As a commercial centre Chennai is growing in importance. New and huge five star hotels such as the ITC Grand Chola and Leela Palace cater for the influx. But Chennai is also a gateway to the south of India.
Chennai is a chaotic, high-energy modern Indian city, but its modest size and friendly atmosphere are a draw and respite can be found on its Marina Beach or in the grounds of the ancient Mahabalipuram temple just along the coast. The laid-back beaches and bustling towns of Tamil Nadu and the highlands lie just beyond. Traces of the Raj-era town formerly known as Madras survive in George Town and St. Mary's, the oldest Anglican church in Asia.