Chennai district also and formerly known as Madras district or “Madarasapattinam”, is a district in the state of Tamil Nadu, in India. It is the smallest of all the districts in the state, but has the highest human density. The district is a city district which means that it does not have a district headquarters. Most of the city region of Chennai comes under this district. As of 2011, the district had a population of 4,646,732 with a sex-ratio of 989 females for every 1,000 males.
Stone age implements have been found near Pallavaram in Chennai. According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Pallavaram was a megalithic cultural establishment, and pre-historic communities resided in the settlement.
The region around Chennai has served as an important administrative, military, and economic centre for many centuries. During 1st century CE, a poet and weaver named Thiruvalluvar lived in the town of Mylapore (a neighbourhood of present Chennai).From the 1st–12th century the region of present Tamil Nadu and parts of South India was ruled by the Cholas.
The Pallavas of Kanchi built the areas of Mahabalipuram and Pallavaram during the reign of Mahendravarman I. They also defeated several kingdoms including the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas who ruled over the area before their arrival. Sculpted caves and paintings have been identified from that period. Ancient coins dating to around 500 BC have also been unearthed from the city and its surrounding areas. A portion of these findings belonged to the Vijayanagara Empire, which ruled the region during the medieval period.
With the history of many neighbourhoods of the city such as Mylapore and Triplicane antedating that of the city, the architecture of Chennai ranges in a wide chronology. The oldest buildings in the city dates from the 7th and 8th centuries CE, which include the Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore and the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, built in the Dravidian architecture. This architecture includes various styles, such as those of the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagara empires. The associated Agraharam architecture, which consists of traditional row houses surrounding a temple, can still be seen in these areas.The heritage temples at Mamallapuram at the outskirts of the city are some of the examples of the Pallava architecture. Chennai ranks second to Kolkata of Indian heritage buildings.