This thriving port on the Bay of Bengal in south-eastern India provides the perfect introduction to the wonders of southern India. The city was formerly known as Madras. Magnificent Dravidian temples compete with monuments from the British colonial past, including the Chepauk Palace and the High Court buildings. Chennai is also a thriving university and cultural centre, as well as a leader in Indian film-making. Other places of interest include the Guindy National Park, Kapaleeshwarar Temple (an ancient shrine to Shiva), the shore temple at Mahabalipuram and the Cathedral of San Thome, said to have been built over the burial place of the Apostle Thomas. The city grew up around the English settlement of Fort St George (excellent collection of Raj memorabilia) and gradually absorbed the surrounding towns and villages. Further afield you can visit the sacred city of Kanchipuram with its imposing temples and shrines.
Chennai is over 350 years old, having been founded by the East India Company in 1639. It was the company's first settlement in India and was established by the trader Francis Day as a fort and trading post. However, some of the villages on the site of the city-Triplicane, Mylapore, Tiruvottiyur, and Pallavaram-date from over 2,000 years ago. Chennai is still growing and consequently is deficient in services and housing - nearly one million peopIe living in the slum "colonies" that line otherwise open urban spaces.
The following 16 cruises call at Chennai (Madras).
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