Madurai is one of the oldest cities in India, with a history that has all the way back to the Sangam period of the pre-Christian era. The fame of Madurai returned in a diminished form in the earlier part of this millennium; It later came under the rule of the Vijayanagar Kingdom after its Ransack from the devastating armies of Delhi (Malik Kafur). During the 16th and 18th centuries, Madurai was ruled by the Nayak emperors, of whom Tirumalai was Nayakar. The Sangam period poet Nakkeerar is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal episodes of Sundareswarar – which are also prescribed as part of the Temple Festival traditions today.
How to Get There?
Air: The airport is situated 12 Km from the city center. The Indian Airlines office on West Veli Street has flights connecting Trichy to Chennai, Kozhikode & Mumbai.
Rail: Madurai railway station is on West Veli Street, and the main cities it connects Madurai directly with are Coimbatore, Chennai, Rameswaram, Tirupathi, and Kollam.
Road: Connected by a good network of roads, Madurai has five bus stands and an efficient bus service and advance ticket booking is computerized. Apart from buses run by the State Transport Corporation, several private super deluxe buses are connecting Madurai to Chennai and Bangalore.
Monuments and Attractions in Madurai!
The Meenakshi Temple – The enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known here as Sundareshvara and his wife, Parvati or Meenakshi. Kulasekara Pandya built the first temple, but the whole credit for making the temples as glorious as it goes today to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century and left a dignified imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi – Sundareswarar temple.The temple is located in a high-walled terrain, the core of which is the two sanctuaries for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara, surrounded by some smaller shrines and grand pylons. Particularly impressive are the 12 Gopuras. Their ascending towers rise from solid granite bases and are covered with stucco figures of diet, mythical animals and monsters painted in vibrant colors. A visit to the Pond of the Golden Lotus (Pottamarai Kulam) is an ideal place to take pictures of the surrounding towers and to make the most of the hustle and bustle.
Market The fruit and vegetable market in Madurai offers an exceptional experience. In the narrow streets north of the temple time seems to have stopped. Do not miss the flower market next door. The ugly concrete building keeps in the interior a sea of colors and fragrances and thus countless beautiful photographs ready!
Tirumalai-Nayak Palace This building near the Meenakshi Temple is a good example of the Tamil Nadu rather rare Indo-Islamic architecture. Unfortunately, only a quarter of the original area is preserved – own temple, harem, theater and all the walls have disappeared. Every evening there is a Sun and Light Show organized by the tourist department, where the story of Tirumalai is retold.
Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam A trip to the temple located 5 km east of the old town is only worthwhile for the “Floating Festival,” which takes place in January / February in honor of the wedding of Shiva and Meenakshi. The small lake is then filled with water, and the wedding parade is pulled around the temple shrine on a raft.
Tamukkam Palace – About 5 km from the center, in the rooms of the Tamukam Palace, is the Gandhi Museum, one of the most interesting in all of India! The most spectacular exhibit is the blood-spotted Dhoti, which Gandhi carried on the day of his assassination. Inside the garden is the Government Museum, which, in addition to a comprehensive collection of sculptures, also houses a fascinating exhibition about shadow dolls.
Alagar Koil – Situated 26 km away from Madurai is this 12th century AD temple dedicated to an avatar of Lord Vishnu – Alagar. Set within forest hills and a ruined fort, there are ceiling paintings here dating back to the 18th century depicting the stories from Ramayana.
The old town of Madurai is so small and full of fascinating impressions that you can explore them on foot. If you prefer the Riksha, be warned: The riders here are considered particularly kinda rude, and accordingly, you must haggle!
The South Indian metropolis is considered a true shopping mecca for fabrics and textiles. Around the main temple there are innumerable tailor shops and shops, the recently purchased fabrics in a short time to the desired clothes. The best way to leave a sample is to search for different offers. Beware of tugs! In addition to the textile trade there are shops with handicraft products such as carvings, sculptures, silk embroidery, jewelery, furniture or carpets. Hotels in Madurai!
Being an important pilgrim center, Madurai has a broad range of places to stay right from economy run down homes to super luxury ones. A few of them are listed below.
Hotel Madurai Ashok, Hotel International, Hotel Park Plaza, Taj Garden Retreat, The Madurai Residency, Fortune Pandyan Hotel, Best Western Germanus, Hotel Sangam, Royal Court, Hotel Supreme, Madura Park Inn, Hotel Chentoor, Hotel Rathna Residency, Sulochna Palace, Hotel Empee.
Enjoy your trip to Madurai!