Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Chennai (சென்னை in Tamil), formerly known as Madras, is a city on the east coast of southern India. Situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, this capital of the state of Tamil Nadu is India's fourth largest metropolitan city and one of the 35 largest metropolitan areas in the world, with a metropolitan population of about 7.45 million in 2005 . Its name was officially changed to Chennai in 1996, but the older name Madras is still widely used. The city is a large commercial and industrial centre in India, and is known for its cultural heritage.
Chennai is located at 13.04° N 80.17° E, on the Coromandel Coast in South India, at the north-eastern tip of Tamil Nadu state. It has a long shoreline with the Bay of Bengal on the east, the location of the 13 km-long Marina Beach, and a large artificial harbour servicing sea-lines to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
The land on which Chennai is built is flat coastal plain. The average elevation is 6 meters above sea-level. Two rivers pass through Chennai, the Cooum (or Koovam) in the central part and the Adyar in the southern part. Both rivers are placid, and meander slowly on their way east to the Bay of Bengal. The estuary of the Adyar River, whose ecology is protected, is the natural habitat of several species of birds and animals. Two small waterways exist in addition to the rivers. The Buckingham Canal runs parallel to the coast, about 3-5 km inland. It connects the two rivers to each other and extends farther in both directions, up to Guntur in Andhra Pradesh in the north and just beyond Sadras in the south. The Otteri Nullah is an east-west stream that runs through north Chennai and meets the Buckingham Canal at Basin Bridge . There is some rowing on the Adyar River, but there is no boat traffic on the other waterways. The Canal has not been navigable within city limits since about 1975 due to extensive silting, which is also a problem with the two rivers. The Adyar and the southern stretch of the canal were fully desilted in 2004. The Cooum has not been desilted due to its narrowness and several illegal hutments along its banks.
Several lakes of varying size are located on the western fringes of the city. Red Hills and Sholavaram lakes in the north-west supply most of the city's water. Chembarambakkam Lake (the source of the Adyar River) located 40 km west of the city, is another water source.
Climatically, Chennai lies on the thermal equator, which makes it hot and humid most of the year. The highest temperatures are attained in late May and early June, usually about 38° C (100.4° F), though it usually exceeds 40° C (104° F) for a few days most years. The coldest time of the year is early January when temperatures are about 24° C (75.2° F), though temperatures below 18° C (64.4° F) have been recorded. The average annual rainfall is about 1300 mm (47.2 inches). The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north-east monsoon winds, from late September to mid November. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal also contribute significantly, exceeding the regular monsoon rainfall in some years.
The region currently occupied by Chennai has served as an important administrative,military, and economic center from as far back as the 1st century. The apostle St. Thomas is believed to have preached there between the years 52 and 70. The region was subsequently ruled by several South Indian kingdoms, most notably the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas and finally the Vijaynagar empire.
European settlers arrived in 16th century, and the region got its initial character as a city when merchants of the British East India Company selected a fishing hamlet called Madraspatnam as a site for settlement in 1639. Some believe that the British favoured the name "Madraspatnam" while the locals called it "Chennaipatnam", but this hypothesis is disputed. The British strengthened their position in the region in several steps until the end of the 18th century, following which Madras became an important English naval base and the administrative centre of the growing British dominions in southern India. When the British eventually gained control over most of southern India, they integrated the region into the Madras Presidency and Madras became its capital. After independence in 1947, the city became the capital of Madras State, renamed Tamil Nadu in 1956.
In 1996, the state government renamed the city from "Madras" to "Chennai". According to most accounts, this was in accordance with the names "Madraspatnam" and "Chennaipatnam", but this hypothesis is disputed.
The executive and legislative wings of the government of Tamil Nadu are housed in the Secretariat Buildings, part of the Fort St George campus. The Chennai High Court is the highest judicial authority in the state.
Chennai has three Parliamentary constituencies (Chennai North, Chennai Central and Chennai South). The current MPs are C Kuppusami , Dayanidhi Maran (Minister of Communications and Information Technology) and TR Baalu (Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways) respectively.
As with the rest of Tamil Nadu, each Parliamentary constituency is divided into six State Legislature constituencies. Chennai is therefore represented in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly by 18 MLAs. The 18 constituencies are Royapuram, Harbour, Radhakrishnan Nagar, Perambur, Tiruvotriyur and Villivakkam (all in Chennai North); Park Town, Purasawalkam, Egmore, Anna Nagar, Thousand Lights and Chepauk (all in Chennai Central); and T Nagar, Triplicane, Mylapore, Saidapet, Alandur and Tambaram (all in Chennai South).
Chennai city is governed by the Corporation of Chennai, which consists of a Mayor (directly elected by the city residents) and 155 Councillors representing the 155 Wards (each directly elected by the residents of that Ward), one of whom is elected by the other Councillors as a Deputy Mayor. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor preside over about 10 Standing Committees. (Executive hierarchy:  Administrative hierarchy: )
Founded as a trading outpost by the British East India Company in the early 17th century, Chennai is today a large industrial and commercial centre. The major centres of commerce in Chennai are Parry's Corner and T.Nagar, named after Thomas Parry , who set up the EID Parry company, and Sir P. Thyagarayar , the founder of what later became the Justice Party respectively.
Chennai is the base for over 40% of India's automotive industry. Most of the automotive OEMs in India are based in Chennai, mainly in the Ambattur-Padi industrial zone. Several auto and tire companies such as TVS, Ashok Leyland, Hyundai, Ford, Honda, and MRF have manufacturing plants in and around Chennai, causing it to claim the title "The Detroit of India".
The leather industry is located mostly in the southwest of the city. So many tanneries were once located there in a tight cluster that the ground water changed colour due to chromium in the effluents. The locality (which has now been cleaned up) is now known as Chromepet. Other major heavy industries are textiles and chemicals, located mainly in the northeast and northwest industrial zones.
Chennai's service sector was traditionally dominated by finance and banking. Since the late 1990s, software development and business process outsourcing have become very important. The "IT Corridor" is in the southeast of the city, along the old Mahabalipuram Road (which has been supplanted by the East Coast Road). Several technology parks have been built in the area, the most important being Tidel Park, built by TIDCO as a Government initiative. Several organizations such as World Bank, IBM, Infosys and Wipro have their BPO centres in Chennai.
The residents of Chennai are called Chennaiites. As of 2000, Chennai city had a population of 4.2 million, while the total metropolitan population was 6.7 million. The estimated metropolitan population in 2005 is 7.45 million . The population density in the city is 24,418 per km², while the overall population density is 6,351 per km². The sex ratio in the city is about 948 females for every 1000 males, slightly higher than the national average of 934 . The average literacy rate is 80.14% , much higher than the national average of 59.5% . About 25% of the city's population is classified as living in slum conditions .
The majority of the people in Chennai are Tamilians, with a sizable Telugu minority. English is widely spoken, and is used almost exclusively in business and education. The Tamil spoken in Chennai uses English words very liberally, so much so that it is often called Madras bashai ("Madras language"). Telugu is also spoken in Chennai.
Historically, Madras under the British used to be the capital of the Madras Presidency, which covered most of the area now occupied by the modern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, excluding the princely states enjoying British patronage. Madras thus inherited a mix of languages and dialects, most of which have changed with time. Marwari moneylenders and businessmen from northern India (mainly from Gujarat and Rajasthan) settled in and around north Chennai in the 1950s, many of them in the locality of Sowcarpet, which is a polyglot mix of sahukar (Hindi for "moneylender") and pettai (Tamil for "neighbourhood"). Chennai has therefore become progressively more cosmopolitan.
Chennai is also known for a classical Indian dance form called Bharatanatyam, which is also the official dance of Tamil Nadu. An important cultural centre for Bharatanatyam is Kalakshetra (Sanskrit for "place of the arts"), located on the beach in the south of the city. Founded in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale after an encounter with Anna Pavlova, Kalakshetra is a cultural hotspot with thousands of students from many countries learning the "Kalakshetra style" of Bharatanatyam, in addition to music, painting and other fine arts.
College culfests play an important role in allowing several cultures to blend. Many culfests in the city attract participants from around the country. Some of the larger culfests in the city are Saarang, Deep Woods and Down Sterling . Rock shows are a regular feature, both as stand-alone events and as part of college culfests. The annual June Rock Out, organized by the Unwind Center is attended by rock bands from around the country. Chennai has a number of local rock bands, most notably Moksha and The LBG.
Chennai is the base for the large Tamil language movie industry, nicknamed Kollywood after the locality of Kodambakkam where most of the movie studios are located. The industry makes about 300 Tamil movies a year.
Chennai is known for traditional Tamil cuisine. The staple food of most of the population is rice. This is usually steamed and served with about two to six accompanying items. Typically the items are sambar, dry curry, rasam, kootu and thayir (curd) or moru (whey or buttermilk). Lighter meals usually include one or more of pongal, dosa, idli or vada, and are often served for breakfast or as an evening snack. Many meals are chased by a hot filter coffee, the signature beverage of the city. Another popular beverage is strongly brewed tea found in the thousands of small tea kadais found across the city.
Other cuisines are also popular in Chennai: Indian, European Continental, and Chinese cuisines have been around for a long time. Mexican, Thai, and Mediterranean cuisines have made their entry in the past few years. A growing trend is fusing traditional Tamil cuisine with elements from other cuisines from around India and the world. This results in both spicier versions of foreign dishes (such as Szechuan Chicken Masala) and remixed versions of traditional Tamil dishes (such as Cheese Mushroom Uthappam), increasing the diversity of city cuisine.
Architecture and urban planning
Chennai has a very heterogeneous mix of architectural styles, from ancient temples built by the Pallavas through the colonial era to features of 20th century urban planning. Chennai has a colonial core in the port area, surrounded by progressively newer areas as one travels away from the port, punctuated with old temples, churches and mosques.
The colonial legacy of Chennai is apparent in the vicinity of the Chennai port. South of the port is Fort St George. The stretch between the Fort and the port is occupied mostly by the High Court buildings and several clubs, some of which have existed from the British era. A little south of the Fort, across the Cooum River is the Chepauk cricket stadium, another British staple, dating from 1916. North and west of the port is Georgetown, where dockyard workers and other manual labourers used to live. Georgetown is now a bustling commercial centre, but its architecture is significantly different from areas closer to the Fort, with narrower roads and tightly packed buildings.
Some residential areas like Tiruvallikeni (Triplicane ) and Mayilapur (Mylapore) have several houses dating from the early 20th century, especially those far removed from arterial roads. Many of them were built in the traditional Tamil style, with four wings surrounding a square courtyard, and tiled sloping roofs. In sharp contrast, the apartment buildings along the larger roads in the same areas were built in 1990 or later.
Many other old buildings are still fully functional and host government, business or educational establishments. For instance, the General Hospital moved to its current location in 1772 (it opened to Indians in 1842), the Presidency College was built in 1840, the Royapuram Station dates from 1856, the Chennai Central Station dates from 1873, the High Court was completed in 1892, the Ripon Building (which houses Chennai Corporation and the mayoral offices) dates from 1913, and the Southern Railway Headquarters was built in 1922. Many of the colonial era buildings are designed in the Indo-Saracenic style.
Other roads and localities have undergone significant change in the late 20th century. Many areas along the western stretch of the city were planned development efforts, such as Ashok Nagar, KK Nagar and Anna Nagar. Several areas south of the Adyar River, including Kotturpuram, Besant Nagar and Adyar itself, have been developed only since the mid 1960s. Characteristic features of all these localities are their unusually wide roads and Cartesian grid layouts. Many of these places were remote suburbs when they were first developed.
Current urban development efforts are concentrated along the southern and western fringes, largely seeking to benefit from the growing IT corridor in the southeast and the new ring roads in the west. The extent of the city's sprawl is indicated by the fact that the area administered by Chennai Corporation is 174 km² , while the total urbanized area is estimated to be over 1100 km² .
Main article: Transport in Chennai
Chennai's economic development has been closely tied to its port and transport infrastructure. Chennai is the hub for five major roads that radiate outward towards Kolkata, Bangalore, Tiruchirapalli, Tiruvallur, and Pondicherry. The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) runs the Central Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT), which serves as the terminus for all intercity buses from Chennai, and is the largest bus station in South Asia. There are also plenty of private bus companies that run buses out of Chennai.
Chennai International Airport serves as the city's airport for both domestic and international flights, and is one of the most important gateways into the country, and especially southern India. The airport is also the second busiest cargo terminus in the country.
The city has two main railway stations, Central Station which is the city's main railway station and is connected to all the major cities in India, and Egmore Station , which only serves destinations within Tamil Nadu.
Intracity transport is accomplished through a system of roads, and trains. The roads can be quite congested, and recent efforts to ease congestion include the building of more overpasses . The MTC runs an extensive intracity bus system, which is generally efficient, but the buses themselves can get very crowded at times. The bus service consists of 1478 buses on 375 routes, and moves an estimated 4.2 million passengers daily. In addition to buses, private call taxis and auto rickshaws are widely available within the city. Most private vehicles are motorcycles, mopeds, or scooters, all of which are preferred to cars for their fuel efficiency, maneuverability, and ease of parking. Chennai also has an elevated MRTS suburban train system, which is currently being expanded.
The Marina is the city's longest beach, and its 13-km length is often subdivided into more manageable units. The northern part of the beach (immediately south of the Cooum River) is called the Marina beach, and is followed by the San Thome beach, which lies north of the Adyar river estuary. South of the Adyar, the first section is called Elliot's beach or Besant Nagar beach, and is followed by the Tiruvanmiyur beach, the Kottivakkam beach, and the Neelangarai beach. The beach is visited by most people in the late afternoon and evening, when the sea breeze effect is at its strongest. It is also favoured by joggers at dawn and by couples at night.
Flora and fauna
The Guindy National Park in the south of the city is the country's smallest National Park, with an area of 2.76 km². This is also a rare National Park that is located completely inside a large city. It hosts a variety of endangered deer (mostly chital and black buck)), snakes (pythons, boas, cobras, kraits, vipers) and other endangered animals (tortoises, turtles) . The adjoining IIT campus also holds many deer, non-poisonous snakes and monkeys. This park plays a vital role in cleaning the city's atmosphere, and is several degrees cooler than the city in summer.
The Arignar Anna Zoological Park (better known as Vandalur Zoo) is located southwest of the city and covers an area of 5.1 km². The Zoo was formerly located in the city under the name "Madras Zoo", and was the oldest zoo in the country (established 1854 ). It was moved to its current suburban location in 1980. It has about eighty species on display, and includes a lion safari and two aviaries.
The southern stretches of the beach, from Tiruvanmiyur to Neelangarai, are favoured by the endangered Olive Ridley turtles to lay their eggs every winter, as are other beaches in Tamil Nadu and Orissa. At that time, many conservation volunteers work on the beach during the night to protect the eggs or to remove them to a hatchery. Hatchlings are usually released to the sea in March or April.
South of the city, along the East Coast Road, is located the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, which hosts several fresh-water and salt-water crocodiles, alligators, gharials, and also turtles and snakes. It is considered an important institute for herpetological research, and performs services such as snake venom extraction for preparing antidotes.
Chennai is the location of several colleges and universities in a wide variety of disciplines. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras (1959), located in the south of the city, is well-known for its engineering program. Located diagonally across the street is the main campus of Anna University (1978), which formed from a merger of the College of Engineering, Guindy (1794), the Madras Institute of Technology (1949), the Alagappa College of Technology (1944), and the School of Architecture and Planning (1957). A large number of colleges in Tamil Nadu offering programs in engineering, technology and architecture are affiliated to Anna University.
The University of Madras (1857), which has three campuses in the city, offers a range of programs in liberal arts, science and commerce. In addition, a large majority of city colleges are affiliated to the University of Madras, and collectively offer programs in medicine, law, science, and commerce. Some such older institutions are the Presidency College (1840) and the Madras Medical College (1850), both of which affiliated themselves to the University of Madras on its formation. Other educational establishments include the National Institute of Fashion Technology (1995), the Institute for Financial Management and Research (1970), the Madras School of Social Work (1952) and the Indian Institute of Planning & Management (2003).
Schools in Chennai may be run privately, by the Tamil Nadu Government, or may be run privately with financial aid from the Government. Private schools are usually affiliated to the CBSE or to the Tamil Nadu State Board. Very few schools are affiliated to the ICSE. Children join school at about age 3, and study through 2 years of kindergarten and 12 years of school, with one board exam in Class 10 and one in Class 12. Many students follow their Class 12 board exam with one or more college entrance examinations of their choice. Common choices include the IIT-JEE and the TNPCEE. Academic pressure is a characteristic feature of the system.
The Connemara Public Library in Chennai is one of the four National Depository libraries.
Cricket is the most popular sport in Chennai. The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium (formerly known as Madras Cricket Club ground or Chepauk Stadium) in Chepauk was built in 1916. It seats 50,000 and is home to the Tamil Nadu cricket team. The Indian cricket team won its first ever test victory here in 1952 against England. This stadium is noted for its appreciative crowd, which often surprises visiting teams with its good sportsmanlike behaviour . The Chemplast Cricket Ground in the IIT Madras campus is another important cricket venue. It seats a small number of spectators, being surrounded by forest on three sides, and has been described by Sachin Tendulkar as "the most scenic in India".
The Egmore Stadium for field hockey seats 4,000 spectators and has an Astroturf field. The Tennis Stadium in Nungambakkam seats 7,000 spectators and has 6 courts. This stadium hosts the ATP Chennai Open every January.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Periamet seats 40,000 and hosts soccer, athletic and volleyball competitions. The Aquatic Complex in Velachery seats 4,000. The city also has a good squash court. All these facilities were built in 1995, when Chennai hosted the South Asian Federation Games.
The Madras Boat Club was set up in 1867. Rowing on the Adyar River is a popular sport and pastime. Most of the rowing is done near the Kotturpuram bridge.
The city has three 18-hole golf courses: the Cosmopolitan Club has a golf course in Nandanam, on the banks of the Adyar River; the Gymkhana Club golf course is located within the central section of the Guindy Race Course; and the nearby Guindy Links. All three clubs were established between the 1870s and 1880s. Golfing in Chennai is usually done between September and February, when the ground is moist.
Notable people born in Chennai
- Engelbert Humperdinck, pop singer
- Henry Whitehead, mathematician
- Mahesh Bhupathi, tennis player
- Narain Karthikeyan, Formula One driver
- R.K. Narayan, writer
- Nasser Hussain, English cricketer
- Pete Best, early Beatles drummer
- A. R. Rahman, music composer
- Viswanathan Anand, chess grandmaster
The city's population has grown from 1.54 million in 1951 to 4.2 million in 2001. The population of the metro area is expected to grow from about 6 million in 2001 to about 9.5 million by 2011. Due to structural and legal constraints in the city, tall buildings are not generally favoured, especially if they are residential buildings. Most residential buildings in the city are four stories or shorter. This has caused the city to spread outwards by a large extent. The area administered by the Chennai Corporation is about 172 km², which is a small fraction of the total 1177 km² currently urbanized.
Consequently, the average commute distance and number of vehicles on the streets have both increased, the latter factor also being aided by the city's strong economic growth. Air pollution is considerable due to a large number of two-stroke engines used in auto rickshaws and mopeds, and diesel fuel used by buses and trucks. It is more unpleasant in combination with the high temperatures and humidity. The Cooum and the Adyar rivers are both heavily polluted. The Cooum in particular has been severely polluted with sewage from slums on its banks, effluents from some business establishments, and plastic bags. The Adyar, which is much less affected, is desilted and cleaned periodically.
As of 2001, about 25% of the city's population were classified as living in slum conditions. The overall literacy rate is about 80%. Nearly all the illiterate people in Chennai also live in slum conditions.
The large population has strained some of the city's urban infrastructure. While most agencies have been able to cope, the city's water supply in particular has proved inadequate for its population, and an over-reliance on annual monsoon rains to replenish the reservoirs has compounded problems. There had been some attempts to pipe in water from other sources, such as the Veeranam in Tamil Nadu, or from the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh. The Veeranam Project has proved unsuccessful so far, in part due to mismanagement of project funds and in part due to the nature of state politics . Water from the Krishna is occasionally pumped to the city, but has become infeasible due to political squabbles between Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka over sharing river water. A large part of the city now buys water commercially from tankers, and rainwater harvesting has become an essential practice. Selling water has become a lucrative industry, and has attracted several entrepreneurs.
- Official government website of Chennai District. -
- Official website of the Corporation of Chennai
- History of Madras
- Archive of historian S. Muthiah's articles on Chennai, published in The Hindu
- Vintage pictures of Madras
- Current weather in Chennai
- Chennai travel guide at Wikitravel
- Prakriti wildlife club at IIT Madras
- Th. Brinkhoff: The Principal Agglomerations of the World, 2005-01-30
- Whats On Chennai
- Tourist attractions
- S. Muthiah, C.L.D. Gupta: Queen of the Coromandel (ISBN: 8186982973)
- Richard Plunkett, Teresa Cannon, Peter Davis, Paul Greenway, Paul Harding: Lonely Planet South India (ISBN: 1864501618)
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details