7 Interesting Facts about Chennai

Called the “Gateway of South India”, Chennai is located in Tamil Nadu in South India and is one of the largest cities in the country. Previously called Madras, Chennai is the biggest cultural and economic centre in southern India. It is the country’s biggest automotive manufacturing hub which is how it got its nickname The Detroit of India. So, whether you are planning a trip or are just curious to learn more, here are some of the most interesting facts about Chennai.

7 Interesting Facts about Chennai

1. Chennai is one of the largest cities in India

Chennai is the capital city of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The metropolitan area of Chennai has an estimated population of 11,981,478 (as of 2022). According to the UN Mega Cities 2016 report, Chennai is ranked at No. 30 in the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. It is India’s fourth-largest city after Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

2. Many kingdoms have ruled over Chennai

Chennai has been an important administrative, military and economic centre since the 1st-century. Throughout its long history, many South Indian kingdoms, for instance, the Pallava Dynasty, the Chola Dynasty, the Pandya Dynasty and Vijayanagara Empire, have ruled over the area. In 1522, the Portuguese first arrived in the area and built a port called São Tomé. Then, in 1612, the Dutch arrived and settled near Pulicat which is just north of Chennai. Then, in 1639, Francis Day of the East India Company leased a strip of land in the small fishing village of Madraspatnam. A year later, the East India Company built Fort St. George, which was the first major English settlement in India.

3. Madras was the original name of Chennai

Chennai was once a fishing village called Madraspatnam. The British then shorted the name to Madras. Madras was the capital of the Madras Presidency which was established in 1652 and dissolved in 1947. It then became the capital city of the Madras State which existed from 1950 until 1968. In 1968, officials renamed Madras State to Tamil Nadu. In 1996, officials changed the city’s name from Madras to Chennai. Today, Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

interesting facts about Chennai

4. Madras High Court is one of the largest in the world

The Madras High Court Bench at Madurai sits at Chennai and has jurisdiction over the state of Tamil Nadu. The Court campus covers a massive 107 acres and is the second-largest court complex in the world after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in London. The Madras High Court campus has a four-storey administrative building and 12 court halls.

interesting facts about Chennai

5. Chennai was attacked during WWI

In 1914, the Germans attacked Madras City. It was the only city in India to be attacked during World War One. A German light cruiser shelled an oil depot as it raided shipping lanes in the Bay of Bengal. This caused a major disruption to shipping.

interesting facts about Chennai

6. Chennai has one of the world’s longest urban beaches

Marina Beach in Chennai along the Bay of Bengal is a natural sandy urban beach. With a length of 13km (8 miles), including a 6km (3.7-mile) promenade, and a total width of 437 metres (1,434 ft) it is the longest natural urban beach in India and the second-longest natural urban beach in the world.

interesting facts about Chennai

7. Chennai is the Detroit of India

As of 2020, India is the world’s fifth-largest producer of automobiles in terms of volume and value. Chennai is a major hub of automobile manufacturing which has earned it the nickname “The Detriot of India”. Major automotive manufacturers in Chennai include Ashok Leyland, Renault, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Yamaha, BMW, Hindustan Motors, Daimler, TAFE Tractors, Ford, and Royal Enfield. The city also has a Heavy Vehicles factory that manufactures military-related vehicles and lots of tyre manufacturing factories too. Chennai accounts for 60 per cent of the country’s automotive exports.

interesting facts about Chennai

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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