MADURAI

Madurai, situated in southern Tamil Nadu, is a district with its headquarters in Madurai city, on the banks of Vaigai River. Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. It is more than 2,500 years old and is an important cultural and commercial centre. Madurai, once the seat of Tamil learning and still the place where Tamil language is spoken in its purest form is an ancient city. The ancient structure was planned in the shape of a lotus. Legend has it that Lord Indra installed a lingam in a shrine and informed king Kulasekhara, who had the forest cleared and a lotus-shaped city built around it. On the day this Pandian monarch was to name his new city, Lord Shiva appeared to bless the people and nectar flowed from his matted locks. So it was called 'Madhurapudi' and later it became Madurai.

The last of the three Tamil academies (Sangams) flourished here nearly two thousand years ago. The pandyas, great patrons of Tamil learning, art and architecture, were succeeded by the Nayakas who preserved the work of earlier kingdoms and enriched their traditions.

Modern Madurai is a burgeoning industrial centre, even though the vast stretches of lush paddy fields, dusty roads and crowded bazzars make it seem almost like an overgrown village.

Madurai General Information

  • Area-22 Sq. Kms (8.56 Sq. Miles)
  • Population-10.9 lacks
  • Altitude-101 meters above sea level
  • Season- Throughout the year
  • Languages Spoken- Tamil, English, Saurashtra
  • Clothing-
  • Summer: Light Tropical
  • winter: Light Woolen

How to Get There

By Air

It is connected by Air with Chennai & Mumbai. Madurai Airport is 10 Kms away from Madurai City.

By Rail

It is connected by Rail with all major cities Chennai and Tirunelveli. Madurai is on the Madurai-Tiruchirappalli-Dindigul-Quilon line. The Vaigai Express, which is a super-fast day train between Chennai Egmore and Madurai, takes 7 hours for the 495kms.

By Road

Madurai is well connected with all major cities through National High ways 7 & 45. The Pallavas during the seventh century. Madurai City has 5 Major Bus Stand.

Climate

This vibrant city remains hot and humid during the summer but is a great destination if you visit in the cooler seasons. Exploring trip or a pilgrimage trip is enjoyable in Madurai.

Season Months Temperature
Summers March to June 24°c - 37°c
Monsoon July to August 25°c - 37°c
Winter December to February 20°c - 29°c

Places to visit

Sri Meenakshi Temple: Madurai is synonymous with the Sri Meenakshi Temple, dedicated to Sri Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Shiva. The temple complex, the main attraction at Madurai, is one of the biggest in India. The five gopurams that surround the temple are known for stucco work, and the 48.8 metre high southern gopuram is the tallest. Legend has it that when the last Tamil Sangam (Academy) met here, literary works were thrown into the temple tank. Those that floated were deemed to be outstanding literature. It is believed that the Kadasma tree under which Lord Shiva meditated was the only one that covered this area. Exquisite sculptures are to be found throughout the complex.

The Hall of Thousand Pillars: It is a museum of icons, photographs and illustrations. Apart from being a very sacred spot for the Hindus, the Meenakshi Temple is one of the country's most important tourist landmarks. Open from 05:00 AM to 12: 00 Noon and 04:00 PM to 09:00 PM

Thirumalai Nayakas Mahal: It is a place about one kilometer from the south east of the Meenakshi Temple. The show building is constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style by Nayakas. The main attraction here is the musical pillars and the pathway. There is one small museum, and the main audience hall opens into a huge outdoor courtyard.

Open to the public: 09.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 - 17.00 Hrs.Sound and light shows on the life of Tirumalai Nayak and the story of Silappadikaaram (a Tamil classic) are held everyday. Timings: English: 18.45 Hrs, Tamil: 20.15 Hrs

Excursions

Alagarkoil About 21kms north east of Madurai stands a celebrated Vishnu temple dedicated to Lord Alagar. The temple is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. The shrine is known as Alagarkoil and the hill is known Solaimalai. The t emple also contain some beautiful carvings and makes the visit rewarding. Solai malai Mandapam, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya is located atop the hill.

Koodal Azhagar temple this ancient and acclaimed Vaishnavite temple is noted for its remarkable architectural and sculptural magnificence. The Lord here is in the sitting or asana, standing or sthanaka and reclining or sayana postures, all enshrined in one vertical plane.

Gandhi Museum Housed in the old Palace of Rani Mangammal, the Gandhi Museum depicts the highlights of the freedom struggle and contains a picture gallery of the Gandhian movement. Also to be seen are a gallery of relics, and the khadi and village industries section and south Indian handicrafts section.

Sri Aravindar Annai Trust and Meditation Centre It is located 9 kms south of Madurai at Thirunagar. It is dedicated to realising the ideal of Sri Aravindar and Sri Annai, that is Sri Aurobindo and mother. It is one of the oldest places of meditation in Madurai.

Ramakrishna Mutt The world-renowned Ramakrishna Mutt has a branch in Madurai. Yoga classes are conducted here once a week on Fridays Timings: Between 6.00 a.m. and 7.00 a.m.

Thirumohur There is a Vishnu Temple located here and it is 20 kms from Madurai and 3 kms from Othakkadi. The main deity of this temple is Kalamega Perumal or Thirumal and his consort Sembagavalli.

Thiruvathavur This Shiva temple is located 25 kms from Madurai and 5 kms. From Othakkadi. The presiding deities of this temple are Shiva and Parvathi. It is the birthplace of the famous poet Manikkavasagar.

Srivilliputhur

The Nayak kings constructed the Vatapatrasayi Temple at Srivilliputhur, but its story goes a long way back to the Pandya times, when moved by her devotion, Lord Krishna married the poetess-devotee, Andaal. There are shrines dedicated to Vatapatrasayi (Krishna) and Andaal in this temple, which has one of the most impressive gopurams in the south. Also noteworthy is the temple chariot, which is decorated with carvings from the scriptures. The chariot festival every year attracts a large number of devotees.

Palani The temple at Palani is one of the six abodes of lord Subramanya. Dedicated to Sri Dandyauthapani, and the temple is built atop a hill and can be reached either by climbing the steps or using a winch.During the festivals of Panguni Uthiram (during March-April) and Aadi Krithikai (during July-august), devotees carrying a "kaavadi" dance and walk their way up the hill from far and near to the temple.

Thirupparankundram Situated on the outskirts, just 8 kms to the south of Madurai Junction, this temple, dedicated to Lord Subramanya, has been a place of pilgrimage through the centuries. This temple is one of the six abodes of the Lord Muruga. Its innermost shrine is carved out of a single solid rock.

FESTIVALS

  • Float Festival - January/February.
  • Avanimoolom Festival - August/September.
  • Chitirai Festival -April/May
  • Govt. Chithirai Exhibition - April/May.
  • Madurai Meenakshi temple has festivals in all twelve Tamil months. 

Shopping in madurai

Popular items include silk and cotton sarees, jewellery and wood carvings.