This temple is a fantastic example of Dravidian architecture ~ this is what comes to mind whenever I picture southern Hindu temples. The brightly painted plaster sculptures are breathtaking. . .and the layout inside the temple grounds is like a small town itself.
The Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is even more incredible. . .but my photos from Chennai turned out much better.
Authentic Art and Carvings
Buying "authentic" arts and crafts in India can be dicey. There are a lot of charlatans, a lot of otherwise well-meaning people trying to earn a living, and some legitimate art dealers. Aparna Art Gallery belongs to the last group.
Many of the pieces are actually salvaged materials refurbished. Old houses in southern India often incorporate beautiful carvings into the architecture - panels, pillars, and other pieces. Huge numbers of the old houses in and around Chennai have been and are being torn down to build apartments. Panels end up being cut apart, pillars removed from capitals - in the end, pieces end up, well, in pieces, and can be bought if you look hard enough. There are also Tanjore and other paintings, furniture, and decorative items.
Aparna is in an unassuming location and caters mostly to locals. The pieces are good quality, interesting, and mostly priced according to market value (i.e., expensive). You may want to call in advance to make sure you can get in. As far as I can tell the workers speak only Hindi, so arrange accordingly.
Madras Crocodile bank
Located 42-km from Chennai (Madras) is a farm where several species of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators are bred in captivity. This crocodile bank is on the way to Mamallapuram. About 5,000 species are kept in their natural surroundings in open pools. They can be viewed from a safe distance.
The Crocodile Bank occupies an area of 3.2 hectares and has been established with an aim to protect and conserve the endangered reptile s such as Crocodiles, Alligators, snakes etc.
Although Kerala is better known for Ayuerveda, you do have quite a few options in Chennai.
I can recommend Ayush. It is a very professional service, extremely clean and not expensive. There are many different treatments to choose from, or you cab just go for a good full body oil massage (Ind Rs 550 for 45 min, January 2008).
Southern Indian Delight
"Beautiful Sandy Beaches"
There are three major beaches in Channai, all are fabulous, THey are :-
This is the second longest beach in the world and is a major tourist attraction. It stretches about 13 kms from the Harbour to the Santhome Cathedral. The Memorials such as Anna Samadhi, MG R Samadhi are located on the sea front. This section of the beach road is known as Anna Square. An aquarium, of tropical and marine fishes and a swimming pool are situated adjacent to each other.
This beach is located in Besant Nagar. Formerly a popular bathing beach, today, it is the favourite rendezvous of the younger generation. Good roads, pavements, illuminated sands, makes a visit to this beach a real pleasure.
Covelong is a small fishing village located 40 kms from Chennai on the way to Mahabalipuram. Now it is a luxury beach resort. This beach has a fort built by the Nawab of Carnatic, Saadat Ali.