Chennai: at the Beach

Today’s post is a bit more depressing than most.

People in Chennai will proudly tell you Chennai’s “Marina Beach” (also often spelled “Merina”) is the longest beach in the world, or the second longest.  I was skeptical, but found that in actuality the beach is the world’s second largest URBAN beach, at 13 km in length.  It is also well over 400 meters wide at many points.  It is lined by a walking promenade, about twenty statues, and many grand old colonial buildings.  Unfortunately, due to the trash caused by the high number of food and other types of vendors working on the beach, and the large number of visitors, I found it to be a depressing place.  It has potential, but a great deal of awareness building and work is needed.

Swimming is prohibited at the beach, due to the currents.

I’ve run along the beach before – it’s cooler and breezier than the rest of the city, and on my recent visit to San Thome Church, I spotted the beach in the background and decided to have a look at the southernmost end of the beach.

Directly behind the church is a pole erected in thanks for the church having been spared in the 2004 tsunami.  The tsunami did not make it far inland, but the homes close to the water were badly damaged and around 50 people are said to have been killed.  Unfortunately, people still live in those buildings.  Below is St. Thomas Pole, and the views to the right and left and toward the water.

St. Thomas Pole



On the way to the beach, I pass a hand-cycle, presumably belonging to one of several beggars on the church grounds.


Two boys called me while I was snapping photos and asked to have their pictures taken. They were disappointed that I couldn’t give them a print. I’m looking into getting one of those instant cameras made by Fuji and Polaroid but I worry about the demand if people catch wind I’m handing out photos.

Two Boys

I pass a colorful temple a bit farther down. You can see the church steeple in the background.

Beach Temple

Looking up the road that runs parallel to the beach, I spot a fish market. I’ll stop by here later, and this is the subject of tomorrow’s post.

Beach Road

And finally, while it is a bit depressing, this is my favorite photo in the bunch, from a photographic perspective. Check back tomorrow for more.

Boy on the Beach

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