What to do in Chennai

Chennai—or Madras, as it was known in colonial times—is the fourth largest city in India. But when you wander its tightly packed, bustling streets, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it as the country's largest. Chennai is also the transportation gateway to southern India, with a thriving airport and multiple train and bus stations. Many tourists pass through the city quickly onto their next destination. Some head to the city's outskirts for a shot of fresh air at Chennai's thin slip of beaches along the Bay of Bengal. The truly adventurous, however, embrace the city's hustle and bustle and head straight to its heart: the open-air markets of Pondy Bazaar. The row of stands is little more than an alleyway, but inside you'll find vendors hawking everything from fresh flower garlands to silk clothing, leather bags, and jewelry.

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