One of South India’s great temple towns, Madurai is synonymous with the renowned Meenakshi Temple. Situated on the banks of river Vaigai, Madurai has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil era more than 2500 years old. Madurai was an important cultural and commercial centre even as early as 550 AD. It was the capital city for the great Pandya kings. Lord shiva blessed the land and its people, divine nectar (Madhu) was showered on the city from his matted locks. This city was henceforth known as Madhurapuri. Madurai is famous for Jasmine Flowers. Madurai is famous for its temples.
Places to see in Madurai: There are a number of places of interest in Madurai.
Sri Meenakshi Temple
Sri Meenakshi Temple is one of the most well known places of interest in Madurai. As many as 10,000 tourists from different parts of the country of India come to visit this temple everyday. On Friday, this number shoots up to around 25,000. The Sri Meenakshi Temple is considered to be a wonderful piece of art. The ideal time to visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple of Madurai is from October to March and again from April to May. The Sri Meenakshi Temple at Madurai is actually a conglomeration of many small corridors and temples. This temple is considered a very sacred site by the Hindu devotees. The temple is unique as it has dual shrines meant to pay homage to a god and a goddess closely associated with the Hindu religion. The temple has been dedicated to Lord Sundareshvara, i.e., Shiva and Meenakshi. Lord Sundareshvara is actually the Hindu God for cosmic dance. One of the major attractions of the Sri Meenakshi Temple is the gopurams. The height of these gopurams ranges between 45 and 50 meters. These gopurams have intricate designs all over them. The entire temple complex stretches for about 6 hectares. The total number of gopurams in the temple is 12. The most prominent of all the 12 gopurams is the southern one. The structure of this gopuram is as high as a nine-storeyed building. The entire structure is decorated with many carved images of gods and goddesses associated with the Hindu religion.
The Thirupparankundram Temple is one of the most commonly visited places of interest in Madurai. This temple is of special interest to those who are hardcore devotees of the Hindu religion. It is situated at the top of a hill. It is located at a distance of about 8 km towards the south of the railway junction of Madurai. The Thirupparankundram Temple at Madurai built up by the Pandyas in as early as the 8th century. The tourists have to reach the temple after walking through a number of mandapas belonging to the 17th and the 18th centuries. These mandapas are located at ascending levels. One has to travel from one to another by walking up the steps cut out of stone. There are a number of shrines in the temple. Some of the most prominent shrines are dedicated to Ganapathy, Shiva, Vishnu and Durgai. The entrance of the temple is marked by as many as 48 pillars. These pillars are decorated with intricate carvings. The mandapa that is located at the entrance has pillars that are identified with the Nayaka period.
The Mariamman Teppakulam is one of the most popular places of interest in Madurai. It is actually a big temple tank, which is situated quite close to another important tourist attraction of the city called the Meenakshi temple. The distance between the Meenakshi Temple and the Mariamman Teppakulam is only 5 km. The Mariamman Teppakulam at Madurai is the biggest temple tank in the state of Tamil Nadu. The idol of Vinayaka was discovered when earth was dug out from this region, which is said to be dug out by Tirumala Nayaka. Following this incident, this place has been considered sacred by the people of the state. Therefore, this place has been transformed into a teppakulam or a tank. The Mariamman Teppakulam of Madurai has been created to pay homage to Vigneshwara or Vinayaka. Vigneshwara is a deity closely associated with the religion of Hinduism. On the occasion of the Float Festival, innumerable tourists from different parts of the country come to visit the city. During this festival, which is organized between the months of January and February, not only the Mariamman Teppakulam but also the entire city of Madurai has a festive look.
The Gandhi Museum is one of the well known places of interest in Madurai. This museum is of special significance to the tourists who take special interest in everything related to history. The Gandhi Museum of Madurai was established by the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. This museum has been set up so that tourists from different parts of the country of India can view a number of articles closely associated with the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi. The museum has a number of different sections. There are 265 illustrations representing India’s struggle for freedom. A number of handicrafts that have been donated by the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Mysore are also on display over here. There is a picture gallery, which includes quotations, photographs, paintings and some Photostat copies of Gandhiji’s letters. A number of personal possessions of Mahatma Gandhi are preserved at The Hall of Relics.
Nearby attractions around Madurai: Apart from visiting the city to witness the sheer splendor of the temples’ architecture of the city, you can well plan extensive excursions around the city.
Among the best and most visited hill stations in India is quite near to Madurai. Just 121-km from Madurai, Kodai is located 2,130 m above the sea level in the Western Ghats. The lofty mountains with greenery all around will transport you to a world of your dreams amidst nature’s bounty.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
As some of the most tourists flocked wildlife sanctuaries in the south, Periyar sanctuary is also called the Tekkadi wildlife sanctuary. Here the lofty ranges of Western Ghats are wrapped in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and Savannah grassland. Spreading across 777 Sqkm, the sanctuary is a Tiger reserve. You can enjoy the majestic elephant ride through its dense greenery. The splendid artificial lake formed by Mullaperiyar dam across the Periyar River adds charm to the park.
Nesled among the greenery of the tea estates on the slopes of the Western Ghats is Megamalai, an idyllic place to inspire the poet in you. Plan your stay here to unwind among the verdant surroundings and beautiful wild in the proximity. All the nature’s splurge, just 130-km from Madurai.
An excellent health resort about 167-km on the Western Ghats, this place is also known as the ‘Spa of the South’. Located just 160-km from Madurai, Courtallam has nine superb waterfalls, which attracts a large number of visitors. You can also go for a boathouse maintained by TTDC and enjoy the rocking cradle of the rivers in the region.
You can continue your spiritual journey with a visit to Palani, a temple dedicated to Lord Subramanyam, about 118 Kms away from Madurai. The temple is perched atop a hill and attracts a host of devotees.
Kumbakkarai Water Falls
Serving as the base camp for the trekkers venturing in the hills of Kodai., the waterfall serves an excellent picnic spot. Nestled amidst the nature’s bounty, the waterfall is 105 kms away from Madurai.
The cascading waters of Suruli falls, is just 123 kms away from Madurai is an ideal spot for picnic.
Things to do in Madurai: Apart from the sight seeing, enjoy a number of festivals that takes place throughout the year in this temple town.
Best time to visit Madurai: December to February, is the best time to visit Madurai as the climate is very pleasant at this time of the year.
How to go ?
There are daily flights to Madurai from Chennai, Bangalore,Tiruchi & Coimbatore. Madurai Airport is 10 Kms away from Madurai City.
Madurai is an important railway junction of the Southern Railway and is directly connected to Chennai and Tirunelveli. Madurai is on the Madurai-Tiruchirappalli-Dindigul-Quilon line. The Vaigai Express, which is a super-fast day train between Chennai Egmore and Madurai takes 7 hours for the 495kms.
There are excellent roads connecting Madurai from all parts of South India. Madurai City has 5 Major Bus Stand.
Where to stay ?
The site features a number of hotels. Some options are:
Hotel Star Residency: +91- 0452-43 43 999 Website: www.starresidencyhotels.com
Hotel Royal Court: +91-452 – 4356666 Website: www.royalcourtindia.com
Hotel Pearls: +91 – 452 – 2341566, 4381566 Website: www.hotelpearls.com
Hotel Supreme: +91 – 452 – 2343151, 4372555
Note : Phone numbers given above are according to the information available with us. If you find any contact number/s given above is/are incorrect or not in use, please let us know.