Besant Nagar is one of Chennai's well known neighbourhoods, named after the famous lady theosophist Annie Besant, and adjoins the Theosophical Society. Kalakshetra Academy, the World famous dance school started by Rukmini Devi Arundale is also present in this locality. It is a part of Chennai which is inhabited by many famous personalities and affluent citizens. Alongside are many restaurants, cafes, shops and boutiques. The main attraction is the Elliot's Beach, named after Edward Elliot, Governor of Madras. It forms the end-point of the Marina Beach shore. It has the Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi Temple along the shore and is sometimes nicknamed 'Bessie'. In the colonial era it was a fairly exclusive place limited to expatriates.
Besant Nagar was developed by Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) in late 1970s and early 1980s. Besant Nagar is an excellent example of organized government town planning by Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB). Originally a quiet residential area, the popularity of the nearby Elliot's beach has led to a steady increase in traffic and commercial activities. Besant Avenue - the road leading from Aavin Park to Besant Nagar - is quite busy and is shady due to trees planted on either side. Apart from the usually crowded and extremely vibrant Elliot's beach, it is also home to many popular places of worship - The Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple (inaugurated in 1977), Ashtalakshmi Kovil (1976), Arupadai Murugan Kovil (1986), Ratnagirishwarar Kovil (1968) and the Velankanni Church.
The area also boasts a wide variety of eat-outs from different parts of the country and globe like Besant Fast Foods, Heritage, Anjappar, Frankies, Eden, Cascade, Lotus Pond, Flamingo Vishranthi, Planet Yumm, Fruit Shop on Greams Road, Mash, Beach Palms, French Loaf, Murugan Idli Shop, Tasty Jones, Nandanam, Dhabba Express, Barista, Khaana Khazaana and Haven Sampoorna that reflect the growing multiculturalism of the neighbourhood. Some residents have counted up to 50 restaurants/eateries in the neighbourhood between Mahatma Gandhi Road and Fifth Avenue. It has a variety of Book stores like the Words Worths in the basement floor of Ramaniyam arcade, where the Cascade hotel is present. The Spencers Daily supermarket also provides a variety of provisional items. Limelite is one of the most elite unisex salons here. Nearby localities include Adyar and Thiruvanmiyur.
The Besant Nagar bus terminal is used by 85 different buses making 500 trips every day. Around 4,000 people use the terminal every day. In October 2012, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) decided to convert the Besant Nagar bus terminal into a depot. The depot will be 70 percent larger than the terminal. The depot is being built at a cost of INR 5 million and is expected to be completed in less than a year. connects area like Perambur, Vadapalani, ICF, T.Nagar, KKNagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Mylapore etc.