Chennai - The Gateway to the South, India
Chennai, popularly regarded as the Gateway to the South, is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. It is the fourth largest metropolis in India, located on a 17 km stretch of the Coromandel Coast. The city grew up around the English settlement of Fort St. George and gradually absorbed the surrounding towns and villages. However, despite the strong British influence, Chennai has retained its traditional Tamil heritage and effectively blended it to create a unique synthesis of cultures.
Retaining much of its traditional charm, this 350-year-old city provides many a fascinating vignette of southern heritage. It is a city where the landscape of the past lives easily with recent history. In Chennai, you would find a modern metropolis with a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks and historic landmarks. With a population of 6 million people, Chennai is a vibrant city ever growing, expanding and changing every year.
Chennai presents culture distinct from that of northern India. Music, dance and all other art forms of the South are cherished and nurtured in this city. Chennai is a city where the traditional and the modern blend in life everywhere. From traditional vegetarian fare to fast food, from nine-yard saris to the latest in fashion, from ancient temple architecture to modern high-rises, 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.
Chennai offers a wealth of nature and a rich historic past to visitors in the ambience of a city with every modern facility.
Chennai is also the center of South India's film industry. Its skyline is dotted with bright movie billboards advertising the latest celluloid fantasies. It has become a significant form of popular art with their gaudy colors and garish layouts. The larger than life cutouts of popular matinee idols superimposed on the hoardings give them a three-dimensional effect. The more the cutouts, the higher the popularity of the film stars. There are many big film studios churning out movies every month. It is the land where film stars are revered as the demi-gods of society.
Cine-stars turned politicians are the order of the day now in this city .The late M. G. Ramachandran, the more-than-once chief minister of Tamil Nadu, was a movie star with a dedicated fan following. He seemed to have started a trend of sorts, for the current C.M is also a former successful film star.
Here traditional art forms like dance and music are a way of life even in the most modern homes. Training in classical Carnatic music - vocal and instrumental, and the exposition of the Bharatnatyam dance form are pursued with zeal. In fact, the first public performance of a Bharatnatyam artiste, known as the Arangetram or debut, is celebrated on the lines of a family function.