Settled since about the 3rd century BCE, Madurai is one of the greatest temple towns of Southern India. It is widely acknowledged due to the eminent Meenakshi Temple. Sited on the banks of Vaigai River, the city allows you witnessing some of the most breathtaking architectural wonders. Madurai is nicknamed as 'Athens of the East' due to of its antiquity and historical significance. It enjoys a rich cultural heritage inherited from the great Tamil era older than about 2500 years. It used to be the key cultural and commercial hub even as early as 550 AD. As the capital city of the Pandya kings, it has secured a great position in history of India. The name of Madurai derives from the word ‘Madhu’ means nectar, which was showered from the locks of Lord Shiva as per a well-known myth. Madurai is mentioned in a popular book of Megasthenes. He was a famous Greek ambassador, who visited India in the 3rd century BC and became overwhelmed with the architectural magnificence of Madurai. The glory of this city reached at its pinnacle, during the supremacy of the Cholas and Pandya in the 13th century. Some valued constructions of the city were made this time by King Thirumali Nayak of the Nayak dynasty. Some of those constructions were Raja Gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple, Puthu Mandapam (The New Mansion) and Thirumalai Nayak Palace. At present, Madurai creates the picture of a hectic city to any traveler, having the same hubbub that you can experience any usual Indian city. One thing that makes Madurai apart from the rest is its breathtaking architectures of the temples that conjure some ethereal image to the city. You should definitely plan a trip to this city to explore the every minute architectural detail of its temples. You can explore here Meenakshi Temple Koodal Azhaar Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal and many other tourist attractions. One of the largest cities of Tamil Nadu, Madurai can be also visited due to being the producer of few of the finest textiles in India
March to Mid-June, warm and humid
Temperature:28°C – 38°C
July to October
Annual rainfall -1300 mm
Last November to February, Cool and Pleasant
Temperature:29°C – 20°C
Situated near Madurai, Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple is one of the 6 abodes or holy shrines of Lord Murugan. There are interesting features in the architecture of this temple, especially the rock cut portions that date back to the Pandya period and huge sculptures in the mandapam date back to Nayakar period. You can see here numerous pleasingly carved pillars. A remarkable aspect of this temple is idols of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are facing each other in the main shrine.
Vandiyur Kanmoy Tourist Complex
It is one of the popular places for enjoying an idyllic picnic in Madurai. Your children will be really happy by coming here as children's train, boating service and restaurant are available there.
Situated on a scenic hilltop, Azhakar Kovil is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Architecture of the temple matches up to any of the South Indian temples featuring large gopurams and pillared mandapams.
It is a Hindu temple, which is situated about 16 km north of Madurai on the top a hill covered with dense forests. It is one of the six main shrines (Arupadaiveedu) of Lord Murugan. Due to surround with lush vegetation, the temple is rich in flower, fruit and vegetables.
Aayiram Kaal Mandapam
Inside the very eminent Meenakshi Temple, Aayiram Kaal Mandapam is a prominent place to be visited. This is a Hall of Thousand Pillars and each pillar is carved in the Dravidian sculptural style. These high, ornate and bold sculptures of the pillars are worth watching.
Best Places to Visit in Madurai
A trip to Madurai is an awe-inspiring experience for the tourists as they come across many places to visit in Madurai. The holy city is home to few of the most majestic temples that people mostly visit for sightseeing more of a pilgrimage. It is one of the oldest cities in India, which is a thriving place of art and culture since the Sangam period. There are many tourist attractions in Madurai that you can visit on your trip. Some of the awe-inspiring Madurai sightseeing places are mentioned below:
Meenakshi Amman Temple
The city of Madurai is synonymous to the Meenakshi Temple and was originally built around this temple. Despite being home to many temples, Madurai is widely recognized for Meenakshi Temple. The temple enjoys great architectural magnificence and splendor. Enjoy the flawless marvel of the Dravidian Architecture and become one of the devotees of this significant temple. From the southern Gopuram of this temple, you can enjoy the greatest view of the city.
Koodal Azhaar Temple
Madurai Koodal Azhagar temple is one among the most ancient temples of India. The main deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu. The temple boasts of statues of Lord Vishnu in a variety of postures, including sitting, standing, reclining one over the other. Along with that, you can see here intricate woodcarvings. One of these woodcarvings depicts the coronation of Lord Rama.
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
One of the important places to visit in Madurai, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal was built by the Nayak ruler Thirumalai Nayak in 1523 AD. The palace is a brilliant illustration of Indo-Sarcenic architecture. At present, only one fourth of the palace of earlier times has been left. The palace has only remained with the main entrance hall, the dancing hall and the main hall. On your visit to the palace, don’t forget to enjoy its main attraction that is a light and sound show showing the life of "Tirumalai Nayak" and "Silapathikaram".
Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam
Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is six times larger than Meenakshi Temple. It is a huge tank that was constructed by Thirulmalai Nayak in 1646. The tank is linked to Vaigai River through a resourceful system of underground Channels. It has 12 long granite stairs (steps). In the middle of this tank, you can see a Madapam known as Maiya Mandapam (Central Mandapam) with Vinayakar temple and garden.
The Gandhi Museum
Gandhi Museum is one of the distinct places to visit in Madurai. People having interest and faith in Gandhi's philosophy should definitely visit this museum. The museum displays few of the lesser known facts about Mahatma Gandhi. The museum features a real Gandhi Memorabilia in form of a blood stained dhoti, which he was wearing during his assassination time. The museum is also a storehouse of different testimonies associated with the freedom movement of India.