Tamil Nadu travel guide will takes you to another temple city of South India. Madurai is the second largest city of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is famous for its temples, especially for the celebrated Meenakshi Temple. Situated on the banks of river Vaigai, it derives its name from the divine nectar (Madhu) that was showered from the locks of Lord Shiva according to a popular legend. The city has a rich cultural heritage which it has inherited from the great Tamil era, which is more than 2500 years old. Once the capital of the great Pandya kings, Madurai was an important cultural and commercial center even as early as 550 AD.
Today, Madurai is a well-known producer of some of the finest textiles in India and some of the best harvests of jasmine flowers. The city of Madurai is also mentioned in Megasthenes' Indica. He was an ancient Greek diplomat and envoy to India in the 3rd century BC , who wrote praises about this temple city. Madurai's glory reached its peak, during the reign of the Cholas and then during the Pandyas' regime in the 13th century.
Shopping at Madurai can be fun, here you can buy cotton and batiks, for which Madurai is famous. The Prithu Mandapam Market is a famous market of Maduari, situated just inside the eastern entrance of the Meenakshi Temple. Let yourself relax and visit the Pottramarai tank to feel the essence of Maduari.
Madurai travel offer a number excursion options, which are exciting and intriguing. Some of the important ones are Vaigai Dam situated at a distance of 69 km, on the way to Thekkady. It is a beautiful picnic spot and is popular with the tourists and locals alike. Situated in the Western Ghats at a height of 2,130 m above sea level, Kodaikanal is a picturesque hill station. It is about 120 kms away from Madurai. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at a distance of 155 km from Madurai. The sanctuary is famous as the natural habitat for a wide variety of animals.
Meenakshi temple in Madurai
Attractions and Places to Visit in Madurai
The ancient and historical city of Madurai has many places that pulls tourists from all over the world and makes it one of the most travel destinatiions in South India. Among the most famous attractions at Madurai, is the Meenakshi Amman Temple, where the main deities are Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva. The temple has 985 beautifully sculptured pillars, forming the Thousand Pillar Mandapam Hall. It has also been the center of Tamil art, music and dance.
The Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is another prime attraction in Madurai. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vigneshwara. This temple is also the host of the annual float festival celebrated in the months of January and February. Thirupparankundram, situated 6 kms southwest of Madurai, is a small town known for its sacred granite hill. This place is regarded as one of the six dwellings of Lord Subramaniyam.
There is also a cave temple and a rock cut temple built by the Pandyas in the 8th century. Besides these attractions, Munnar, Thekkadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Palani Hills are other places of interest around Madurai.
How to Reach Madurai
By Air : Madurai has its own airport situated 10 kms away from the city. There are daily flights to Madurai from Chennai, Bangalore, Tiruchi & Coimbatore.
By Rail : Madurai is an important railway junction of the Southern Railway and is directly connected to Chennai and Tirunelveli. Madurai is on the Madurai-Tiruchirappalli-Dindigul-Quilon route.
By Road : The city has excellent roads connecting Madurai to all parts of South India. It has 5 Major bus stand.