Chennai, India's fourth largest city, is neither ancient nor lovely but it is -- like Bangalore and Hyderabad -- booming. Established on the site of a fishing village in 1639 as the first British settlement in India, the capital of Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras) is a teeming, sprawling, bustling industrial metropolis, a manufacturing hub known as the "Detroit of the South," where 9 of the top 10 Indian IT companies are located. Unless you're here on business, or keen to shop, the city itself is only marginally fascinating -- a strange mix of British Raj-era monuments, Portuguese churches, Hindu temples, and ugly 21st-century buildings, massive billboards, and concrete flyovers; even one of the longest urban beaches on earth is not enough to hold the attention for long. Most travelers arrive here simply because it's a transport hub and soon leave, distracted by the attractions that start only a few hours away -- among them, Kanchipuram, city of "a thousand temples," is a day excursion away, while the beach resorts near Mamallapuram, a World Heritage Site, are only 2 hours south. Even charming Pondicherry is only 2 1/2 hours away, making Chennai a destination of choice only with businessmen here to catch onto the coattails of one of India's fastest-growing cities.