The very ancient city of Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India and dates back to several centuries before Christ. Situated some 472 km from Chennai, Madurai is located on the banks of River Vaigai. Madurai is also the second largest city of Tamil Nadu after Chennai and covers an area of 109 sq km. Madurai was home to the ancient Tamil Sangam and also hosted the literary summit that produced the first Tamil epic and many other famous literary works. Madurai is also one of the most sacred temple towns of India. The presence of Meenakshi Temple, around which the city evolved, has made Madurai one of the most widely visited pilgrim as well as a tourist destination. The city is not overly crowded and has a population of around 1 million. Major part of the population speaks the native language Tamil but English is also used. The people here are friendly, caring and have a deep respect for their culture and heritage which indeed is very rich. In the present world, it is a fast paced commercial center taking the competition head. The city is mainly famous for the hand loom products and tourists can purchase the local apparels and items as a memorabilia of their visit to Madurai.
Attractions - The Pearls of History
Madurai is purely a pilgrimage center and all the city attraction are generally temples and palaces. But that does not in any way mean that a casual travelers will not find anything that will interest them. In fact these temples are the best way to experience and explore the ancient and exceptional man made marvels which can easily be put among the best human creation of all times in the whole world.
Sri Meenakshi - Sundareshwar Temple
It is said that Sri Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple and Madurai city both originated together, this shows how much importance this temple holds in the history and present of Madurai. The complex of Sri Meenakshi temple is huge and covers an area of around 65000-sq m. the construction of this temple dates back to more 2000 years. The complex of the temple grew with contributions from many dynasties that once ruled over Madurai. There are four gigantic gateways enclosing two shrines that contains splendid art and sculpture works. But the most important feature of the temple is the thousand-pillared hall in which each pillar has a big and brilliant statue sculpted on it. Rest assured, you will not leave the temple without being spellbound. The temple is open everyday from 4.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 4.00 pm to 9.30 pm.
Mariamman Teppakulam is a magnificent square tank built by King Thirumalai which is located 5 km east of Meenakshi Temple. The tank covers an astonishing area of almost 16 acres. The temple is the venue of the resplendent float festival held in the month of January and February to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai. Towards the northern side of the tank, there is a temple dedicated to Mariamman who is a famous village deity.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
Situated just 1.5 km from Meenakshi Temple, the Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a classic and rare example of Nayak Architecture. It was constructed in the year 1523 by King Thirumalai Nayak . It was built under the supervision of an Italian Architect. The structure used to be four times bigger than what it is now. A huge portion of the magnificent palace was destroyed by the grandson of King Thirumalai. In 1866-72, by the orders of Lord Napier, the then Governor of Madras, the palace was restored and today you can see an entrance gate, a main hall and a dance hall, all treat to eyes. There is also a half hour show about life, passions and victories of King Thirumalai which is very inspiring and is a must see for tourists who want to know how past age kings used to live in royalty.
Situated in the old Palace of Rani Mangammal, the Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the most important place to be visited in Madurai. This museum is a memorial of "Father of India" Mahatma Gandhi. The Gandhi Museum showcases th main highlights of the freedom struggle and contains a picture gallery of the Gandhian movement. The museum also houses a gallery of relics, Khadi and village industries section.
Hotels in Madurai offer facilities that suit every kind of traveler. There are star rated hotels as well as budget hotels that are all situated close to the tourist attractions. Hotel Taj Garden Retreat and Madura park Inn are the star category hotels that cater to every luxury wish of their guests. For a slightly less luxurious stay, you can opt for Hotel Supreme and Germanus Days In.
Madurai has its own Domestic airport which is around 10 km from Madurai city. It has flights coming in daily from Chennai, Bangalore and Coimbatore.
Madurai is considered to be a major railway station in the South. It is well connected to all the other major railway stations and there are trains that run directly to these important stations.
NH-7 and NH-45 connect Madurai ti all parts of India. From all big cities of Tamil Nadu, there are State transport buses and Luxury coaches that ply to and from Madurai.
Buses and auto rickshaw are the major players in local transportation. Taxis are also there in good numbers that ferry people inside the city walls and to other nearby towns and cities.
Taj Garden Retreat