Chennai, formerly known as Madras is the capital of the great state Tamil Nadu and is one of the four metropolitan cities in India. This 350 year old city grew up under the huge influence of an English settlement of Fort Saint George and with time absorbed the surrounding towns and villages. However, despite having a British influence, Chennai has been succesful in retaining its traditional Tamil Hindu culture and have been able to provide a unique blend of foreign influence and Indian culture.
People of all religions co-exist in Chennai city. Over a period of time, all religious communities have developed and built their places of worship in different parts of Chennai/Madras. Major religious places of worship at Chennai are temples, churches, Mosques and Dargahs. Lets have a quick look at different religious places of Chennai.
Places of worship in Chennai:
Temples in Chennai
Temples are the places of worship of the Hindus. Since Hindus form a large part of the population of Chennai, it is but natural that of all the religious places of Chennai, temples are largest in number. Many of the temples of Chennai/Madras city are so popular that thousands of devotees throng them to pray and worship everyday. Lets have a quick glance of temples of Chennai city.
Mosques are the places for the worship of the Muslims. The Chennai/Madras city is inhabited by quite a number of Muslims and over a period of time many Mosques developed in the Chennai city. There are many important Mosques in Chennai city. Makka Masjid is one of he important mosques in Chennai city. It can accommodate hundreds of worshippers at a time. Masjid Mamoor is another important mosque, sacred to Muslims of Mannady area in Chennai. It was first built in 18th century. The Grand Mosque, in Red Stone, was built by Nawab Wallajah and is an important Mosque of Chennai. Thousand Lights Mosque is situated in the heart of Chennai city. This is a beautiful cream-colored, multi-domed mosque with walls bearing recently- painted sayings from the Holy Koran.
Dargah is a Muslim shrine, the grave of a Muslim ascetic, where devotees burn incense and pray. Many of these Dargahs in Chennai are venerated and visited by people of different faiths. Some of the famous Dargahs of Chennai/Madras city is Anna Salai Dargah, Hazrat Baba Dargah, Mohammad Ismail Sahib, Qadri Baba Dargah and Thameem Ansari baba Dargah.
Churches in Chennai
In Chennai city, there are many beautiful and magnificent churches, built over a period of time. Some of the important churches of Chennai/Madras are Anderson Church, Andrew’s Kink, Christ Church, Chinnamalai Church, Santhome Cathedral Basilica and St. George’s Cathedral.
Excursions from Chennai
Sunrise at the shore temple of Mahabalipuram Also known as Mahabalipuram, this ancient sea port was built by Emperor Mahendravarman Pallava in the 7th century. From here ships left for countries in south-east Asia and the Mediterranian carrying not only traders but people who emigrated to countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Combodia. Over the passage of time Mamallapuram ceased to function as a port but its glory lived on in its finished and unfinished temples and monuments. Time and natural forces have wrought changes on the solid rock surface of these monuments but each sculpture and image still succeeds in conveying a message of beauty and harmony.
San Thome Basilica
At the southern tip of Marina is the towering basilica built on the spot where St. Thomas (an apostle of Jesus Christ) was buried. This is the church of the Archbishop of Chennai – pastoral head of the Catholic community in the region. Besides the beauty of its rising spire, this Gothic styled church has a brilliant stained glass depiction of St. Thomas’ encounter with the resurrected Christ.
A reasonably new place presented by the Madras Crafts Foundation as a show piece of different living styles in the South. Contains recreations of Brahmin, Chettinad, a potters, a basket weaver’s, a silk weaver’s houses along with live representations of their craft. Similarly the Kerala section has a Syrian Christian house, a Menon house etc. Very authentic since the dwellings were actually bought from their places of origin and replanted here. There is an accompanying audio-visual presentation and a little gift shop. Very well done and definitely worth a visit.
Christ the King Church
Designed and built by an Indian mason, commissioned by French clergymen, this fine example of gothic architecture stands proudly in the middle of Loyola College campus. Its pointed arches, ribbed vaults, rose windows, three-aisled nave and the flying butresses are a worthy testament to the Gothic style. The Loyola Chapel was built in 1933. Covering an area of 150 feet by 60 feet, with stained glass windows, this church is a captivating sight, inside as well as outside. The spire is 157 feet high and has a stairway leading to the top, where a cross stands.
A picturesque fishing village en route to Mamallapuram. It has an idyllic, golden beach and a charming luxury hotel beach resort that’s been ingeniously integrated with the remains of a fort. The resort offers delicious sea food and facilities’ for such watersport as swimming and windsurfing. The ruins of the old fort, an ancient Catholic church and a mosque make interesting viewing.