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India: Chennai

St. Geoge Fort, Chennai

A city of Contrasts and diversities, Chennai is the forth-largest city in India. Known world wide as Madras until recently, the city was renamed Chennai, evolved from the age-old name, Chennapattinam.

Chennai is a coastal city with the second largest beach in the world. The climate is hot and humid. But the breeze blowing from the sea makes the climate bearable. In the summer the temperature reaches up to 42 degree C (month of May). The winter (Dec.- Feb.) is slightly less hot than the summer. Mansoon falls in Sept. - Nov. Chennai is the Capital of Tamil Nadu.


Santhome Church, Chennai

Chennaipattinam was a popular trading center for spices and clothes for more than 2000 years. Portuguese and Dutch arrived in the 16 th century followed by the British and French. In 1639 the British East India Company established a settlement in the fishing village of Madraspattnam that they leased from the local Nayaks.

In Madraspattnam they started construction of Fort St. George. George Town grew in the area of fort and neighboring villages ultimately becoming the oldest Municipality of India in 1668. During the 17 th and 18 th centuries Europeans competed for supremacy in India and Briton became the ultimate gainer. Under the command of Robert Clive, British launched a campaign against French, a series of war known as the Carnatic Wars. Finally the French were forced to withdraw to Pondicherry.

The city grew into modern day Madras City merging all neighboring areas. In the 19th century the city became the seat of Madras Presidency, the southern division of British Imperial India. After independence in 1947 it became the capital of Madras State that was renamed Tamil Nadu. Very recently Madras was renamed Chennai.