life with special puja is in full swing on the one hand and a crowd of devotees offering obeisance to the Lord on the other.
Some of the best temples in Chennai are the Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple and the Ashtalakshmi Temple. The most noted feature of temples in Chennai is the beautiful artwork at the top of the structure.
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Rajinikanth or Thalaiva as he popularly called by his fans is an iconic figure in Chennai. The actor has worked in over 1000 films and almost all of his films have been box office hits. His movies witness a fully packed theatre, owing to his beloved fans who love to watch a first-day first-show.
From his dialogues to his unique sense of dressing, Rajinikanth’s fans never fail to imitate him. That is how popular he is. In some parts of Chennai and India, there are temples and food items named after the iconic star.
6. Tropical Climate
Chennai is known for its hot and humid climate. For most parts of the year, barring the monsoon and winter, Chennai experiences a very hot and wet climate since it is located on the thermal equator and also boasts of a large coastline. The best way to cool off on a hot day in Chennai is to enjoy coconut water on the beach or a can of chilled beer at a pub.
Read more about 19 amazing pubs in Chennai to hangout with friends.
7. Chennai Super Kings
People in Chennai love cricket and are ardent cricket fans. They support and cheer for Chennai Super Kings like a true fan. The local team in the IPL is much adored by Chennaiites who throng the Chepauk Stadium, one of the picturesque stadiums in India, to cheer for their team in every IPL match. They come all geared up for a good time with their flags and team jerseys.
The fans love the team so much, they make it a point to travel as far as Delhi to catch their favourite, Chennai Super Kings in action. The CSK fan club calls themselves the Whistle Podu Army. The team song Whistle Podu has become an anthem in Chennai.
8. Cheap Movie Tickets
Chennai is one of the few cities in India where movie tickets are cheap. The reason for this is the law that does not permit multiplexes and cinema halls from charging more than Rs. 160 a ticket. This is one of the reasons why movies are so popular in Chennai.
9. Passion for Film
The people of Chennai are very passionate about Tamil films. They love to watch all new releases first-day first-show and throng the theatres to watch and cheer for their favourite actors. When a Rajinikanth or a Vijay film is being screened, theatres across the city are packed to capacity with fans waiting to see what their favourite film stars have to offer in their new movies. They do not mind whistling or dancing to support the actors in each and every scene!
10. Carnatic Music
If there is one genre of music that is popular in Chennai, it is Carnatic music. All over the city, at concert halls, you will find Carnatic music performances by eminent artists being held. Akin to the Hindustani music that is famous in North India, Carnatic music is the classical form of music that originated and flourished in the South. Music stalwarts croon soothing and melodious tunes while performing and it has a calming effect on the ear. It is must-experience for anyone travelling to Chennai.
Apart from traditional music, the city is also famous for organising some of the best karaoke nights where people can sing their hearts out and tap their feet for their favourite numbers. Visit these 7 best spots for karaoke nights in Chennai.
11. Coffee Culture
The people in this city love their coffee and love it strong! You can visit Alwarpet, Royapetta, Mylapore and more have amazing coffee in some of the best cafes in Chennai. Since the 1990s, coffee shop culture has caught on with the locals. Although you get a variety of coffees in the city, the good old filter coffee is the most popular kind of coffee available. Every breakfast in Chennai is incomplete without a coffee.
12. Marina Beach
Marina Beach is the most popular beaches in Chennai. Clean and tidy, this beach offers tourists a beautiful view, clear waters, and a variety of water sports that they can indulge in. They can also gorge on some lip-smacking local snacks sold on the beach, go for a horse ride or simply lay on the beach beds and get tanned. In the mornings, you can see a number of people going for an early morning walk or jog by the beach.
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One of the most popular dance forms in India and more so in Chennai is the Bharatanatyam. It is a classical dance form that is taught and learnt fervently in this city. During festivals and other auspicious occasions, you can witness live Bharatnatyam performances by eminent artists and their disciples who showcase their art and talent on these popular stages.
14. Living Legends
Chennai is a city that was and is home to some iconic Indian people. Whether it is in the field of science, sports, entertainment or music, the city has given the country true maestros in all these fields.
R. Ashwin, V. Anand, A.R Rahman, Kamal Haasan, Ilayaraja, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Mani Ratnam are a few illustrious and noteworthy figures from Chennai.
Sundal is a popular snack that is served at the beaches in Chennai. You’ll often find street vendors selling this delicious snack made from channa and spiced with local masalas. Popular among the locals, sundal is a must-have at any beach in the city.
You must also try these 15 delectable street food in Chennai and you are sure to fall in love with them.
16. Ambur Biryani
Ambur Biryani in Chennai is a very popular variety of biryani. Mildly spiced rice and spicy meat curry make up the dish. It is served at almost every non-vegetarian restaurant in the city. The best place for Ambur Biryani in Chennai is at the Ambur Star Biryani in Vadapalani.
17. Chettinad Food
Chettinad food is very popular in Chennai. This cuisine originated in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu and has grown to become a favourite among the netizens. The dishes are made using a variety of local spices and fresh ingredients. Popular places for Chettinad food in Chennai are Parambriym, Dakshin and the Amala Chettinadu Mess.
Get to know more about these 20 top places to eat in Chennai
18. South Indian Food
Chennai is also known as a foodie’s paradise. The variety of food you get in the city is simply mind-blowing. Whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, the choice of food available is amazing.
The South India platter offers multiple dishes that taste completely different from each other and are also tantalizing on the taste buds. From soft idlis, crunchy dosas, a wide variety of curries and rice, crispy vada to authentic sweet dishes, you can enjoy it all in Chennai.
19. Saree Shopping
If you love ethnic wear and sarees, in particular, you can shop till you drop in numerous saree shops in Chennai. You can choose a simple cotton saree or an intricately woven silk saree – there is no dearth to the varieties of sarees you get in Chennai. Sarees are available in different designs, prints and colours.
You can bargain for good price in local shops or go for preeminent saree shops like Nalli SIlks to shop for the best sarees in Chennai.
Are you a shopaholic? Then you cannot miss these 21 best shopping places in Chennai
20. IIT Madras
The best minds and the most talented workforce come from IIT Madras. The highly acclaimed university is well known across the world. Apart from education, the IIT Madras campus offers all-round development for students to excel in multiple fields of their interest. They have a state-of-the-art cinema, an open theatre and many music concert halls on their premises.
Chennai is home to historical landmarks and buildings. There are many forts, architectural monuments and famous museums in Chennai. Tourists visiting Chennai have numerous places to explore and learn a lot about the rich history and heritage of this city. Some of the most popular monuments in Chennai are the St. George’s Fort, Valluvar Kottam, Ripon Building and the Vivekananda House.
You can also read more about these 17 Must-See Monuments in Chennai
22. British-era Architecture
Although Chennai is developing at a rapid pace, it still hasn’t lost its old-world charm. The city is popular for its British-era Architecture. Across the city, you will find many buildings that still have the charming British architecture. These iconic buildings are cherished to this date.
23. Rock And Metal Music
If the old folk love Carnatic music, the youngsters cannot get enough of rock and metal music. All over the city, you will find pubs and bars playing rock and metal, much to the delight of the locals. Chennai has some of the best local rock and metal bands too which has only increased the popularity of this music genre.
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There are many things that make Chennai popular. But, the above-mentioned 25 things are the top reasons why this beautiful city never fails to leave a mark on anyone. People who aren’t from Chennai can also relate to the city, its culture and tradition and other things discussed in this blog.
Do you agree with what we’ve enlisted here? Have we left out any other thing or place that Chennai is famous for? Let us know about them in the comments section.
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