Madurai: The city of Jasmine, or Temple City, is known for its Dravidian-style architecture. Madurai is often described as ‘the city that never sleeps‘ by locals.
It has ancient structures and many temples that are enough to drive back the modern skyscrapers. The famous Meenakshi temple is the heart of Madurai city and there are many other temples around the city.
The ancient traditional Tamilian structures are the fascination of Madurai. These structures were built by the Pandyans and Madurai Nayak kings. With many outstanding temples, Madurai is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centres. Madurai is famous for its Chithrai Festival, which falls from mid-April to May.
Places to Visit in Madurai
1. Meenakshi Amman Temple
Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundaraswarar Temple, also known as Arulmigu Meenakshi Amman Thirukkovil, is located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River. It is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi (Parvati ji) and Sundaraswarar (Shiv ji). The ancient temple is in the Tamil Sangam literature, with the goddess temple mentioned in the 6th century CE text.
The restored structure now has 14 intricately carved gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 4550 meters in height, with the southern gopuram tallest at 51.9 meters. It also has sculpted pillar halls like Ayirakkal (a 1000-pillared hall), Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam and Pudu-mandapam.
Temple Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Check out our blog on Meenakshi Amman Temple for other details like timings, dress code and more.
2. The Koodal Azhagar Temple
Koodal Azhagar, also known as Koodal Alagiya Perumal, where ‘Koodal’ is another word for Madurai and ‘Azhagar’ is another word for ‘The Beautiful One’. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu as Koodal Azhagar and his consort Devi Laxmi as Madhuravalli towards the south.
Also, there are many small shrines of other gods and goddesses, like Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Maa Lakshmi and Lord Narayana.
There are 108 of Lord Vishnu’s holy abodes (Divyadesams) and this temple is one of them. It has a five-tiered rajagopuram, which is the gateway and is one of the most adorned Dravidian styles of architecture.
All the shrines in the temple are made of granite. Brilliant inscriptions denote the lavish gifts the temple received during the construction stage.
On Masi Magam Day, there is a 10-day boat festival celebration, which is one of the best times to visit. Other small festivals like Garuda Seva, Celestial Wedding Festival, Adyayana Utsava, Navarathri Festival, Vasantha Utsava, etc. are also celebrated here.
Temple Timings: 5:30 AM to 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM
3. Inmaiyil Nanmai Tharuvar Temple
It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is called ‘Bhookal Kailash’ or ‘Kailash on Earth’. Here in the Inmaiyil Nanmai Tharuvar Temple, Shiva and Parvati are seated behind the Lingam. People ask for forgiveness of their sins and pray for leadership and related jobs.
The Shiv Lingam here is magnificent, as only in this temple, devotees get the darshan from the back view of Lingam as it faces the west direction and Shiva and Parvati are established behind it. Festivals like Maha Shivratri and Brahmmotsavam are celebrated here around February and March.
Temple Timings: 6:15 AM to 11:30 PM and 4:30 PM to 9:30 PM
4. Azhagar Kovil Temple
Azhagar Kovil Temple, also known as Alagar Koil, where the hills here are named after the Alagar, the other name of Lord Vishnu here, is a famous south Indian temple famous for its beautiful carvings and mandapams. It is situated 21km away from Madurai. It has a huge, five-story-tall Gopuram.
The Chakarat Azhvar, a god with 16 hands and 16 weapons but without a Narshimha on its top, is the main feature of the temple. The temple has magnificent halls where people perform various ceremonies with holy mantras that increase the serenity of the temple. The best time to visit this temple is during the Chithirai festival, which runs from April to May.
Temple Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM to 8:00 PM
5. Vandiyur Mariamman Temple
Vandiyur Mariamman Theppakulam, located close to the river Vaigai, around 3km from the Meenakshi temple, is devoted to Mariamman, who is the goddess of rain. Theppakulam means the temple pond here, which is directly connected to the river Vaigai through underground tunnels. The water is used for temple rituals.
There is a Ganesha temple in the centre and there is a mandapam here in the pond. The 10-day Float festival is celebrated here along with other small festivals and comes in January or February to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai Nayak, who built this tank. It is one of the most famous places to visit in Madurai.
Temple Timings: 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM
6. Tirupparam Kunram Murugan Temple
Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan, or Lord Subrahmanya, also known as Arupadai Veedu, who is the God of War and also the son of Lord Shiva. The deity idols are carved from rocks and were built by Pandyan and Nayakar rulers around the 8th century.
Here, Lord Muruga married the daughter of Lord Indra, Devi Devsena. That’s why it is considered the most auspicious place for marriage. The temple has separate shrines for Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Devi Durga, Lord Vinayaka and other Hindu deities.
The unique thing is that here the idols of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu face each other. The other special thing is that one can see the sun and the moon together from this place. Pankuni Uttiram, the festival of marriage held in late March, is celebrated here.
Temple Timings: 5:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM
7. Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace
This architecture is a blend of Dravidian and Islamic styles and was built by King Thirumalai Nayak under the guidance of an Italian architect around the 17th century. This palace was declared a national monument after independence. There is a splendid light and sound show everyone must watch. Thus it is one of the best tourist places to visit in Madurai. The details are here.
Palace Timings: 9:00 AM to 5.00 PM, with a break from 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM
English show: 6:45 PM to 7:35 PM Tamil show: 8:00 PM to 8.50 PM
Price Adults: INR 50 Kids or Students: INR 25
8. The Gandhi Memorial Museum
The Gandhi Memorial Museum was built inside the historical palace of Rani Mangammal from the Nayak dynasty in 1670 A.D. Then the palace was converted into a museum detailing India’s freedom fighters and opened to the public in 1959.
Here, it will take you back in time by viewing Gandhiji’s pre-independence struggle, including photos, photocopies, quotations, manuscripts of letters and other articles. The blood-stained dhoti of Gandhiji is also displayed there.
Museum Timings: 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM 2:00 PM to 5:45 PM (Closed on Friday)
9. Samanar Hills
Samanar Hills, or Samanar Malai, is one of the most beautiful places everyone must visit while travelling to Madurai. The other beautiful attraction here is the Lotus Temple, situated on the premises.
Samanar Hills, located in Keelakuyilkudi village near Madurai, is a beautiful hill rock complex that was originally the home of Tamil Jain monks and Tamil Brahmins over 2000 years ago.
It is declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. It has inscriptions and carvings on the interior wall, shedding light on the lives of the monks.
Ways to Reach Madurai
Madurai is well connected with other cities. The nearest one is 6 km from the city. You can book AC or non-AC vehicles, cabs, or autorickshaws while visiting. It has good connectivity, so transportation is not a problem here.
The nearest railway station is Madurai Junction (1 km). Otherwise, you can travel to Chennai station, which links you to other parts of India. The local train runs daily from Chennai to Madurai.
The nearest airport is Madurai Air Port (10 km). Chennai Airport is the nearest international airport from where you can take your international flights.
Where to Stay
If you like places to visit in Madurai and want to night stay there you can easily find affordable stays. For your convenience, it would be better to plan your stay at Hotels accordingly.
Here are some available options.
- Shree Madhura Gujarati Samaj
- Hotel Bhoopathi (Near Temple)
- M R Residency Madurai
- Hotel International Madurai
Madurai is famous for its historical architecture, temples, sarees, vibrant festivals and many more.
If you want to spend a day in Madurai, you can visit Meenakshi Amman Temple, Koodal Azhagar Koil, Imayil Nanmai Tharuvar Koil, Thiruparankundram Murugan Koil, Thirumalai Nayak Palace, Gandhi Memorial Museum and Teppakulam Mariamman.
While visiting Madurai, one can enjoy attractive places like Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, Vaigai Dam, Samanar Hills, Meghamalai, Gandhi Museum, Athisayam Water Park, etc.