The first thing you notice at the Mariana beach is its size. Yes, Marina Beach is the second longest Urban beach in the World! The sandy beach stretches for about 13 kms and never seems to end.
This Bay of Bengal beach is right in the heart of Chennai. Marina beach is famous as a site for breeding of Olive Ridley Turtles. Earlier the beach was just a sandbank with slimy mudskippers. It was developed to the present condition during the late 1800 and renamed marina by the then British Governor Elphinstone. Many buildings and structures have come up on the Marina since then.
How to Reach there
The Marina Beach is accessible from all parts of the cities by bus, car and train. The beach is about is about 18 kms from the Chennai International and Domestic Airport.
When to Visit Marina Beach
Marina beach is accessible to one and all. Officially, the best time to visit would be November to February, when the climate is cool in Chennai. Locals, especially people living nearby, visit it every day. More than 30,000 visitors come to Marina daily; the weekends see more crowds. The beach is teeming with Chennai multitude during the Long dreary hot months of May and June.
The crowd strength is at its peak in the month of Pongal. The 4th day of the Tamil Harvest Festival is called Kannum Pongal. On this day people from all the districts of Tamil Nadu come out of their villages on tours to other places. They hit the Beach in great numbers as a change from their daily drudgery on this day.
Photo by pranab.mund
What to do there
If you are in Chennai and have visited other landmarks, head to the Mariato to cool off in the evening. Swimming and bathing are banned here due to the unpredictable tides and turbulent nature of the sea, but here is a list of other things that you can do there.
Photo by muthukumars610
- Entry to the top of the lighthouse is now permitted. Climb atop the 46m high Lighthouse to view the panorama of the whole beach area and parts of the city!
- People interested in architecture can admire the University of Madras, ICE house, PWD office, Presidency college and Senate house which date to the British Era
- Pose on the Catamarans(Boats) that lie strewn along the beach. Or watch fisherman in action near at the north end of the beach, either readying to go into the sea or counting their blessing for the great catch of the day.
- Most Chennaities living nearby, take morning and evening walks on this Beach. Walk along the Statues of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March, Tamil Scholars – Avvaiyar, Tiruvalluvar, Bhartidasan, Kambar, Subramania Bharati and the famous Triumph of Labour statue that line the Promenade
- In case you are on 26th January or 15 August, you can watch the two country’s national festivals being celebrated with great pomp and show. Ganesh idols are immersed on the 10th day of Ganesh Chaturthi
- There is an aquarium nearby built as early as 1909. It has some special species of fish.
- You can visit the 16th Century Santhome Church built by Portuguese explorers that is very near to the Beach area
Kids come to the beach to play volleyball, football, cricket, build castles, run, fly kites, blow balloons, wallow in water and ride on ponies. They can play on the merry-go-round and collect small shells on the beach. Most children run after crabs that are washed offshore due to high tides.
Small temporary outlets sell all sorts of cheap and ethnic jewellery, artefacts, handicrafts and showpieces.
The Fishmarket nearby is famous for varieties of fish.
Photo by pranab.mund
Tiny temporarily stalls place chairs or small stools for their customers. You get to eat roasted Corn cob, cut and flavoured mangoes, boiled dal called Sundal, Ice creams, Chat items, sliced cucumbers, noodles, fried stuff – Bajji, Samosa, Pakodas, and non-veg items like chicken fry and fish.
If you visit Chennai, don’t forget the Marina beach. It is the coolest place you can find here around these parts!