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Cruising Article – 2011-06-06

Discover the Hindu heritage of Chennai

Asian cruise destinations

The city of Chennai has a rich and storied history as a center of Indian religious tradition. When you visit this metropolis as part of a shore excursion on an Asian cruise, you can experience Chennai's amazing culture by visiting its myriad of important Hindu sites.

Chennai's best-known attraction is the Kapaleshvara Temple. This spectacular structure was built during the 700s, and it has remained an important pilgrimage destination for well over 1,000 years. It is considered to be one of the country's best remaining examples of Dravidian architecture, as its towering main spire is lined with hundreds of colorful statues and other figures related to Hindu mythology.

Another important religious destination is Mahabalipuram, a nearby port dating back to the 7th century. Here, you can see inspiring structures like the Five Rathas, a group of monolithic structures carved from granite, and the Shore Temple, a scenic destination perched along the beach near the beautiful Bay of Bengal.

When you visit the town of Kancheepuram, you will be able to spend the whole day experiencing Hindu culture in the hamlet's countless religious sites. Known as the "Village of 1,000 Temples," this destination is considered to be one of India's seven sacred cities and has many attractions dating back to the 6th century.

A more modern faith-based attraction is the Theosophical Society. Founded in 1875, this organization works to further the cause of the Universal Brotherhood, a mystic doctrine that draws from traditions of Eastern religions.

Chennai is also an important location in the history of the British presence in India. The British East India Company built Fort George in the 17th century, and today, this historic fortification serves as a museum documenting the region's heritage. Meanwhile, the surrounding neighborhood of George Town is one of the city's oldest settlements.

If you love art, you won't want to miss the Government Museum. Also known as the Bronze Gallery, this attraction features a wide array of gorgeous bronze pieces made in Tamil Nadu, the province that has its capital in Chennai. At the end of a visit to this great city, however, few attractions are better than Marina Drive. This urban beach is one of the longest of its kind in the country, making it a great place to visit for those who want to unwind after a long day of exploring temples.