Chennai,India, formerly known as Madras, one of the nation's largest cities and the capital of Tamil Nadu state. It is known as Chennapattanam by the city's Tamil-speaking inhabitants. Chennai lies on the Coromandel Coast of southeastern India and fronts on the Bay of Bengal. An attractive esplanade and a sandy beach extend along much of the bay. The climate is hot and the humidity high.
Chennai is a major seaport and an important manufacturing and commercial center. Locally produced items include leather and leather goods, cotton textiles, motor vehicles, railway cars, and chemicals. The textiles include madras, a colorful plaid fabric that originated here.
In the city are the University of Madras and a branch of the Indian Institute of Technology. Several colleges, research institutes, and music schools are also here. Landmarks include Fort St. George, several mosques and Hindu temples, and a Roman Catholic and an Anglican cathedral. The Government Museum and Art Gallery has a notable collection of bronze sculptures. According to tradition, the apostle Thomas is buried in the city's Basilica of San Thomé.
Chennai grew around an English East India Company fort and trading station founded in 1639. As Fort St. George, it became Britain's chief trading post and administrative center in India, remaining so until the late 18th century.