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Family Vacations with Kids: Exploring Chennai with kids

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Gateway to the south of India, Chennai or Madras as it was earlier known was settled by the British in 1639
| Places to see | Excursions from Chennai |
| Amusement Parks | Reaching there |

A coastal city, Chennai is also referred as the gateway to the south of India.  A metropolis with world’s second longest beach and a number of temples, gardens and monuments; Chennai is safe to take your kids on a holiday. Its modern character coupled with good infrastructure and various opportunities to engage your kids in various activities make Chennai a fine family vacation destination.

Before you plan to head to Chennai on a family vacation, here is brief background on the capital city of Tamil Nadu that was earlier known as Madras. Chennai’s story from a small fishing village to a bustling metropolis and an IT city of the 21st century is punctuated by various turns of events in history.

Chennai or Madras as it was earlier known was settled by the British in 1639. The remnants of the British era can still be seen even today notably in the Fort St .George - the administrative center of the British. It is not only the British, who influenced and set base in Chennai but the Dutch and the Portuguese as well. In fact the Portuguese were first to arrive in 1522 and built a port called São Tomé at Mylapore. Later, the Dutch established themselves near Pulicat, just north of the city in 1612. Today, many of the Gothic style structures and churches tell the stories of the bygone era.

Places to see in Chennai
Amusement Parks
in Chennai
A visit to amusement parks is a must when you are on a holiday with kids. There are a number of amusement parks around Chennai that you can take your kids too. Amusement and theme parks around Chennai are Kishkinta, near Tambaram; Little Folks, Mayajal, MGM Dizzy World and V.G.P. Golden Beach on the way to Mamallapuram. Dash and Splash, and Queens Land near Poonamallee.

Senate House: Perhaps Chennai's most impressive monument and architectural marvel, Senate House, at the Chennai University on the Marina, was constructed in 1873 under the supervision of Robert Fellowes Chisholm. Senate House is a fine blend of Indo-Saracenic style, with Byzantine architectural features. It has a huge central with the corridors supported by six massive stone pillars on either side. The main entrance is from the north, which leads to the convocation hall.

Fort St. George: The most famous landmark of the British in Chennai, Fort St. George was built under the supervision of Francis Day and Andrew Cogon in 1640 AD. The building derives its name from Saint George, the patron saint of England. The fort houses Saint Mary's Church and Fort Museum. The fort houses the State Legislature and the Secretariat.

Marina Beach: Often called the pride of Chennai, Marina is the second longest beach in the world and has a wide sandy shore. Marina Beach is certainly a good place for kids to run around and enjoy their holiday on the beach. Memorials dedicated to C.N.Annadurai and M.G.Ramachandran, both former Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu are added attraction for visitors. Thousands of people visit the two memorials everyday.

San Thome Basilica: San Thome Basilica is located at the south end of Marina Beach and is named after Saint Thomas. The saint is believed to have come to Chennai in 52 AD and was killed at St. Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD. The San Thome Basilica in Chennai was built in 16th Century by the Portuguese. It has a beautiful stained glass window that portrays the story of St Thomas. The central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. The basilica also houses a 3 ft. high statue of Virgin Mary, which is believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543.

Christ the King Church: A fine example of Gothic architecture, the church was commissioned by French clergymen and built by an Indian mason in 1933. The church stands majestically in the middle of Loyola College campus. With pointed arches, rose windows, three-aisled nave, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses, the church presents a captivating sight. Christ the King Church covers an area of 150 feet by 60 feet and its spire rises 157 feet high that can be reached by a stairway.

Ripon Building: A well known landmark in Chennai, the Ripon Building is the headquarters of the Municipal Corporation of Chennai. More than a century old Ripon Building covers a floor area of 9,628 square metres. A classic structure, built at a cost of only Rs.7.30 lakhs at that time, Ripon Building is a fine blend of three types of architectural styles - Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian

Vivekananda House & Museum: Constructed in 1842 to store ice blocks imported from USA by the Tudor Ice Company, the structure went through many changes until it was taken by the government and named after Swami Vivekananda, who had stayed there in 1897 on his way to Calcutta after delivering his most famous speech during the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Photographs depicting the historical happenings associated with his life and books about him and his own written works are on display and sold in the Museum. It is located on the Marina along the South Beach Road.

Excursions from Chennai
Birla Planetarium
Birla Planetarium is a good place to take your children. Situated between Adyar and Guindy in Kotturpuram, the planetarium is one of the most modern planetariums in the country. It houses a fully computerised projector that depicts the space on a hemispherical dome. The Planetarium presents to the public and students audiovisual programmes on various themes in astronomy. Just close to the planetarium is the Periyar Science and Technology Museum, which is of great interest to students and science enthusiasts.
Timing : 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

Chengalpattu:  Located about 56 kilometers from Chennai, Chengalpattu is a good getaway. You can explore Chengalpattu on your way to Mamallapuram, Thirukazhukundram and Kanchipuram. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation provides boating facilities to the tourists in the beautiful lake at Chengalpattu.  

Mamallapuram: Also known as Mahabalipuram, is famous for its beautiful monuments that date back to the Pallava period of the 7th–8th centuries.  Located 60 kilometers from Chennai, Mamallapuram is a tourist town known for its stone carvings and the famous Shore Temple. The temple presents a beautiful sight during full moon nights.
The best time to visit Mahabalipuram is from November to March.

Pulicat: Located 60 kilometers north of Chennai, the Pulicat Lake is a breeding ground for rare birds. A good place to introduce your kids to the exciting world of birds, the Pulicat Lake is home to large species of bird of which the flamingo and heron are common. You can also visit Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary about 82 kms from Chennai. Read more on Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Kanchipuram: The city of temples and the home to famous Kanchi Mutt, Kanchipuram is located about 75 kilometers from Chennai. Once a center of learning, Kanchipuram today, is well known for its beautiful temples and Kanchipuram (silk) Sarees.
Driving directions from Chennai to Kanchipuram

Pondicherry: An important getaway from Chennai, Pondicherry can be reached by the newly-built East Coast Road. It is approximately 160 kilometeres from Chennai.
Driving directions from Chennai to Pondicherry


Reaching Chennai & Best time to go

By Air: Chennai is well connected by air with major cities in the country. Regular flights from different cities in India land in Chennai. Anna International Terminal and Kamaraj Domestic Terminal are situated about 12 Km from the center of the city.

By Rail:
Indian Railway connects Chennai with the rest of India. The city has two major railway stations - Chennai Central (George town) that connects the city with most major destinations in India, while Egmore is the point of arrival and departure for trains within Tamil Nadu or from Kerala.

By Road: Chennai is also well connected with neighbouring states by a good road network.

By Local transport in Chennai: Regular buses connect different places in the state. Buses to Chennai arrive at the Moffussil bus stand, situated in the suburb of Koyambedu, over 10 km west of the centre. Chennai is also well connected with city trains that run every 15 minutes between 4:30 am and 11 pm.

Best time to visit Chennai: November to March

About Chennai: Chennai Information and Fact File
Altitude 6 meters
Summer 42 (Max) & 30(Min) Degrees Celsius
Winter 34 (Max) & 19 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Best time to Go December – February
Monsoon September - December
Summer March to August
Clothes Cottons all year round
Nearest Airport Chennai has an International Airport
Nearest Railway Station Chennai is a major hub for the Indian Railways
Bus Station Chennai has an Interstate bus terminus
Hospital & Doctor

Chennai has several well-equipped Govt. and Pvt. Hospitals

Places to see The Marina Beach, MGR Film City, Senate House, Fort St. George, San Thome Basilica, Vivekanand House and Memorial…more
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