Chennai, India

Kapaleeshwarar Temple in the City of Chennai

History of Sister City Relationship

Denver, Colorado and Chennai, India have had a sister city relationship since 1984.  Federico Peña, Denver’s mayor at the time, signed an agreement that made Chennai officially Denver’s seventh sister city.  Chennai is an important administrative, military, and economic port city.  Often called “The Gateway to the South”, Chennai and Denver mutually benefit from various cultural events and delegation visits.

Facts At-A-Glance

Pronunciation: chǝ-nī’
Region: Southeastern India.  Capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu.  Located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal.
Population of Chennai: 9,620,000 (2015).
Population of India: 1,266,883,598 (2016).
Mayor: Saidai Samiyappan Duraisamy
Spoken Languages: Tamil (local), Hindi (national), English (business)

Chennai: Of Interest

  • Chennai began as a British colony called Fort St. George when the English East India Company arrived to establish a factory. This area was home to many British colonials and workers. As the colony grew, it incorporated other European settlers and native towns. The colonists later named the settlement Madras, after one of the native towns, Madraspatnam.
  • In 1999, the name was changed once again by a ruling party to Chennai. The name came from another native village, Chennapattanam.
  • While there are large Muslim and Christian populations within the city, the primary religion is Hindu. The city is known for its architecturally remarkable Hindu temples.
  • The Gandhi Memorial Lecture is held annually in October, coinciding with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

Chennai – Denver Relationship

  • Indian students have also been sponsored for higher studies at the University of Denver.
  • Following an earthquake in the seabed of the Indonesian coast, Chennai was struck by the tsunami on December 26, 2004. With thousands of people lost as well as homes and jobs destroyed, the Chennai committee and Denver Sister Cities International raised $70,000 for short term relief.  The committee has since raised and donated significant funds to further support a non–profit social service program in building a clinic and school.

Chennai Committee Contact Information

Committee Chair: Purnima Voria
Phone: (303) 832-1336

Representative Chennai Committee Activities

  • Monthly committee gathering with like-minded people interested in India. The meetings are usually potluck dinners at members’ homes. Please see the calendar of events for meeting dates and times.
  • Committee members present lectures about India to community members at schools, churches, and other community organizations as part of the City in a Suitcase program. Apart from these lectures, there are also book discussions and readings.
  • The committee sponsors cultural gatherings.   These include events at Indian restaurants, as well as shows of Indian music, dance, and film.
  • The committee is planning to develop a youth exchange with its counterpart organization in Chennai, the Indo-American Association.
  • Trips to Chennai.

Chennai: Resources

The Hindu
A 2014 article from India’s national newspaper discussing some of the activities between Chennai and Denver.

Tamil Nadu Tourism Organization
Official tourism website of the state of Tamil Nadu.

Indo-American Society
Website of the Indo-American Society, a forum for developing the relationship of India and the United States.  

Udavum Karangal
Udavum Karangal is a non-governmental organization that is devoted to helping the disadvantaged of India.
Project C.U.R.E. delivers medical supplies and services across the world.  One of these programs involves the Bethany World Mission in Denver and the Bethania World Mission in Chennai.