10 things to take back from Chennai

As a visitor or tourist, there are many many things from Chennai that you could carry back to your hometown. To help narrow it down, we have put together a list of keepsakes and souvenirs you can shop for in Chennai, take back home and enjoy, as you fondly reminisce your visit to Chennai :


*This list is in random order.

Best things to buy in Chennai

  1. Chennai themed T-shirts and Souvenirs from Chennaigaga

Capturing the quirky and quintessential elements of namma Chennai is the brand called Chennaigaga. The very name was coined out of great love for the city of Chennai and the brand was created in 2009. Typical souvenirs like t-shirts, magnets and mugs that are available all over the world were not available in Chennai and Chennaigaga was created to fill that gap and offer a slice of nostalgia for ‘those Madras Days’ as well as to celebrate ‘these Chennai days’! Depicting the local flavours, language, styles and other elements of Chennai and South India, the designs are creative and unique at Chennaigaga with universal appeal and reasonably priced, and of good quality. Chennaigaga also offers Chennai Themed designs on easy gifts and souvenirs like keychains, coasters, mousepads, kids’ t shirts etc.

A Chennai souvenir brand 2. A stainless steel coffee filter and a pair of steel tumblers with dabbaras.

You can now have a lingering South Indian Filter Coffee experience. Typical usage would be a coffee filter in stainless steel. While other metals are available, due to its ease of usage, we are partial to stainless steel in recommendation. The coffee filter can be procured in a variety of large departmental and appliance stores. The best and most cost-effective places to get them would be in Mylapore area or T-nagar. However, they are available in every store that sells stainless steel utensils whether in Adyar or Anna Nagar. It is a tasteful way to remember the local flavours of the city that’s Chennai. Moreover, a kilogram or two of filter coffee powder would make the experience more authentic. Dashes of chickory are recommended for the absolute experience of typical ‘kaapi’ enjoyment. Popular filter-coffee brands include but are not limited to:  Geetha Coffee, Leo Coffee, Cotha’s coffee, Narasu’s coffee and many more brands that are located all over the city.

3. A Lungi.

The Lungi is a tubular garment usually made of cotton. It is a multicoloured skirt typically worn by men and can be likened to a sarong type of garment too. For warm and humid weather as is prevalent in the Indian sub continent, the lungi is a comfortable choice over trousers or pants. It’s the most common and popular form of leisure wear for men with many preferring lungis over pyjamas. It’s such a typical takeaway from daily life in South India that it would be a unique choice as a souvenir. It’s one of the best things to buy from Chennai.

4. A Sari.

The Sari or Saree is an Indian garment typically for women, that’s wrapped around the body in a specific style. It is around 6 yards long and is draped like a wraparound with several twists and turns and some pleats too! The saree is best worn with a short blouse in a typical pattern, but has now been modified to include a wide variety of styles and cuts with embellishments and a wide range of materials being used, including velvet and t-shirt fabric. A You-tube video would do the trick to help you drape it and this is a great souvenir from India. The material of the saree could be silk (dressy), cotton (everyday wear but can also be dressy), silk-cotton, or blends of different types of fabrics too. It’s the most special thing to buy in Chennai.

5. Statues and Idols

A Nataraja or Ganesha idol or statue would be great to add to your collection of memorabilia as the Nataraja is a dancing avatar of Lord Shiva and the ‘elephant God’ Ganesha is a quintessential part of India. Statues in bronze, marble and different types of other material are widely available for the taking and make a fancy addition to your home as a souvenir from Chennai. One of the best places to shop for these would be at Government-run emporiums like Poompuhar and Victoria Technical Institute, as they support and promote craftsmen and artisans in Tamil Nadu.

 6. Ethnic Jewellery

Chennai has a wide variety of jewellery and accessories to choose from, with different metals and semi-precious and precious stones embedded, as well as unique and contemporary ornaments that would suit just about anyone’s taste regardless of their taste in jewellery. One of the best places to shop for these would be along the busy streets of Pondy Bazaar in T-Nagar and also at pop up exhibitions across the city.

7. Tanjore Art

This art form originated in the temple town of Tanjore or Thanjavur and is rich in expression and material. Thanjavur paintings have shiny gold foils and are distinguished especially by this feature. The subject of most Tanjore paintings are Hindu deities and these Tanjore Paintings are encased in wood. Extensive gesso work is involved in Thanjavur paintings.

8. Artifacts

Artefacts can be made of different material including metals and cloth, and are all about the craftmanship and expression. As each individual’s taste in artefacts differs, any visitor to Chennai can visit the art and handicraft outlets all over the city and also visit Mahabalipuram for a whole other world of artifacts including stone sculptures of various sizes and colours. Customised artefacts are also possible.

9. Sweets – from the Chennai dessert zone

South Indian sweets are a real delight and come in a wide variety with bases in besan flour, milk, wheat flour, maida, with generous loads of sugar, ghee, oil as the case may be. They are truly delectable and the variety is mind boggling. Interestingly, Chennai is not home only to south Indian sweets but sweets from other parts of India too. They are also offered in their authentic and tasty avatars and Chennai also has enviable pastries and cakes to offer, which were once foreign to the city.  

You can find these sweets on nearly every street and doing a google search will lead you to popular sweet shops in the area you currently are at.

*These are perishable, so the vibes of Chennai would extend in flavour up to their expiry date(!) but the memories can linger when you take a picture outside your chosen eatery.

10. Savouries – from the Chennai cuisine front

Typically deep-fried, the South Indian savouries list is long. The technique of making age-old designs and patterns of savouries like murukku, cheedai and thattai remain in vogue and the taste is close to heaven. There are also plenty of varieties to choose from and many of these snacks include rice flour or besan flour or wheat flour, assorted spices and herbs, salt, sometimes chillies or black pepper. The current trend is the bringing-back of healthy pulses and grains to the forefront as a compromise between snacking with abandon and mindful consumption.  

*These are perishable, so the vibes of Chennai would extend in flavour up to their expiry date(!) but the memories can linger when you take a picture outside your chosen eatery.


This list is by no means exhaustive and we would love to hear what YOUR favourite things to take back from Chennai are. Mail us at team@chennaigaga.com so we can update this list and include your takes too.