Madurai is major city of Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and its grand temples have made it a pilgrim destination for centuries. This is a city that should be on every traveler’s radar, and it’s best explored with a local guide who can help you find your way to the city’s best spots. It is an energetic, ancient city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The city’s skyline is dominated by the 14 impressive and colorful gateway towers of the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which is a major pilgrimage site, attracting visitors from all over India and beyond. As Madurai lies in close proximity to many other tourist cities like Palani, Kodaikanal, Srirangam and Karaikudi, it makes for a worthy pilgrimage
EXPLORE AND SHOP: Once you are done with the temple tour, turn your eyes towards the other treats that Madurai has to offer. Visit the lovely Gandhi Museum – a serene, white building which houses several iconic belongings of the Father of the Nation. When you go Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, a palace constructed in the 17th century, in a beautiful mix of architectural styles (Dravidian and Rajput). If it’s shopping you want, then it’s shopping you get at South Masi Street. You can pick for dyed cotton Sugundi sarees, delicate golu dolls and religious ornamentation at the city’s different shopping centres.
NATURE: Madurai offers up of different landscapes to explore. From taking a trek up the charming slopes of the Samanar hills (located 10 kilometres away from the city) made it beautiful. Feast your eyes on ancient Jain carvings and discover caves that date back to 1 AD. At the top, you’ll be viewing Madurai and the burble of a natural fountain called Pechchi Pallam. Spending a day at Vaigai Dam or hear the roar of the nearby Kutladampatti Falls, makes it memorable.
CUISINE: Madurai, is said to contain the soul of Tamil Nadu. From the period of the Madurai Sultanate to Gujarati residents (Madurai Saurashtrians) – the cuisine here has some surprising flavours. If you’re in the mood for meaty richness, you can try the spicy gravy of a meen kuzhambu (fish curry), kari (mutton dosa) from Simmakal Konar Mess. Crisp uttappam and soft Pongal, fluffy idlis, thick chutneys, make for a perfect breakfast at Murugan Idli Shop.
Work your way through the gossamer-like strands of the delicate iddiyapam – drowned in coconut milk or tomato chutney, also can dig into a steaming mound of flavourful tomato rice. It can finish with the traditional dessert – Jigarthanda – a medley of condensed milk, ice cream, milk and more.
THINGS TO DO
- Meenakshi Temple: Seek Blessings
- Puthu Mandapam: It’s Time For Shopping
- Saint Mary’s Cathedral: Spend Some Time Praying
- Thirumalai Nayak Palace: A Must-Visit Place
- Jain Caves: Get Ready For A Hike
- Banana Market: Unravel The Mysterious Place
- Gandhi Memorial Museum: Gain More Knowledge
- Thiruparankundram: Explore The Abode Of Lord Murugan
- South Indian Food: Treat Your Taste Buds
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Madurai has a hot climate throughout the year. The best time to visit is from November to February months.
Summer months are very hot and off season in Madurai so might be occasional mango showers in April-May, which will bring down the maximum temperature. People go off to the waterfalls during these summer showers for a drench. Take a tour to hilly regions of Sirumalai and Kodaikanal.
Monsoon brings moderate rainfall to the region and a good season for nature tourists where you can visit the waterfalls, but the rains might be a hindrance to long sightseeing trips.
Winter’s neither too cold nor too warm. It’s the right, pleasant season to visit places and go for long drives, you’ll have great time here watching the birds too.
HOW TO GET TO MADURAI
By Road: Madurai boasts of 3 different bus terminals, which offer AC and non-AC buses and well connected to most of the big cities in South India.
By Rail: Trains from all over the country chug their way into the Madurai Junction Railway Station. There are also multiple trains available. The fastest of these trains is the Vaigai Express that leaves from Egmore, Chennai to here.
By Air: Madurai airport is located at a distance 10 kilometres away from the main city. You can get daily flights to and from Chennai, Trichy, Bengaluru and Coimbatore. Taxis too– both public and private- are available outside the airport.