10 Reasons Millennial Travelers are LOVING Chennai

Travel

Written By: Arkapriya Dhara

Chennai is truly a bustling destination in South India that has almost everything- starting from colonial architecture, century-old temples to golden beaches. Although known for its old historic sites,Chennai actually has a perfect balance where its ethnic culture and metropolis lifestyle are thriving hand-in-hand. It’s absolutely amazing how you will still find young girls adorning fresh flowers in their hair on their way to the temple while technology and international brands keep life as comfortable as anywhere else in India. As a Millennial Traveler out to explore all of Asia, I’m glad I made this one of my first travel destinations. It was truly a dreamy escape from regular life.

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

1. The Temples

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

The medieval temples will blow your mind and try to visit in the evening to see the actual magic happening with all the rituals. Parthasarathy, Vadapalani Murugan, Kapaleeshwarar temples are some of best temples that you should check out.

2.  The Churches

As I said temples are for nights, days should be used to visit numerous churches both in Chennai and Pondicherry. In Chennai St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica should be top of your list.

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Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

3. Chennai lighthouse

The landmark lighthouse is just beside the Marina beach and takes the elevator up to get a panoramic view of the sea and the city.

4. Affordable Shopping spree

Go straight to Tnagar for budget shopping and you can pop by malls for international brands. Chennai is truly a Saree heaven and leaving Chennai without buying at least one Nalli Silk Saree will be a grave mistake.

5. Beaches

 Among the beaches, the Marina Beach is the most significant one and it is the second-longest beach in the whole world. Try to take a morning stroll by the beach and observe historical building which will remind you of old Madras.

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara
Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

6. Local Food

Chennai is known for a mix of cuisines along with the authentic Idly, dosa and vada. You should pay a visit to Saravana Bhawan and Ratna Cafe for typical South Indian vegetarian dishes.

7. Flowers, Dancing, Music and Culture

The flowers are the true essence of Chennai and truly it is an integral part of their culture. Try to buy flowers to put in your hair while visiting temples. Chennai is maybe the only city where you can always attend a high-quality classical dance performance and these are mostly free for all. Bharatiya Vidya Bhubaneswar is really the place to experience the culture here .

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

8. Mahabalipuram

While visiting Chennai, it’s absolutely necessary to visit mahabalipuram on the way to Pondicherry. The rock sculptures beside the sea are astonishing. The Shore Temple, Arjuna Penance, Cave Temples, etc are some of the must-visit places.

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

9. Pondicherry

You just cannot I mean cannot miss Pondicherry while visiting Chennai. It’s only two and a half hours away from Chennai. The French colony called ‘White Town’ will make you feel as if you are not in India at all. Other than that Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Rock beach, French war memorial, and different churches are worth the visit.

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

10. Instagram-Worthy Spots Everywhere!

There is a certain charm to the authentic culture that still exists in Chennai, while the busier cities like Delhi and Mumbai are lost in the fast-paced globalized lifestyle. As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…so if you have an eye for it, you will find endless spots in this city for striking instagram photos! The colours of the buildings, the smiles of the street vendors, the drippy deliciousness of curries and street food…all make for an amazing travel destination.

You can check out Arkapriya on her travel adventures in South Asia and beyond by following her instagram account here!

Photo: Arkapriya Dhara

Story of the Travelling Saree: How a young Bangladeshi-Canadian Woman is leaving her ethnic mark everywhere she travels!

People, Travel

Interviewed by Faria Ahmed

Banff, Alberta

Every now and then we come across stories of inspirational women who dare to be different and leave their mark in the way they do things. Such is the story of Nibedita Saha-Chakravorty, a Bangladeshi-Canadian woman living in Toronto, Canada. Nibedita and her husband absolutely love travelling and they make it a point to travel at least a few times a year.

During a trip to Banff, Alberta Nibedita first came up with the idea of wearing a saree (a traditional ethnic Bengali clothing for women) and photograph herself against the gorgeous snowy mountains in Banff. In extreme freezing temperatures, she managed to get photographed against this striking landscape and look incredibly glamorous doing it. A saree is a typically light garment meant to be worn in the tropics and over the centuries it has become the symbol for Bengali women everywhere. Since that day almost 5 years ago, Nibedita took it up as a personal adventure to take photographs of herself against the various terrains and landscapes as she travels the world.

Dubai

“Growing up I always thought I was weird because my ideas were always a bit different from my peers”, said Nibedita. “Assimilation in Canadian society was always encouraged in my family, especially as my parents desperately wanted us to fit in. In my adult life, I realized that my thoughts and desires weren’t necessarily weird but rather they were just different“, she continued. “One of those different ideas I had was to try and take this beautiful symbol of my culture, the saree, to the next level.”

“I’m always thinking about what has not been done before. In general , South Asian countries are hot so probably there aren’t pictures of women wearing them in the snow, I thought. Next I realized that many of our friends and family living in Canada hate snow. I get it..life is difficult”, she said. Nibedita explained how we should sympathize with those who are still struggling to get around in the snow. For so many women who first move to Canada, adjusting to the weather, the culture, the change in clothing…is all part of a very big life change and it can be challenging. They have to give up a big piece of their cultural identities or preference of wearing a saree on a regular basis and only wear it to parties. “Wearing sarees in the snow is quite impractical but I thought it would be fun to take a picture of me wearing a saree in the snow to make the ladies in my community giggle. That idea started my crazy journey.”

Cuba

Although the initial thought behind it was a humorous one, she soon also realized how powerful and empowering it could be do to this. “In the Bengali community, many women are afraid to dream or vocally say what they want because traditionally women have been groomed to be care takers and support systems”. Nibedita explained how Bengali women are often expected to make bold sacrifices and their own wishes and dreams are often sidelined in the process. However, she wants to show the world that while being her most bengali self, wearing a saree, she can climb a mountain and walk in sand all the same. She wants to do it literally and metaphorically to help break barriers for Bengali women, so we can be comfortable in our own skin and ethnic garments and still be proud and confident enough to take on the world.

Ontario

She wants to tell everyone that if something is a part of our cultural identity, we do not need to tuck it away. It is something that adds strength to our lives and lived experiences and should be celebrated.

Most Challenging Saree-Photo Venture:

“I think the hardest for me was Dubai. The desert seemed limitless to me, and I was but a grain of sand in the vast desert sea. The dunes were hot and I kept sinking wherever I stood. The wind was so exceptionally strong, I felt if I let go of my saree, it will disappear. I felt fear and excitement. Something was all around me and it was trying to take me with it.

Most Fun Saree-Photo Venture:

My most fun experience was during my graduation. I was the only person who wore a saree at my graduation from the University of Toronto that year. I loved explaining the idea to everyone who asked about it and I loved showing up on campus in a saree as compared to other days where my hair would be in a bun and I’d be in sweatpants lugging around chemistry and physics books.

Traveled So Far:

Bangladesh: Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong India: Kolkata, Sikkim, Orissa, Darjeeling, Kashmir
Greece, Dubai, Nepal, Paris, London UK, Belize City
US: Florida, Utah, Las Vegas, California, West
Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey Canada: Alberta, Ontaro

Travel Bucket List for the Future:

Australia (Great Barrier Reef), Egypt, Amazon Basin, Rain Forest

Travels in the near future: I would love to travel within Canada (somewhere in the Maritimes and Vancouver).