Chennai is located in the Bay of Bengal, along the Coromandel coast. A 12km stretch of sand, Marina Beach forms a fringe around the city. Two meandering rivers run through Chennai, and empty into the sea at Ennore.
The metropolis of Chennai can be divided into districts of north, south, west, central and around Chennai. The sea lies to the east of the city. The central district is the commercial heart, while the north is the industrial center. The west and south regions are mainly residential areas and around the city are a number of satellite towns.
This commercial hub has developed around a commanding post which was established by the British. Aside from businesses and offices, the area offers the city's best hospitals, schools, banks and shopping facilities. There are also some tourist attractions such as Fort St George Complex, Parthasarthy Temple and Aamir Mahal.
This area of the city lies adjacent to the sea and is home to a major port. This convenient trade link has aided the development of automobile manufacturing businesses and the area has even been nicknamed the ‘Detroit of India'.
This area of the city is peppered with interesting attractions and is considered a gateway to the south of India. Points of interest include famous pilgrim sites such as Sivan Park, Kapaleeswarar Temple and Elliot's Beach. This area lies at the heart of Chennai's transport network, with an international airport, rail services and a major road network in the vicinity.
The less congested western area of the city is mainly dominated by residential developments. Although there is little to interest tourist, the area is home to a number of good hotels, banks and commercial projects. The only tourist attraction is Vadapalani Temple.
A number of small townships surround the city and are considered an extension of Chennai. Although these urban centers are growing at a rapid rate, they still serve as a suburban getaway from the hustle and bustle of inner city life. Examples of these towns include Mammalapuram, Chengalpattu and Kanchipuram.