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Madurai

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450px-Meenakshi Temple Gopuram at dusk

Tower of Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, India


Madurai along with the two other cities, namely, Trichy (Tiruchirapalli) and Thanjavur form a sort of golden triangle of the ancient and to a large extent the contemporary Tamil culture and civilization. Madurai, situated on the bank of the river Vaigai, in central parts of the Indian state of Tamilnadu, has a recorded history of more than two millennia. During its long history, the city has witnessed numerous kings and queens, and rise and fall of many kingdoms. Megasthenes, a Greek envoy who visited India in the 3rd Century BC has described Madurai in detail in his work Indica. Several references indicate that by 550 AD Madurai was a thriving cultural and trading center. Centuries rolled by and Madurai continued to prosper and thrive, and it reached its heights of splendour and glory during the reigns of the Cholas, and finally the Pandyas in the 13th century.

Presiding deities of Madurai are enshrined in the Meenakshi temple, which is a living example of Indian temple art and architecture. The place where the Meenakshi temple stands was most likely a place of devotion for ages, and the city developed around this place and the temple. The temple is a sprawling complex, and the stone statues and carvings explore the entire gamut of the human emotions.

Currently, Madurai is the third largest city of Tamilnadu. The city with a population exceeding 1.2 million covers an area of around 23 km2. The people of Madurai are soft-spoken and well cultured, and caring for the visitors.


Tips for: backpackersbusiness travelersluxury/exotic travelhitchhikersfamiliesseniorsLBG travelerspet owners

Hotels and lodging

  • GRT Regency, 38,Madakulam Main Road, Palanganatham, Madurai-03,
Tel: 0452-2371155, Fax:0452-2371888 (E-mail- mail@grtregency.com)
  • Madurai Tamil Nadu, Best Western Germanus, 28, Bypass Road, Madurai – 625 010,
Tel: 0452-2382001-7, Fax: 0452-2381478, 84 Rooms, Rs. 1400-3500 approx
  • Hotel International: 46, West Perumal Maistry Street, Madurai – 625 001,
Tel: 0452-5377463/5377364, 34 Rooms, Rs. 170-499 approx
  • M. R. Int’I: 61-62, Dhanappa Mudali Street Madurai – 625 001,
Tel: 0452-2348201 (4 Lines), Fax: 0452-2347423, 48 Rooms, Rs. 350-800 approx
  • Hotel Sangam, Alagar Koil Road, Madurai – 625 002,
Tel: 91-0452-2537531/2537532, Fax: 91-0452-2537530 (E-mail: hotelsangam@vsnl.com)

Attractions

Madurai along with the cities of Trichy and Thanjavur of Tamilnadu state of India forms a golden triangle where the cultural heritage of South India took shape and where a tourist may find numerous places to of interest. Madurai is known as a temple city, and there are many interesting places in and an around Madurai. Some of such places are:

  • Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is the heart of Madurai. The enormous temple complex covers an area of about 65,000 sq metres, and is one of the most famous and most visited temples of India.
  • Alagar Koil is about 21 km from Madurai and is located atop a hill with beautiful natural environment. A Hindu temple gives a devotional touch to the surroundings.
  • Kumbakkarai Water Falls is a picnic spot about 6 km away from Madurai. The place serves as a base camp for trekkers going up the nearby hills named Kodai Hill.

Shopping

Over centuries Madurai has retained its position as a textile center though basically it is known as the city of temple. The streets around the main temple of the city, Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, have many shops selling textile products. There are many tailors who would stitch a new dress within two-to-three hours during which you may pass your time visiting the sprawling temple complex. Madurai would certainly the place to buy some cottons and batiks, and you may do so from Puthu Manadapam Market, as also from many other shops. Madurai silk is also famous.

You may also find many handicrafts articles of wood, brass, copper and mixed metals. Ethnically crafted gold and silver ornaments are also good buys. You should prefer government run emporiums while buying. In case, you find something which catches your fancy at some pavement stall(s), you should Bargain & Buy as these vendors quote very high prices and reduce the same as the bargaining progresses.

Maps and transportation

Getting to Madurai

Exploring Madurai

Practical information and resources

  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Electric supply: 220 Volts
  • Time zone: Indian Standard Time (IST), which is UTC +5:30
  • Language: Tamil and Hindi. One can also manage with Simple English.

Restaurants

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Nightlife

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