Madurai (Tamil Nadu)
One of South India's great temple towns, Madurai is synonymous with the celebrated Minakshi Temple. This ancient city on the banks of the Vaigai river has, over the centuries, been a rich repository of Tamil culture. Some 2,000 years ago, it hosted the famous Sangams (gatherings of writers and poets), which were to provide Tamil literature with some of its most enduring works. From the 7th to 13th centuries, as the capital of the Pandyas, it saw art and trade with Rome and China flourish. It later became part of the Vijayanagar Empire, and was the Nayaka capital in the 16th-17th centuries. Today, religion and culture remain a vibrant part of the city's daily life.
Madurai Quick facts
Madurai Geography and Climate
Geography : It is located at 9.93� N 78.12� E. It has an average elevation of 101 meters above Mean Sea Level. Climate: The climate of Madurai is warm. The temperature seldom comes below 20� C even during the winters. The rainfall is very frequent and spread throughout the year, just like the flow of pilgrims and tourists is the same during the year.
Best time to visit Madurai
Madurai can be visited any time of the year, but The best time to visit the city is from October to March.
Madurai or the city of nectar is the oldest and second largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River and was the capital of Pandyan rulers. The Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had built a gorgeous temple around which he created a lotus shaped city. Mythology says when city was being named, Lord Shiva blessed the city and its people. Whether you come by air, train or road, the first glimpse of the city that greets you are the magnificent gopurams of the Meenakshi Temple. The festivities, processions and grandeur of the temples attract tourist in the thousands every year. There are several places of tourist attractions in Madurai, but it is the Meenakshi Temple that is the hub of activity. Madurai is the home to popular Kamaraj University. The City has Medical College, Agricultural College, Law College and many Engineering, Arts and Science Colleges.
Madurai Near Getaways
Madurai is the hottest city in Tamil Nadu. During summer months people prefer to go for Kodaikanal, Kumbakarai and Surli . At Kodaikanal lots of arrangements are made for the tourist. The waterfalls in Kumbakarai and Suruli can be very soothing. Kodaikanal : Kodaikanal is one of the most popular hill resorts in India. It is a charming hill station, stands amidst sylvan beauty on the southern crest of the upper Palani Hills near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. With its rocks, woods, lovely lake and bracing air, Kodaikanal is an ideal hill resort for the tourists. The pride of Kodaikanal is Kurinji flower, which blossoms once in 12 years. The hill plantation of fruits and plums are well known for their freshness and taste.
Situated some 472 km from Chennai, Madurai is located on the banks of River Vaigai. Madurai is also the second largest city of Tamilnadu after Chennai and covers an area of 109 sq km.
How to reach Madurai by Road
Altogether there are 6 bus stations in Madurai city for both government and private buses. From the New Central bus station Interstate buses are available while all the other stations are mainly intended for local buses. The names of bus stations are Periyar Bus stand, Shopping complex bus stand, Anna Bus stand, Arapalayam Bus stand and Palangantham Bus stand.
How to reach Madurai by Rail
Madurai is one of the major railway junctions of South India. The Madurai Railway Station is within the city center. Regular trains connect Madurai to Coimbatore, Chennai, Rameswaram, Kanyakumari and other towns of South India.
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How to reach Madurai by Air
Madurai has its own airport located at the city center. There are daily flights to Chennai and twice a day flights to Mumbai.
Madurai Festivals and culture
Chitirai Festival : Chitirai Festival is celebrated for about ten days in the month of April/May, every year. Marriage of Shri Meenakshi to Lord Sunderswarar is mainly celebrated at this time. Car festival is celebrated after the marriage. 14-day festival in March/April at Thirupparankundram Temple: Thirupparankundram Temple celebrates a 14-day festival in March/April, to commemorate the victory of Lord Murugan over the demon Suran. This is followed by his coronation and his marriage to Devasena. Devotees visit the place in huge number to witness the divine wedding.
Madurai can be called the south capital of Tamil culture, where the traditional arts grow and flourish. The Tamil culture of hospitality is known the world over. The people of Madurai are incredibly friendly with the brotherly way of talking. Naturally, they have the helping tendency for others. Though the city of Madurai has become an industrial, commercial and educational center besides retaining its spiritual heritage. The lifestyle is not so fast as any other city. Madurai Tamil is known as the standard Tamil. Nowadays, In Pop Culture, The colloquial Tamil spoken by Madurai People is shown as Madurai Tamil. Apart from Tamil, English, Telugu and Malayalam are also spoken by people. Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is the most exquisite example of the Dravidian architecture. It is a master piece and was the center of activity for the promotion of art and culture in Madurai.
Madurai Religious Places
Meenakshi Temple; Madurai : The temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarer. Meenakshi temple was originally built by Kulasekarer Pandya. But the credit for the present look of the temple goes to the Nayakas, who ruled Madurai from 16th to 18th century. The temple has huge Gopurams which can be seen from a far off distance. Meenakshi Temple is the most exquisite example of the Dravidian architecture. It is a master piece and was the center of activity for the promotion of art and culture in Madurai. It is the main attraction of the city and pilgrims come to the place in the search of spirituality and peace. Meenakshi temple has a thousand pillared 'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985 pillars and each of them is delicately and exquisitely carved. Among these are the musical pillars, which produce music when tapped. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a single granite rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been sponsoring literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time. Goddess Meenakshi image is said to be carved out of a single emerald. According to mythology, the marriage of Meenakshi and Shiva actually took place in Madurai. It is still celebrated every year with great pomp and show. Thirupparankundram Temple : Thirupparankundram Temple is a rock-cut temple of Lord Subramanya, situated at a distance of 8 km from Madurai. This temple was built by Pandayan King in the 8th century. The innermost shrine is cut out of a solid rock. Apart from Lord Subramanya, there are also separate shrines for Lord Shiva, Lord Vinayaka, Goddess Durga, Lord Vishnu and other deities. Pazhamudhirsolai : This temple is located on a hill adjacent to Azhagar Koil. It is one among the six abodes of Lord Murugan. A natural spring called Nuburagangai is also located here where people take bath before worshipping the Lord. Anglican Cathedral : A fine example of Neo-Gothic architecture, this church was designed by Robert Fellowes Chisolm, and consecrated in 1981.
Tombs of the Madurai Sultans : The sultans of Madurai ruled the city after the invasion in 1310 by Malik Kafur, a general of Alauddin Khilji. They lie buried to the north of the city. The complex includes Alauddin's Mosque, with its flat-roofed prayer hall and tapering octagonal towers, and the tomb of a local Sufi saint, Bara Mastan Sada, built in the 16th century. Thirumalai Nayaka Palace : It is situated 2km south east of the Meenakshi Temple. The power and wealth of the Nayakas is evident from the remains of this once grand palace, built by Thirumalai Nayaka in 1636. The building, with its interesting Islamic influences, was partially restored in the 19th century by Lord Napier, governor of Madras between 1866 and 1872. Today, only the spacious rectangular courtyard called by animal-and bird-shaped balustrades, leading down to the rippling waters. This is the venue of the annual Theppam (Float) festival, celebrating the marriage of Shiva and Minakshi, when their images are taken in illuminated boats to the small pavilion in the centre of the tank.
Madurai Entertainment and Night Life
Trekking at Kodaikanal: Kodai is situated at an altitude of about 2,133-m high and covers an area of 21.45-sq-km. The pride of Kodaikanal is the 'Kurinji-flower', which blossoms once in 12 years. The hill-plantain fruits and plums are known for their freshness and taste. Kodaikanal in the Palani Hills is an ideal place for small-time trekking. You can take short treks and hikes to tourist spots close by as well to local viewpoints. Kakkai : Kakkai is a famous camping site, the main activity in this place is trekking . It is about 20 kilometers from Kodaikanal.
There are very few bars or dance places in Madurai. Apollo 96 is one such bar that people like to visit, but the bar shuts down at around 12 am. Apart from this, Tamil Isai Sangam and Lakshmi Sundaram Hall are few places where cultural programmes are presented during night time.
Kidding around Madurai
Kumbakkarai Waterfalls: Kumbakkarai Water Falls are 105-km from Madurai and form an excellent picnic spot. Waterfall surrounded by forests combined with the pristine beauty of the hills creates a very soothing atmosphere.
The city is famous for its textile industry since long. So, the best items to purchase here are readymade garments, fabrics and sarees. The best market for cotton is the Prithu Mandapam. It is an old pillared hall inside the eastern entrance of Meenakshi temple. Here, you can buy good cotton and batiks, for which Madurai is famous. The shopping places in Madurai are usually packed with people, especially during weekends and festivals. Leading shopping areas of the Madurai city of Tamil Nadu are Chithirai, Avanimoola, Puthumandapam and Thevangu Chetty Choultry.
Famous To Eat at Madurai
Fresh and tastier South Indian traditional food is a specialty of Madurai hotels, restaurants and road-side fast food stalls.
Madurai Museum and Hill Stations
Gandhi Memorial Museum: The Gandhi Memorial Museum at Madurai was the first of its kind to be completed and it was inaugurated by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru on 15th April, 1959. This Musuem is one of the rare living memorial of "The Father of India" The Museum serves to propagate the ideals of Gandhiji. Exhibitions, Seminors, Study Circle meetings, Group discussions, Summer Camps for students, Fine Arts training courses for children and classes on Yogasana and Naturopathy are organised periodically. A Science Park has been put up for the benefit of school children. Examinations for students on 'Gandhiji's life and Thought' are regularly conducted. Government Museum; Madurai : The various sections in the museum deal with archaeology, anthropology, zoology, botany and geology. The museum has a fine collection of bronzes which are not allowed to be photographed. Ooty: Known as the 'Queen of Hills' and the most popular hill station in the South India. It is located in the Nilgiri hills at 2286 meter above sea level. With its rolling lawns and salubrious climate it became the important hill station in South India and the summer capital of the former Madras presidency. Places of interest: Dodabetta Peak, Ooty lake, Kitty Valley View, Coonoor, Dolphins Nose, Lambs Rock, St. Catherine?s Fall and Laws Fall.
Gardens and Parks at Madurai
As far recreation is concerned we have three parks in Madurai - Vandiyoor Park, Rajaji Park and the new Eco Park. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary : One of the well-known wildlife sanctuaries in the south, Periyar sanctuary attracts a large number of nature lovers every year. Also called the Tekkadi wildlife sanctuary, this place is appropriate to watch and observe the animals in their natural habitat. The forest of this sanctuary slope into the man made lake at the bottom of the hill.
Lake at Madurai
Vaigai Dam : This impressive dam is 70 kms from Madurai on the way to Thekkai. This is a good picnic spot. Regular buses are available from Madurai. The dam is 4 miles from Andipathy Railyway Station on Madurai. Kumbakkarai Waterfalls: Kumbakkarai Water Falls are 105-km from Madurai and form an excellent picnic spot. Waterfall surrounded by forests combined with the pristine beauty of the hills creates a very soothing atmosphere. Surali Waterfalls: This falls is 123 kms from Madurai, on the way to periyar wild life sancturary. This is also a good picnic spot. Taking a diversion from Uthamapalayam, One can visit the Surali Waterfalls. The distance between Uthamapalayam and Suruli Waterfalls is 2 miles.
Madurai is known for Jasmines and one can find plenty of flower shops crowded with buyers for jasmines in the evenings.
Madurai Travel Tips
Foreign exchange can be done in State Bank of India in the West Veli st. and some of the other nationalized banks. STD, ISD, Internet, Fax facilities are available in the city. Always carry Debit or Credit Cards instead of cash for safety purpose. Carry important documents like Visa, Passport, Id Card, Licence Card, etc,. along with two or three sets of Photocopies. The Meenakshi temple here was nominated for the world wonder competition and there are lots of other small temples over here which are a worth visit. Madurai is a great place to buy locally manufactured cottons and batiks, especially near Sri Meenakshi Temple.
Madurai Tourist Offices
Tourist Information Center Madurai Railway Junction, Madurai Phone : 0452-2742888 Tourist Office And Information Center Government Of Tamil Nadu, 180, West Veli Street Madurai- 625001 Phone : 0452-2733757
Must do at Madurai
Courtallam is an excellent health resort and is located at just 160-km from Madurai. This place has got nine splendid waterfalls, which attracts a large number of visitors.