Chennai or Madras as it was formerly known is one of the biggest cities in southern India. Famous for Marina beach, Rajnikanth and Chidambaram Stadium (and hot-humid weather), Chennai has got everything that a modern metro should have. My first memories of Chennai were when I traveled to Pondicherry few years back. I remember staying near the railway station at that time. Recently too I was in Chennai to attend a function after my short getaway from Ooty. And that was the first time I was flying to Chennai, only to realize that the flight takes a good ‘u-turn’ over the sea to land at the magnificent airport. The Chennai airport is a great one dressed with a lot of Indian Art works. Anyways, I had about a half day to spend in Chennai and I traveled by almost all the modes of transport in the city. So this Chennai Travel Guide is for newbies that will help you to choose the best one for your needs.
Chennai Travel Guide
Nouveau Chennai Metro
Metro is becoming a status symbol for cities as every other city is coming up with their own Metro (irrespective of whether it is required or not) it’s like Ahmedabad telling Chennai, mera paas gaadi hai, bangla hai, shauhrat hai tere pass kya hai ? Mere paas Metro train hai ! Jokes apart, Chennai Metro isn’t 100% functional as it still cannot take you to many parts of the city. I flew in to Chennai via Jetlite in the wee hours and had to head to Sholinganallur. Instead of taking the cab or auto, I decided to take the Metro from the Airport.
I don’t know if it was language issue or what, I was provided with a Chennai Metro Smart card. So I traveled a couple of stations from the Airport to Alandur. I paid about 100₹ for the card for 3 stations. That is expensive. But if you are in Chennai and if there’s a Metro station where you want to go, it’s a good way to avoid the city traffic and the hot humid weather too.
Suburban Train – Chennai’s lifeline
Chennai, just like Mumbai relies heavily on its network of Suburban trains. These trains help millions reach their destination on a daily basis. The trains are fast and overly crowded during peak hours. After visiting the Marina Beach along with my pal, I had to travel to Chromepet to attend a function. Since I was short on time. He suggested me to take the Suburban train. The tickets for suburban trains are very affordable. I took a train from Saidapet to Chromepet.
The train chugged through important places in the city like Guindy and even the Airport (Tirisulam). If you want to feel the pulse of the city, the Chennai Suburban train is the best way to travel. Since its affordable and connects most part of the city, it should be your first choice to travel. Hence the highlight of Chennai Travel Guide for newbies is the Chennai Suburban Train.
The Chennai Autorickshaw
Chennai has its fair share of autos. Thousands of autos are plying across the city on a daily basis. As mentioned above, I had to take an auto after my metro ride. The auto I rode in was fast. I guess even other autos would be fast. Language as people say, wasn’t an issue as the auto driver easily understood Hindi. However, the autos in Chennai can get costly. For a ride of about 2kms, I had to shell out almost 80₹. I could have walked, but the weather and luggage didn’t allow me to. So, the Chennai auto is another good way to travel in the city, ideally should be your last option I my opinion.
Chennai has a very well established public transport system in place with buses being a part of it. If you know exactly where you want to travel in the city, the buses are the best way to go about. However, many people stay away from buses due to the fact that the either the board are in local language or fear language issue. Chennai has a fleet of buses ranging from the normal buses to AC JNNURM buses. The normal buses are crowded and it might not be a good idea if you are travelling with luggage.
Chennai is well-connected by air, train and road. Flights to Chennai are often very affordable if you are travelling from Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai. For instance the average rate of Mumbai Chennai flights is around 2000₹ which is very good considering you are covering the entire breadth of the country in few hours ! I hope that this Chennai Travel guide for newbies will be helpful for anyone who is visiting Chennai for the first time. Since it was my first hand experience in the city, I thought to share it here. If you think I missed out on anything or there’s some incorrect information, please mention in the comments below or tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj