It’s a blistering hot summer day, but G. Rajendran comes to work dressed in a blue sweater and woollen gloves. He rubs his hands to keep warm, as sweat buds threaten to form on our brow. Rajendran is probably the only man in Chennai who wears a sweater to office all through the year. But not without reason. He works inside Aavin’s ice cream freezer, where the temperature is maintained at -30 degrees. “It’s not bad during summer,” shrugs the 55-year-old. “But during the winter and on rainy days, it’s extremely difficult to work inside.”
We poke our heads inside the ‘Ice cream hardening chamber’, only to be shooed away by a burst of ice-cold air — but we manage to catch a glimpse of the frozen floors on which cartons of just-made ice cream cups and sticks wait to be transported to the neighbouring ‘cold room’, from where they will travel to various parts of Tamil Nadu.
At the ice cream factory of Aavin’s Products Dairy at Ambattur, milk procured from across the State travels through a series of tanks and pipes to be embellished with fruit pulp, nuts and chocolate syrup, to be transformed into a delicious end-product. Machines do all the work, except at the end of the chain, where human beings join in to welcome the ice cream cups and cones into the outside world.
The first step is separating cream from the milk. For the purpose, “milk from tankers is transferred into storage containers and is then pasteurised,” explains S.R. Sankar, Dy. General Manager (QC). From then on, the off-white liquid moves from one machine to another, with straightforward names such as ‘Cream separator’, ‘Cream balance tank’ and ‘Cream pasteuriser’ to become as viscous as honey.
We walk along a corridor where overhead pipelines carry the cream into the ice cream mix preparation unit. “This is where we prepare the base,” says Sankar. The cream is treated to a generous helping of milk powder, sugar, stabiliser, emulsifier and milk. Help is taken from a machine called the ‘ice cream agitator’ to make the cream fluffy and uniform. But the off-white mass is not ice cream, not yet.
The Catta 27, a gleaming imported freezer, incorporates a unit of air for every unit of cream. The resulting product, in all its gooey glory, is called ice cream. This room — the ‘Ice cream production and packaging hall’ — which smells of sugar, strawberries, and everything nice, is where all the magic happens.
Men and women in hair nets bustle about, carrying cartons of just-packed ice cream, and the odd employee is seen blissfully licking an ice candy fresh off the machine. It’s here that something as ordinary as water and syrup transform into shocking-pink ice candies; where chocolate syrup is married to vanilla inside crispy cones.
S. Pon Nandhini, Dy. Manager, snatches a cup of mango ice cream from a conveyor for us to try. Soft and mild, it tastes like heaven. More ice cream awaits us — the candy-making machine, which freezes a mixture of water, strawberry pulp and sugar syrup into ice-pops, boasts little pink bars that seem to nod at us as they travel along the conveyor. The machine makes 6,000 bars an hour and it’s hard not to grab a handful as they make their way into the plastic wrappers.
But the men and women, who package the ice candies and ice creams in cups, perform their jobs with a certain restraint. Ask any of them, and they will tell you that they hardly eat ice cream. “I eat one once in a while,” says Lakshmi, as she carries a batch into the ice cream hardening chamber, where it all comes to an end. Milk, which started its journey at a temperature of 4 degrees, concludes it at -4 degrees.
Hello friends, hope you all are doing fine. Today I want to share with you all a short and brief article about Chennai. Except for the Marina Beach and Express Avenue I have never written any article here about my hometown Chennai. So I just thought today I would share with you all some short information about my hometown so that it would be really helpful for you when you visit my city.
Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the largest city in the entire southern part of India. This is the capital city of Tamil Nadu located in the Republic of India. The city has its eastern boundary with mighty ocean of Bay of Bengal which stretches for about 17km thereby making Marina the second largest sea shore in the world.
Chennai has a very strong history and all its fame can be attributed to the Raja of Chandragiri who was the first person to lay out the foundation for establishing the city of Chennai.
During the English rule in India the British government established some forts and trading places throughout the city. They called this province as the Madrasapattinam. A movie was released in the very recent period starring Aarya and Amy Jackson that attracted many global audience. The film represents the classic Tamil lifestyle and the period of British rule in India.
Chennai is the only region in India where you can see the perfect blend of various communities. There is a popular saying in Tamil called as "Vandharai Vazavaikkum Chennai" which literally means that "Chennai gives life to all those who seeks refuge in it". This can be visually seen when you visit Chennai as you can see people from almost every region in India.
There are people who still wear long saree to people who wear modern western outfits. There are people wearing traditional dhothies to people wearing blazers. There are shops that sells idly dosa which are traditional Chennai foods to pizza hut and McDonalds. This striking feature of Chennai can sometime amazes the tourists which when coupled with some prominent malls and monuments with banners found at every corner of the city will give all the first time visitors a new experience.
Although it has been more than seven decades since the British has left India, still in the streets of Chennai you can feel the British touch. Most of the government buildings and complexes, railway stations, high court and churches were structures that were built during the British Period.
Marina Beach which is the second largest sea shore in the whole world however the sea is not used for swimming because of the high levels of sharks found in this area.
Chennai houses diverse religions and communities to live in harmony with each other. It also bears some of the old famous places of worship belonging to different religious communities such as the Kapaleeshwara temple of Mylapore, Parthasarathy koil in thiruvellicaeni which are some architectural master pieces.
The city is well connected to every nuke and corner by a well developed city bus transportation services. There are electric trains that connects the important parts of the cities. The chennai metro rail projects are in the final level of completion. The city known as the "Gateway to the South" is known for its beach, diverse population, cinemas and theaters, shopping malls, parks, restaurants etc.
The people of Chennai are well versed in various art forms ranging from the classical Bharathanatiyam to present day's hip hop, salsa etc. You can taste whatever food you like in Chennai. You can opt for a traditional South Indian food or a Chinese cuisine. You also get every major cuisine in the world in Chennai. Chennai is known for some of the prominent landmarks that is found in and around the city.
- St. George's fort is actually the Legislative Assembly of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Located near the beach the fort has the longest flag pole in the whole country. The fort was built during the rule of East India Company in Madras. There is a church of St. Mary which is found within the church which is one of the oldest church in India. The fort also has some of the oldest British tombstones in India. There is also a museum in the fort which has some rare collection of British period. There is also a war memorial that was built in memory of those warriors who lost their life in the World War I.
- Santhome Basilica is a prominent historical monument located in the city of Chennai. The name Santhome is derived from the name of a saint called St. Thomas who later died on a nearby hill called St. Thomas Mount. The church has a Portuguese architecture which still contains some remains of St. Thomas. The cathedral still stands strong touching the skies, the central hall of Santhome Basilica has 14 wooden plaques which depict the last fourteen days of Jesus Christ. The statue of virgin Mary found in this cathedral is bought all the way from Portugal in the past.
- The High Court building in Chennai is another example of British touch. Built more than 100 years ago, the Chennai High Court is one of the largest justice complex in the whole world with the first one being located in London. The court has a decorated entrance with several arch. Even today the court functions actively and it is always crowded except for the holidays. The court had even a lighthouse complex which was later replaced by the new light house constructed in Marina Beach.
- Government Museum is another important historical monument with an ocean of information. Although it has the name as the Government museum it is owned by a group of British citizens who aim in improving the life of Britishers in Chennai, preserve the historical data, Buddhist sculptures, Relics of Chera, Chola and Pallava periods, a magnificent dancing statue of Natarajar, Durga statue and Ganesha Statue which are from the Chola period is present inside the museum. It also includes a museum theater and also one of the largest libraries of Connemara.
- Kapakeeswarar which is a master piece built during the period of the Pallava rulers is located within the city of Chennai in a palace called Mylapore. This amazing temple dedicated to Lord Shiva has beautiful sculptures for all the 63 Nayanmars of Shiva. On the outside of the temple is found a peacock kind of sculpture which depicts Goddess Parvathi who worships Lord Shiva in the form of a peacock. During the 63 festival also in Tamil as "Arubathu Moovar" festival all the 63 nayanmars are taken in procession around the temple.
- Parthasarathy temple which is another example of Pallava architecture is currently located in a place called Triplicane in the city of Chennai. I have written a detailed description of this powerful place in one of my previous articles.
- Marina Beach which is one of the major tourist spot in the city is a 13 km long shore. The beach has some of the famous political leaders statues and memorials. I have written a detailed description about Marina Beach in a separate article. Please refer my previous posts.
- Elliot's Beach is the beach that is found south to Marina Beach where is located some of the famous religious places such as Astalakshmi temple and Velankani church (not the one in Nagapattinam).
- Chennai Harbor which is another important century old place located in Chennai. Chennai harbor still functions effectively and serves as an important point of trade and commerce. This is a fully man made harbor, not a natural one.
- Ice House which is a prominent place in Chennai was the name given to the place where huge blocks of ice were cut from the frozen lakes in the north, transported here and stored for refrigeration.
- Guindy National Park which is prominently a deer sanctuary located in Guindy. There can also be seen some of the rare species of animals such as mongoose, jackals, civet, cats and a wide variety of monkeys.
- Snake park is found in the same place houses a wide variety of several poisonous and non-poisonous varieties of snakes. This is a massive natural park that extends approximately 1300 acres which several species of plants, animals and birds. There are also some important activities and zones in the zoo such as safari parks, nocturnal animal house and aquarium which is made in the form of a giant fish.
- Valluvar Kottam, as I mentioned in my previous article regarding Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural, this is a monument that is dedicated to the greatest poet Thiruvalluvar. The monument which resembles the shape of a temple chariot contains a real life statue of Thiruvalluvar in it. The auditorium which is located in this complex is the largest in Asia. The 133 chapters of Thirukkural is inscribed in the front hall of the chariot.
- Birla Planetarium which is located in a place called Koturpuram is one of the most advanced planetarium in India. The planetarium can accommodate up to 240 people and near by this planetarium is a famous science and technology museum.
- Just like Queens Land which I mentioned in my previous article, VGP has a number of amusing rides and other fun activities ideal for children. There is also a cultural hall and an art centre where you can buy a number of handicrafts.
- Kancheepuram which is called as the temple town in India has numerous temples unlike any city in India. Kancheepuram is also famous for its silk sarees that are woven in hands. One of the famous Hindu Guru Adi Shankaracharya has his mut here.
- Vedanthangal is a world popular bird sanctuary in the state of Tamil Nadu located at a distance of 85 kilometres from the city capital Chennai. November to February is the season for bird watching in Vedanthangal. There are more than a million varieties of bird found in Vedanthangal and the most prominent ones including cormorants, blue winged teals, white ibis, pelicans, spoon bills etc.
- Muttukadu is a famous backwater zone found in the outskirts of Chennai at a distance of 36 km. There are several water sport events conducted by the tourism department in this area. There is even boating facilities available here.
- Kalakshetra is a traditional dance school... one of the best in the nation. The name "Kalakshetra" means the Temple of Art. The classes are held in huts resembling old Gurukulas. The scenic beauty of this place will give the learners an ultimate piece of mind. The school teaches the traditional dance of Tamil Nadu - Bharathanatiyam.
Bars and Discos
Hotel Imperial bar, Connemara bar, Maxim Night Club and Planet2000 are some of the famous bars in the city for a perfect hangout. There are also disco easily available at the park Sheraton, Hotel President and at Sindoori Hotel.
There are a numerous cinema and theaters found throughout the city. Some of the popular ones are PVR cinemas at Skywalk, Sathyam cinemas, Abhirami cinema, Sangham Cinemas, Ega complex. The daily newspapers give you the exact venue and schedule of different cinemas at theaters.
Including the Government Connemara Library, there are different libraries such as British Council Library in Anna Salai, American Centre Library which is attached to the US consulate and Alliance française in Nungambakkam has a wide collection of books.
Some of the famous bookshops in the country are found in Chennai these include Landmarks Book Shop, Higginbothams at Anna Salai, Odyssey and never miss the Miss Giggles Book Shop in Connemara hotel.
Almost all Indian festivals are celebrated in Chennai city as it is inhabited by all groups of people from different parts of the country, Pongal and Tamil New Year are something special to the Tamil people.
You can find yourself accomodated in number of hotels, mansions and lodges found across Chennai. Some of the best hotels in the city are Hotel Taj Corromandel, Conneemara, Ambassador Pallava, GRT Grand Days, Sheraton all belong to five star hotel category. If you want to stay in a good mid range hotels then you can consider Hotel Pandian, Ranjith, YMCA International Guest House etc.
You can taste every Indian cuisine in Chennai with its numerous hotels found in the streets. You can also enjoy Chinese, Japanese, continental, Thai, Korean cuisine in Chennai at its specific hotels.
There are a wide range of shopping centres found in Chennai. If you want to shop branded like Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Puma, Salamander, Levis, showrooms can be found around the city of Chennai. T-nagar with all kinds of textile, jewelery and other shops can be considered as the shopping hub of Chennai.
How to arrive here
You can reach Chennai by air, water and land. By air you will arrive at the Chennai International or Domestic Airports. Number of flights arrive from different parts of country and also from different parts of the world here.
You can use trains from different parts in the country. Chennai central is the station that you will arrive and Chennai is well connected with all major cities and towns with trains. There are also a number of public and private buses that leaves to different parts of the state or countries from the Central Moffusil Bus Terminus also called as CMBT. Ships from Andaman and Nicobar Island arrive at the Chennai harbor during specific days in a week.
Chennai with its diverse population, culture, religions, monuments and people will give you a real feel of India and some memories that you can never erase it off!
Thank you for reading it patiently. Please feel free to mention any comments or suggestions below. Till I post my next article keep smiling and cheers!