Known as the Pride of Chennai, the Marina beach stretches for about 13 km making it the second longest beach in the country. The urban beach has white sand and is considered to be one of the cleanest and busiest beaches in India. About five km from Chennai city centre in Tamil Nadu, the beach was damaged by waves as high as 20 ft during the tsunami in 2004.
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The beach is one of the most prominent open spaces in Chennai and is host to many important national and cultural events like the parades on Independence Day and Republic Day. The annual Chennai Marathon, India’s biggest city marathon, starts from Anna Square near Marina beach. The Pongal celebration in January attracts an estimated 150,000 people on the beach for the festivities. The Marina Beach has been featured in numerous Tamil movies over the years.
Marina Beach is very popular with the locals. The beach also has a skating arena, joggers track and aquarium. Pony rides, merry-go-rounds and giant wheels are also on the beach. There is a 34 ft tall artificial waterfall that was installed in 2005 on the promenade, also known as Kamarajar Salai. There are many other statues near Anna Square dedicated to legends like Mahatma Gandhi, C N Annadurai (former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) and M G Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR. The Victory War Memorial near the north end of the beach honours soldiers who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
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The beach was extensively renovated in 2008 and there are many new installations all along the beach especially on the 3 km stretch from the lighthouse till the Triumph of Labour statue. Beach cricket and kite flying are popular activities on the beach. A giant chess board is a favourite with children.
The sea is rough and there is a strong undercurrent so swimming is strictly prohibited near the beach but there are two swimming pools along the beach.
Photograph courtesy: DARSHAN SIMHA/Creative Commons