Chennai or Madras is the fourth largest metropolis in India. Located on a 17 km stretch of the Coramandel coast, the city is trisected by the waterways of Cooum and Adyar and the Buckingham Canal. Popularly regarded as the 'Gateway to the South', Chennai presents culture that is distinctly different from that of northern India. Music, dance and all other art forms of the South are cherished and nurtured in this city, which though industrialized continues to be traditional and conventional in many ways.
Chennai is a city where the traditional and the modern blend in life everywhere. From traditional vegetarian fair to fast foods, from nine-yard sarees to the latest in fashion, from ancient temple architecture to modern high-rise - with Indo-Saracenic and Victorian as stops along the way - from classical music and dance to discos throbbing to heady beats, Chennai has them all and many more vivid contrasts that are a pleasant surprise. And perhaps the most striking of them all is that here is a modern metropolis with beaches, parks and even sanctuaries in the heart of the City. Chennai offers a wealth of nature and a rich historic past to visitors in the ambience of a city with every modern facility. Modern Chennai grew out of a small village when in 1639 a fishing hamlet called Madraspatnam was selected by early English merchants of the East India Company as a site for the settlement. There are a number of churches in Chennai that are connected with the life and times of St. Thomas. There are also several ancient temples around Chennai, and, within the city itself are two magnificent temples - a temple in Triplicane and another in Mylapore.