26 Feb Madras (not Malgudi) days
We had been through Madras on our way to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry but not seen the city. We had gone on to Auroville and Thiruvannamalai with Raman Maharishi s Ashram and the hill next to it. The feedback from many people had been there is lots to see in Tamil Nadu but not especially in Madras. South Indian temples, textile towns – all those were well worth a planned tour and several days.
Thus I expected very little when I had to go there for work and had time between appointments to explore the city.
It turned out to be a very pleasant city – traffic problems present in all Indian cities, notwithstanding. There were many green parts and several roads were wide with thick, leafy, trees forming a canopy from both sides. The people were agreeably courteous. There were a number of restaurants of all categories, some really cheap with hygienic food served quickly.
Marina Beach is one of the longest-running beaches and it was fun to walk around on it. It came alive in the evening with a number of stalls and many families enjoying the sea breeze and drinking the ubiquitous coconut water, direct from the coconut.
Chennai had character and history as befits India s fourth city.mAmongst the attractions, Santhome Church where St Thomas first brought Christianity, not through invading Europeans but as far back as 52 AD and which along with Santiago della Compostella and the Vatican itself is one of the earliest Catholic pilgrimage sites. It is well preserved despite there not being any entrance fee
There are many interesting and ancient temples, Mylapore Temple, with its intricate craftsmanship both inside and outside, its three separate buildings, has the atmosphere.
The Theosophical Society has large gardens, a huge and ancient Banyan tree symbolic of its syncretic culture
Fort St George and the bridge connecting the indigenous part of town to Georgetown is a reminder of its Presidency pastas are the Lighthouse, Presidency College and the University of Madras, with their Quads and corridors of learning.
It deserves its own Madras days.