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Chennai Montage
Clockwise from top: Chennai Central, Marina Beach, Kapaleeswarar Temple, Santhome Basilica, Bharata Natyam recital.
Nickname(s): Detroit of India

Chennai is located in Tamil Nadu
Red pog
Location of Chennai in Tamil Nadu
Coordinates: 13°5′2″N 80°16′12″E / 13.08389, 80.27Coordinates: 13°5′2″N 80°16′12″E / 13.08389, 80.27
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Chennai[upper-alpha 1]
Former name Madras
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Body Chennai Corporation
 • Mayor Saidai Duraisamy[1]
 • Deputy Mayor P. Benjamin
 • Corporation Commissioner D.Karthikeyan
 • Police Commissioner S George[2]
 • Metropolis 426.5 km2 (164.5 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,189 km2 (464.45 sq mi)
Elevation 6 m (20 ft)
Population (2012)[3]
 • Metropolis 5,008,763
 • Rank 6th
 • Density 26,702/km2 (69,160/sq mi)
 • Metro[4] 8,696,010
 • Metro rank 4th
 • Metropolitan 8,917,749 (4th)
Demonym Chennaite
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
Pincode(s) 600 xxx,
Area code(s) +91-44
Vehicle registration TN 01–10, 18, 20, 22
Official language Tamil
Website Website of the Chennai Corporation
  1. ^ The Chennai metropolitan area also includes portions of Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts.

Chennai /ɪˈn/,[5][6] (unofficially known by its former name, Madras /məˈdrɑːs/), is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, it is a major commercial, cultural, economic and educational center in South India. It is also known as the "Cultural Capital of South India" [7] and was declared as the most liveable city in India by the Institute of Competitiveness [8] [9] [10] on account of economic, social, security and medical conditions as parameters.

The area around Chennai had been part of successive South Indian kingdoms through centuries. The recorded history of the city began in the colonial times, specifically with the arrival of British East India Company and the establishment of Fort St. George in 1644. The British defended several attacks from the French colonial forces, and from the kingdom of Mysore, on Chennai's way to becoming a major naval port and presidency city by the late eighteenth century. Following the independence of India, Chennai became the capital of Tamil Nadu and an important centre of regional politics that tended to bank on the Dravidian identity of the populace.

According to the provisional results of 2011 census, the city had 4.68 million residents making it the sixth most populous city in India; the urban agglomeration, which comprises the city and its suburbs, was home to approximately 8.9 million, making it the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the country and 31st largest urban area in the world. Chennai's economy has a broad industrial base in the automobile, computer, technology, hardware manufacturing and healthcare sectors. As of 2012, the city is India's second largest exporter of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.[11][12] A major part of India's automobile industry is based in and around the city thus earning it the nickname "Detroit of India".[13][14][15] Chennai is an important centre for Carnatic music and hosts a large cultural event, the annual Madras Music Season, which includes performances by hundreds of artists. The city has a diverse theatre scene and is one of the important centres for Bharata Natyam, a classical dance form. The Tamil film industry, colloquially known as Kollywood, is based in the city.[16] The City is host to the 3rd largest Expatriate population in India after Mumbai and Delhi, with 35,000 in 2009 and steadily climbing to 82,790 in 2011.[17]


The name Chennai is a shortened form of Chennapattanam, the name of the town that grew around Fort St. George, which was built by the English in 1639.[18] There are two versions about the origin of the name Chennapattanam: according to one version, Chennapattanam was named after the Telugu ruler Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu, Nayaka of Kalahasthi and Vandavasi, father of Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu, from whom the English acquired the town in 1639. The first official use of the name Chennai is said to be in a sale deed, dated 8 August 1639, to Francis Day of the East India Company.[19] According to the second account, Chennapattanam was named after the Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple; the word chenni in Tamil means face, and the temple was regarded as the face of the city.[20]

The city's colonial name, Madras, is believed to have been derived from Madraspattinam, a fishing village north of Fort St. George.[21] However, it is uncertain whether the name 'Madraspattinam' was in use before European influence.[22] The military mapmakers believed Madras was originally Mundir-raj, or abbreviatedly, Mundiraj.[23] Other arguments suggest that the Portuguese, who arrived in the area in the 16th century, had named the village Madre de Deus, meaning the Mother of God. Another possibility is that the village's name came from the prominent Madeiros family of Portuguese origin, which consecrated the Madre de Deus Church in the Santhome locality of Chennai in 1575. Another theory concludes that the name Madras was given to Chennapattanam after it was taken from a similarly named Christian priest,[24] while other parties are of the opinion that it might have been taken from a fisherman by the name of Madrasan, or from religious Muslim schools which were referred to as Madrasahs, or the word Madhu-ras, which means honey in Tamil.[25]

After the British gained possession of the area in the 17th century, the two towns, Madraspattinam and Chennapattinam, were merged, and the British referred to the united town as Madrasapattinam. The state government officially changed the name to Chennai in 1996, at a time when many Indian cities were being renamed.[25][26] However, the name Madras continues to be commonly used for the city,[27] as well as for places named after the city, such as the University of Madras.


Surrender of The City of Madras 1746

Surrender of the City of Madras in 1746 to de La Bourdonnais, by Jacques François Joseph Swebach.

Clive House

Clive House at Fort St. George, Madras said to be the first British settelment in India during 1609

The region around Chennai has served as an important administrative, military, and economic centre for many centuries. During 1st century CE, a poet and weaver named Thiruvalluvar lived in the town of Mylapore (a neighbourhood of present Chennai).[28] From 1st century CE until 12th CE the region of present Tamil Nadu and parts of south India was ruled by the Cholas.[29] Stone age implements have been found near Pallavaram in Chennai. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Pallavaram was a megalithic cultural establishment, and pre-historic communities resided in the settlement.[30] The Pallavas of Kanchi built the areas of Mahabalipuram and Pallavaram during the reign of Mahendravarman I. They also defeated several kingdoms including the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas who ruled over the area before their arrival. Sculpted caves and paintings have been identified from that period.[31] Ancient coins dating to around 500 BC have also been unearthed from the city and its surrounding areas. A portion of these findings belonged to the Vijayanagara Empire, which ruled the region during the medieval period.[32]

Fort St

An 18th century portrait depicting Fort St. George, the first major British settlement in India and the foundation stone of Chennai.

The Portuguese first arrived in 1522 and built a port called São Tomé after the Christian apostle, St. Thomas, who is believed to have preached in the area between 52 and 70 AD. In 1612, the Dutch established themselves near Pulicat, north of the Chennai.[33] On 22 August 1639, which is referred to as Madras Day, the British East India Company under Francis Day bought a small strip of land stretching 3 miles on the Coromandel Coast. They got a license to build a fort and a castle in the contracted region. The ruler of the area, Chennapa Nayak, the Nayaka of Vandavasi, granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises. The region was then primarily a fishing village known as "Madraspatnam".[32] A year later, the British built Fort St. George, the first major British settlement in India,[34] which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city (Fort St. George housed the Tamil Nadu Assembly until the new Secretariat building was opened in 2010).[35]

In 1746, Fort St. George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of Mauritius, who plundered the town and its outlying villages.[33] The British regained control in 1749 through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and strengthened the town's fortress wall to withstand further attacks from the French and Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore.[36] They resisted a French siege attempt in 1759 under the leadership of Eyre Coote.[37] In 1769 the city was threatened by Mysore and the British were defeated by Hyder Ali, after which the Treaty of Madras ended the war.[38] By the late 18th century, the British had conquered most of the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern–day states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, establishing the Madras Presidency with Madras as the capital.

Gradually, the city grew into a major naval base and became the central administrative center for the British in South India.[39] With the advent of railways in India in the 19th century, the thriving urban centre was connected to other important cities such as Bombay and Calcutta, promoting increased communication and trade with the hinterland.[40] Madras was the only Indian city to be attacked by the Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden on 22 September 1914, as it raided shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, causing disruption to shipping.[41]

After India gained its independence in 1947, the city became the capital of Madras State, which was renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1969. The violent agitations of 1965 against the compulsory imposition of Hindi in the state marked a major shift in the political dynamics of the city and eventually it had a big impact on the whole state.[42] On 26 December 2004, an Indian Ocean tsunami lashed the shores of Chennai, killing 206 people in Chennai and permanently altering the coastline.[43][44]

World War I[]

Bombardment of Madras by S.S

Oil tanks on fire in the harbour of Madras (Chennai, India) following the bombardment on 22 September 1914

On the night of 22 September 1914,the world was woken up to a terrific news. The city was raided by a German ship, SMS Emden, killing many. The ship was controlled by Captain Karl von Müller and was given the order of bringing the city to ashes. The action lasted half an hour, until 10:00 pm, by which time the British shore batteries had begun to respond. However, Emden slipped away unscathed. In all, 125 shells were fired by the Germans. Although the raid did some major damage, it was a severe blow to British morale and thousands of people had fled the city. Madras was the only Indian city to come under attack by forces of the Central Powers during World War I.[45][46]




Chennai is on a flat coastal plain, as shown on this Landsat 7 map.

Chennai, sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to South India,"[13][47] is located on the south–eastern coast of India in the north–eastern part of Tamil Nadu on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. Its average elevation is around 6.7 metres (22 ft),[48] and its highest point is 60 m (200 ft).[49] Two major rivers meander through Chennai, the Cooum River (or Koovam) through the centre and the Adyar River to the south. Cooum is one of the most polluted rivers in the whole South of India and serves as potential health hazard to the people living in and around the river. A third river, the Kortalaiyar, flows through the northern fringes of the city before draining into the Bay of Bengal, at Ennore. Adyar and Cooum rivers are heavily polluted with effluents and waste from domestic and commercial sources. The state government periodically removes silt and pollutants from the Adyar river, which is less polluted than the Cooum. A protected estuary on the Adyar forms a natural habitat for several species of birds and animals.[50] The Buckingham Canal, 4 km (2.5 mi) inland, runs parallel to the coast, linking the two rivers. The Otteri Nullah, an east–west stream, runs through north Chennai and meets the Buckingham Canal at Basin Bridge. Several lakes of varying size are located on the western fringes of the city. Some areas of the city have the problem of excess iron content in groundwater.[51]

Adyar Poonga's waterbody as seen from Karpagam Bridge, MRC Nagar6

A part of the Adyar river forms a tidal creek before joining the sea

Chennai's soil is mostly clay, shale and sandstone.[52] Clay underlies most of the city, chiefly Manali, Kolathur, Maduravoyal, K. K. Nagar, Semmencherry, Alapakkam, Vyasarpadi and Anna Nagar. Sandy areas are found along the river banks and coasts, and include areas such as Tiruvottiyur, George Town, Madhavaram, New Washermanpet, Chepauk, Mylapore, Porur, Adyar, Besant Nagar and Uthandi. In these areas, rainwater runoff percolates quickly through the soil. Areas having hard rock surface include Guindy, Nanganallur, Pallikaranai, Alandur, Jaladampet, Velachery, Adambakkam and a part of Saidapet and Perungudi.[53][54] The ground water table in chennai is at 4-5m below ground in most of the areas,[54] which was considerably improved and maintained through the mandatory rain water harvesting system.[55]


Chennai is classified as being in Seismic Zone III, indicating a moderate risk of damage from earthquakes.[56] Owing to the geotectonic zone the city falls in, the city is considered a potential geothermal energy site. The crust has granite rocks indicating volcanic activities in the past. It is expected that a temperatures of around 200-300°C will be available if the ground were drilled 4 to 5 km deep. The region has the oldest rocks in the country dating back to nearly a billion years.[57]


Chennai has a tropical wet and dry climate. The city lies on the thermal equator[58][59] and is also on the coast, which prevents extreme variation in seasonal temperature. The weather is hot and humid for most of the year. The hottest part of the year is late May to early June, known regionally as Agni Nakshatram ("fire star") or as Kathiri Veyyil,[60] with maximum temperatures around 35–40 °C (95–104 °F). The coolest part of the year is January, with minimum temperatures around 15–22 °C (59–72 °F). The lowest temperature recorded is 13.8 °C (56.8 °F) and the highest recorded temperature is 45 °C (113 °F)[61] The average annual rainfall is about 140 cm (55 in).[62] The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north–east monsoon winds, from mid–October to mid–December. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal sometimes hit the city. The highest annual rainfall recorded is 257 cm (101 in) in 2005.[63] Prevailing winds in Chennai are usually southwesterly between April and October[64] and northeasterly during the rest of the year. Historically, Chennai has relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish water reservoirs, as no major rivers flow through the area. Chennai has a water table at 2 metres for 60 percent of the year.[65]

Climate data for Chennai, India (1901-2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33
Average high °C (°F) 28.8
Average low °C (°F) 20.4
Record low °C (°F) 14
Precipitation mm (inches) 22.5
Avg. precipitation days 1.3 0.4 0.3 0.6 1.4 4.0 6.9 8.5 7.1 10.6 11.7 6.3 59.1
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization[66]
Source #2: Indian Meteorological Department (rainy days 1971-2000)[67]

Urban structure[]

Madras is divided into four broad regions: North, Central, South and West. North Madras is primarily an industrial area. South Madras and West Madras, previously mostly residential, are fast becoming commercial, home to a growing number of information technology firms, financial companies and call centres. The city is expanding quickly along the Old Mahabalipuram Road and the Grand Southern Trunk Road (GST Road) in the south and towards Ambattur, Koyambedu and Sriperumbdur in the west.[68]

Beaches and parks[]

the pond

Pond at the Semmozhi Poonga

The old corporation limit of Chennai has a total coast length of about 19 km, which has more than doubled with the expanded corporation limits. Marina Beach runs for 6 km (3.7 mi), spanning along the shoreline of the city between the deltas of Cooum and Adyar, and is the second longest urban beach in the world.[69] Elliot's Beach lies south of the Adyar delta.

Chennai is one of the few cities in the world that accommodates a national park, the Guindy National Park, within its limits.[70] The city has an estimated 4.5 percent of its area under green cover.[71] This enables Chennai residents to go birding in Chennai. The seven zones of the old corporation limits has about 260 parks, many of which suffer poor maintenance.[72] The city has a per capita park space of 0.41 sq m, which is the least among all metros in India.[72] The eight zones in the newly added areas of the city have about 265 locations that have been identified for development of new parks.[73] The largest among the parks is the 358-acre Tholkappia Poonga, developed to restore the fragile ecosystem of the Adyar estuary.[74] The horticulture department-owned Semmozhi Poonga is an 20-acre botanical garden located in the downtown.[75]


Being the capital of the Madras Province that covered a vast area of the Deccan region, Chennai remained the centre of politics in the southern region of India during the British era. After Independence, it remained the centre of political activities of the state of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is the birthplace of the idea of the Indian National Congress, commonly known as the Congress Party. Founded by Indian and British members of the Theosophical Society movement, most notably A.O. Hume,[76] the idea was originally conceived in a private meeting of 17 men after a Theosophical Convention held in the city in December 1884.[77] During the first 50 years of the Indian National Congress, the city played host to its conferences seven times in 1887, 1894, 1898, 1903, 1908, 1914 and 1927, becoming one of the strong bases for the Indian independence movement. After independence, the city hosted the Congress in 1955 in its suburb of Avadi.

Chennai is also the birthplace of several regional political movements since the British era. South Indian Welfare Association, one of the earliest regional parties, was founded in 1916, which later came to be known as the Justice Party, which was the main opposition party to the Indian National Congress in the state.[78][79] In 1944, the party was renamed Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) by E. V. Ramasami (popularly known as 'Periyar'). The party was a non-political party that demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravida Nadu.[80] However, due to the differences between its two leaders Periyar and C. N. Annadurai, the party was split. Annadurai left the party to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK decided to enter into politics in 1956.

Since the 19th century, when Western scholars proposed that Dravidian languages, which dominated the southern region of India, formed a different linguistic group to that of the Indo-Aryan languages that are predominant in the north of the subcontinent, the aspects of Tamil nationalism gained prominence. This resulted in the Anti-Hindi agitations in the city and across the state. However, the post-Independence re-organisation of Indian states according to linguistic and ethnic basis has moderated Tamil nationalism, especially the demand for separation from the Indian Union. The Anti-Hindi agitations in mid-1960s made the DMK more popular and more powerful political force in the state. The agitations of the 1960s played a crucial role in the defeat of the Tamil Nadu Congress party in the 1967 elections and the continuing dominance of Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu politics.[81]


Ripon Building panorama

The Ripon Building, commissioned in 1913, houses the Chennai Corporation.

Chennai city is governed by the Chennai Corporation (formerly "Corporation of Madras"), which was established in 1688. It is the oldest municipal corporation in India and the second oldest corporation in the world.[82][83] In 2011, the jurisdiction of the Chennai Corporation was expanded from 174 km2 (67 sq mi) to an area of 426 km2 (164 sq mi),[84] dividing into three regions—North, South and Central, which covers 200 wards.[85][86] The corporation is headed by an Indian Administrative Service officer. The Mayor and councillors of the city are elected through a popular vote by the residents.[87] While the city limit was expanded to 426 km2 in 2011, the revised population is yet to be officially announced.

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is the nodal agency responsible for planning and development of Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is spread over an area of 1,189 km2 (459 sq mi) covering the Chennai district and parts of Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts. The larger suburbs are governed by town municipalities, and the smaller are governed by town councils called panchayats. Under the gamut of the CMDA are 5 parliamentary and 28 assembly constituencies.[88][89] The CMDA has drafted a second Master Plan that aims to develop satellite townships around the city. The city's contiguous satellite towns include Mahabalipuram in the south, Chengalpattu and Maraimalai Nagar in the southwest, and Sriperumpudur, Arakkonam, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur to the west.[90]

Chennai, as the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, houses the state executive and legislative headquarters primarily in the Secretariat Buildings in the Fort St George campus. The Madras High Court, is the highest judicial authority in the state, whose jurisdiction extends across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.[91] Chennai has three parliamentary constituencies—Chennai North, Chennai Central and Chennai South—and elects 14 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to the state legislature.[92]

Law and order[]

Chennai High Court

Madras High Court

The Greater Chennai Police is the main law enforcement agency in the city. It consists of 121 Police stations and is headed by a commissioner of police. The Chennai police is a division of the Tamil Nadu Police, and the administrative control lays with the Tamil Nadu Home Ministry.[93] Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) is responsible for the traffic management in the city. The Metropolitan suburbs are policed by the Chennai Metropolitan Police, and the outer district areas of CMDA are policed by the Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur police departments.

As of 2011 (prior to the expansion of Chennai Corporation area), Chennai city had a sanctioned strength of 14,000 police personnel. With a population density of 26,903 persons per square kilometre, the city had 1 policeman for every 413 people. The Chennai suburban police had about 4,093 police personnel and a ratio of 1:1,222.[94] In 2010, the crime rate in the city was 169.2 per 100,000 people, as against an average of 341.9 in the 35 major cities of India.[95] In 2011, North Chennai zone had 30 police stations and 3 police out posts, Central Chennai zone had 28 police stations and 3 police out posts, and South Chennai zone had 30 police stations.[96]

In 2009, Chennai Central Prison, one of the oldest prisons in India, built over 11 acres of land, was demolished; the prisoners were moved to Puzhal Central Prison.[97]

Utility services[]

The city's water supply and sewage treatment are managed by the Chennai MetroWater Supply and Sewage Board. Water is drawn from Red Hills Lake and Chembarambakkam Lake, the primary water reservoirs of the city,[98] and treated at water treatment plants located at Kilpauk, Puzhal, Chembarambakkam[99] and supplied to the city through 27 water distribution stations.[100] The city receives 530 mld of water from Krishna River through Telugu Ganga project, 180 mld of water from the Veeranam lake project[99] and 100 mld of water from the Minjur desalination plant, the country's largest sea water desalination plant.[101][102][103] However, Chennai is predicted to face a huge deficit of 713 million litres per day (MLD) in 2026 as the demand is projected at 2,248 MLD and supply estimated at only 1,535 MLD.[104] There are 714 public toilets in the city managed by the city corporation,[105] and 2,000 more has been planned by the corporation.[106] The corporation also owns 52 community halls across the city.[107]

The Corporation of Chennai provides civic services to the city. Garbage collection in some of the wards is contracted to Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited, a private company,[108] while the Corporation looks after the removal and processing of solid waste in the others,[109] with a superintendent engineer managing the channels. As of 2011, 8 transfer stations exist within the city for treating the waste.[110] Garbage is dumped in two dump-yards in the city—One in Kodungaiyur and another in Perungudi, with a major portion of the latter covering the Pallikaranai marshland.[111] In market areas, the conservancy work is done during the night.[112] Electricity is distributed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board.[113] Fire services are handled by the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Service.[114] The city, along with the suburbs, has 33 operating fire stations.[115]


a multi storeyed building, with road in the foreground

Parry's Corner, one of the oldest business areas of Chennai, lined up with art deco buildings.

With the history of many neighbourhoods of the city such as Mylapore and Triplicane antedating that of the city itself, the architecture of Chennai ranges in a wide chronology. The oldest buildings in the city dates back to 7th and 8th centuries CE, which include the Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore and the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane built in the Dravidian architecture. This architecture style includes various styles such as those of the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagara empires. The associated Agraharam architecture, which consists of traditional row houses surrounding a temple, can still be seen in these areas.[116][117] The heritage temples at Mamallapuram at the outskirts of the city are some of the examples of the Pallava architecture. Chennai is home to the second largest collection of heritage buildings in the country, after Kolkata.[118]

image of a temple tower with a tank and a pillared hall in its centre

Parthasarathy Temple - one of the oldest structures in the city build in the 7th century.

With the advent of the Mugals and the British, the city saw a rise in a blend of Hindu, Islamic and Gothic revival styles, resulting in the distinct Indo-Saracenic style.[119] The architecture for several early institutions such as banking and commerce, railways, press and education, chiefly through the colonial rule, followed the earlier directions of the Neo-Classical and the Indo-Saracenic.[120] The Chepauk Palace in the city, designed by Paul Benfield, is said to be the first Indo-Saracenic building in India.[121] Since then, many of the colonial-era buildings in the city were designed in this style of architecture, which is most apparent around the Fort St. George built in 1640. Most of these were designed by English architects Robert Fellowes Chisholm and Henry Irwin. The best examples of this style include the Madras High Court (built in 1892), Southern Railway headquarters, Ripon Building, Government Museum, Senate House of the University of Madras, Amir Mahal, Bharat Insurance Building, Victoria Public Hall and the College of Engineering.[122] The residential architecture in the city was based on the bungalow or the continuous row house prototypes.[120] Gothic revival style buildings include the Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore railway stations. The Santhome Church, which is originally built by the Portuguese in 1523 and is believed to house the remains of the apostle St. Thomas, was rebuilt in 1893 in neo-Gothic style.[123] By the early 20th century, the art deco too made its entry upon the city's urban landscape. From 1930s onwards, many buildings in George Town were built in this style, including the United India building (presently housing LIC) and the Burma Shell building (presently the Chennai House), both built in the 1930s, and the Dare House, built in 1940. Other examples include the Bombay Mutual building (presently housing LIC) and the South Indian Chamber of Commerce building.[120]

Southern Railway HQ

Southern Railway Headquarters

After Independence, the city witnessed a rise in the Modernism style of architecture.[120] The completion of the LIC Building in 1959, the tallest building in the country at that time,[124] marked the transition from lime-and-brick construction to concrete columns in the region.[125] The presence of the weather radar at the Chennai Port, however, prohibited the construction of buildings taller than 60 m around a radius of 10 km.[126] In addition, the floor-area ratio (FAR) in the central business district is also 1.5, much less than that of smaller cities of the country.[127] This resulted in the city expanding horizontally, unlike other metropolitan cities where vertical growth is prominent. On the contrary, the peripheral regions, especially on the southern and south-western sides, are experiencing vertical growth with the construction of buildings up to 50 floors.


Population of Chennai city 
* 1639–1791:[128]
* 1871–1901:[129]
* 1871–1931:[130]
* 1931–1951:[131]
* 1951–1961:[132]
* 1991–2001:[133]
* 2001–2011:[3]

A resident of Chennai is called a Chennaite.[134][135][136] According to the provisional population results of 2011, the city had a population of 4,681,087,[3] with a density of 26,903 per km² and the urban agglomeration had a population of 8,696,010.[137] The city registered a growth rate of 7.77% during the period 2001–2011.[138] In 2001, the population density in the city was 24,682 per km² (63,926 per mi²), while the population density of the metropolitan area was 5,922 per km² (15,337 per mi²), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world.[139] The Chennai metropolitan area is the fourth most populated agglomeration in India and 31st largest urban area in the world[140] The sex ratio is 951 females for every 1,000 males,[141] slightly higher than the national average of 944.[142] The average literacy rate rose from 85.33% in 2001 to 90.33% in 2011,[143] much higher than the national average of 79.5%. However, the city has the fourth highest population of slum dwellers among major cities in India, with about 820,000 people (18.6% of the city's population) living in slum conditions.[144] According to 2011 census, the chennai district has 11 lakh households, with 51% of them living in rented houses.[145]

Religions in Chennai
Religion Percentage

The majority of the population in Chennai are Tamils. Tamil is the primary language spoken in Chennai. English is spoken largely by white-collar workers,[146] often mixed into Tamil.[147] Telugus form the majority among the non-Tamil communities.[148] In 2001, out of the 937,000 migrants (21.6% of its population) in the city, 74.5% were from other parts of the state, 23.8% were from rest of India and 1.7% were from outside the country.[139] Some minority communities are Marwaris, Oriyas, Kannadigas, Anglo-Indians, Bengalis Punjabi and Malayalees. According to the 2001 census, Hindus constitute about 81.3% of the city's population, and Muslims (9.4%), Christians (7.6%) and Jains (1.1%) are other major religious groups.[149]


There are about 1,240 slums in Chennai home to about 1.4 million people.[150]

Per 2011 census, there are 1.1 million households in the city and the residential housing stock available is 1.15 million – a surplus of about 50,000 houses. About 43,700 of them are kept vacant. In the suburbs of Chennai located in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, the figures of vacant houses 56,000 and 71,000, respectively. Of the existing housing stock in the city, about 200,000 houses are not in good condition, necessitating either to rebuild or build new units. About 26,000 households live in houses without any room and another 427,000 families (with an average size of five members) live in small dwelling units with only one room. An earlier estimate shows that there is a need to generate about 420,000 units for low-income groups by 2016.[151]

Arts and culture[]

Museums and art galleries[]

Chennai is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role.[152] The city is also an host to the oldest Museum and Art Gallery in the country- Government Museum, Chennai and The National Art Gallery (Chennai),[153] established in the early 18th century.[154]

Chennai National Art Gallery

National Art Gallery (Chennai)

.The city is also hosts two Art Festival's annually.[155]

Music and performing arts[]

Chennai is a major centre for music, art and culture in India.[156] The city is known for its classical dance shows. In 1930, for the first time in India, Madras University introduced a course of music, as part of the Bachelor of Arts curriculum.[157] The Madras Music Season, initiated by Madras Music Academy in 1927, is celebrated every year during the month of December.[158] It features performances of traditional Carnatic music by many artists in and around the city.[159] An arts festival called the Chennai Sangamam, which showcases not only various arts of Tamil Nadu but also from the neighbouring states, like kalari (from Kerala), which is a major attraction, is held in January every year. The Speciality of Chennai Sangamam is that the various programs are held near or at the various famous landmarks in the city so that everyone in the city has access to the programs and there is no fee charged for entry for any of the programs.[160] Chennai is also known for Bharata Natyam, a classical dance form that originated in Tamil Nadu and is the oldest dance form of India.[161] An important cultural centre for Bharata Natyam is Kalakshetra, on the beach in the south of the city.[162] In 2012, a group of five Bharatha Natyam dancers from Chennai performed at the India Campaign during the 2012 Summer Olympics.[163] Chennai is also home to some choirs, who during the Christmas season stage various carol performances across the city in Tamil and English.[164][165]


Chennai is the base for the Tamil film industry, known as Kollywood. Many film personalities have gone on to become Chief Ministers of the State. M.G. Ramachandran and J. Jayalalitha are prime examples of actors turned able administrators. M.Karunanidhi is another chief minister turned politician who has close links with the cinema industry. All mentioned above have contributed to the spread of Tamil cinema and language in India. [166] Chennai hosts major film studios, including AVM studios, so on. AVM studio is the oldest surviving studio in India.[167] As of 2012, there are 120 cinema screens in Chennai.[168] Chennai's theatres stage many Tamil plays; political satire, slapstick comedy, history, mythology and drama are among the popular genres.[169][170][171] English plays are popular in the city.[172]

Tourism and hospitality[]

With temples, beaches and centres of historical and cultural significance, including the UNESCO Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram, Chennai remains the most visited city in India. Chennai has been the most visited Indian city since 2008, in terms of foreign tourists arrival.[173] In 2011, Chennai was ranked 41st in global top 100 city destination ranking, with 3,174,500 tourists, a 14 percent increase from 2010,[174] up from 650,000 in 2007.[175] In 2009, Chennai attracted the highest number of foreign tourists in the country. The city serves as the gateway to the southern part of India with tourists landing in the city and starting their trip to the rest of the region. Top foreign nationals visiting the city includes those from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore, followed by the United Kingdom, France and the United States. In 2010, the figure of foreign tourist arrival increased by 40 percent in the first half of the year.[176] About 830,620 domestic tourists arrived in Chennai in March 2011.[175]

As of 2012, the city has 17 luxury hotels in the five-star and five-star deluxe categories with an inventory of 2,595 rooms, while five more with 1,550 rooms are under construction.[177]


Zoo, beaches, and wildlife parks form the primary recreation areas of the city. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, one of the largest zoological parks in the world, attracts nearly 2 million visitors per year.[178] The city boasts two popular beaches, the Marina and Elliot's. Guindy National Park, a protected area of Tamil Nadu, has a children's park and a snake park, which gained statutory recognition as a medium zoo from the Central Zoo Authority of India in 1995.

Chennai houses several theme parks, namely MGM Dizzee World, VGP Golden beach and Queens Land.[179][180] The safety of several amusement parks has been questioned after several fatal accidents occurred.[181]

Other important recreation centres include Madras Boat Club, which is over 140 years old, and Gymkhana Club, which is famous for its 18-hole golf courses. Built in 1867, Madras Boat Club is the second oldest rowing club in India.[182]


Chennai is home to several malls, due to its status as an IT hub.[183][184][185]

Chennai houses quite a few big malls namely EA (one of the biggest in India), Citi Centre, and Spencer's Plaza. Phoenix Market City which was opened in January 2013 at Velachery is one of India's Biggest shopping Malls.[186] Chennai houses a lot of cinema screens in the form of multiplexes. Few of the famous multiplexes are Sathyam Cinemas, Escape, Devi and Abirami complex. Tamil, English, Hindi, and Telugu movies are released and have a large number of fan following. With the increase in malls, the multiplexes have also doubled recently. Chennai encourages its Theatre artist's equally. The city is under a thick of activity across the year with a number of plays staged in Tamil and English, as well as with Koothu Patrai, a form of street play in unison with songs and dance.

Chennai is the most important gold market in the southern region of India which contributes to 45 percent of the 800-tonne annual national gold offtake.[187] Chennai's retail industry is concentrated chiefly in T. Nagar, which accounts for about 70 to 80 percent of the gold sold in Chennai.[187] According to the 2012 report by property consultant Cushman & Wakefield, Main Streets Across the World, Khader Nawaz Khan Road at Nungambakkam ranked 10th position in the list of 'Top 10 Global Highest Retail Rental Growth Markets 2012', with 36.7 percent jump in rents.[188]



Hyundai's manufacturing plant at Irungattukottai near Sriperumbudur.


Workshops of the Madras Automobiles Ltd., c.a. 1904

Industrialisation in the city dates back to the 16th century, when textile mills manufactured goods which were exported to British during its war with France. In the late 18th century it became the only city in Asia to manufacture car engines and ancillary parts for Ships and Battle Tanks. According to Forbes magazine, Chennai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and the only Indian city to be rated in the "Forbes-Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the World".[189] It is ranked 4th in hosting the maximum number of Fortune 500 companies of India, next only to Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. It also is home to 24 Indian companies having a net worth of more than US$1 billion. As of 2012, the city has about 34,260 identified companies in its 15 zones, of which 5,196 companies have a paid-up capital of over INR 5 million.[190] Chennai has a diversified economic base anchored by the automobile, software services, hardware manufacturing, health care and financial services industries.[11] According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, Chennai is estimated to grow to a US$100–billion economy, 2.5 times its present size, by the year 2025.[191] As of 2012, with INR 100,000 crore investment in the pipeline over 5 years, the city is poised for major industrial investment.[192] Chennai is classified as a global city by GaWC, with a ranking of Beta[193] based on the extent of global reach and financial influence.[194]

The city is base to around 30 percent of India's automobile industry and 40 percent of auto components industry.[195] A large number of automotive companies including Hyundai, Renault, Nissan Motors, Ashok Leyland, Daimler AG, Caterpillar Inc., Komatsu Limited, Ford, BMW and Mitsubishi have manufacturing plants in Chennai.[196] The Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi produces military vehicles, including India's main battle tank: Arjun MBT.[197] The Integral Coach Factory manufactures railway coaches and other rolling stock for Indian Railways.[198] The Ambattur–Padi industrial zone houses many textile manufacturers, and a special economic zone (SEZ) for apparel and footwear manufacturing has been set up in the southern suburbs of the city.[199] Chennai contributes more than 50 percent of India's leather exports.[200]

Tidel Park

Tidel Park is billed as the largest IT Park in Asia.

Many software and software services companies have development centres in Chennai, which contributed 14 percent of India's total software exports of INR 1,442,140 million during 2006–07, making it the second largest exporter, by city, of software in the country, behind Bangalore.[11] The Tidel Park in Chennai was billed as Asia's largest IT park when it was built.[201][202] Major software companies have their offices set up here, with some of them making Chennai their largest base.[12] Prominent financial institutions, including the World Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, ABN AMRO, Bank of America, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, HSBC, ING Group, Allianz, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Asian Development Bank, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas Fortis, Deutsche Bank and Citibank have back office and development center operations in the city.[203] Chennai is home to the national level commercial banks Indian Bank[204] and Indian Overseas Bank[205][206] and many state level co–operative banks, finance and insurance companies. Telecom and Electronics manufacturers based in and around Chennai include Nokia, Nokia Siemens, Motorola, Dell, Force10, Wipro, Zebronics, Foxconn and Siemens among others. Chennai is currently the largest electronics hardware exporter in India, accounting for 45% of the total exports in 2010-11.[207] Telecom giants Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and chemicals giant Dow Chemicals have research and development facilities in Chennai. The TICEL bio–tech park at Taramani[208] and Golden Jubilee bio–tech park at Siruseri[209] houses biotechnology companies and laboratories. Chennai has a stock exchange called the Madras Stock Exchange.[210][211]

A study conducted by the National Housing Bank on the residential price index of Indian cities showed that Chennai experienced the highest growth after the 2008–2012 global financial crisis.[212] According to a study by in 2011,[213] Chennai real estate saw an average price appreciation of 7 per cent with Tambaram, Chrompet and Thoraipakkam leading the way. Medical tourism is another important part of Chennai's economy with 45 percent of total medical tourists to India making to Chennai.[214] The Tamil film industry[215] and the Tamil television industry are also significant parts of Chennai's economy. The city also has a permanent exhibition complex in Nandambakkam called the Chennai Trade Centre.[216] An estimated 100,000 people in the city have assets over INR 50 million. The city is the third largest market in India for luxury cars.[217]



Chennai is one of the four cities in India through which the country is connected with the rest of the world through undersea fiber-optic cables, the other three being Mumbai, Kochi, and Tuticorin. The city is the landing point of major submarine telecommunication cable networks such as SMW4 (connecting India with Western Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia), i2i (connecting India with Singapore), TIC (connecting India with Singapore), and BRICS (connecting India with Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil and the United States). The 3,175-km-long, 8-fiber-paired i2i has the world's largest design capacity of 8.4 terabits per second.[218][219][220][221]

As of 2007, nine mobile phone service companies operate nine GSM networks and two CDMA networks in the city. There are four land line companies.[222][223] Commercial and domestic broadband Internet services are provided by all the four service providers and a majority of the mobile network service providers. Chennai was the first Indian city to have the Wi-Fi facility in a widespread manner.[224] As of 2010, there were 9.8 million mobile phone users in Chennai.[225] In 2010, Chennai had the fourth highest number of active Internet users in India, with 2.2 million users.[226]


As of 2012, the total electricity consumption by the street lamps in the city is 19 MW a day, costing about INR 2,00,00,000 per month to run.[227] The 426 sq km of the city has over 220,000 streetlights, including 88,000 in the newly expanded areas.[228]


The Bank of Madras

The Bank of Madras, c. 1900

Prior to the advent of modern commercial banks, the banking services in the city were offered to the public by Nattukottai Chettiars or Nagarathars, chiefly in and around the neighbourhood of George Town, who offered loans as well as accepted money deposits from the public, in addition to offering liberal loans to the agricultural labourers. Even today, many of the banking offices are housed in heritage structures belonging to the Colonial era that are chiefly clustered around North Beach Road or Rajaji Salai in George Town.[229]

Chennai is home to the first European-style banking system in India with the establishment of the 'Madras Bank' on 21 June 1683, almost a century before the establishment of the first commercial banks, such as the Bank of Hindustan and the General Bank of India, which were established in 1770 and 1786, respectively. However, the bank proved a failure.[230] Upon the recommendation of the British Finance Committee on the formation of a government bank, the Madras Bank, then known as the 'Government Bank', started functioning again from 1806. In 1843, the bank merged with the Carnatic Bank (1788), the British Bank of Madras (1795) and the Asiatic Bank (1804) and became the Bank of Madras, which was one of the three Presidency banks of India, the other two being the Bank of Bengal and the Bank of Bombay. In 1921, the three Presidency banks merged to form the Imperial Bank of India, which later became the State Bank of India in 1955.[231]

Chennai is the headquarters of the Indian Bank, the Indian Overseas Bank, and the erstwhile Bharat Overseas Bank, which merged with the Indian Overseas Bank in 2007.[232] The city is home to the south zonal office of the Reserve Bank of India, the country's central bank, along with its zonal training centre and Reserve Bank Staff College, one of the two colleges of the bank.[233] The city also houses the permanent back office of the World Bank, which is one of the largest buildings owned by the bank outside its headquarters in Washington, DC.[234] The Chennai office handles corporate financial, accounting, administrative and IT services of the bank, in addition to several value-added operations of the bank that were earlier handled only in its Washington, DC office, including the bank's analytical work in bond valuation which is estimated to be US$100 billion.[235]

Several foreign banks have established their branches in the city. The first Sri Lankan Bank in India was established when the Bank of Ceylon opened its branch in Madras on 31 October 1995.[236]

Health care[]


Government General Hospital

Chennai has world-class medical facilities, including both government-run and private hospitals. The government-aided hospitals include General Hospital, Adyar Cancer Institute, TB Sanatorium, and National Institute of Siddha. The National Institute of Siddha is one of the seven apex national-level educational institutions that promote excellence in Indian system of medicine and Ayurveda.[237] Some of the popular private-run hospitals in Chennai are Apollo Hospitals, Chettinad Health City, MIOT Hospitals and Vasan Healthcare. The prime NABH-accredited hospitals includes Chennai Apollo Speciality Hospital, Dr Mehta Hospitals, Frontier Lifeline Hospital, Global Hospitals & Health City, Sankara Nethralaya, and Vijaya Medical & Educational Trust.[238] Chennai attracts about 45 percent of health tourists from abroad and 30 percent to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. The city has been termed India's health capital.[176][239][240]

The city has more than 12,500 beds in its hospitals,[241] including about 5,000 in multi-specialty hospitals in the private sector and over 6,000 beds in the public sector.[242] This works to 2.1 beds per 1,000 population against the national average of less than 1 bed per 1,000 population and the World Health Organisation's norms of 3 beds per 1,000 persons, higher than any other city in the country. By mid-2012, with the addition of at least 3,000 beds in four leading hospitals in the city, the bed strength of the private-sector hospitals is expected to increase by nearly 25 percent. However, only half of these 12,500 beds is used by the city's population with the rest being shared by patients from other states of the country and foreigners.[241]

Waste management[]

The city generates 4,500 tonnes of garbage every day. The city has three dumpyards, one each at Perungudi, Kodungaiyur, and Pallikaranai. The corporation has planned to close these yards and create four new dumpyards at Malaipattu, Minjur, Vallur, and Kuthambakkam villages, ranging in size from 20 acres to 100 acres.[243][244] The civic body also spends INR 4,000 million a year on solid waste management.[245]


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The Chennai International Airport at night
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Tirumailai MRTS station Chennai (Madras)
A railway station on the MRTS line

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MTC Bus 21G
A bus operated by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation

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Chennai Kathipara bridge
Cloverleaf interchange at Kathipara Junction

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Madras Port In 1996
Containers at Chennai Port


Chennai serves as a major gateway to southern India. Chennai International Airport, comprising the Anna international terminal and the Kamaraj domestic terminal with a total passenger movements of 12.9 million[246] and aircraft movements of 120,127 in 2011–2012,[247] is the third busiest airport and the second busiest cargo terminus in India.[39] Chennai handles 316 flights a day, again making it at third spot among Indian Airports. The city is connected to major hubs across Asia, Europe, and North America through more than 30 national and international carriers.[248]

The existing airport is undergoing further modernisation and expansion with an addition of 1069.99 acres, while a new greenfield airport is to be constructed at an estimated cost of INR 20,000 million in Sriperumbudur on 4,200 acres (17.0 km2) of land.[249] The new airport is said to be likely to handle cargo spillover traffic from the existing one.[250]


Chennai hosts the headquarters of the Southern Railway. The city has two main railway terminals. Chennai Central station, the city's largest, provides access to other major cities as well as many other smaller towns across India,[251] whereas Chennai Egmore provides access to destinations primarily within Tamil Nadu; however, it also handles a few inter–state trains.[252] The Chennai suburban railway network, one of the oldest in the country, facilitates transportation withinn the city. It consists of four broad gauge sectors terminating at two locations in the city, namely Chennai Central and Chennai Beach. While three sectors are operated on-grade, the fourth sector is majorly an elevated corridor, which links Chennai Beach to Velachery and is interlinked with the remaining rail network. Construction is underway for an underground and elevated Rapid Transit System locally known as Chennai Metro Rail.[253] There is also a proposal to construct a monorail network to augment the existing public transportation system in the city.


Chennai is one of the cities in India that is connected by the Golden Quadrilateral system of National Highways.[254] It is connected to other Indian cities by four major National Highways (NH) that originate in the city. They are NH 4 to Mumbai (via Bangalore), NH 5 to Kolkata (via Bhubaneswar), NH 45 to Theni (via Tiruchirapalli) and NH 205 to Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh (via Tirupati). Chennai is connected to other parts of the state and the Union Territory of Puducherry by state highways.[255]

The government has constructed grade separators and flyovers at major intersections, and built Inner Ring Road and Outer Ring Road.[256][257] The Gemini flyover, built in 1973 crosses over the arterial road, and eases the traffic movements towards Anna Salai and towards the Kathipara Flyover.[256][257] As of 2011, according to the Transport Department, there were 2.58 million two–wheelers and 0.56 million four–wheelers in the city, and the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus fleet were 3,421, which was 0.1% of the total vehicular population of the city.[258]

The Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) is the largest bus station in Asia.[259] It is the main intercity bus station of Chennai,[260] administered by 7 government-owned transport corporations, which operate intercity and interstate bus services. There are many private bus companies that provide similar transport services. The MTC provides an exclusive intercity bus service, consisting of 3,421 buses on 724 routes, which provides transportation to 5.52 million passengers daily.[256][261] The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates Volvo air-conditioned services from Chennai to nearby cities like Pondicherry, Vellore and Hosur.[262]

The other means of road transport in the city include Vans, regionally known as Maxi Cabs, auto rickshaws, on-call metered taxis and tourist taxis.[263]


The city is served by two major ports, Chennai Port, one of the largest artificial ports in India, and Ennore Port. The Chennai port is the largest in Bay of Bengal, with an annual cargo tonnage of 61.46 million (2010–2011), and second busiest container hub in India, with an annual container volume of 1.523 million TEUs (2010–2011). The port handles transportation of automobiles, motorcycles and general industrial cargo.[39] The Ennore Port with an annual cargo tonnage of 11.01 million (2010–2011) handles cargo such as coal, ore and other bulk and rock mineral products.[264]

The Royapuram fishing harbour is used by fishing boats and trawlers. A mega shipyard project called the Kattupalli Shipyard cum Captive Port Complex is being built by L&T Shipbuilding at Kattupalli village near Ennore and is expected to be operational in 2012.[265]


Newspaper publishing started in Chennai with the launch of a weekly, The Madras Courier, in 1785.[266] It was followed by the weeklies The Madras Gazzette and The Government Gazzette in 1795. The Spectator, founded in 1836, was the first English newspaper in Chennai to be owned by an Indian and became the city's first daily newspaper in 1853.[267] The first Tamil newspaper, Swadesamitran, was launched in 1899.[266]

The major English dailies published in Chennai are The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Deccan Chronicle and The Times of India. The evening dailies are, The Trinity Mirror and The News Today. As of 2004, The Hindu was the city's most read English newspaper, with a daily circulation of 267,349.[268] The major business dailies published from the city are The Economic Times, The Hindu Business Line, Business Standard, Mint and The Financial Express. The major Tamil dailies include the Dina Thanthi, Dinakaran, Dina Mani, Dina Malar, Tamil Murasu, Makkal Kural and Malai Malar. Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi are the major Malayalam dailies while major Telugu dailies include Eenadu, Vaartha, Andhra Jyothi and Sakshi.[269] The one and only Hindi Newspaper published from Chennai is the Rajasthan Patrika. Neighbourhood newspapers such as The Anna Nagar Times and The Adyar Times cater to particular localities. Magazines published from Chennai include Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam, Kalki, Kungumam, Puthiya Thalaimurai,Thuglak, Frontline and Sportstar.

Doordarshan runs two terrestrial television channels and two satellite television channels from its Chennai centre, which was set up in 1974. Private Tamil satellite television networks such as Sun TV, Raj TV, Zee Tamil, Star Vijay, Jaya TV, Makkal TV, Vasanth TV, Kalaignar TV and Captain TV broadcast out of Chennai. The Sun Network one of India's largest broadcasting companies is based in the city. While the cable TV service is entirely controlled by the state government,[270] direct–to–home (DTH) is available via DD Direct Plus, Dish TV, Tata Sky, Videocon DTH, Sun direct DTH, Reliance Big TV and Digital TV[271][272] Chennai is the first city in India to have implemented the Conditional Access System for cable television.[273] Radio broadcasting started from the radio station at the Rippon Buildings complex, founded in 1930 and was then shifted to All India Radio in 1938.[266] The city has 4 AM and 11 FM radio stations, operated by Anna University, All India Radio and private broadcasters.[274]


Senate House (University of Madras)

Madras University Senate House

Madras Observatory 1880

Madras Observatory, 1880,The oldest in Asia setup in 1770

Chennai is in second place for literacy among metropolitan city centers in India with a 90.33 percent literacy rate.[275] Chennai has a mix of public and private (some of which also receive financial support from the government) schools. The public school system is managed by the Chennai Corporation with an enrollment of 142,387 students in over 330 schools.[276] Tamil and English are the primary media of instruction, though several schools also use Telegu or Urdu.[276] Public schools run by the Chennai Corporation are all affiliated with the Tamil Nadu State Board, while private schools may be affiliated with either of the Tamil Nadu Board of Secondary Education or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).[277] A few schools are affiliated with the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations,[278] the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) board or the Montessori system. Education in Chennai starts with two years of Kindergarten from age three onward and then follows the Indian 10+2+3 plan, ten years of school, two years of higher secondary education, and three years of undergraduate education.[279][280]

English is the medium of instruction in the majority of institutions for higher education.[276] Colleges for science, arts and commerce degrees are typically affiliated with the University of Madras, which has three campuses in the city. The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and the Anna University are two well known centers for engineering education in the city. The Indian Army's Officers Training Academy is also headquarted in the city. Chennai has a plethora of libraries, including British Council Library, American Library, Connemara Public Library, and Anna Centenary Library. The Connemara Public Library is one of four National Depository Centres in India that receive a copy of all newspapers and books published in the country.[281][282] The Anna Centenary Library is the largest library in India.[283] Chennai has two CSIR research institutions namely Central Leather Research Institute and Structural Engineering Research Centre.

Chennai Book Fair, an annual book fair organized in Chennai by the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), is the largest exhibition for Tamil book publishers to display their books. The fair is typically held for about 10 days between the last week of December and the third week of January.[284] Thirty-fifth edition of the fair was held on 2012.


MAC Chepauk stadium

M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, one of the premier cricket venues in India.

Cricket is the most popular sport in Chennai.[285] It was introduced as a result of the establishment of the Madras Cricket Club in 1846.[286] The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk was established in 1916 and is one of the oldest cricket stadia in India.[287] The Chemplast Cricket Ground located inside the IIT Madras campus is another important venue for cricket matches. Prominent cricketers from the city include former Test-captains S. Venkataraghavan and Kris Srikkanth.[288][289] A cricket fast bowling academy called the MRF Pace Foundation, whose coaches include T.A Sekhar (cricketer) and Glenn Mcgrath, is based in Chennai.[290][291] Being home to the Indian Premier League cricket team Chennai Super Kings, the city hosted the finals of the IPL's fourth and fifth editions[292][293] in Chepauk.

Chennai is home to a World Series Hockey (WSH) team, the Chennai Cheetahs, and has hosted many hockey tournaments such as the Asia Cup and the Men's Champions Trophy at The Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.[294][295] Chennai has produced popular tennis players over the years, including Vijay Amritraj and Ramesh Krishnan,[296][297][298] and currently active Somdev Devvarman also grew up primarily in the city and holds a major rank.[299] Since 1997 Chennai has been host to the only ATP World Tour event held in India, the Chennai Open.[300]

Nungambakkam SDAT Tennis Stadium floodlit match panorama

Chennai Open match at the SDAT Tennis Stadium.

Awaiting fair winds to set sail

A view from the Club

Sailing first started in Ennore more then 100 years ago and then moved to the city of Madras (Chennai). Sir Francis Spring, the first Chairman of the Madras Port Trust, founded the Royal Madras Yacht Club in 1911. Now, a century later, the Club continues to promote the sport of "sailing” in all its aspects. With the fantastic sailing conditions that the coast off Chennai has to offer the Club now puts on a full and varied racing events (National & International) all round the year to cater for sailors of every skill level

Football and athletic competitions are held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which also houses a multi–purpose indoor complex for competition in volleyball, basketball and table tennis. Water sports are played in the Velachery Aquatic Complex. Chennai was the venue of the South Asian Games in 1995.[301]

Automobile racing in India has been closely connected with Chennai since its beginnings shortly after independence. Motor racing events are held on a special purpose track in Irungattukottai, Sriperumbudur,[302] which has also been the venue for several international competitions.[303] Formula One drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok were born in Chennai.[304][305]

Horse racing is held at the Guindy Race Course, while rowing competitions are hosted at the Madras Boat Club. The city has two 18–hole golf courses, the Cosmopolitan Club and the Gymkhana Club, both established in the late nineteenth century. The city has a rugby union team called the Chennai Cheetahs.[306]

Viswanathan Anand, the world chess champion, grew up in Chennai.[307] Other sportspersons of repute from Chennai include table tennis players Sharath Kamal and two–time world carrom champion, Maria Irudayam.[308][309] Chennai will host the 2013 Asian Athletic Championship,[310] and is being considered for hosting the World Chess Championship 2013.[311]

International relations[]

Foreign missions[]

The consular presence in the city dates back to 1794, when William Abbott was appointed U.S. consular agent for South India.[312][313][314] As of 2012, there were 43 foreign representations in Chennai, including consulates general, deputy high commissions and honorary consulates.[315] The American Consulate in Chennai is one of the top adjudication posts in the world and the number one in processing employment-based visas. It was ranked among the top globally in issuing 'L' and 'H' category visas for workers and professionals and was ranked eighth globally in terms of all category of visas being issued.[316]

The Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), which is the office of the field officers in charge of immigration and registration activities in the city, is located at Shastri Bhavan at Haddows Road.[317]

Sister cities[]

Chennai has sister city relationships with the following cities of the world.

City Country State/Region Since Reference
Coat of Arms of Volgograd Volgograd Russia Russia Flag of Volgograd Oblast Volgograd Oblast 1966 [318]
DenverCOseal Denver United States United States Flag of Colorado Colorado 1984 [319]
San Antonio United States United States Flag of Texas Texas 2008 [320]
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Malaysia Flag of the Federal Territory - Malaysia Federal Territory 2010 [321]

See also[]

Portal India
Portal Chennai
  • Areas of Chennai
  • List of people from Chennai
  • List of Tamil people
  • Tamil Diaspora


  • ^  In December 2009, the Tamil Nadu government announced plans to merge 9 municipalities, 8 town panchayats, and 25 village panchayats into the city of Chennai, which would increase its area to 426 square kilometres and population (according to the 2001 census) to 5.6 million. The plans are that boundary of the expanded corporation will be drawn in 2011, after the term of the elected councillors ends.[322] An ordinance was promulgated on 21 December 2010, amending the Madras City Municipal Corporation Act, giving effect to the total number of wards as 200. The corporation council is represented by 155 members.[323]
  • ^  The State government will decide on the expansion of the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) before the end of this fiscal, R Vaithilingam, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, told the Assembly on 25 August 2011. In view of the fast–paced development taking place in areas beyond the present metropolitan area jurisdiction, like Sriperumbudur, Kelambakkam, Tiruvallur and Maraimalai Nagar, it had become necessary to review the Chennai Metropolitan Planning Area that was notified in 1973–74, he said.[324]
  • Bangalore Newly Launch project in KR Puram Visit this Sobha Official Site(


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  2. ^ "Commissioner of Police". Government of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 
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