But Laila then suddenly weakened and was packing only minimal storm-force winds when it eventually made landfall Thursday at the mouth of the Krishna River delta.
The storm did produce locally heavy rainfall and pounding surf to coastal areas but interaction with land and wind sheer aloft caused the storm to weaken even further.
Remnants of the storm were expected to rush northeastward along the coast, eventually washing out over Bangladesh during the weekend.
At least six people died of storm-related causes around the city of Chennai and across the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The Times of India reports one woman was struck by lightning and a man washed away by waves.
Hundreds of fishing boats were damaged, according to the newspaper.
Offshore oil rigs in the Bay of Bengal stopped crude oil output for about two days as a precaution.
The storm actually brought considerable relief from a deadly heat wave that had brought much of central and eastern India temperatures as hot as 120 degrees during the previous week.
Cyclone Laila Track
Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS