|Subject: RE: Madras, India|
Sorry about not been able to reply earlier. You want to have the best of one day in Chennai, earlier called Madras when I was there about 10 years back. I keep going back to Chennai on tours for official work from the oil company I work with. The best bet for Chennai will be to go to Mahabalipuram (now called Mamallapuram) and see the shore temples and the rock carvings near the sea shore. I have a pleasant memory of the trip to Mahabalipuram during my college days and I remember taking a picture of the shore temple against the setting sun. It does not have a great beach. The tides are too strong and people warn against going for a swim since the water is not too shallow at the shore. The gradient is too high.
It takes just an hour or so by taxi to that place. There are plenty of bus services too from the main bus stand and also run by the hotel where you would be staying. But if you want to spend time on your own, a taxi would be a good bet. The trip to Mahabalipuram is a memorable one too with the road going parallel to the sea shore.
There is a snake park in Guindy near the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) which visitors go and see. But it is not as memorable as the trip to Mahabalipuram. I used to stay in the IIT campus and it is a lush green part of the city (in fact part of the Guindy national park with spotted deer and black bucks frequenting the place).
I am not sure about what you like to eat. But the cuisine of South India is really great (the idlis-steamed pancakes, vadas - fried pancakes and the dosas with sambar and coconut chutney). You will get it in any of the good hotels and you would probably love it. It is not too hot and would be worth a try.You can make a selection on Mount road (now called Anna Salai) walking around. A visit to Spencers and Higginbothams (a book store) is worth a visit too.
Mary Ann has suggested some great things for Madras. You may want to visit the Museum on Pantheon road if you have some time. You should also try and visit the Theosophical society near Adyar (it is on the way to Mahabalipuram) see the giant banyan tree in the campus.
If you are keen about railways, try and see the Railway station at Egmore. It is one of those old world kind of railway stations.
Fort St George is also worth a visit. But it would be difficult to fit in a single day. What time do you arrive there and what time do you leave? When do you reach Madras? Late October and early November is the time for the Monsoon rains in and around Madras. I hope that you have a great time in Madras.
Let me know if you want some more information on Madras and the other places you intend visiting. I am based in Faridabad very near to Delhi. I will try and do a search for you on some search engines for detailed information on Madras.
Ajay Kumar Faridabad (near Delhi) India