Things to do in Chennai - Anna Nagar Tower Park

Timings: 5 am to 11 am; and 3 pm to 8 pm (the Tower Itself is off limits after 6 pm)

Something cool happened in Chennai this last week.

After a period of nearly 12 years (we'll come to the sordid details in a bit), the iconic Tower of the aptly named Anna Nagar Tower Park was reopened to the general public.

The Spiral Pathway to the Heavens

A brief background

Officially known as Dr Visvesvaraya Tower Park, Anna Nagar Tower Park, is an urban park in the suburb of Anna Nagar in Chennai.

The Park was built in 1968 as part of the World Trade Fair that took place in Chennai that same year. The park itself, which covers an area of around 15 acres is a large green space for the city of Chennai.

The main attraction of the park was originally the 135 ft, 12-storied tower located at the centre of the park (pic above). The park, along with the tower, is maintained by the Chennai Corporation.

The park has several facilities including an amphitheatre, a bird-watching deck, badminton courts, play area for kids, a skating rink and a scenic (albeit small) lake. Over the last few decades, The Tower Park has gained a devoted and growing crowd of "walkers" who use the nearly 1.2 km foot path that forms the circumference of the Park as part of their daily exercise regime.

Though not in this pic, the Lake attracts a surprisingly large number of uncommon birds like King fishers, egrets etc.

Now you can imagine that this relatively large park with a great walking space, good facilities for kids, superb connectivity to the other parts of the city (being in Anna Nagar) and with the Crown Jewel being the Tower would be one of the more frequented places in Chennai by locals.

Well..., that did happen albeit a small change. The Tower itself was shut down around 2011 after a spate of suicides by distraught lovers (I wish this was a joke).

A beleaguered Corporation acted in a way that it felt best to protect the larger interests of the public and closed the Tower itself to visitors.

Fast forwarding to 2023

Now my Father and I have been regular visitors to the Park as part of our weekend ritual of going for a walk. While he walks 5 km everyday as part of his exercise regime and I too love to go on long walks, we usually get time to go together only during the weekends.

The last 3 years (coinciding with when I returned home from Mumbai during the Covid Pandemic) has seen us cover large sections of Anna Nagar and the nearby suburbs on foot including the Anna Nagar Tower Park as part of our forages. However, the Tower itself had been out of bounds for us though we both wanted to go up there again. He hadn't been to the top of the tower since the 1970s and I hadn't been there since my Grandfather (who liked taking us and any guests to our home to the Tower Park) passed away in 2010 (It seems that the urge to walk long distances without any aim is a genetic trait in our family).

So when my Dad found out about the reopening of the Tower, we immediately made plans to go as soon as possible.

That trip happened today and Id like to share our experience.

Firstly, I have never seen the Anna Tower Park this crowded. Goes to show how excited people were regarding the reopening (this being a full 5 days after it opened to the Public).

The Anna Nagar Tower Park Officials (I'm assuming people from Chennai Corporation) also very smartly made the entry free for the week (and I'm assuming for the next few weeks as
well, will update when I can confirm). Even though the proposed entry fee is rumoured to be INR 10/- per person, this decision brought a lot more eager patrons.

The Tower itself is 12 storeys and it took us nearly 30 minutes to go up (crown on both sides of the line). One very positive renovation work done by the officials was to lay out synthetic flooring (like we see in Gyms) that definitely helps with the grip (considering the path up /down is along a spiral and inclined pathway and not a staircase).

The new and improved flooring

The top of the tower was as good as I imagined it would be. The only issue today was the large number of people (which I'm sure will come down once the novelty goes away).

Posting some of the pics for the reader. I hope you find it interesting and make this a part of your itinerary when you're in Chennai and have some time to kill.

Pretty good place to watch the sunset in Chennai
The Walkers
And finally, The Ayyanar who I think stands (rather sits) guard at the Park (though hes down the street across the entrance)

Today's article was to capture the first views and sights of the newly reopened Tower. I hope to include better pics of the views in the future (either in this article itself or through a fresh piece).