Chennai is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is also one of the largest cities in India. Located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, many interesting facts about Chennai showcase the city’s diverse history, culture, and attractions.
Historical Facts About Chennai
Chennai may be advancing rapidly, but the city also has centuries of rich heritage. It has been an important center of activity since ancient times. Here are some fascinating historical facts about Chennai.
Chennai Was Previously Known As Madras
Chennai was originally known as Madras. It was renamed in 1996 when the Indian government changed the names of a lot of cities to resonate with the local culture. One very interesting Chennai fact is that despite the official name change, many people still refer to the city as Madras.
Chennai Was Attacked In World War I
Chennai was the only Indian city attacked by the Germans during World War I. The attack happened in 1914, and it was carried out by a German ship called Emden.
The Oldest Surviving English Language Newspaper In India Was Started In Chennai
The Madras Courier, established in 1785, is the oldest surviving English-language newspaper in India. It was founded by publisher Richard Johnston. The newspaper covered domestic and foreign news and was circulated widely across British India.
Cultural Facts About Chennai
Chennai is the heart of Tamil culture. It has preserved ancient art forms, classical dance traditions, and temples. Here are some cultural facts about Chennai.
The Dance Form Bharatanatyam Originated Here
India is famous for several classical dances. Bharatanatyam is a famous classical Indian dance form that originated in Tamil Nadu. Traditionally, it was performed by temple dancers.
The popularity of Bharatanatyam faded away with time. However, in the first part of the 20th century, a choreographer and lawyer, by the names Rukmini Devi Arundale and E. Krishna Iyer respectively, revived the dance form.
Bharatanatyam is now celebrated as one of India’s most graceful classical dance styles.
It Is A Hub For Tamil Cinema
Bollywood is a big film industry; however, India also has several local state-based film industries. Chennai is the base for the Tamil film industry, dubbed Kollywood.
Tamil cinema is popular across South India and Sri Lanka. Several prominent production houses and Bollywood film personalities are based here.
Tamil Is The Most Widely Spoken Language
Another intriguing fact about Chennai is that Tamil is the most widely spoken language in the city. While Hindi is India’s official language, it is less commonly used in the state of Tamil Nadu. Signboards across Chennai are predominantly in English and Tamil.
Sundal Is the Most Popular Food
Sundal is the most popular dish in Chennai. It is a spicy lentil salad mixed with onions, curry leaves, grated coconut, salt, chilies, turmeric, cumin, and mustard seeds.
Simple Facts About Chennai For Kids
Here are some basic facts about Chennai that kids will find interesting.
Chennai Has India’s Largest Zoo
The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, more commonly known as the Vandalur Zoo, is India’s largest zoo. The zoo spans over 1490 acres. Opened in 1985, it is home to over 171 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Chennai Is Nicknamed “The Detroit Of South Asia”
One of the fun facts about Chennai is that it is nicknamed “the Detroit of South Asia” due to its large automotive industry. The region around Chennai produces a big proportion of India’s cars and auto parts. You can also find dealerships of major international brands like Ford.
Useful Chennai Facts For Travelers
If you are visiting Chennai, these interesting facts will help you better understand the city.
The Second Longest Beach In The World Is In Chennai
Beach lovers from all over the world are going to love this fact about Chennai. Marina Beach in Chennai is the second longest beach in the world, spanning 13 km of sandy coastline along the Bay of Bengal.
Both locals and tourists enjoy the beach for its beautiful sunset views, food stalls, and lively festive atmosphere. It is a great place for swimming, spending time with family or just taking a relaxing stroll.
There Are Many Ancient Temples In Chennai
There are many historic and architecturally impressive temples across Chennai showcasing ancient Hindu temple art and culture. Key temples to visit include Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Parthasarathy Temple, Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, and the very popular temples of Mahabalipuram.
If you are visiting Chennai, then you should never miss a visit to the temples of Mahabalipuram. They are some of the best landmarks in India.
Chennai Is Famous For Silk Sarees
Kanjeevaram silk sarees hail from Kanchipuram near Chennai. These premium silk sarees are known for their vibrant colors and ornate designs.
As a traditional symbol of Tamil culture, these sarees can be expensive. However, if you are visiting Chennai from another country, they are a great souvenir for the women in your life.
Common Facts About Chennai
Here are some well-known common facts about Chennai to understand the city better.
Jallikattu Is A Popular Sport
Jallikattu is a traditional sport played in Chennai where a bull is released into a crowd and participants try to ride it or hold on as long as possible. Though controversial due to cruelty to animals, it takes place annually during Pongal celebrations and is a test of bravery.
Chennai Is Known As The Gateway To South India
Chennai is known as the Gateway to South India due to its culture, geography, and strategic location. The city introduces visitors to the traditions of South India. It serves as an important entry point for trade and tourism.
Chennai’s international airport and seaport also connect it to major cities worldwide, enabling people and cargo to flow into the southern states. Its technology sector and manufacturing plants drive innovation, making it a major economic center in the southern part of India.
Other Interesting Facts About Chennai
Here are some fascinating facts about Chennai to know about.
Oscar Winner Musician AR Rahman Was Born In Chennai
Legendary Indian composer AR Rahman was born in Chennai. He has won acclaim both in India and internationally for his original music scores and songs in over 100 films.
Rahman has won two Oscars, one Golden Globe, two Grammy Awards, and many national awards. He was nicknamed Mozart of Madras by music critic Stephen Holden.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ASIA
Discovering More Fun Facts About Chennai
Traveling to Chennai can be a great and one-of-a-kind experience. From ancient port to modern metropolis, Chennai has a long and storied journey. These interesting facts about Chennai show the city’s diverse nature as an economic and cultural hub in India.