Chennai (Madras)

India's fourth largest city, and the main transportation gateway for most of South India.  Although the area has served as a major port and economic center dating back to the 1st century, the city itself largely grew out of a base of operations that the British East India Company established in 1639. The British name of Madras was derived from the local site of Madraspatnam, but as the city grew, it eventually also merged in the town of Chennapatnam, from which the modern name of Chennai was born.

Before the British came, however, most of the settlement activity was based in the Mylapore area north of the Adyar River.  This area includes some of the more recognizable religious locations, including the Portuguese San Thome Cathedral (believed to be the location where "Doubting" Thomas brought Christianity to the subcontinent), and the Hindu Kapalishvara temple devoted to a form of Shiva.