A travel Guide to Madurai

Madurai Tourism

Madurai is one of the oldest cities in India. Located on the banks of the Vaigai river, the ancient city has seen the rise and fall of many kingdoms like the Pandyas and the Cholas. It lies on the southeast of the Eastern Ghats and is home to several mountain ranges like the Palni and Sirumalai Hills, the Cardamom Hills, and the Varushanad and Andipatti Hills. Madurai, India, is a major transportation hub for the region as different modes like rail and airports emanate from it. There is also a predominance of various cotton and silk weaving factories.

Also known as the ‘Temple city of India’, there are many famous Madurai tourist attractions. The Meenakshi Amman temple is perhaps the most famous temple, especially for its intricate artwork. St. Mary’s Cathedral Church, Alagar Kovil, and the Gandhi Museum are some of the other popular attractions. The presence of hill stations like Kodaikanal and Munnar, situated nearby Madurai, enhance the tourist experience for all the visitors.

Through the many Madurai tours, one can indulge in the vastness of the city’s history and culture. So to relish in a place still stuck in the olden days, yet having the best of modernity, Madurai is the place to go.

Places to visit in Madurai

1. Meenakshi Amman Temple

Also known as the Meenakshi-Sundareshwara temple, it is one of the oldest in the whole country. It has a mythological story attached to it. It is believed that Lord Shiva, who was known as the Sundareshwara (the Handsome one), had married Parvati right here in this temple. Famous for its architectural brilliance, the thousand pillar hall that the temple houses is a major attraction amongst the tourists. During the Thirukalyanam festival, which lasts for ten days, sees an innumerable number of visitors filling up the hotels quite quickly. The statues and beautiful inscriptions add to the whole charm. All these aspects make the temple a gem in Madurai tourism.

2. Gandhi Memorial Museum

The city of Madurai played a monumental role in Mahatma Gandhi’s life and struggles. To commemorate the various trials and tribulations of his life, the Gandhi Memorial Museum was established after his demise. The picture gallery creates an outline of Gandhi’s biography and the Hall of Relics showcases some of his personal belongings. Various activities are conducted inside. The open-air theatre conducts many cultural shows. The Gandhi Jayanti is a five-day affair, with renowned speakers coming to talk about the Father of India. This museum certainly holds a place on the list of Madurai attractions.

3. Vaigai Dam

About 70 km away from Madurai, the Vaigai Dam stands tall across the gorgeous Vaigai river. The dam is a neighbour to a garden called ‘Little Brindavan’ that is a famous picnic spot amongst the tourists. It has a musical fountain that operates on the weekends and holidays, between 6 am and 8 pm. During monsoons, the sight is magnificent, with the water level rising and seven flood gates being opened. Due to the picturesque, lush greenery, this spot has become one of the popular Madurai tourist places.

4. Pazhamudhir Solai

The Pazhamudhir Solai temple is another important and famous temple in Madurai. Set at a distance of 20 km from city life, this temple is considered one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan. The structure is dotted with various marble and wooden carvings that are unique. Located at a hilltop, the temple is surrounded by waterfalls, springs, and tribal villages which add to the beauty of this area. The natural charm of the temple makes it one of the most visited Madurai attractions.

5. Samanar Hills

Situated quite close to the Meenakshi temple, the Samanar Hills consists of caves and many archaeological carvings that tell us about the Jains who inhabited these places almost 2000 years back. It is famous amongst the visitors because of the calm atmosphere, which is perfect for meditation enthusiasts. You find most of the inscriptions right at the entrance of the caves, which include Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and Vatteluttu writings. These caves are heaven for history fanatics and archaeologists as these help them understand the life of the ancient inhabitants. These hills have grown to become important to Madurai tourism.

Things to do in Madurai

The historically rich city offers uncountable things to do in Madurai which satisfy each tourist’s likings.

Shop at Puth Mandapam

Any Madurai travel guide must include shopping at the wonderful Puth Mandapam. It is a hall that is lined with numerous tailors and shops selling silky fabrics, jewellery, fashion accessories and other handicrafts. The Balbina boutique here is known to be quite popular amongst tourists. You can buy some beautiful Madhubani paintings at this shop.

Experience the magnificent Banana market

One of the most visited Madurai tourist places is the great Banana market. It is said that around 16 different types of bananas arrive here every day. All the sellers carry dozens at a time inside the market, directly from the vans and carts. The Banana market, as well as an adjacent vegetable market, are perfect places to experience the toil of the locals and feel the culture of the city.

Go on a food tour

One of the best things to do in Madurai tourism is going on an authentic food tour. These tours allow you to sample some delicious local delicacies from several famous eateries. You can bite into the yummy Kari Dosa (dosa topped with egg and fried mutton), Adhirasam (local doughnut-shaped sweet), Paruthi Pal (a beverage made from cotton seeds), and other dishes. Apart from the tasty food, you also get to relish the old world charm of the bustling city.

Visit the Vilachery Pottery village

Visit this spot to witness true craftsmanship. On the outskirts of Madurai, about 200 families inhabit the village and make Ganesh idols for Ganesh Chaturthi, Bommai Kolu dolls for Navratri, and small figurines for Christmas. It has become one of the popular Madurai attractions and strolling through here will also give you an insight into the lives of the villagers and how they live each day.

Best time to visit Madurai

Before planning a trip, you might wonder about the best time to visit Madurai. The summers are almost unbearable due to the extremely high temperatures, going up to around 34 degrees. Monsoons, on the other hand, experience heavy rainfalls throughout the region, which might be good for nature lovers, but ideally not the best time to visit.

In winters, the temperature is around 20-29 degrees, which is quite pleasant for the tourists. Hence, the best season to visit Madurai is during the winters.

How to Reach Madurai

Thinking about how to reach Madurai? There are many ways to reach the city like:

By Air: Flights to Madurai arrive at the Madurai airport, which is 10 km away from the main city. It is well-connected to all the major cities. Daily flights come in from places like Chennai, Coimbatore, and Bangalore.

By Rail: There are direct trains to the city which are available throughout the country. It takes a seven-hour journey to reach Madurai from Chennai and the Vaigai Express is the fastest train on this route. From the railway stations, you can take taxis to the many hotels in Madurai.

By Road: The city is well-linked with most parts of Southern India. One can book an AC or a non-AC bus for travelling purposes. Due to such services, transportation via road becomes easier.

Plan You Travel

3 Star Hotels & Resorts in Madurai

Royal Court

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Regency Madurai by GRT Hotels

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Astoria Hotels

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The Spk Hotel

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Hotel The Nook

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Poppys Hotel

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La Vivanta Hotel

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JC Residency Madurai

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