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

Chennai (Madras) Weather

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Local time Chennai (Madras)

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Travel to Chennai (Madras)

Flying to Chennai (Madras)

British Airways operates direct flights to Chennai from the UK. Alternatively, there are numerous indirect options, including flights with Air India or Jet Airways via Delhi or Mumbai. There are no direct flights from the USA, but plenty of choices with one stopover.

Flight times

From London - 10 hours; New York - 18 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Los Angeles - 21 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Toronto - 19 hours; Sydney - 14 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Because of vast distances, variable road conditions and hair-raising driving, it is advisable to travel long distances by air or train rather than road. Bus journeys can be uncomfortable and tough on the constitution, although a journey of several hours is certainly bearable in a decent air-conditioned coach. It is unwise to attempt to self-drive if you haven't done it before in a big Indian city; hiring a car with a driver from a reputable company is a much better idea. Distances are vast between other major cities (Kolkata, Mumbai etc), so it is more advisable to catch a train or fly and hire a car and driver locally. During the rainy season, road travel out of town can be hazardous.

Traffic drives on the left in India and the minimum driving age is 18. If you do drive, you should bring an International Driving Permit. The Automobile Association of Southern India (tel: +91 80 2211 1561; www.aasindia.org) can provide more information on driving in the region. The maximum speed limit in India is 62mph (100kph) on highways.

Emergency breakdown services

Automobile Association of Southern India (tel: +91 80 2211 1561).

Routes

National Highway 4 (NH 4) is a major route leading from western to southern India from Mumbai to Chennai. The Grand Southern Trunk Road or National Highway 45 (NH 45) leads from the south to Chennai. National Highway 5 (NH 5) is the route to take to the city if travelling from the east.

Coaches

The government bus company operates from the huge Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT), Koyambedu. Closer destinations include Puducherry (Pondicherry) (3 to 4 hours) and Mamallapuram (2 hours). There are also private bus companies operating opposite Egmore railway station.

Time to city

From Mumbai - 20 hours; Bangalore - 5 hours; Puducherry - 3 hours; Mysore - 8 hours; Hyderabad - 10 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Travelling by train is one of the delights in India, although for longer trips it is advisable to buy seats in first-class and/or air-conditioned carriages. You can book tickets at major hotels and some travel agents (these invariably attract a booking fee), or directly from the booking office in Central Station. Tourists can get tickets via the tourist quota; it can get crowded so start queuing early. Chennai has two main stations: Central Station is the arrival and departure point for most major destinations in the country. Approximately 1km (0.6 miles) east is Egmore Station, dealing mainly with routes in the southern regions of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Operators

Trains are run by Indian Railways (www.indianrail.gov.in). If you plan to make many journeys, buy a copy of Trains at a Glance (available at most station news stands and some city bookshops) and also see www.seat61.com/India.htm for general information on train travel in the country. The Indrail pass, available in many countries, gives you unlimited travel for a certain period (for further details see www.indianrail.gov.in and click on the Information/International Tourist link).

Journey times

From Mumbai - 25 hours; Bengaluru- 6 hours; Kolkata - 27 hours; Delhi - 33 hours; Madurai - 8 hours; Trichy - 6 hours.

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.

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.

The Residency Towers Chennai

Offering top value for excellent facilities, the Residency Towers has stylishly furnished rooms and suites in a handy location between Thyagaraya Nagar and Teynampet. It's a smart modern property, with a swimming pool, a small gym and good eating and drinking options on site, including South Indian restaurant Southern Aromas, and the popular Bike & Barrel bar.

E Hotel

Located in the Express Avenue mall, this boutique property has excellent shopping right on the doorstep, and a crisp, modern style that marks it out from the competition. The 44 rooms are equipped with flatscreen TVs, Wi-Fi, tea and coffee making facilities, a mini bar and plush bathrooms, with some pretty textiles to add a splash of colour.

Hyatt Regency Chennai

Offering the usual Hyatt Regency package in a convenient location close to the attractions of Mylapore, this hotel provides the comfort of familiarity in this often hectic city. There are 327 comfortable rooms with excellent facilities, plus three restaurants, a spa and fitness centre and a tempting pool to cool down from the heat.