Chennai is one of the oldest Metropolitan cities and hub of Britishers in India. This city was the headquarters for Britishers in South India when India was under British so there is no shortage of monuments of Chennai. The presence of these historical monuments and sites and museums will take you on a walk through Chennai‘s rich history. If you are willing to have in-depth historical information about Chennai, we recommend that you take a wonderful guided tour to cover the major historical attractions. Also, check the opening and closing time for each so that you can organize your time. Make sure that you go through the complete list of important monuments in Chennai for a great trip.
List of Monuments in Chennai
1. St. George’s Fort
St. George’s Fort was an important trading post for the East India Company that was built on the banks of the Bay of Bengal during the British Raj. The construction of this monument was started in 1940 and completed in 1944. It houses the famous St Mary’s Church (an ancient Anglican Church), a museum (contains antiques and artifacts from British Rule), and Wellesley House (paintings of the Fort Governor.) It has recently become home to the administrative offices of the Tamil Nadu Government and the Legislative Assembly. Fort St George is a very prominent landmark in Chennai located on the Rajaji Salai road owing to its historical reference; the fort is looked upon by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). This monument in Chennai India is a beautiful example of military architecture and history.
Address: Rajaji Salai road, Chennai
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2. Freemasons Hall
Freemasons Hall is a popular attraction of Chennai. Located in Egmore of Chennai, Freemasons Hall was built by the British East India Company in 1923. The hall, exhibiting a Greek style of architecture, was built to act as a military lodge for British soldiers. It was constructed as per the climatic conditions of the region. It is well ventilated to receive fresh air and light. This famous monument in Chennai is a two-story structure that can accommodate about 200 people at a time. The building is supported by four massive pillars. Italian tiles and marbles are used to furnish the interiors of Freemasons Hall. The individual rooms can house 60 people at a time and the dining hall of Freemasons Hall can accommodate 150 people and the main hall of Freemasons Hall has clerestory windows that are at a height of 12 feet from the floor. The inner walls of Freemasons Hall are decorated with Masonic emblems. Freemasons Hall can be easily accessed from any part of the city of Chennai. The Hall was recently refurbished to regain its lustre, which has made it one among the prime attractions of Chennai.
Address: Ethiraj Salai, Chennai
3. Kapaleeshwar Temple
Initially, the temple was constructed in the 7th century CE by the Pallavas where the current Santhome Church is located. Post demolition of this top monument in Chennai by the Portuguese in 1566 A.D. The Vijayanagara kings reconstructed the temple in the Dravidian style of architecture. Legends state that the place got its name from the fact that Goddess Uma worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of a peacock which is known as Mayil in Tamil. Goddess Uma was being taught the meaning of five lettered Mantra Na Ma Shi Va Ya and the glory of the sacred ash by Lord Shiva, during which she got distracted with the appearance of a peacock. Santhome Church was built in its place because the original Kapaleeshwar Temple was destroyed by the Portuguese. By the Vijayanagar dynasty, Tamil Nadu’s present and ever-popular Kapaleeshwar Temple was then built and this temple of Shiva still stands in all its spectacular beauty.
Address: Mylapore, Chennai.
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4. Valluvar Kottam Monument
Valluvar Kottam is a relatively new monument and was built in 1976 in tribute to the great classical Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar, author of the Thirukkural. The 133 chapters of the poet’s work Thirukkural have been inscribed in the front hall corridor, built mainly of stone. This monument to visit in Chennai was built in the shape of a temple chariot with seating capacity of approximately 4000 people and also houses one of Asia’s largest auditoriums. It is supported by four wheels, each measuring up to 11 feet in diameter and 2 feet in thickness!
Address: Nungambakkam, Chennai
5. Madras War Cemetery
With people from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Africa, and India, the Madras War Cemetery is home to almost 900 commonwealth burials. Right in the heart of the city of Chennai, the Madras War Cemetery is a recognition of the glory, our ancestors have fought to make this world a more peaceful place. This heritage site houses the last remains of around 855 martyrs who lost precious lives at the battlefronts in the devastating Second World War and also a Memorial stone for 1000 more who martyred fighting in the Great War before that.
The Indian Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission together established this cemetery to commemorate those who died to save our lives in 1952. There are three non-World War martyrs and a small memorial for a sea merchant as well among the tombstones. It must be remembered that the headstones are not only of soldiers who fought but of doctors, nurses, and other support staff as well. The old monument in Chennai is a restricted area and will require permission to visit.
Address: Nandambakkam, Chennai
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6. Armenian Church
Armenian Church was built in the year 1712 and reconstructed in the year 1772. The initial church was constructed using timber. Till 2004 the church was taken care of by Michael Stephen post which Trevor Alexander took its charge in 2010. This popular monument in Chennai is funded by the Armenian Apostolic Church and maintained by the Armenian Church Committee of Calcutta. Armenia is the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its religion.
Armenians are believed to have settled in Chennai since 1512 and the first Armenian journal Azdarar was published in 1747. With not many Armenians left in the city, the iconic structure has become more of a heritage site today. This glorious shrine features Mother Mary taking Jesus to heaven. One story graceful complex has a chessboard floor design and religious paintings on the walls. Visitors would be awestruck seeing the bell tower called the Belfry that houses six bells in three rows. The bells weigh around 150kgs each.
Address: Armenian Street, Chennai
7. Viswaroopa Adhivyadhihara Sri Bhaktha Anjaneyaswami Temple
The 32 feet idol of Sri Anjaneyar carved from a single rock is the main highlight of this temple and is believed to have curative and healing powers. Located at Nanganallur, people come here to worship for good health. Here in this religious monument in Chennai, you would also find idols of Sri Rama, Sri Lakshmana, Seetha with Sri Anjaneyar, Sri Vinayagar, Sri Ragavendra, and Sri Krishna with his consorts Bhama and Rukmini. The temple really blooms on the festivals of Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navmi popular all year round and with believers and tourists thronging the temple in the thousands.
Address: Nanganallur, Chennai
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8. Annai Velankanni Church
Annai Velankanni is one of India’s famous religious monuments Chennai built close to the site of the apparent Marian apparition. It is not just Christians who flock here. The church is worth the visit just for its glorious architectural beauty built in 1972 and iconography as art, if not for a quiet prayer for healing. It is a spacious, neatly maintained church. This sacred monument in Chennai is kept open till late at night which is helpful for busy people. Needed items like candles are sold in the church but if you go after 8.30 PM the store may close.
Address: Elliots Beach, Chennai
9. Ripon Building
Built-in the year 1913, the Ripon Building is the official seat of the Chennai Corporation, and the entire building was painted in white and the white color of the building represents the Indo-Saracenic architecture. It was constructed by Loganatha Mudaliar and was named after Lord Ripon who was the then Governor General of British India and situated close to the Chennai Railway Station. With a 43 meters tower that has a 2.5-meter clock, this royal building is rectangular in shape. Also known as Westminster Chiming Clock, this has been the main attraction of the building ever since it was built. This ancient monument in Chennai has a mechanical key system that is checked every day.
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Address: Sydenhams Road, Periamet, Chennai
10. Tirupati Devasthanam Balaji
Located on the Venkat Narayan Road, this is one of the most famous temples in South India. Thousands of devotees come here all-year-round to seek the blessings of Lord Balaji (one of the most revered deities in South India). Managed by the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Trust of Tirupati, it is dedicated to Lord Venkatachalapati (an avatar of Lord Vishnu) and Alarmelu Manga. Apart from the main deity, other idols in the temple include that of Lord Ranganath (where Lord Vishnu is sleeping) along with Sree Devi, Bhuma Devi and Brahma. While prasad is usually given to all devotees, if you get a ladoo, consider that as an auspicious offering (since it is rare for anyone to get that as prasad).
One of South India’s most famous temples and famous religious monuments in Chennai with devotees coming by the thousands seeking darshan from the resident deity Lord Balaji, the Tirupati Devasthanam Balaji is the splendor that the devout dedicate to their favorite idols and a wonderful example of grandeur. Lord Ranganatha, Sri Devi, Bhumi Devi, and Brahma are the other idols represented here.
Address: Sriperumbudur, Near Bus Stand
11. Madras High Court
A major monument in Chennai, this judicial complex is the second largest in the entire world. Founded in the year 1862, this 19th century Victorian High Court is designed in the Indo-Saracenic style by the famous architect Henry Irwin. The building is a testament to the man’s genius. The beautiful domes, corridors, ceilings, and stained glass doors are unlike any you will find in India’s courts and a must-visit. It is a well maintained and a great historic building. It is one of the landmarks around the locality. Publics are not allowed inside the building during weekdays. This place will remain busy on weekdays.
Address: Parrys, George Town, Chennai
12. Anna Memorial
Sometimes also referred to as Anna Samadhi, Anna memorial is a memorial structure built on the Marina beach in Chennai, India. It was built in memory of former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, C. N. Annadurai (1967-69), who was cremated here in 1969. Abutting the MGR Memorial, the memorial lies on the northern end of the Marina. In 1996-1998, the memorial was remodeled at a cost of Rs. 27.5 million during the DMK reign and the entrance arch carried the design of ‘Rising Sun’, the symbol of the DMK party. After the AIADMK party returned to power in May 2001 the design was removed.
The renovation resulted in the original tusk-shaped entrance arch giving way to a highly polished marble-tiled structure, widened pathways, and building of ornamental octagonal Mandapams. After the Indian Ocean tsunami struck the coastal parts of the state in December 2004, the memorial, along with other structures on the seashore, was affected. Subsequently, repair works were undertaken at a cost of Rs. 13.3 million. In 2012, the memorial was renovated at a cost of Rs. 12 million. This most popular monument in Chennai is a truly lovely place to spend some time.
Address: Marina Beach, Chennai
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13. Doveton House
Built by the genius architect Benjamin Roebeck in classic European style in the year 1798, Doveton House was named after Lieutenant General John Doveton. What was once a residential cum lodging place of English officers and served as a prison where victims were kept under the vigilance of British officers is now better known as the administrative office of the Women’s Christian College. Located in the Nungambakkam region in Chennai, the building stands on tall pillars representing colonial architecture. Flanked by a 20-acre lush-green park area, Doveton House now works as an education center. Today this popular monument in Chennai is the administrative office for the Women’s Christian College and Education Centre and is set in a 20-acre park area.
Address: Nungambakkam, Chennai
14. Thousand Lights Mosque
The Thousand Lights Mosque of Royapettah, Chennai is among the most esteemed mosques of the city as well as the state of Tamil Nadu. Built in the early 19th century by the Wallajah family of the Carnatic rulers, it is to date a popular gathering place for the daily prayers and festive occasions like Muharram. This most popular monument in Chennai gets its name from the legend that to illuminate the entire prayer hall, about a thousand oil lamps used to be lit back in the days. One can only imagine how beautiful that outline must have looked against the dark black sky. The mosque is built in the traditional Islamic pattern with domes and high minarets. It has a large prayer hall for men and a separate smaller one for women. The shrine or Dargah of the mosque is dedicated to Imam Hossein, the grandson of the first prophet Muhammad and a revered figure of the Shia Muslims around the world.
The walls of the grand mosque are ornamented with lines taken from the Quran. The Thousand Lights Mosque is respected among all the Muslim sects, but it is of special significance for the Shia Muslims as it is the home to the chief of the Shia sect of Tamil Nadu. It also has a burial ground inside for the Shia Muslim families. Albeit the mosque is visited throughout the year by men and women offering prayers. It lights up with more noise and grandeur during the revered month of Muharram and even more so on the day of the Annual Muharram Festival.
Address: Nungambakkam, Chennai
15. Higgin Bothams
It is considered a monument albeit of a different kind and sprawling bookshop is touted as India’s first-ever. Housed in the heritage Majestic Building, the bookshop opened its doors in 1874. An iconic monument in Chennai, of a different kind, today it is a bibliophile’s paradise and besides the wonderful and extensive books, the building itself is steeped with history. A must-visit for book lovers and lovers of history alike! It is a treasure trove and a much-beloved space for many locals.
Address: Mount Road, Chennai
16. Karl Schmidt Memorial
The only heritage monument in Chennai standing on Elliot’s Beach is the Karl Schmidt Memorial, dedicated to the man who drowned in the gallant and noble act of saving the lives of others, namely a young English girl. Historians note that while Schmidt drowned, the girl was saved and, like his life meant nothing, she had attended apart the next night.
Address: Elliot’s Beach, Chennai
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