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Marina Beach, Chennai

Chennai, the emerging IT hub of India, has a deep connection with the country’s colonial past. The city as we know of was established close to 200 years ago during the reign of British Raj. Once considered as an important naval base of British India, Chennai is the unofficial keeper of the Indian artistic traditions and heritage.

Marina Beach, Chennai is one of the important landmarks of the city. It is India’s longest natural urban beach and is very popular among locals as well as tourists. Covered in memorials, statues, broadways for jogging and walking, the beach receives close to 50,000 visitors daily.

Before heading to this iconic landmark of Chennai, here is some of the information that will help you in planning your trip.

Introduction to Marina Beach, Chennai

The Marina Beach is a popular attraction of Chennai. Opening to the stunning Bay of Bengal, the 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) long stretch of the beach is ideal for early morning or evening walks. During the night, the entire coast is illuminated with lighting and decorations that gives the area a festive look.

While walking through the coastal strip, you will come across people selling roasted corn, vendors selling knick-knacks, or horses available for a ride. However, swimming is forbidden at Marina Beach as the waves are very strong. The nearby colonial buildings are a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture.

History of This Popular Beach

Prior to building Madras Harbor, the area was an archetypal mud strip – home to several mudskippers. During the later part of the 19th century, Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff (British Governor of Chennai) commissioned to build an esplanade by modifying the landscape. The project was named Madras Marina.

In subsequent years, the beautification and modification of the seashore have been undertaken. Several important fixtures like the statue of Mahatma Gandhi or eminent Tamil poets have been added to the beachfront.               

Important Attractions of Marina Beach, Chennai

The area surrounding the Marina is covered with some of the fine examples of indo-Saracenic architecture. The famous Madras University or the Senate House, are some of the prime examples. These buildings showcase the best of Indian architecture with a dash of European elements. As you move through the Promenade Road, you will come across statues of important personalities of Indian and Tamil history.

Apart from that, the iconic Madras Lighthouse or the Old Light House is a popular attraction of the beach. From the top of the 49-meter high lighthouse, you can get a panoramic view of the city. The availability of lift makes reaching the top floor easier.    

Another important attraction of Marina Beach is the aquarium. Established during the beginning of the 20th century, the venue houses some of the rare specimens of tropical and subtropical fishes. The Ice House, inside the aquarium, is another interesting venue.

Some other important venue around the seashore includes Velankanni Church and Ashtalakshmi Temple, which is frequently visited by tourists and locals alike.   

Nightlife at Marina Beach

Although people at Chennai lead a disciplined life, there are certain pockets in the city where you can find some activities late at night. Marina beach, Chennai is one of those places. After the sunset, the entire beach is illuminated with gorgeous lighting.

You will find people relaxing at the pavilions while enjoying the scenic beauty of the area. Take a cozy walk around the pavement while munching some of the local snacks. If you are more of a party person, then there are several clubs and pubs nearby seashore.        

Some Must-have Experiences at the Beach

1. Watching over Chennai from Old Lighthouse

Some of the breathtaking views of Chennai and Bay of Bengal can be observed from the top of the iconic old Lighthouse. There is an elevator available, making the climb more comfortable.

2. Visiting the MGR memorial

The impressive memorial built in the honor of M. G. Ramachandran, the former actor and Chief Minister of the State. Decorated with marble edifice, the commemorative plaque is visited by the sizable number of tourists.   

3. Go-karting

Close to the Marina Beach, there is a 400m track for meant for go-karting. It is one of the most happening places in Chennai and is frequently visited by the most happening crowds of the city.

4. Going for a heritage tour

The history of Marina Beach, Chennai is closely associated with the city’s colonial heritage. The area is covered in several heritage buildings constructed during those times. A tour around the area is a must for architecture and photography enthusiasts.

5. Tasting some of the local delicacies and filter Kapi (Coffee)

There are several old coffee houses and Tiffin houses spread across the Marina Beach, Chennai, which serves delicious local snacks and Chennai’s popular filter coffee. These are a must-have for people who want to explore the flavors of India.

Important Tips before Visiting Marina Beach

1.  Swimming is prohibited at Marina beach because of strong tides. However, you can relax on the platforms.

2.  Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are a must for a day visit. Chennai is located on the equatorial belt so adequate sun protection is mandatory.

3.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothes

4.  Carry water, or drink tender coconut water to avoid dehydration

How to Reach Marina Beach, Chennai

The public transport – buses and local trains – can be availed from different portions of the city. Apart from that, visitors can avail of on-app taxis to reach the venue.   
Chennai’s Marina Beach is a popular destination among tourists. The sandy beaches and torrential tides make it a perfect destination for relaxing after a hectic day. If you are among the early risers, then do make a point to catch the sunrise. It is simply breathtaking.     

See more in ChennaiBronze GalleryThe Ancient Kapaleeshwarar TempleMadras High CourtSanthome Church