Madurai Travel

About Madurai

Madurai is a remarkable City in Tamil Nadu, most famous for the 2500 year old Meenakshi Temple, Sangam Tamil Literature and the architectural marvel of Thirumalai Nayakar Palace. Chennai to Madurai is easily reachable as there are both trains and buses to Madurai. Read on for suggestions for Hotels in Madurai and what to see in Madurai.

Where is Madurai

Madurai is located along the banks of River Vaigai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  Madurai is easily accessible by Road and Train from other parts of India. Madurai also has a domestic airport and is well connected to all major Indian Cities.

Chennai to Madurai

Madurai is located 470 KMs away from Chennai.  

Chennai to Madurai by Train. There are 4 trains available from Chennai for Madurai everyday. Vaigai Express departs from Chennai Egmore at 120pm and arrives at Madurai at 925pm. Guruvayur Express leaves Chennai Egmore at 740am and reaches Madurai at 440pm. Tiruchendur Express also leaves from Chennai Egmore at 4pm and arrives at Madurai at 3am. Kanyakumari express departs Chennai Egmore at 530pm and reached Madurai at 150am.

Chennai to Madurai by Bus. Buses take about 8 hours to reach Madurai from Chennai via NH38. More than 60 buses ply between Chennai & Madurai daily. Some options are AC Volvo Seater from KPN leaving Chennai at 1pm to reach by 930 pm and costs Rs 800, Sleeper Buses of Sharma Travels which leaves at 10pm and reaches Madurai by 6am and costs Rs 500, AC Volvo seater of SRM which departs Chennai at 955 pm costing Rs 700 and  AC Sleeper from Shama Sunder Travels which leave Chennai at 1030 costing Rs 1200.

Chennai to Madurai by Flight. Spicejet has 2 flights SG303 that leaves Chennai at 505pm and lands in Madurai by 610pm and SG291 which departs Chennai at 830pm and arrives in Madurai by 930pm. Jetkonnect has a flight S23341 that leaves Chennai at 650am and lands in Madurai by 810am.

Hotel at Madurai

Heritage Madurai is a 5 Star Hotel that is a Heritage Hotel. You get a phenomenal experience of the grandeur of erstwhile Madurai if you are willing to pay for it! It is located in Melakkal Main Road and can be contacted at + (91) 452 2385455. Metropole Hotel is located on Melur Road and charges Rs 1450 for standard room. Contact no is +91452 422 22 22. Royal Court is opposite the Railway Station and charges Rs 2800 for standard single room. Contact no is +91452 435 66 66. Hotel Germanus on Arasaradi charges Rs2000 for a Single room and can be contacted at +91 - 452 - 4356999

What to see at Madurai

Madurai Meenakshi Temple

The Meenakshi Temple complex is one of the largest of its kind in India and one of the oldest too. It stands today as one of India’s great cultural and architectural landmarks. The temple was originally built by the early King Kulasekara Pandya 2500 years ago and was substantially expanded during the regime of Thirumalai Nayakar (1622/55 AD). The temple grew, with the contribution of each dynasty, into an enormous complex extending over an area of 65000 sq m. Lord Shiva in his incarnation as Sundareswarar and his fish eyed spouse Meenakshi are enshrined in this complex.

The temple complex has two shrines dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar surrounded by number of small shrines and grand pillared halls. The complex has 12 gopuras (towers) with figures of deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in vivid colors. The tallest being the Southern tower with a height of 170 ft.

Thirumalai Nayakar Palace

Thirumalai Nayakar Palace is situated about 1km from the Meenakshi temple in Madurai. Built by King Thirumalai Nayakar in 1636 AD with the help of an Italian Architect, Thirumalai Nayakar Palace served as the residence of the king. The palace is divided into two parts, Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa, which include the Royal residence, shrine, theatre, armory, quarters, pond and garden. Later the palace was destroyed by his grandson and the valuables were shifted to other places. The palace was partially restored by Lord Napier, the then Governor of Madras, in 1866.

Mariamman Teppakulam

Mariamman Teppakulam is situated about 5 km from Meenakshi Temple and it is one of the largest temple tanks in South India. The area of the tank and the island pavilion with a garden in the centre is approximately equal to the area of Meenakshi Temple.  Every year colorful float festival is held in the month of Jan/Feb to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai Nayakar, who built this tank. The deities of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed in a colorful float and taken around the tank. It is said that this float originated in the 17th and even today attracts huge number of people. The entire city wears a festive look and is worth a visit.

Thirupparankundram Temple

Thirupparankundram Temple is located 8 km south of Madurai Junction. This temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya and one of the most revered shrines in Tamil Nadu. It is believed that the marriage of Lord Subramanya and Devayani took place here and hence it is considered as a sacred place for marriages. This rock cut temple was built during 8th century AD by Pandya rulers. Later beautiful gopurams were added during the reign of Nayakars.  This rock cut temple contains inscriptions revealing the early history of the temple.

Alagar Koil

About 20 km from Madurai stands a celebrated Vishnu temple dedicated to Lord Alagar. The temple is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. The temple also contains beautiful carvings. According to Hindu mythology Lord Vishnu came to this place from his heavenly abode to give away Goddess Meenakshi in marriage to Lord Shiva. During the wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Meenakshi, Lord Alagar is carried in procession by the devotees to Madurai for the divine wedding ritual.

Pazamudhirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya is situated above Alagar Koil in the hills about 4 km away.

Gandhi Museum

Housed in the old palace of Rani Mangammal, the Gandhi Museum depicts the highlights of the freedom struggle and contains picture gallery of Gandhian movement. Madurai was selected as one among the places for setting up the memorial as several important decisions were made by Gandhiji during his visits to Madurai. It was during his visit to Madurai in 1921 he decided to give up his rich dressing pattern.  It was in Madurai again that the doors of Meenakshi Amman temple were thrown open to Harijans thus winning a battle against untouchability. Gandhiji visited the temple in 1946 along with the Harijans.

Nagamalai

Nagamalai is 10 km away from Madurai and is  famous for Samanar hill.  Jain saints were said to have stayed in the caves on the hill fearing persecution from the then rulers of Madurai. Many stone statues and artifacts are present in Nagamalai.

For my travelogue on other heritage wonders around the world visit Great Holiday Ideas. 

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