I was traveling from Bengaluru to Rameswaram but there was no train directly to Rameswaram. It Was from Madurai. So I planned to stay for an entire 1 day to Madurai to explore some places in and around the city. I booked a ticket in Nagarcoil Express from Yeshwantpur junction to Madurai. The train was at 10:30 PM. , and it dropped me at 6:30 AM To Madurai junction. As I came out of the station many brokers were pressurizing me to rent a hotel through them but I ignored all of them, As I had collected all the information about the city earlier so I had prior knowledge that Meenakshi Amma temple was at a walking distance from the station.
Moreover, the view of a blogger and a normal traveler is different. Since it was a time during the morning so I took tea at a stall and discussed with some locals about the best place to stay. Luckily I booked a hotel Hotel Senthil Residency near to the main temple. Put the luggage straight to the room moreover the rates of hotel were extremely economical compared to its location and room type. Took rest for around 2 hours. Discussed with the manager the best places to visit within a single day and they were extremely helpful and guided me for the places which I could cover within a single day.
Madurai is a major city in south Indian state Tamilnadu. It is closely associated with Tamil language. The recorded history of the city is 3rd century BCE. The city has a lot of historical monuments mainly famous for the Meenakshi Amma temple. Modern Madurai is built around the Meenakshi temple which is considered as the geographical and ritual center of ancient Madurai.
Sightseeing in and around Madurai in a private Auto
Comparatively, Madurai is a small city so it can be easily covered with an auto or cab for local sightseeing. Auto driver does a bargain so make sure to pay charge around Rs.500-700 for local sightseeing. And if you are planning the same so before committing anything please make sure if the driver is aware of all places otherwise they will skip some places to save time. Fortunately, I was aware and had listed all the places so I booked an auto in Rs. 600. The best itinerary to the city would be to cover the farthermost attraction to first and keep Meenakshi temple to last as it takes a lot of time to visit as its premises is huge and has also a big crowd every time.
Places to visit in Madurai
1) Thirumalai Nayakar Palace
My local sightseeing in Madurai started with Thirumalai Nayakar Palace. It is around 2.5 km from the main temple. It was erected by King Thirumalai Nayak in 1636 AD for his royal stay. This palace is mainly famous for its gigantic pillars and intricate painting and sculpting on its wall and roof. This masterpiece was designed by Italian architects and undoubtedly it is one of the best architects of ancient times. Its architectural design is a fusion of Dravidian, Rajputana, and Islamic style. It is a must-visit place for history lovers and one who loves architectural bygone eras.
Currently, a few parts of this magnificent palace have remained as with the time it faced a lot of destruction and was distorted by many reigns with changing time. Apart from that, it is mesmerizing sightseeing in perhaps the whole of south India.
Timing and Entry fee
This palace is opened on all weekdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM with a lunch break from 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM.
adult: INR Rs. 10
Kids: INR Rs. 5
Foreigners: INR Rs. 50
Light and sound show in Thirumalai Nayakar palace
This palace is undertaken by the Tamilnadu Archaeological department. The light and sound show at this palace is the most attractive feature. The show is conducted in Tamil and English language.
English show: 6:45 PM to 7:45 PM
Tamil show: 8:00PM to 8:50 PM
Adult: INR Rs.50
Kids/ Students: INR Rs. 25
2) Meenakshi Amman Temple
Meenakshi temple is the most famous place to visit in Madurai. Since I visited Meenakshi temple at last but here I am blogging earlier. India is a land of millions of temples among which Meenakshi temple is one of the most prominent and exquisite Temple. As I entered into the premises truly I got wondered how magnificent, huge, and minutely sculptured it was. It is a Dravidian style temple. The temple is dedicated to goddess Parvati also called Meenakshi and her spouse Lord Shiva. What makes it different from other temples is that both Maa Parvati and Shiva are worshipped together. Unlike other Shiva temples in southern India Shiva is the principal deity but here goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity.
The structure is considered to be of 7th century but it was expanded through time during different reigns. But during the first decade of the 13th century, it was invader Allauddin who exploited and looted Madurai and destroyed Meenakshi temple. The temple was rebuilt in 15th century by Nayaka king of Madurai Vishwanatha Nyaka.
Its eye-catching grand architecture and intricate decoration are unbelievable. The shrine is mainly famous for its 14 Sky touching Gopuram(tower) which is easily visible from very far away and still stood tall for more than 600 years. Among 14 gopurams,4 is adorned to the outer ones having an entrance from all the 4 directions. The entire Gopuram is covered with millions of complex sculptures of god and goddess on stone with bright colors. The jasmine fragrance of flowers and its local market which is considered to be more than 500 years old is still as vibrant as it would be in the past made me lost in the labyrinth of shops.
A festival called “Meenakshi Thirukalyanam” is celebrated here in the month of April every year for the divine marriage of Goddess Meenakshi with great fervor.
Before visiting Temple make sure you have enough time to visit as it takes time and follow its dress code.
Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple.
Worship Hours: 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM & 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Entry Fee: Free for normal darshan
Rs.50 per person for Special darshan.
Official website: http://www.maduraimeenakshi.org/
3) Gandhi Memorial Museum- Mesmerizing the life of Mahatma Gandhi
Initially, I was not interested in visiting this place but as I entered into the memorial I found myself overwhelmed with full emotions of patriotism. Gandhi Museum, Madurai is one of the 5 Gandhi museums in India. This museum has a large collection of multiple framed photographs, artefacts, letters, and books belonging to Gandhiji. His letter to Hitler was something that intrigued me. As I had never expected to see an interaction between two such legends.
Something that made tears was his bloodstained garments which he wore the day he was shot and killed.
Overall it was an eye-opening experience for me. It is a must-visit place in Madurai.
Entry Fee: No entry fee
Opening Time : 10:00 AM- 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM-5:45 PM (Closed on Friday)
4) Alagar kovil
I always feel amazed by the old temples because we can learn a lot from the legacy left behind by our ancestors. Among which Alagar kovil also called Azhagar temple is one of the exquisite and ancient temples in India. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and many historians considered it to be of 3rd BC. Temple is built in the Dravidian style.
I was so excited about exploring Madurai that I skipped my lunch. With the serene Alagar hills in the background and away from buzzing crowd of the city it is one of the must-visit place in Madurai within a single day. Sweet rendition playing in shops when passing through the market overwhelmed me with devotion and elation. The temple has a spectacular hall for performing rituals and sacred mantras making a holy environment.
Don’t miss to pay a holy water spring on a visit to here as locals considered it to be cured of many illnesses.
Some other places to visit in Madurai
- Tirupparankundram Murugan Temple
- Samanar Hill
- Koodal Azhagar Temple
- Mariamman Teppakulam
- St. Mary’s Cathedral
- ISKCON Temple
Local Food in Madurai
From fluffy Idlis to crispy dosas and Paruthi Madurai has a wide range of its local tastes and aroma. From pilgrimage all around the world, Madurai offers a Multi-cuisine to the city.
Jigarthanda is a local cold beverage that you can easily found on any nook and corner of the market.
After an entire day of exploration to the city, I was too hungry and ordered a special south Indian Thali at Murugan Restaurant. The food was delicious and was cooked with a typical south Indian recipe.
Best places for shopping in Madurai
Madurai is mainly famous for its handicraft items and Sarees. Some local markets are-
- Chithirai Street
- Avani Moola Street
- Prithu Mandapam Market
- Madurai Malli
How to Reach
It is very convenient to reach Madurai by Air as it is well connected to the major cities. Madurai Airport is just 10km from the city center.
It is a major junction of Southern Railway so can be easily reached from many cities.
Madurai is well connected by Road.NH-44 leads to the city, So it can be easily reached from many metro cities. Regular roadways and private buses are from many cities of South India.
My travel experience to Madurai left an embark on my mind. The quint temple town has beautifully adjusted the tradition, Culture, and legacy and is totally different from the husting and busting life of metro cities.
Hope you have enjoyed my journey through my blog, watch out for my next blog to Rameswaram.