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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > India > Chennai (Madras)

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Shopping in Chennai (Madras)

From a plethora of new, fast-rising shopping malls to chaotic and colourful street markets, Chennai has plenty to offer the avid shopper and souvenir-hunter.

Key areas

George Town is the wholesale area of Chennai, where you can find everything from paper and textiles to cosmetics and decorations. The streets are an atmospheric place to wander around. If searching for souvenirs, the Victoria Technical Institute, 765 Anna Salai, a government outlet promoting high-quality Indian handicrafts (with artists receiving a share of the profits), has a wide range of fixed price arts and crafts. SIPA'S Craftlink, 70 Kodambakkan High Road, Nungambakkam, is an artisan's collective and fair trade craft shop.

For quality fabric including raw and hand-spun silks, Nalli Silks , 9 Nageswaran Road, is recommended. Higginbothams, 814 Anna Salai, is an institution, a huge bookshop with a vast selection of English-language titles.

Markets

The small stalls and shops lining Sir Thyagaraya Nagar Road, known as Pondy Bazaar, have an array of great fabrics, cheap clothes and jewellery, plus the divine smell of jasmine from the colourful flower stalls. Burma Bazaar is renowned for its electronic goods, while Mint Street is laden with kitchenware, textiles and jewellery.

Shopping centres

Shopping malls are springing up fast and furiously in Chennai, transforming everyone's shopping habits. Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai, is a massive mall with everything from clothes, cosmetics and shoes to household items, CDs, and souvenirs. On the second floor, Fabindia offers top quality handmade textiles (from garments to cushion covers) with lovely contemporary designs. There are government emporia from many states along Anna Salai. Nearby is the gigantic Express Avenue Mall, Club House Road, which claims to be the largest of its kind in southern India and has over 200 stores.

 

Other top shopping centres in the city include: Arimbami Mega Mall, Fountain Plaza, the Gold Souk Grand Mall and Century Plaza.

Opening hours

Shops and bazaars opening times vary, but most open daily from around 0900-1030 until 2000-2100 (some places close on Sunday).

Souvenirs

Pick up arts and crafts, jewellery, woodwork, leatherware, silks, textiles, sarees, electronic goods, books, furniture and homeware.

Featured Hotels

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The Park Chennai

Converted from the old Gemini Film Studios, this 5-star deluxe property offers sleek modern design with a spattering of movie magic. Original film posters fill the stylish lobby and the movie theme extends to the rooms and hallways. Rooms are modern and stylish, with wood flooring, frosted glass and sumptuous fabrics. There is also a rooftop pool and stress-banishing spa, plus several bars and restaurants.

Hilton Chennai

Smart and modern, the Hilton is conveniently located close to Marina Beach, as well as shopping districts and tourist attractions like Guindy National Park, the old town of Mylapore, San Thome Basilica and the Government Museum. The hotel offers fantastic value, with smart, well-appointed rooms, an infinity pool on the 10th floor and five restaurants and bars.

Pleasant Stay Guest House

This comfortable guesthouse offers homey suites and self-contained apartments in an attractive modern building close to the airport and St Thomas Mount. The owners have an arrangement with several local restaurants and can have vegetarian and non- vegetarian meals delivered to your room. Add in excellent service and friendly owners and you have a great package.

Hanu Reddy Residences

For a relaxing change of pace, the Hanu Reddy Residences are a selection of rooms and apartments set in tastefully decorated apartment buildings in the upmarket districts of Wallace Garden and Poes Garden. Rooms have TVs, Wi-Fi and air-con and the properties are set in attractive green compounds with good eating options nearby.

ITC Grand Chola Hotel

Vast and opulent, the Grand Chola lives up to its ostentatious name, with 522 rooms and 78 luxurious serviced apartments in a veritable palace with lush grounds in the heart of Chennai. The décor evokes the wealth and luxury of the Chola Dynasty, the greatest maritime power to rise in South Asia, with carved columns, curving stairways, granite statuary and vast open spaces.

Vivanta by Taj Connemara

There are several lavish Taj properties in Chennai, but Vivanta by Taj Connemara is the closest the city has to a proper heritage hotel. Set in an art deco mansion, the hotel was founded in 1854 but remodelled extensively during the colonial period. Rooms are calm and sophisticated, the dining options are top notch and there's a gorgeous palm-shaded pool.