Although the area has been part of successive South Indian kingdoms through centuries, the recorded history of the city began in the colonial times, specifically with the arrival of British East India Company and the establishment in 1644 of Fort St George, an English settlement. The British defended several attacks from the French colonial forces, and from the kingdom of Mysore, on Chennai's way to become a major naval port and presidency city by late eighteenth century.
Following the independence of India, Chennai became the capital of Tamil Nadu and a hotbed of regional politics that tended to bank on Dravidian identity of the populace. Chennai had become a bustling metropolis with beautiful classical and colonial European styled buildings, lining the city’s thoroughfares.
To get from the airport into town in comfort use a prepaid taxi from the booth at the terminal. Another way to get into town is to walk the half kilometer to Tirusulam Station and take a MRTS train into town. This will naturally be cheaper than the prepaid taxi.
Once you are in the town you have the options of auto rickshaws, buses, taxis, cars and the MRTS trains. Private taxis can be hired for the day if you are looking to make excursions to nearby townships. The bus is preferable and cheaper than the taxis or auto rickshaws while traveling within the city.Get acquainted with the bus numbers and routes before you start traveling on them. Usually co passengers are helpful. The trains are excellent and efficient. Whenever possible use them in place of any other mode of transportation within the city.
Good to Know
As compared to other cities, riding in auto rickshaws in Chennai can be quite tedious. The drivers have a major language problem and communication is difficult. They refuse to use the meters and will demand hefty fares, sometimes changing the fare to an increased amount after you get to your destination.
Chennai is the smallest of the four Indian 'metros' and is still quite laid back and sleepy. It does have a more traditional feel than other cities that you might visit. Dress code should be adhered to so that you don’t disturb local sentiments.
Being a southern city it is quite sunny and you should wear plenty of sunscreen no matter which season you visit.