Chennai is the smallest of India’s four 'metro cities' and still retains its small-town roots and feel. It is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which brought the dance form of Bahratnayam to the world. The language of the state is Tamil and is very different from the Hindi commonly spoken in northern parts of India. Most people are conversant with English, although the Southern Indian accent may leave you somewhat defeated. The town has a very unique cultural identity as it is not a melting pot of many different influences. Chennai's inhabitants can be quite orthodox in their way of life.
The city is also host to Marina Beach which at 13km is the longest beach in India and was greatly affected by the 2004 tsunami. An agreeable place to visit in the evenings, it also hosts 'Tollywood' or the Tamil movie-making centre. Tollywood is quite a robust industry and, while not as large as the one in Mumbai, movies in the regional language give it an edge as most of the local population do not understand Hindi and prefer Tamil-language films. Some old buildings built by the British are local attractions.