The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is India’s fourth city – a fast-paced, traffic-filled metropolis of 4.7 million people. This strip of the Coromandel Coast first rose to prominence in 1640s, after the East India Company constructed Fort St George, the sloping-walled citadel where Robert Clive and his fellow company servants fended off repeated attacks from the French and the Sultans of Mysore.
A fascinating museum in the fort holds a selection of lithographic prints and other colonial memorabilia that vividly evoke the feel of the times, when new arrivals would have to brace themselves for an often inelegant transfer from their ship by native boat, pitched headlong by rolling breakers onto the beach. Nowadays, sleek five-star hotels such as the Art Deco-style Taj Vivanta and Leela Palace ensure a somewhat softer landing.
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