This is Part II. For Part I, click here.
South India is known for its Hindu temples. Chennai has some amazing examples. Strolling the neighborhood around the Kapaleeswarar Temple in the Mylapore district of Chennai as well as the temple grounds, you'll be fascinated by the activity and the commerce. Temple neighborhoods are always bustling. Worshippers buy flowers and fruits as offerings to the gods, so naturally there are stalls ans shops all around the area that cater to them.
Take in some dance or music performances if you can. This is unquestionably one of Chennai's strengths. Wandering through the campus of the famous dance and music school, Kalakshetra, is an amazing experience, with the rythmic sound of the feet of Bharat Natayam dancers or strains of karnatic music coming out of the bungalows that are scattered around the grounds. The school was founded by the famous danser Rukmini Devi in 1936 "with the sole purpose of resuscitating in modern India recognition of the priceless artistic traditions of our country and of imparting to the young the true spirit of Art, devoid of vulgarity and commercialism." Take a look at their website at http://www.kalakshetra.in/. The pictures are small, but give some idea of the atmosphere.
Just south of Chennai, is Dakshinachitra (http://www.dakshinachitra.net), an outdoor museum that seeks to preserve traditional homes that have been rescued from around South India. Make sure you plan on lunch there. They serve up excellent traditional meals that can complete the experience for you.
By Kevin O'Neill