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Chennai (சென்னை)


—  metropolitan city  —
From top clockwise: Ripon Building, Santhome Basilica, Chennai Central, Valluvar Kottam
Chennai (சென்னை)
Location of Chennai (சென்னை)
in Tamil Nadu and India
Coordinates 13°5′2″N 80°16′12″E Coordinates: 13°5′2″N 80°16′12″E
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District(s)  •  Chennai
 •  Kanchipuram
 •  Tiruvallur
Mayor M. Subramaniam
Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan


4,616,639 a ( 5th) (2010)

26,532 /km2 (68,718 /sq mi)
7,413,779 ( 4th) (2010)

Time zone IST ( UTC+05:30)


174 km2 (67 sq mi)

1,189 square kilometres (459 sq mi)
6 metres (20 ft)


Chennai (Tamil: சென்னை [ˈtɕennəj]), formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam (Tamil: மெட்ராஸ் AKA மதறாஸ்), is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Chennai being the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the fifth most populous city in India, it is also the world's 36th largest metropolitan area. Located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai was inducted in the list of Global cities and ranked as a "Gamma+ world cities" alongside cities such as Montreal, Nairobi, Bratislava, Panama City, Brisbane, Casablanca, Denver, Vancouver, Zagreb, Manama,Cape Town. As of 2009, Chennai city had a population of 4.34 million in the 2001 census within the area administered by the Corporation of Chennai and an extended Metropolitan Population of 6.5 million. a The urban agglomeration of metropolitan Chennai has an estimated population over 8.2 million people.

Chennai's economy has a broad industrial base in the car, computer, technology, hardware manufacturing, and healthcare industries. The city is India's second largest exporter of software, information technology ( IT) and information-technology-enabled services ( ITES). A major chunk of India's car manufacturing industry is based in and around the city. Chennai Zone contributes 39 per cent of the State's GDP. Chennai accounts for 60 per cent of the country's automotive exports, which leads it to be called as 'The Detroit of Asia'.

Chennai is an important centre for Carnatic Music and hosts a large cultural event, the annual Madras Music Season, which includes performances by hundreds of artists. The city has a vibrant theatre scene and is an important centre for the Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form. The Tamil film industry, one of the largest film industries in India, also popularly known as Kollywood is based in the city; the soundtracks of the films dominate its music scene.


The name Chennai is a shortened form of Chennaipattinam, the name of the town that grew around Fort St. George, which was built by the British in 1640. There are two versions about the origin of the name Chennai: according to one version, Chennaipattinam was named after Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu, Nayaka of Kalahasthi and Vandavasi father of Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu, from whom the British acquired the town in 1639. The first official use of the name Chennai is said to be in a sale deed, dated August 1639, to Francis Day of the British East India Company. According to the second account, Chennapattinam was named after the Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple; the word chenni in Tamil means face, and the temple was regarded as the face of the city.

The city's former name, Madras, is derived from Madraspattinam, a fishing village north of Fort St. George. There is some argument among researchers about the exact origin of the name Madraspattinam. Some believe that the Portuguese, who arrived in the area in the 16th century, may have named the village Madre de Deus. Others believe that the village's name came from the once prominent Madeiros family (variously known as Madera or Madra in succeeding years) of Portuguese origin, which had consecrated the Madre de Deus Church in the Chennai locality, Santhome, in 1575. It is uncertain whether the name 'Madraspattinam' was in use before European influence. According to some Indian resources, the name Madraspattinam derived from Mutharasa Pattinam, ruled by King of Muthurasa (Mutharayar) in earlier stage before British rule. The sequence of the name began with Mutharasa to Muthras to Matras to Madras.

Some time after the British gained possession of the area in the 17th century, the two towns, Madraspattinam and Chennapattinam, were merged. The British referred to the united town as Madraspattinam. The state government officially changed it to Chennai in 1996, at a time when many Indian cities were being renamed.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1639 7,000
1646 19,000 +171.4%
1648 15,000 −21.1%
1670 40,000 +166.7%
1673 33,300 −16.8%
1674 50,000 +50.2%
1681 200,000 +300.0%
1685 300,000 +50.0%
1691 400,000 +33.3%
1715 100,000 −75.0%
1720 80,000 −20.0%
1726 100,000 +25.0%
1733 100,000 +0.0%
1791 300,000 +200.0%
1871 367,552 +22.5%
1881 405,848 +10.4%
1891 452,518 +11.5%
1901 509,346 +12.6%
1911 518,660 +1.8%
1921 526,911 +1.6%
1931 647,230 +22.8%
1941 776,000 +19.9%
1951 1,416,056 +82.5%
1961 1,729,141 +22.1%
1971 2,469,449 +42.8%
1981 3,266,034 +32.3%
1991 3,841,398 +17.6%
2001 4,216,268 +9.8%
  • 1639-1791: H. D. Love (1913). "Population of Madras". Vestiges of Old Madras, Vol 3. pp. 557.
  • 1871 - 1901: Imperial Gazetter of India, Volume 16. Clarendon Press. 1908.
  • 1871 - 1931: Mary Elizabeth Hancock (2008). The politics of heritage from Madras to Chennai. Indiana University Press. p. 220. ISBN  0253352231, ISBN 978-0-253-35223-1.
  • 1951 - 1961: Sangya Srivastava (2005). Studies in Demography. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. p. 251. ISBN  8126119926, ISBN 978-81-261-1992-9.
  • 1991-2001: "Area and Population". Chennai District Statistical Handbook. District Administration, Chennai.
Fort St. George, ca. 1905

The region around Chennai has served as an important administrative, military, and economic centre since the 1st century. Stone age implements were found in a pit near Pallavaram in Chennai. According to the archeological survey of India, Pallavaram was a megalithic cultural establishment.

The area was ruled by various South Indian dynasties, notably the Pallava, the Chera Dynasty, the Chola, the Pandya, and Vijaynagar. The town of Mylapore, now part of Chennai, was once a major Pallavan port. The Portuguese arrived in 1522 and built a port called São Tomé after the Christian apostle, St Thomas, who is believed to have preached in the area between 52 and 70 AD. In 1612, the Dutch established themselves near Pulicat, just north of the city.

The city of Madras in 1909

On 22 August 1639, Francis Day of the British East India Company bought a small strip of land on the Coromandel Coast. The region was ruled by Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu,, the Nayaka of Vandavasi. He granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises. A year later, the British built Fort St George, which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city. Fort St. George housed the Tamil Nadu Assembly until the new Secretariat building was opened in 2010. In 1746, Fort St. George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of Mauritius, who plundered the town and its outlying villages. The British regained control in 1749 through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and fortified the town's fortress wall to withstand further attacks from the French and another looming threat, Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore. By the late 18th century, the British had conquered most of the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, establishing the Madras Presidency with Madras as the capital. Under British rule, the city grew into a major urban centre and naval base.

Victoria Public Hall, an example of a colonial building in Chennai

With the advent of railways in India in the late 19th century, the thriving urban centre was connected to other important cities such as Bombay and Calcutta, promoting increased communication and trade with the hinterland.

Madras was the only Indian city to be attacked by the Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden on 22 September 1914, as it raided shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, causing disruption to shipping.

After India gained its independence in 1947, the city became the capital of Madras State, renamed the state of Tamil Nadu in 1969. The violent agitations of 1965 against the imposition of Hindi as the national language, marked a major shift in the political dynamics of the city and the whole state.

On 26 December 2004, an Indian Ocean tsunami lashed the shores of Chennai, killing many and permanently altering the coastline.



Chennai is on a flat coastal plain, as shown on this Landsat 7 map.

Chennai is on the southeast coast of India in the northeast of Tamil Nadu on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. Its average elevation is around 6.7 metres (22 feet), and its highest point is 60 m (200 ft). The Marina Beach runs for 12 km along the shoreline of the city. Two rivers meander through Chennai, the Cooum River (or Koovam) through the centre and the Adyar River to the south. A third river, the Kortalaiyar, flows through the northern fringes of the city before draining into the sea at Ennore. Adyar and Cooum rivers are heavily polluted with effluents and waste from domestic and commercial sources. The state government periodically removes silt and pollution from the Adyar river, which is much less polluted than the Cooum. A protected estuary on the Adyar forms a natural habitat for several species of birds and animals. The Buckingham Canal, 4 km (2.5 mi) inland, runs parallel to the coast, linking the two rivers. The Otteri Nullah, an east-west stream, runs through north Chennai and meets the Buckingham Canal at Basin Bridge. Several lakes of varying size are located on the western fringes of the city. Red Hills, Sholavaram and Chembarambakkam Lake supply Chennai with potable water. Groundwater sources are becoming brackish.

Chennai's soil is mostly clay, shale and sandstone. Sandy areas are found along the river banks and coasts, such as Thiruvanmiyur, Adyar, Kottivakkam, Santhome, George Town, Tondiarpet and the rest of coastal Chennai. Here rainwater runoff percolates quickly through the soil. Clay underlies most of the city including T. Nagar, West Mambalam, Anna Nagar, Villivakkam, Perambur and Virugambakkam. Areas of hard rock include Guindy, Perungudi, Velachery, Adambakkam and a part of Saidapet. Chennai is divided into four broad regions: North, Central, South and West. North Chennai is primarily an industrial area. Central Chennai is the commercial heart of the city and includes an important business district, Parry's Corner. South Chennai and West Chennai, previously mostly residential, are fast becoming commercial, home to a growing number of information technology firms, financial companies and call centres. The city is expanding quickly along the Old Mahabalipuram Road and the Grand Southern Trunk Road ( GST Road) in the south and towards Ambattur, Koyambedu and Sriperumbdur in the west. Chennai is one of the few cities in the world that accommodates a national park, the Guindy National Park, within its limits.


Chennai has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate. The city lies on the thermal equator and is also on the coast, which prevents extreme variation in seasonal temperature. The weather is hot and humid for most of the year. The hottest part of the year is late May to early June, known locally as Agni Nakshatram ("fire star") or as Kathiri Veyyil, with maximum temperatures around 38–42 °C (100–108 °F). The coolest part of the year is January, with minimum temperatures around 18–20 °C (64–68 °F). The lowest temperature recorded is 15.8 °C (60.4 °F) and highest 45 °C (113 °F) The average annual rainfall is about 1,300 mm (51 in). The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north-east monsoon winds, from mid-October to mid-December. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal sometimes hit the city. The highest annual rainfall recorded is 2,570 mm (101 in) in 2005. Prevailing winds in Chennai are usually southwesterly between April and October and northeasterly during the rest of the year.

Climate data for Chennai, India
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33
Average high °C (°F) 29
Average low °C (°F) 19
Record low °C (°F) 14
Precipitation mm (inches) 16.2
Source: Indian Meteorological Department


Historically, Chennai has relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish water reservoirs, as no major rivers flow through the area. With a steadily increasing population, the city has faced water supply shortages, and its ground water levels have been depleted. An earlier Veeranam Lake project failed to solve the city's water problems, but the New Veeranam project, which became operational in September 2004, has greatly reduced dependency on distant sources. In recent years, heavy and consistent monsoon rains and rainwater harvesting (RWH) by Chennai Metrowater at its Anna Nagar Rain Centre have significantly reduced water shortages. Moreover, newer projects like the Telugu Ganga project that bring water from water-surplus rivers like the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh have eased water shortages. The city has constructed a sea water desalination plant to further increase the water supply.

Administration and utility services

City officials, as of September 2007
Ma. Subramanian
Deputy Mayor
R. Sathya Bama
Corporation Commissioner
Mr. Karthikeyan IAS
Commissioner of Police
T. Rajendran
Postmaster General
M.S. Ramanujan

Chennai city is governed by the Corporation of Chennai. Established in 1688, it is the oldest municipal corporation not only in India, but also in any Commonwealth nation outside the United Kingdom. It consists of 155 councillors who represent 155 wards and are directly elected by the city's residents. From among themselves, the councillors elect a mayor and a deputy mayor who preside over about six standing committees.

The area of jurisdiction of the Corporation of Chennai is set to expand manifold from its present extent of 176 km² to 800 km² pending a decision to be taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu. On doing this the population of Chennai is also set to increase from the present 4.5 million to over 8 million.

The Tamil Nadu legislative assembly-secretariat complex at the Omandurar Government Estate, Chennai

Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, houses the state executive and legislative headquarters primarily in the Secretariat Buildings on the Fort St George campus but also in many other buildings scattered around the city. The Madras High Court, whose jurisdiction extends across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, is the highest judicial authority in the state and is also in the city. Chennai has three parliamentary constituencies — Chennai North, Chennai Central and Chennai South — and elects 14 Members of the Legislative Assembly ( MLAs) to the state legislature.

The metropolitan region of Chennai covers many suburbs that are part of Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts. The larger suburbs are governed by town municipalities, and the smaller ones are governed by town councils called panchayats. While the city covers an area of 174 km2 (67 sq mi), the metropolitan area is spread over 1,189 km2 (459 sq mi). The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority ( CMDA) has drafted a Second Master Plan that aims to develop satellite townships around the city. Contiguous satellite towns include Mahabalipuram to the south, Chengalpattu and Maraimalai Nagar to the southwest, and Kanchipuram town, Sriperumpudur, Tiruvallur and Arakkonam to the west.

A Chennai Metropolitan Police patrol car

The Greater Chennai Police department, a division of the Tamil Nadu Police, is the law enforcement agency in the city. The city police force is headed by a commissioner of police, and administrative control rests with the Tamil Nadu Home Ministry. The department consists of 36 subdivisions with a total of 121 police stations. The city's traffic is managed by the Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP). The Metropolitan suburbs are policed by the Chennai Metropolitan Police, and outer district areas are policed by the Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur police departments.

Utility services

The Corporation of Chennai and municipalities of the suburbs provide civic services. Garbage in most zones is handled by Neel Metal Fanalica Environment Management, a private company, and by the Chennai Corporation in the other zones. Water supply and sewage treatment are handled by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board, popularly referred to as CMWSSB. Electricity is distributed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. The city does not have a piped gas network and gas is supplied in cylinders by both state owned and private petroleum companies.

Historically, Chennai has relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish water reservoirs, as no major rivers flow through the area. With a steadily increasing population, the city has faced water supply shortages, and its ground water levels have been depleted. An earlier Veeranam Lake project failed to solve the city's water problems, but the New Veeranam project, which became operational in September 2004, has greatly reduced dependency on distant sources. In recent years, heavy and consistent monsoon rains and rainwater harvesting (RWH) by Chennai Metrowater at its Anna Nagar Rain Centre have significantly reduced water shortages. Moreover, newer projects like the Telugu Ganga project that bring water from water-surplus rivers like the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh have eased water shortages. The city has constructed water desalination plants to further increase the water supply.

Telephone services in the city are provided by nine mobile phone service companies that include nine GSM networks and two CDMA networks along with four land line companies. Commercial and domestic broadband Internet services are provided by all the four land line service providers and a majority of the mobile network service providers. Some areas of the city are also covered by a paid Wifi Internet service.


Chennai is an emerging powerhouse and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The city has so far in 2010 created over 100,000 jobs—more than any other Indian city outside of the much larger Delhi and Mumbai. Chennai's metropolitan area is taking full advantage of India's soaring industrial sector, particularly the booming automobile sector. Electronics, led by Dell, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Siemens, Sony and Foxconn, are also booming. Chennai is home to India's second-largest entertainment industry, behind Mumbai.

Chennai has a diversified economic base anchored by the automobile, software services, hardware manufacturing, healthcare and financial services industries. As of 2000, the city's total personal income was Indian Rupee symbol.svg 12,488.83 crores, making up 10.9% of the total income of Tamil Nadu. In 2001, the total workforce in Chennai was about 1.5 million, which was 31.79% of its population. According to the 1991 census, most of the city's workforce was involved in trade (25.65%), manufacturing (23.52%), transportation (10.72%), construction (6.3%) and other services (31.8%). Chennai metropolitan area accounts for over 75% of the sales tax revenue in the state. According to the CII, Chennai is estimated to grow to a $100-billion economy, 2.5 times its present size, by the year 2025.

The city is base to around 30% of India's automobile industry and 35% of its auto components industry. A large number of automotive companies including Hyundai, Ford, BMW, Mitsubishi, Komatsu, The TVS Group ( TVS Electronics and TVS Motors), Ashok Leyland, Nissan- Renault, Daimler Trucks, TI Cycles of India, TAFE Tractors, Royal Enfield, Caterpillar Inc., Caparo, Madras Rubber Factory ( MRF) and Apollo Tyres have or are in the process of setting up manufacturing plants in and around Chennai. The Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi produces military vehicles, including India's main battle tank: Arjun MBT. The Integral Coach Factory manufactures railway coaches and other rolling stock for Indian Railways. The Ambattur-Padi industrial zone houses many textile manufacturers, and an SEZ for apparel and footwear manufacture has been set up in the southern suburbs of the city. Chennai contributes more than 50% of India's leather exports.

Tidel Park is one of the many software parks in Chennai.

Many software and software services companies have development centres in Chennai, which contributed 14% of India's total software exports of Indian Rupee symbol.svg 144,214 crores during 2006–07, making it the second-largest exporter, by city, of software in the country, behind Bangalore. Major software companies like TCS, CTS, Infosys, Wipro, Hewlett Packard, HCL Enterprise, IBM, Mahindra Satyam, MphasiS, Polaris Software Lab, Capgemini, Accenture,, eBay and PayPal, Symantec, Verizon, Virtusa etc. have their offices set up here, with some of them making Chennai their largest base. Prominent financial institutions, including the World Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank have back office operations in the city. Chennai is home to two large national level commercial banks and many state level co-operative banks, finance and insurance companies. Telecom and Electronics manufacturers based in and around Chennai include Nokia, Nokia Siemens, Motorola, Dell, Samsung, Foxconn and Siemens among others. Telecom giants Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and chemicals giant Dow Chemicals have research and development facilities in Chennai. TICEL bio-tech park and Golden Jubilee bio-tech park at Siruseri house biotechnology companies and laboratories. Chennai has a fully computerised stock exchange called the Madras Stock Exchange. Medical tourism is another important part of the city's economy with health care providers like Apollo Hospitals based in Chennai. The Tamil movie industry, the related Tamil Music industry and the Tamil television industry are also significant parts of Chennai's economy.


Ranganathan Street in T. Nagar usually throngs with shoppers.
Religions in Chennai
Religion Percentage

A resident of Chennai is called a Chennaite. As of 2001, Chennai city had a population of 4.34 million, while the total metropolitan population was 8.24 million. The estimated metropolitan population in 2006 is 4.5 million. With the area of the Chennai Corporation being extended to 456 km² the population with in the area administered by the corporation was 5.6 million in 2001 which makes it the third largest city in India. In 2001, the population density in the city was 24,682 per km² (63,926 per mi²), while the population density of the metropolitan area was 5,922 per km² (15,337 per mi²), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The sex ratio is 951 females for every 1,000 males, slightly higher than the national average of 944. The average literacy rate is 80.1%, much higher than the national average of 64.5%. The city has the fourth highest population of slum dwellers among major cities in India, with about 820,000 people (18.6% of its population) living in slum conditions. This number represents about 5% of the total slum population of India. In 2005, the crime rate in the city was 313.3 per 100,000 people, accounting for 6.2% of all crimes reported in major cities in India. The number of crimes in the city showed a significant increase of 61.8% from 2004.

The majority of the population in Chennai are Tamils. Tamil is the primary language spoken in Chennai. English is widely spoken especially in business, education and white collar professions. Sizeable Telugu and Malayalee communities live in the city. Chennai also has a large migrant population, who come from other parts of Tamil Nadu and the rest of the country. As of 2001, out of the 937,000 migrants (21.6% of its population) in the city, 74.5% were from other parts of the state, 23.8% were from rest of India and 1.7% were from outside the country.

According to the 2001 census, Hindus constitute about 81.3% of the city's population, and Muslims (9.4%), Christians (7.6%) and Jains (1.1%) are other major religious groups.


Bharata natyam recital

Chennai is a major centre for music, art and culture in India. The city is known for its classical dance shows and Hindu temples. Every December, Chennai holds a five-week long Music Season celebrating the 1927 opening of the Madras Music Academy. It features performances (kutcheries) of traditional Carnatic music by hundreds of artists in and around the city. An arts festival called the Chennai Sangamam, which showcases various arts of Tamil Nadu is held in January every year. Chennai is also known for Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form that originated in Tamil Nadu. An important cultural centre for Bharatanatyam is Kalakshetra, on the beach in the south of the city. Chennai is also home to some of the best choirs in India, who during the Christmas season stage various carol performances across the city in Tamil and English.

Chennai is the base for the large Tamil movie industry, known as Kollywood, home to most of the movie studios. The industry makes more than 150 Tamil movies a year, and its soundtracks dominate the city's music. Some of the biggest names in the Indian film fraternity like Ilaiyaraaja, K. Balachander, Sivaji Ganesan, M. G. Ramachandran, Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Mani Ratnam and S. Shankar are based out of Chennai. A. R. Rahman took Chennai to international fame by winning two Oscars, two Grammy Awards in 2009 for the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Chennai's theatres stage many Tamil plays; political satire, slapstick comedy, history, mythology and drama are among the popular genres. English plays are also staged in the city.

Among Chennai's festivals, Pongal is celebrated over five days in January, is the most important. Almost all major religious festivals such as Deepavali, Eid and Christmas are celebrated in Chennai. Tamil cuisine in Chennai includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Many of the city's restaurants offer light meals or tiffin, which usually include rice-based dishes like pongal, dosa, idli and vadai, served with steaming hot filter coffee.


Chennai is rated 3rd in the world's best commutes. Chennai's transit system is highly planned as the result of its standing as a tech and outsourcing hub, and it is relatively easy to manage given its population of 5 million. Chennai's status as a port city (which requires rail logistics and has led to mass public rail systems like the MRTS and the Chennai Metro which is under construction) and the high influx of planned campuses for informational technology (which results in multilane highways like the IT highway) have improved mobility to commercial areas

The Chennai International Airport


Chennai serves as a major gateway to southern India and the Chennai International Airport, comprising the Anna international terminal and the Kamaraj domestic terminal, is the third busiest airport in India. The city is connected to major hubs across Asia, Europe, and North America through more than 30 national and international carriers. The airport is the second busiest cargo terminus in the country. The existing airport is undergoing further modernisation and expansion, and a new greenfield airport is to be constructed at an estimated cost of Indian Rupee symbol.svg 2,000 crore in Sriperumbudur.


The city is served by two major ports, Chennai Port, one of the largest artificial ports, and Ennore Port. The Chennai port is the largest in Bay of Bengal and India's second busiest container hub, handling automobiles, motorcycles and general industrial cargo. The Ennore Port handles cargo such as coal, ore and other bulk and rock mineral products. A smaller harbour at Royapuram is used by fishing boats and trawlers.


MRTS Train station in Chennai

Chennai is the headquarters of the Southern Railway. The city has two main railway terminals. Chennai Central station, the city's largest, provides access to other major cities as well as many other smaller towns across India. Chennai Egmore is a terminus for trains to destinations primarily within Tamil Nadu; it also handles a few inter-state trains. The Chennai suburban railway network, one of the oldest in the country, consists of four broad gauge sectors terminating at two locations in the city, namely Chennai Central and Chennai Beach. Regular services are offered in the following sectors from these termini: Chennai Central/ Chennai Beach - Arakkonam - Tiruttani, Chennai Central/ Chennai Beach – Gummidipoondi - Sullurpeta and Chennai Beach – Tambaram - Chengalpattu - Tirumalpur( Kanchipuram). The fourth sector is an elevated Mass Rapid Transit System ( MRTS) which links Chennai Beach to Velachery and is interlinked with the remaining rail network. Construction is underway for an underground and elevated Chennai Metro rail.


Chennai is well connected to other parts of India by road. Four major national highways link Chennai to Mumbai (via Bangalore), Kolkata, Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) and Tirupati and onwards to the rest of the national highway system.

An MTC bus in Chennai

Numerous state highways link the city to Puducherry and other towns and cities in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states. The Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus ( CMBT), the terminus for all intercity buses from Chennai, is the largest bus station in Asia. Seven government-owned transport corporations operate inter-city and inter-state bus services. Many private inter-city and inter-state bus companies also operate services to and from Chennai.

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) runs an extensive city bus system consisting of 3280 buses on 643 routes, and moves an estimated 5.52 million passengers each day. Vans, popularly known as Maxi Cabs and 'share' auto rickshaws ply many routes in the city and provide an alternative to buses. Metered call taxis, tourist taxis and auto rickshaws are also available on hire. Chennai's transportation infrastructure provides coverage and connectivity, but growing use has caused traffic congestion and pollution. The government has tried to address these problems by constructing grade separators and flyovers at major intersections, starting with the Gemini flyover, built in 1973 over the most important arterial road, Anna Salai to the recently completed Kathipara Flyover.

Education and health care

Anna University's Guindy campus

Schools in Chennai are either run publicly by the Tamil Nadu government or privately, some with financial aid from the government. The medium of education is either English or Tamil, with the former being the majority. Most schools are affiliated with the Tamil Nadu State Board, the Matriculation Board or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). A few schools are affiliated with the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) board, there are even schools which cater National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) board, Anglo-Indian board or the Montessori system. Schooling begins at the age of three with two years of kindergarten followed by ten years of primary and secondary education. Students then need to complete two years of higher secondary education in either science or commerce before being eligible for college education in a general or professional field of study. There are 1,389 schools in the city, out of which 731 are primary, 232 are secondary and 426 are higher secondary schools.

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and College of Engineering, Guindy, founded in 1794 and Madras Institute of Technology (Alma mater of former president Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam) are the premier centres for engineering education in the city. Most colleges that offer engineering programs are affiliated to Anna University. Madras Medical College (MMC), Stanley Medical College (SMC), Kilpauk Medical College and Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute (SRMC) are the notable medical colleges in Chennai.

The Government General Hospital

Colleges for science, arts and commerce degrees are typically affiliated with the University of Madras, which has three campuses in the city; some colleges such as Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, Madras Christian College, Loyola College and The New College are autonomous. Research institutions like the prestigious Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI) and the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) are in the city. The Connemara Public Library is one of four National Depository Centres in India that receive a copy of all newspapers and books published in India. It has been declared a UNESCO information centre.

Officers Training Academy has been established in the city by the Indian Army

There are 15 Government hospitals and a large number of private hospitals which provide medical and health care. The Government General hospital, popularly referred to as " G.H.", is the biggest government run hospital in the city. There are many large private hospitals, among which many are multi-speciality hospitals. Some of India's well-known healthcare institutions such as Apollo Hospitals (the largest private healthcare provider in Asia), Sankara Nethralaya,Madras Medical Mission(MMM),Frontier Lifeline & K.M.Cherian heart foundation and Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre are based in the city, making it one of the preferred destinations for medical tourists from across the globe.


An IPL match in progress at M.A. Chidambaram Cricket Stadium

Cricket is the most popular sport in Chennai. The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium (MAC) in Chepauk is one of the oldest cricket stadiums in India. The stadium is currently being renovated for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. The Chemplast Cricket Ground on the IIT Madras campus is another important venue hosting first class matches. Prominent cricketers from the city include former Test-captains S. Venkataraghavan and Kris Srikkanth. A cricket fast bowling academy, the MRF Pace Foundation, whose coaches include Bob Simpson and Dennis Lillee, is based in Chennai. Chennai is home to the Indian Premier League cricket team, the Chennai Super Kings. Chennai is also home to the Indian Cricket League team, the Chennai Superstars.

The city is home to a Premier Hockey League ( PHL) team, the Chennai Veerans, and has hosted many hockey tournaments such as the Asia Cup and the Men's Champions Trophy at The Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium. Chennai has produced popular tennis players such as Leander Paes, Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan and Mahesh Bhupathi and is host to an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) event since 1997, the Chennai Open, ATP World Tour 250 series, the country's only (ATP) event.

A Chennai Open match in progress at the SDAT Tennis Stadium

Football and athletic competitions are held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which also houses a multi-purpose indoor complex for competition in volleyball, basketball and table tennis. Water sports are played in the Velachery Aquatic Complex. Chennai was the venue of the South Asian Games (SAF Games) in 1995.

Automobile racing in India has been closely connected with Chennai since its beginnings shortly after independence. Motor racing events are held on a special purpose track in Irungattukottai, Sriperumbudur, which has also been the venue for several international competitions. Horse racing is held at the Guindy Race Course, while rowing competitions are hosted at the Madras Boat Club. The city has two 18-hole golf courses, the Cosmopolitan Club and the Gymkhana Club, both established in the late nineteenth century. Viswanathan Anand, the chess World champion, grew up in Chennai.

Other athletes of repute from Chennai include table tennis players Sharath Kamal and two-time world carrom champion, Maria Irudayam. The city has a rugby union team called the Chennai Cheetahs.

Sister cities

Chennai has sister city relationships with the following cities of the world.

Country City State / Region Since
United States United States San Antonio Flag of Texas.svg Texas 2008
Germany Germany Wappen-frankfurt.png Frankfurt Flag of Hesse.svg Hesse 2005
United States United States DenverCOseal.gif Denver Flag of Colorado.svg Colorado 1984
Russia Russia Coat of Arms of Volgograd.png Volgograd Flag of Volgograd Oblast.svg Volgograd Oblast 1966
Malaysia Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Flag of the Federal Territory - Malaysia.png Federal Territory 2010
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