Welcome to Madurai City of Tamilnadu, India – if you are one to enjoy artifacts of ancient Indians; visit Hindu, Muslim and Christian temples with longest historical backgrounds; taste the tongue-buds-watering hot South Indian cuisine and spend your holidays in visiting the various attractions and places of interest in and around Madurai.
Madurai is a prominent pilgrimage center, situated 498 Kms (308 miles) south-west of Chennai (formerly Madras), the capital of Tamilnadu State. Foreign tourists as well as people from other States, especially North India, flock this town for pilgrimage and sight-seeing purposes. The visit to Varanasi in North India, for holy-dip in the Ganges River, is believed to be completed only by taking another dip in the sea of Rameswaram (180 Kms from Madurai). This is one more reason for the flow of tourist traffic to Madurai, which is on this route.
Madurai is on the banks of River Vaigai (now the city has developed on both the sides of the river) and in line with the fact that civilization develops on river banks, the ancient history dates back to pre-Christian era. Various Kingdoms flourished in Madurai – Cholas; Pandiyas; part of Vijaya Nagar Empire; Muslim Sultans of Delhi and finally the Nayakar Dynasty, till coming under the colonial rule of the British.
The town is designed in the form of a Lotus Flower (by Kulasekara Pandiyan of the Pandiya Dynasty, who is also believed to have built the ancient Meenakshi Temple) keeping the Meenakshi Temple in the center. The corridors on all the four sides of the Temple, like petals of the flower, have become busy streets of today’s Madurai Town. The hustle and bustle of the city has to go on within these confinements, but bye-pass roads have been provided well on the outskirts, for the free-flow of traffic.
At Madurai the biggest tourist attraction is Meenakshi Amman Temple (some 6000 visitors on normal days and double the figure on special days and festivals).Words are of no use, to explain the artistic beauty of the structure of this temple. Simply put, sculptors’ chisels have played wonders on stone. It will not be complete in a day to go through all these carvings in such a big temple, apart from worshipping the deities inside.
Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal is another beauty, depicting the ability of artisans and the taste of the popular Nayakar Dynasty King, Thirumalai Nayakar, who constructed this as his residential palace. There are many other temples such as Kallazhagar Temple; Koodal Azhagar Temple; Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple; Pazhamuthircholai Murugan Temple etc., apart from Kazimar Big Mosque and St. Mary’s Cathedral Church for other religions.
The annual festivals of these temples are pulling devotees in hundreds of thousands, particularly the Chithirai Thirunal Festival of Meenakshi Amman (April), which is a 10 day affair, makes Madurai City choke with a sea of humanity.
You can shop at Madurai for textiles, cheap and best handloom cotton sarees, boutiques, handicrafts, wooden carvings, decorative items and so on.
For your reaching Madurai, there are daily flights from Mumbai; Chennai; Bangalore; Trichy and Coimbatore by Indian Airlines; Jet Airways; and Air Deccan (Airport is 10 Kms); an important Railway Junction having an array of trains to all Indian destinations; National Highway-NH-7 and NH-45 to connect every place by road with Madurai.
Decent hotels on every budget are available. Local transportation is easy with town busses, auto 3 wheelers and cycle-rickshaws.