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Chennai (formerly called Madras) is the capital of Tamil Nadu state in southern India.

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Geography It is the fourth largest city in India and has a big harbor and the world's second longest beach (Marina Beach). Many businesses, especially manufacturing and automobile industries are situated here. Chennai is well connected with most cities in India by road, rail and air. It is one of the four large metros of India.

History Chennai was one of the earliest outposts of the British East India Company. In fact, the origins of modern Chennai can be traced back to 1639 when the company chose a small fishing village called Madraspattinam for settlement. The Fort St. George built by the British is even today the official legislative and administrative headquarters of the state. George Town grew into modern Madras city, encompassing several neighboring regions. As of 2000, the government has renamed the city to Chennai - one of the erstwhile names for the city.

St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles is associated with Chennai. He visited India and died in Chennai. The names of two suburbs in Chennai, Santhome and St. Thomas Mount, have cemented this link.

People and Culture

A majority of people are Tamils (whose mother tongue[?] is Tamil), but people of other languages/cultures stay here as well. English is widely spoken, and is used almost exclusively in business and education.

There are a number of film halls, amusement parks and shopping malls in and around the city. The Beach in Chennai is a popular pastime and tourist spot.

Chennai is known for traditional South Indian cuisine. Food from various restaurants is usually cheap for the quality that it offers. Familiar Dishes include Dosas(pancakes), Idli(rice cake), Sambhar(gravy made of lentils, chillies, coriander seeds and other spices). A special form of coffee known as 'Filter Coffee' is consumed by a lot of people.

Chennai is also a major cultural hub. Chennai is famous for the classical music called Carnatic music and classical dance called Bharata Natyam. Thousands of individuals and schools teach music and dance. A lot of people visit Chennai during the months of December-January. This is the time of Carnatic music festival, popularly known as 'Music Season'.

Climate Chennai is hot and humid for most of the year, with day temperatures frequently exceeding 40°C during summer. The city gets most of its rain from the North-East monsoon in the months of September-December.

Institutions and Universities

Sports Facilities Chennai is home to the MA Chidambaram Stadium (formerly known as Chepauk; Madras Cricket Club ground). This grass pitch stadium seats 50,000 and is home to the Tamil Nadu cricket team.

The Jawaharlal_Nehru Stadium, Periamet seats 40,000 and hosts soccer, athletic and volleyball competitions.

Egmore Stadium, for field hockey, seats 4,000 spectators and has an astro turf field.

Tennis Stadium, Nungambakkam seats 7,000 spectators and has 6 courts.

Aquatic Complex, Velachery Road seats 4,000 spectators.

Recent developments In recent years, along with Bangalore and Hyderabad, the city has emerged as an important hub of software development in India. This has been given a further boost by the construction of 'Tidel park', an IT complex, by the Tamil Nadu government.

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