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Chennai as a destination?
Attention, prices are changing fast and this article is a bit older. For a city sightseeing and savings, the route is still a great clue.
Because of the new air-conditioned subway, the city was much better to travel. Let’s put it this way: exploring Chennai has never been a problem thanks to the suburban train and buses. Only what should one explore in Chennai at all?
Maybe you are in Chennai, because you want to continue to beautiful Mamallapuram or the former French colony Pondicherry or Madurai or as a day trip to the temple city of Kanchi. Or maybe you fly from here to the Andaman, to Sri Lanka or on to Southeast Asia. I’ve been in Chennai for a total of 9 days for almost all of these reasons. Let’s try to make the most of your stay with my experience.
Single Room at Broad Lands, Wooden Palace in Chennai – 3.91 EUR
The Broad Lands in Triplicane is a more than 60-year-old institution and my personal Chennai highlight. The building is also known as a “wooden palace”. The structure is reminiscent of a haveli, but the 3-storey building is largely made of wood. As in a haveli you can get lost in the many winding corridors well.
Granted, the Broad Lands came out days ago, but have a lot of charm. When we last visited the Broad Lands, a fashion shoot for a fashion magazine took place in the beautiful ambience.
From the quiet rooftop terrace, you can admire the sunset over the neighbouring Wallajah Mosque with a cool beer. Do not worry; there are no loud calls to prayer 5 times a day in the conservative Hindu city of Chennai, as in Muslim countries or Hyderabad.
Speaking of cold beer, in Broad Lands there is a concierge who can read your wishes from the lips and get everything, even chilled beer in conservative South India! As befits a wooden palace, the concierge is always barefoot.
300 rupees for a single room is not cheap in India, but you will not find it better to stay in Chennai as a budget backpacker, probably not in India. The rooms are large and airy, the beach chairs in the courtyard are shaded by an ancient tree and the quiet side street in Triplicane is perfectly located between the train station and the beach.
The Broad Lands are also easily accessible by public transport:
- from the bus station CMBT with the city bus 27B
- from Central Station by buses 30, 32, 32A, 38C, 38F
- from Egmore station by bus 22, 27B, 29A and 29
- from the airport take the S-Bahn to the stop Chepauk (change in Fort)
The two owners are very helpful and know the Chennai bus network inside and out. Wi-Fi is available in the lobby, but that costs extra (fair price).
(300 rupees for a single room, a double room costs 500 rupees)
Breakfast in the room-0,78 EUR
The barefoot concierge will happily bring you breakfast in your room. Although you save 25 rupees in the restaurant around the corner, you can start the day beautiful with the Bring service. If you are in South India, be sure to try a Masala Dosa for breakfast. The “Indian pancakes” with potato filling and 2 different chutneys are tasty and filling and a speciality in Tamil Nadu.
(40 Rupees Masala Dosa, 20 Rupees coffee)
Fruit salad or tea on the rattan bazaar-0.13 EUR
Welcome to one of the biggest markets in Chennai. The rattan bazaar is typically Indian, that is loud, dirty and buzzing. The market extends deep into the narrow streets where you can buy God and the world. You’ll probably pass a little walk around the block and then walk along the main road NSC Bose.
Here in the commercial centre of the city is the high court a beautiful colonial building. On the way to Chennai Beach S-Bahn station, you will pass it. Treat yourself on the way a small fruit salad from a flying dealer for 10 rupees. If your stomach is not yet used to Indian hygenic conditions, take a chai for 8 rupees. Hot drinks are good in the heat, believe it or not.
(10 Rupees fruit salad or Chai)
Anna monument and MGR monument-0,26 EUR
The S-Bahn goes from Chennai Beach to Chepauk Station, the 2nd stop. Attention, there are 2 commuter rail lines in Chennai Beach, do not take the wrong one, if necessary you can still change to Fort. From Chepauk it is less than 10 minutes to Marina Beach, the second-longest sandy beach in the world. Here stands opposite the beautiful university building the MGR monument and the Anna monument.
Take half an hour to explore the beautifully landscaped grounds by the sea. Between architectural experiments and Indian kitsch, some of the Indian visitors will surely address you and ask for a photo. Treat yourself to a reward for the difficult rock star Dasein in the street underpass at the exit of soft ice cream. It’s even hotter than it already was.
(S-Bahn 10 Rupees, ice 10 Rupees)
Lunch at Hotel Wheat-0.92 EUR
On the way back to Triplicane, you will come to CNK Road after the cricket stadium and find innumerable small food offers here in addition to many guesthouses. Wait until you get back to Triplicane High Road and visit the relatively clean and tasty Hotel Wheat with English menu.
There are no rooms in Hotel Wheat, “Hotel” stands for a restaurant in South India.
Order the Thali Lunch offer with different curries, chapati and a mountain of rice. If you’d rather try something special, you’ll probably get the best Kotthu Roti outside of Sri Lanka here. There is free drinking water, as usual in India.
(Thali or Kotthu Roti 70 Rupees)
Lunch break at Broad Lands-0.26 EUR
Believe me; you will regret travelling in Chennai in the midday heat. Every time we tried, we cursed our stupidity. Better put your legs up in your room or read a book in the shady courtyard of the Broad Land or have a siesta. In the lobby, there are cool drinks from 20 rupees.
(20 Rupees cool drink)
Bus to Vivekananda House-0.25 EUR
In the afternoon at about 4 pm, when the sun is not burning so mercilessly from the Tamil Nadu sky, take bus 45B directly from Triplicane High Road, just south of Broad Lands to the V.House stop on Marina Beach. Here stands the Vivekananda House, a kind of memorial and museum. The house itself looks like a cake and is perfectly located on the beach.
Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk who travelled to the United States in the 19th century and represented India in the First World Parliament of Religions. On his return, he was celebrated in Chennai. He founded the Ramakrishna Order in the following years and reformed Hinduism. It’s fun to read about the Hindu missionary who has taught the West about Samsara, Atman, Brahman and Karma almost a century before New Age.
The people in the Vivekananda house also appreciate a siesta and do not start again until after the lunch break.
(9 Rupees bus, 10 Rupees admission)
View from the lighthouse-0.13 EUR
You can see the largest urban beach in the world from the bird’s eye view of the striking white and red striped lighthouse.
(10 Rupees admission)
Kapleeshwarar Hindu temple-0,26 EUR
Tamil Nadu is famous for its Hindu temples in Dravidian style. One of the most important temples in Chennai is the Kapleeshwarar temple and very easy to reach by suburban train. Take the southbound train from the Lighthouse stop to Thirumayilai Station. The ride in the gentle afternoon light on the raised track is already an experience.
The temple Kapleeshwarar is extremely artfully decorated with all sorts of Hindu deities. It is photogenic next to the Mylapore tank, an artificial water reservoir. The entrance to the temple is free, but the guys who want to watch the shoes in front of the temple make a small donation of at least 10 rupees.
(10 Rupees S-Bahn, 10 Rupees shoe boys)
Monastery of Sri Ramakrishna Math
If you still have time and desire, you have run straight from the Kapleeshwarar Temple to Sri Ramakrishna Math. The monastery is the successor to the Vivekananda House and the local site of the Ramakrishna Order, founded by said Hindu missionary Swami Ramakrishna. The building is architecturally a small version of the headquarters in Kolkata.
Dinner on the beach-1.04 EUR
Take the train back to the Chepauk stop and take an evening walk on the beach. The Marina Beach fills up with many families in the evening for a picnic. With the many discounts the beach is more like a fairground. As long as it is still light, cricket is also played. Opposite the quiet picture in the morning the beach looks like exchanged.
On the beach, there are now various food stalls that serve simple Indian dishes, such as Pavs, Vadar, Puri, Samosas or Bhaji. At a small stall further south, we also found a large selection of cheap stir-fried dishes, including Chicken and Paneer Chilli. With the cooling pinch of the sea, it can be very good here. Soft drinks are also available.
(10 Rupees S-Bahn, 60 Rupees dinner)
Beer and bar snacks in the hotel bar-2,09 EUR
Back in Triplicane, we end the day with a beer. There is a liquor store in the Triplicane High Road diagonally opposite the mosque, but buying beer there is impossible in the evening just before closing time. In front of the barred windows, a pack breaks loose like whiskey and other hard liquor, as in predatory feeding. Even if you pick it up with the predators, there’s only warm stout beer in the store anyway.
Alternatively, ask the barefoot concierge, who has a cold supply of Kingfisher at Broad Lands. For a very special experience, go to the hotel bar of the DSK Castle Hotel and order a large Kingfisher. In the typical Indian, darkened hotel bar one feels like a criminal because of a beer. To the cold beer, you get an estimated 10 bowls with various Indian snacks, from spicy to salty and from dry to soupy. If you’ve finished eating, you’ll even get a lookup.
(160 Rupees beer and bar snacks in the hotel bar)
Total Spending 767 Indian Rupees or 10.01 EUR at the current exchange rate of 76.48 Rupees.