In Chennai’s bustling George Town stands an old structure that is a reminder of the city’s historical connect with the faraway land of Armenia. The Armenian church is located on Armenian Street, where merchants from the country once settled. It was built 1712, demolished, and subsequently rebuilt in 1772. It has a bell tower with six of the heaviest bells in the city, weighing around 150 kgs each. Close to 350 Armenians have also been buried in the church’s yard. Once a thriving business community in the region, the number of Armenians settled here has dwindled over the years. Today, the bells in the church toll every Sunday morning, as if reminding people of an almost-forgotten link to a memorable chapter in the past.
Today, the name ‘Chepauk’ may be synonymous with Chennai’s magnificent cricket stadium, but did you know that a stone’s throw from there is an iconic structure that is steeped in history? Built in 1768, the Chepauk Palace is said to be one of India’s first structures to be built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. It has two blocks – Kalas Mahal and Humayun Mahal. The majestic palace served as the official residence of the Nawabs of Carnatic/Arcot from 1768 to 1855. Today, the complex is undergoing renovation to restore the structures to their former glory.
If you have a penchant for trains, this place is for you. Located near the Furnishing division of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), the Rail Museum takes you on a journey through the rich history and heritage of the Indian Railways. It was opened in 2002 with a host of exhibits that promise to enthrall children and adults alike. With galleries, miniatures, photographs, vintage models, paintings and more, there’s much to explore and experience. Word is that the toy train ride is a must-try!
The last remaining natural habitat in the city and one of the most diverse natural habitats in the country, the Pallikaranai Marsh is supremely significant for conservation efforts. It is home to a wide array of birds, plants and animals, and is known to be a ‘birdwatchers’ paradise’. Thousands of migratory birds are known to flock to the wetland. Flanked by the Buckingham Canal and the Old Mahabalipuram Road and surrounded by dense human activity, the wetland has shrunk over time.