If you’ve been to Mumbai, you’ve probably visited a few of the touristic destinations in the south end of the city. One of these hotspots includes the Gateway of India. But have you ever thought about heading down to what’s known as “the Gateway of South India”? If you are, lucky you because you’re getting a 48-Hour Guide to Chennai, Tamil Nadu!
Here’s a list of places to see, things to do, and some general tips for your visit!
(Aside: I lived in Mumbai for 9 months and I didn’t even think to create a destination guide on it. Why am I like this. But I might also break it up in terms of categories like nightlife, adventure spots, historical areas, etc. Stay tuned!)
Your Weekend Guide to Chennai
If you’re following me on Instagram (poor you, lol), you probably know about that one time my cousin Nicki and I got ripped off at the Kapalashweerar Temple. Although it tainted our experience, I would say that the temple is still worth visiting. Although if I were you, I would employ the tips I’ve provided in that article so it doesn’t ruin your visit, too.
It’s amazing how many unique spaces you’ll discover when you slow it down and really take the time to be present in your surroundings. Sometimes when I travel, I’m so eager to get from place to place that I forget to live in the moment. Chennai’s residential buildings remind me of pastel Lego pieces, complete with “kolam” designs welcoming you at the door. Make sure to take some time and get a few outfit photos in front of the lovely doorways! (If not for the ‘gram, then just for yourself!)
If you walk along the highway next to Marina Beach, you’re gonna come across some cool historic sites including the Ghandi statue pictured above.
One of the autorickshaw drivers told us that Marina Beach was the second largest beach in the world. Which is utter bullshit. After a quick Google search, I knew that it wasn’t even in the Top 10. (It might be a top contender for the longest beach in the world, perhaps?) Never mind that, though. It’s still worth it to go, and as far as Indian beaches go, it’s pretty clean! Nicki also had her first pani puri at this beach, although the ones chaat stands in Bombay are better.
Eat Dosa at iD
Who better to get travel advice from than BuzzFeed, amirite? The dosas at iD definitely did not disappoint! (Before you get confused, iD is not some artisan, exclusive restaurant in Chennai – it’s actually a chain.) A little birdy told me that dosas actually originated in Chennai, so it made the experience even better knowing that you’re eating a huge crepe of happiness in the city of its origin. It’s kinda like that time I ate pizza in Naples – the birthplace of pizza – on Semester at Sea.
DakshinaChitra Live Museum
The DakshinaChitra is basically a heritage museum that’s as close to going back in time as you can get. It focuses on 4 main areas of South India and you can go inside sample homes from people of different backgrounds. You can click here to visit their website and see what programs they have to offer. We went during Onam, which is a Hindu festival in South India that marks the summer harvest. We were lucky enough to see cultural performances in celebration of it like the dance above.
Get a mehendi tattoo
If you’re a loyal Instagram baddie follower, you may be familiar with these already (the English word for mehendi is henna). You can get a mehendi tattoo anywhere in India (and for way cheaper than the DakshinaChitra centre) but if you’re dropping by anyways, make sure to get tatted since they last for about a week! It’s the coolest souvenir ever.
Hope this helps and enjoy your stay in Chennai!
If you’re looking for more weekend guides in South India, make sure to read this post, too: 48 Hours in Kerala