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I have to admit it, I cannot lie. I visited Chennai every summer when I was in school and recently lived there for two whole years but I didn’t know all these things about Chennai. When I visited last week, I decided to act like a tourist and comb the streets for facts, fiction and stories that quenched my thirst..... and wow, what a find!

I dare you, each of you Chennaivasis, to see how many of these points below you knew. 

1. Chennai has more than 40 lakes

Yes, you read right! Don’t rub your eyes, don’t google to check if I am right. Isn’t that amazing? And no I’m not talking about Mylapore Temple-tank-like lakes, but actual lakes. When I close my eyes and think of Chennai, I see images of yellow… heat… burning… sun… there is definitely not even a pinch of blue in that. But there you go, more than 40 lakes! The government plans to restore and give these lakes a new life (they said so more than a year ago) and while they muddle over it, why don’t you go visit some or join this brilliant organisation environment foundation of india (efi) and help clean the lakes.

 

2. There is a fort in Chennai

I am talking about an actual fort with original walls and a moat in front  and with roads that have names that just reek ‘army settlement’.

3. Even better, you can walk around INSIDE the fort

The secretariat is within the fort, but that doesn’t mean it's cordoned off. You need to write your name in a little book and then walk right in… into the fort. You can spend as much time as you want, visit the museum, the old church and check out all the cool buildings including the barracks, aand you are back in the 18th century, all in a days work! 

 

4. Art deco roams around in Chennai too

Well, I am a true blue Bombay snob and have always thought, Mumbai has the most art deco - second only to Miami blah blah blah.. and looked down on every other city. Chennai has art deco too! Having said that, yes there are just a few buildings, but those were a sight for my art-deco-appreciative eyes. I went oh oh oh…  the same architects were travelling the country building Paris-inspired art deco buildings. But I was and still am amazed. The next time I’m in Chennai I want scout around old areas of the city looking for art deco bungalows – am sure there are way better examples than the one below.

 

5. Shivaji prayed to Kali in Chennai and then won wars

Yes, the very same Shivaji Maharaj, the Maratha king from the south of the Vindhyas. There is a temple in Chennai dedicated to Kali where you can see a picture of Shivaji on the wall. The claim: Shivaji worshipped Kali at this temple in 1677 - they have the date written on a placard below! The common local belief is that after he worshipped the goddess in this temple he won many battles… I don’t know if that is true or just an old wives tale, but either ways it’s interesting!

 

 

6. Chennai has the oldest existing station in India - presenting the Royapuram station.

It was the third station to be built in India – after Victoria Terminus, Bombay and Howrah, Calcutta. But the original structures of these two stations don’t remain. The present Victoria Terminus is a refurbished version and so this station is THE OLDEST EXISTING station in India. The government wanted to demolish it but activists and heritage conservationists have fought to keep this station still standing. 

This article first appeared in http://merrytogoaround.com



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