Located on the banks of River Vaigai, Madurai is a popular tourist place of Tamil Nadu. The city spread with several historical and religious monuments. It is not only of religious importance but is also very important centre of Industrial activities and education. The city is situated at an altitude of 101m and is spread across an area of 148 sq kms. The average temperature of the city is 28C and the best time to visit if from November to February.
There are several references of the city such as in writings of Megasthenes and Chanakya and also in the Sangam Literature etc. The city has been ruled by the Pandyas, Cholas, Sultanate, Nayakas and more before falling into the hands of the East India Company in 1801. . It was included in the Madras presidency and till date is a part of the Madras Presidency (the state of Tamil Nadu).
WHAT TO SEE
There is a dominance of the Brahamnical culture here. The people here speak dominantly Tamil and also know Hindi and English. The main festivals include Pongal, Adi Perukku, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Eid, diwali, Holi, Christmas etc. Jallikattu is a popular sport and is played on the last day of celebration of Pongal. Music and dance form an integral part of the culture of Tamil Nadu.
Where to go
Shree Meenakshi Sudareshwara Temple is the most visited tourist site in Madurai. It is a Hindu temple situated on the banks of river Vaigai dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, another name of goddess Paravati, and her husband Lord Shiva. Here unlike the other temple both the deities are worshipped together. According to the Hindu Mythology Madurai is where Lord Shiva came to Mary Goddess Paravati. The temple has a grandiose Gopuram and marvellous architecture with fine carvings and sculptures. There are several beautifully decorated pillars.
Tirumalai Nayaka Palace is another tourist attraction of Madurai. The construction of the palace is credited to King Tirumalai Nayaka of the Nayaka Dynasty in the 1636 CE. Today what we see is the remains of the actual palace which is said to be 4 times bigger than what it is today. It was the residence of the Nayaka Kings and was also one of their most grandiose works. The palace is a perfect blend of the Dravidian and the Rajput style architecture. It is open throughout the week and every evening there is a light and sound show here.
Mariamman Teppakulam is a temple 5 kms away from the Meenakshi temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vingeshwara. The temple is constructed in middle of a huge manmade tank which is probably the largest in the state of Tamil Nadu. Legends say that the Idol in the temple was found during excavating the soil for building the tank.
Alagar Koil Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The main idol is made entirely of stone showing marvellous craftsmanship. The architecture of the temple like any other temple is astonishing. It has huge hall used for celebrating festivals.
Kazimar Mosque and Maqbara are situated in the city centre. The mosque was constructed by Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin of Oman. The mosque became the first and the only place of worship for the Muslims of Madurai. Within the vicinity of the Mosque is The Dargah of the Madurai Hazzrats. The mosque has been managed by the descendents of Tajuddin for more than 700 years.
Pazhamudhir Solai , Gorippalayam Dargah, Vaigai Dam, Gandhi Museum, Koodal Azhagar Temple, Tirupparankundram Murugan temple and others. You will a beautiful and important temple every few kms in Madurai. You can stop and visit these.
What to buy
One of the most popular commercial towns of South India is Madurai. Jewellery, Electronics, Brass works, Paintings, Handicrafts, Antiques, Books, Bronze items, etc is the stuff that you can buy. The items of decoration are really good in Madurai. Even the granite items are a good pick.
How to reach
Madurai has its own International Airport which provides really good facilities. It receives regular flights from Bangalore, Chennai, Sri Lanka and other places.
Madurai is very well connected to major towns and cities of India via Railway. The station of the city is centrally located giving easy access to the destination. There are regular trains from Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Mysore and other places.
Madurai is easily accessible by road as it has a well developed roadway. There are buses from various towns and cities of Tamil Nadu and nearby states. There is a bus to and fro from Chennai almost every hr. other places are Mysore, Bangalore etc.