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Madurai

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An aerial view of Meenakshi amman temple from above the tree tops -- Madurai: The city of temples

Madurai (Tamil: மதுரை), formerly Madura, is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the banks of the river Vaigai, Madurai has been a major settlement for two millennia. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city was the capital of the Pandyan kingdom was initially at Korkai, around 600 BCE, and was later moved to Koodal (the present Madurai) during the reign of Nedunj Cheliyan I.

Madurai is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and Madurai Nayak kings in the Dravidian style of architecture. It is also one of India's most outstanding Hindu pilgrimage centres. Madurai is also called as City of Junction (Koodal nagaram), City of Jasmine (Malligai maanagar), Temple city (Koil maanagar), City that never sleeps (Thoonga nagaram) and City of four junctions (Naanmada koodal).

Understand[edit]

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India and was ruled by Pandya kings over most of its history. The city is famous for is rich heritage and promoting Tamil language through "Sangams". The city has been in existence since about 4th century B.C and is mentioned in ancient texts of Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Meenakshi Amman temple situated in the heart of the city is famous, and there are a number of temples in and around the city. The "Maha Kumbabhishekam" of the temple was performed in April 2009 after the renovation (re-painting) work on the gopurams (towers) of the temple. It is usually performed once every 14 years or more. There are numerous remarkable sculptures on the gopurams as well as inside the premises of the temple. Look out for the "yaali", a mythical creature similar to a dragon on the pillars in the 'pragaram' of the temple. Also, keep looking at the ceiling to catch a glimpse of the beautiful ancient paintings that adorn them.

Madurai is also an important transit point for travelers bound south and also a local commercial hub.

Festivals[edit]

Madurai is famous for the Chithrai Festival which takes place during mid April–May, during the Hindu month of Chithrai, when millions pour into the city for the carnival. The main events are:

  • Day 1: Flag hoisting, official start of festival
  • Day 8: Coronation of Meenakshi Amman
  • Day 9: Procession of the goddess
  • Day 10: Celestial wedding (Thirukalyanam) of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar
  • Day 11: Chariot procession (Ther Thiruvizhah)
  • Day 12: Float procession (Theppa Thiruvizhah)

Madurai is also famous for its yearly bull run "Jallikattu" which coincides with Pongal festival in the month of January.

Get in[edit]

Main modes of transport for travelers are by air and by train.

By air[edit]

Madurai has an airport served by domestic airlines and international airlines including:

The flights connect mainly to Mumbai, Hydrabad, Delhi and Chennai (Madras), but there are few direct flights to other major Indian cities. Air Pegasus has direct flights to Bangalore three days a week. Recently Madurai Airport has been declared as Immigration cum custom Airport and international connectivity has been established with Colombo by SpiceJet; Spicejet also flies daily to Dubai.

The airport is about 15 km from the city center off National Highway 47. It is best to hire a taxi from the airport from the counter in the arrival lounge or arrange for someone to meet you at the airport. For those who prefer to use public transport, you should take bus number 10A, which runs from the airport to the Periyar bus stand.

By train[edit]

Trains are the major mode of entry into the city. 1 Madurai Junction railway station (Tamil: மதுரை சந்திப்பு தொடருந்து நிலையம்) is centrally located and many facilities are accessible from there. Madurai is well connected by trains to many parts of India like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai (Bombay), and Delhi. A train journey from Chennai takes 8 to 10 hours and is the preferred railhead. Train tickets can be booked from Indian Railways' reservation centers or online from IRCTC. If you book through a travel agent, book through authorised agents only.

By road[edit]

Madurai is situated on National Highways NH-7, NH-45B, NH-49. Almost all of them are presently being upgraded to multi-lane ways as part of National highway development program. Travel from Chennai and Bangalore will take approximately 8-10 hours.

The city is well connected by buses to all major cities in Tamil Nadu via state government operated and private buses. Buses also ply from important cities in the neighboring states of Kerala (Ernakulam, Trivandram) and Karnataka (Bangalore, Mysore).

By water[edit]

Madurai is situated inland, and the Vaigai River which used to be overflowing with water is now dry. However, the nearest ports for entry are Chennai (450 km) and Tuticorin (160 km).

Get around[edit]

Getting around the city will be mostly by bus. The buses required to get around will all mostly be available in Periyar bus stand and you can also get an auto rickshaw (you should know to negotiate and bargain) or a cab or rent a car.

By bus[edit]

Local buses are run by the government and are safe to use. Travelling them is different as you get to see a lot of city while you are in the bus. However, they will be crowded during morning hours and evening hours as they will be crowded by the office-goers. Bus services are available even late at night, though the frequency is less. Please carry proper change to buy tickets. The friendly people are often more happy to help a foreigner find his/her way by giving directions. Just thank them and carry on. There are no queses in the bus stop. It is better to be familiar of the bus numbers that go to the place you need to be but if you aren't, there is always enquiries in the bus stand which will help you [they will not be visible unless you look for it]. You can ask the conductor of the bus, whether the bus you are boarding goes to where you need to go. If it is not the right one, he will help you. There will be different colors of the buses. Orange buses with yellow seats will be less crowded than the others. Remember, India is a country with high population, so if buses are crowded wait for another. You are in a foreign country so, keep a watch on your wallet. You have to be careful.

Madurai has 4 main bus-stands.

  • Periyar Bus stand - Exclusive local bus terminal, about 5 minutes walk from railway station. Commonly referred as "Periyar".
  • Shopping Complex bus stand - Right opposite to Periyar bus stand, often referred by the same name. Private inter-city buses depart from here.
  • Arapalayam bus stand - Some local buses and those bound west/northwest towards Theni, Dindigul, Coimbatore, Palani, Kodaikanal, Salem, Erode, Batlagundu or Vaththalakundu, Periyakulam depart from here.
  • Mattuthavani Integrated bus stand - Simply called Mattuthavani, and located in the outskirts about 10 km from Periyar bus stand. This is the location for long distance government buses and other places. Private buses also stop here.

All the bus-stands are interconnected by buses or you can hire an auto [Remember, you need to have knowledge of the real fare and you should also know how to bargain]

By car[edit]

It is as difficult to drive in certain cities of India like any other big city in the world, as traffic can be high and there needs to be improvement in the fineness of the roads too. Please see India article for more. However, taxis are abundant and you can book one from your hotel.

Average car rental rate in Madurai to go to places like Alagar Temple, Thiruparakundram Hill, Naicker Mahal, Palamudurcholai is ₹600-₹650. Beware of cheats as tourists are easily duped into paying more again like it happens anywhere else in the world.

One can move around by car in Madurai. There are many car rental companies [like taxi taxi, fasttrack, etc.] and private taxis available. Most hotels also offer cab services.

By Auto Rickshaws[edit]

Auto rickshaws are readily available in the city and they are not equipped with meters. As we saw before, bargain because it is very much possible that they will ask for more if they think you don't know much. Currently, a 5 km trip should cost about ₹70 by auto [susceptible to change; all credits to high inflation rate]

The rule of thumb rate is ₹10 per km of travel during day time and ₹15 per km during night. There are auto stands[a group of autos standing] alongside the roads. Hire one from them as they possibly are more aware about the locations.

See[edit]

Meenakshi Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple[edit]

By far the most common reason for visiting the city is the Meenakshi Amman Temple, also called the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi (considered a form of Parvati) with a sanctum for her consort, Sundareshwarar (or Siva). Actually, historically, the Sundereshwar shrine is the larger and older of the two temple complexes. The complex itself is a splendid example of the south Indian Dravida architectural idiom. Four immense gopurams or temple towers crown the gateways at each cardinal direction, easily visible from a distance. Each tower is encrusted with more than a thousand brilliantly painted sculptures depicting an assortment of mythological and auspicious themes. It is traditional to enter through the south gopuram and, unusually, worship the Goddess before her consort. Inside the shelter for shoe-storage, offering baskets of coconuts, bananas and incense are available in addition to images of the Goddess for home altars. Many pilgrims – particularly the men in black or orange sarongs who are devotees of the god Ayyappan – circumambulate the main temple itself in the prakara or space between the outer wall and main temple. In addition, snake shrines and an assortment of offices and classrooms of religious foundations are found here.

Within the temple, devotees line up for darshan or viewing of the deities. Non-Hindus are not permitted into the inner sancta of Meenakshi or Sundareshwarar; anyone who looks suspicious can and will be pulled out of line by attendants. However, there is an abundance of sculpture and painting accessible to all. In addition, the steps of the Pottramaraikulam or Golden Lotus Pond is open to all and is a common meeting place for inhabitants of the city, in addition to pilgrims and tourists. In ancient times, the sangam or assembly of poets was said to gather at this pool to judge the merits of new compositions, often by throwing the manuscripts into the pool itself. Those that sank were inferior while those that floated were worthy of praise and propagation.

There are many shops within the east gate, selling everything from plastic toys to bronze images of the Goddess. Be sure to bargain hard.

One can buy the special tickets at the counter [each ₹15] to get a special darshan, which is nothing but cutting short the line by at least a half. Do buy these tickets if you can see the queue after getting inside. After the first entrance there is another entrance and after that the entrance to the inner sanctum and after that the inner sanctum itself. You will not be able to see it but the line would be 2 hours long if you are in the general queue.

The temple is usually open 05:00–12:30 and 16:00–21:30.

To catch a glimpse of the beautiful night view of the temple and the city, one could try any of the rooftop restaurants at West Perumal Maistry Street, near the Railway Station. Don't miss the traditional snacks served fresh and attractively presented by street vendors around the temple after sunset.

Warning: Beware of guides, many of whom are or claim to be tailors, who offer to take you to vantage points outside the temple to get a better view. You will be lured into shops that have a very hard sell.

Other temples[edit]

  • Koodal Alagar Temple. Important Vaishnav Temple magnificent, has three stairs of the lord posture. Sitting posture of the lord (Main moola deity), one level up is a standing posture of the lord, and the 3rd level up is the lying down posture of the lord. The temple is a spectacular one. It is located in the heart of the city, one of the Divya Desams (108). Worshipped by "Alwars - Vasihnav Saints". Worth to see and worship.
  • Thiruparankundram. One of the important old Temple dedicated to Lord Muruga - Karthikeya located on a hillock approximately 8 km from the city. First Arupadai Veedu. References to this ancient temple are available in scriptures from 6th century AD (Paripadal). The temple interior is a huge rectangular chamber carved out of the hill, with side chambers housing various deities of Hindu religion approached via narrow passages. The Thiruparankundram temple is accessible via road from Madurai and has a railway station 1 km away. Most express trains do not stop there though.
  • Alagar Temple. Another Vaishnav temple Alagar Koil, 20 km away from the city located in the nearby hills. At the top of the hill is a natural stream from where the water is carried fresh daily by the temple priest for the Lord. Famous for Chittrai Festival (First Tamil month)/9April-May)-Summer Festival. The Lord is considered the brother of Meenakshi (Lordes Paravathi) given in wedding with Sundareshwar (Lord Shiva).
  • Pazhamudhir Solai. Near to Alagar Koil, important temple for Lord Karthikeya on the hills, of course inside of Solai - jungle. One of the six important temple for Lord Muruga - Karthikeya. This is a very large and beautiful temple. You can take an auto rickshaw from the Meenakshi temple to visit this temple for a charge of around ₹100 (2007). Regular bus service is offered by the Transport Corporation. There is an utsavam of the deity on a golden chariot at 7PM.

Other sites[edit]

  • Thirumalai Nayak Palace, East Market St (Less than 2km south east of the Sri Meenakshi Temple). The remains of the palace of the 17th century ruler Thirumalai Nayak who contributed extensively to the Meenakshi Temple. Only a small portion of the original structure which was four times as larger remains. There were originally two parts – Swargavilasa heavenly pavilion, meant for the King's harem and housing the darbar court, and the ranka vilasa, which was for the servants. Currently, entrance to the roof is prohibited due the renovation work being carried out by the Archaeological Department. They claim to finish work in 6 months. There is a sound and light show in the evening (both English & Tamil version of the show). There is also a museum, which houses not only the original portraits of Thirumalai naicker, but also unearthed stine carvings of the 17th century, along with many sculptures of Hindu gods like Brahma, Nataraja, Saraswati of the period. There is one rare painting on one of the pillars, which the Archaeological Department claim to have unearthed from one of the pillars. There is a painting hidden in every pillar, apparently. The other portion of the palace, Rankavilasam was demolished by Thirumalai Nayak's grandson. However, a small structure still remains known as "Ten pillars" or "Pathu Thoon" in Tamil. Sadly, these ten pillars of timeless beauty in Thirumalai Nayak are now surrounded by shops and residential houses. Also, irresponsible scribbling and name etching by tourists have spoiled the beauty of the pillars and monuments at the palace. Strict law enforcement and protection is needed urgently. Adjacent restroom is in shambles. ₹50 for foreigners and ₹10 for Indians.
  • Thirupparankundram. An Islamic Durgah (shrine) is located at the top of the hill, where the grave of an Islamic saint Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badushah shaheed Radiyallah Ta'al anhu, who came from Jeddah along with Hazrat Sulthan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Badushah of Madinah (now in Erwadi, Ramanathapuram district) during the early 13th century, is found. Irrespective of religion, people from all parts of Tamil Nadu and from Kerala visit this durgah. People who visit the Ervadi Durgah in Ramanathapuram district are supposed to visit this durgah. Many poems were written in praise of Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badhusha, by Syed Abdussalam Ibrahim Saalim Hazrat, the third in the list of Madurai Hazrats and his Maternal grandson Syed Abdus Salaam Ibrahim Saahib Hazrat. It is seen that people who come here with a wish see it answered in a very short time, and so He is also called Mustajab ad Du'aa Sikandhar Badhushah. Mustajab Ad Du'aa in Arabic means A saint whose Supplications are immediately answered by Allah. The Anniversary urus festival of Hazrat Sulthan Sikandar badusha Shaheed is commemorated on 17th Night of the Islamic Month of Rajab every Hijri year
  • Gandhi Museum (North side of the river in the palace of Rani Mangammal). 10AM - 13:00pm and 14:00pm - 18:00pm. This museum houses Gandhi's bloodstained dhoti and little else by way of artifacts. Those interested in the freedom struggle, though, will be interested in the extensive library housed here. The portrayal of freedom struggle is very inspiring and Indian tourists particularly students should consider visiting this place. Tamil speakers and long-term visitors may be interested in the classes and workshops offered in subjects as diverse as t'ai chi and local herbs. There is also a khadi bhavan (store selling village and handloom products) and bookstore, with (mostly Tamil) books on spiritual and natural health topics. Also located on the campus of the museum is a government museum (across from the library). free entrance.
  • Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara. This traditional mosque (masjid) is located at the heart of Madurai city, within 500 metres of the Periyar (Central) bus stand and within 1 kilometre South East of the Madurai Railway Junction. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, who came from Oman during 13th century, received this land from the then Panidiya king, Koo(n) Pandiyan, and constructed the mosque which is the first Muslims' place of worship in Madurai. Maqbara the dargah of famous Madurai Hazrats (Hazrat Meer Ahamad Ibrahim, Hazrat Meer Amjad Ibrahim and Hazrat Syed Abdus Salaam Ibrahim Rahmatullahi Alaihim) is also located inside the mosque premises. All of Kazi Syed Thajuddheen's descendants (Huqdars - shareholders of this mosque called as Syeds) have lived in the same locality (Kazimar street) for more than 700 years, and have managed the mosque since then. Syed Tajuddin was appointed as Kazi of the sultans, and still his descendants who live at Kazimar street, Madurai, are appointed as Kazis to the Government of Tamil Nadu.All Syeds belong to the Sunni sect of Islam and belong to Hanafi school of Islam. Most of the descendants of Kazi Syed Tajuddin are Khadiris and shadhilis and follow the Sufi order At-Thariqathu Khadiriya [dead link]Fassiyatush Shadhiliya.
  • Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam. A temple built in the middle of a man-made pond. Mariamman Teppakulam Famous for its float festival (teppa tiruvila) conducted during the Thai Poosam (falls in the second half of January). Popular story is that the spot was excavated for its soil to be used for building 17th Century king Tirumala Nayakkar's palace. The king had ordered excavated spot to be converted into a 16 acre lake fed from Vaigai river through under ground channels. The river itself boasts of water only during North-East Monsoon season (Oct-Nov) and hence the lake has water from Nov to Feb.
  • Gorippalayam Dargah. The name Gorippalayam comes from the Persian word Gor which means Grave. This area is called as Goripalayam because the Graves of the two famous saints of Islam and rulers of Madurai Hazrat Sulthan Alauddin Badusha (Radiyallah) and Hazrat Sulthan Shamsuddin Badhusha (Radiyallah) are located here. A beautiful green coloured tomb can be seen from the A.V.Bridge madurai, which is the Gorippalayam Dargah located in the northern banks of vaigai River. It is amazing to see that, the domb which is 70 feet in diameter and 20 feet in height is made of a single block of stone which was brought from the Azhaga Hills. People from all over Tamil Nadu come here to seek blessings and go back fruitfully. The two rulers were brothers who ruled the northern part of madurai after coming from oman during 13th century to spread Islam. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin Radiyallah of Kazimar street was Govt. Kazi (Islamic Legal advisor and jury) to them. An ancient Tamil inscription, can be found planted on the outer campus of the Maqbara of the dargah campus. The information found in that inscription is,

"The descendants of Sulthan Alauddin Badusha, and Sulthan Shamsuddin Badusha (called as Sultans of Delhi) purchased from the then King Koo(n) Pandiyan the land of Gorippalayam Dargah for a Feet of Gold piece and other six villages (namely Bibi Kulam, Chokkikulam, Cholikudi, Chirudoor, Kannanendal, Thiruppalai) at the rate of 14,000 Gold pieces for the maintenance of Gorippalayam Dargah. During the reign of King Veerappa nayakkar a dispute arose between the Huqdars of the Durgah and the employees of the Nayakkar Government regarding the six villages. The case was taken to King Veerappa Nayakkar, who inquired and verified the documents written by King Koo(n) Pandiyan and gave his verdict in the year 1573 A.D. as the Six villages and the Dargah land belongs to the Descendants of Sultans and it should be in their enjoyment till the existence of Sun and Moon and who violates this will be liable for the sin of slaughtering a cow in the bank of river Ganga."

This inscription is considered as one of the evidences to prove the existence of the Dargah since 13th century. The anniversary urus festival of this dargah is held on 15th night of the Islamic month of Rabi al-awwal on every hijri year.

Talk[edit]

Since Tamil is most widely spoken here, learning a few words of Tamil will make your stay easier.

Work[edit]

As with any place in India you should have a work permit. Madurai is not yet into IT boom, so the main activities are into business, banking, government, religion etc. Most of the other work is related to textile and other small scale industries. Paramount airways, a new private airlines, has its head quarters in Madurai. Honeywell Pvt Ltd has set up its development facility in Madurai, near Thiagarajar College of Engineering, approx 5km from the city. Majority of folks work in Government or Government based sectors (like nationalized banks, insurance firms etc.). Sizable number of people work for small and medium business establishments too. Madurai being a commercial center, is an active place to trade and exchange for agricultural products from surrounding towns and villages.

Buy[edit]

Madurai is a major commercial center in South India. The main activity is concentrated around the Meenakshi Temple. These are the places to visit for shopping, and actually many have specific markets for groceries (East Masi street), jewelry (South Avani Moola street), Electronics (Town hall road) etc. Madurai is famous for cotton Sungidi Sarees ( Hand Loom), Brass works, Tanjore Paintings, Handicrafts and antiques(check out the Khadi bhavan near Periyar bus stand). Pudumandapam is a small market place (about 500 years old) of sorts, where you can find tailors, books, handicrafts and bronze items in quaint shops. Handloom cotton sarees are available in co-operative stores (often a union of several weavers and/or looms) like Co-optex.

When you don't see a price tag on the item, don't give whatever the trader tells you.

ATMs of most nationalized banks are available in the city. There are private bank ATMs too. ATMs accept standard Visa, Mastercard, and Cirrus cards. There are many retail stores in the city where you can buy stuff and almost all of them accept cards (credit and debit). You also have the advantage of internet. Just Google if you need anything. There are a lot of websites providing you with addresses and locations of where you need to go. Use maps. They are highly indispensable.

Major banks accept foreign exchange, and you can walk into any branch to inquire. You will also find money exchangers in mid and high range hotels. The area around railway station also has commercial money changers available. With all of this, banks are highly advisable.

Eat[edit]

Coconut rice is very popular in Madurai.

The cuisine of Madurai inherits the true taste of Tamils. If you are a lover of non-vegetarian food, restaurants like Madurai Sri Muniyandi Vilas Dindigul briyani kadai can be tried. Madurai possesses its unique and exclusive foods like Paruthi paal, jigarthanda, panangkarkandu paal and chettinadu varieties like appam, and kuzhi paniyaram. Guide:

Atmosphere NNNN = Extremely noisy and crowded; NNN = Noisy and crowded; NN = Moderately noisy and crowded; N = Spacious and reduced noise level

Food type

[S] = Spicy; [H] = Hot (meaning: Garam); [T] = Tasty; [NV] = Non-vegetarian; [V] = Vegetarian; [J] = Jain food; [NVV] = Non-vegetarian and Vegetarian

There are a lot of restaurants but any guy from college knows how to have the best dinner at one of the "evening mutton stalls" for a pittance. The strong aroma of eye watering dishes is not for the faint-hearted. The next morning you will be reminded of your spicy escapades into culinary discovery. If spicy hot is not your cup of tea, your starting point should be with "Kotthu Parotta" without the gravy, chilies, or chili powder or pepper mixed in it. The music of the Kotthu ladles drumming on the flat hot plate of a charcoal-fired barbeque is nirvana to a hungry man's ears. The roadside eatery near the central bus stand branch office of KPN travels in the complex bus stand will test the immunity of your digestive system. (NNN, NV)

  • Hotel Kanna, 59 A Netaji Rd. Tasty biryani, parota, non-vegetarian dishes. Close to shopping. This hotel is famous for its mutton fry and fish.
  • Hotel Janakiram 1, Tamil Sangam Rd. Great non-vegetarian restaurant. Amazing service.
  • Hotel Janakiram 2, Tallakulam.
  • Hotel Janakiram 3, Goods Shed St. High class non-vegetarian restaurant. Fully air-conditioned. Authentic taste with good people.
  • Modern Restaurant, West Avani St (Behind the YMCA). $$/NN/[S]/[T]/[V] Great place to savor a traditional south Indian meal. They still serve the most authentic idly, dosa, pongal and kesari (as you would find in a traditional Iyengar household). Their clientele has boasted of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. Even till a few years ago, their walls were covered with photographs of who's who of India. ₹50 for the thali.
  • Jaffer's Home Biryani $/NN/[NV]/[T] Popular place for biryanis and side dishes. In the evening, they make parottas as well. Buses to Mattuthavani or Alagarkovil should take you to this place. The nearest bus stop is Evening Madurai Kamaraj Univ stop or Madurai Corporation Eco Park stop. The dining place is located on a small street opposite to the Thyagaraja Petrol Station.
  • Chappati Park $/NN/[V]/[T], nearby the K.K. Nagar Arch. As the name implies, the dining place is known for its variety with chappati (roti like item). They have creative stuffing for chappatis. Popular place for dinner. The nearest bus stop is K.K. Nagar Court (Neetheemandram). Head E if you get down at the above stop. Buses to Mattuthavani would take you to this place.
  • Hotel Sabarish $/NNNN/[V]/[T]/, Town Hall Road. A very popular dining place for dosas and uthappams. It is very nearby to the Madurai Railway Junction. If you head towards the Town Hall Rd from the Railway station, the hotel is situated nearby the second 4-road intersection. This is one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Madurai. Spare the crowd and noise, you are going to taste something unique and you can't forget it for a few months at least.
  • Hotel Amsavalli $$/NNN/[S]/[T]/[NV] In Nellpettai, serves mouth-watering chicken biriyani, and a variety of other delicious biriyanis that are a hit with those looking for good food on a budget. Great taste, very old and an authentic Madurai biriyani.
  • Hotel Meeenakshi Bhavan $$/NN/[V]/[T] Serves very good south Indian food. Also, the north Indian food is pretty good. But all hotels serve north Indian food only during dinnertime.
  • Hotel Harish $/NN/[V] South Masi Road. Pure veg restaurant. Excellent fast food items like pizzas and chat. It houses a bakery too.
  • New Ariya Bhavan, West Masi Street, it serves good Bombay/marwadi thali and south Indian thali. Also, it has some fine Bengali sweets in addition to local south Indian sweets and savories.
  • Murugan Idly Shop, West Masi Street. Exclusively for very soft Idlies. Also good for DOSAs and other south Indian food.
  • Hotel Aarthi [V], just behind to Koodal Alagar Temple, near town bus stand. Serves good and safe food of South Indian and Continental dishes.

However, dinner options are limited.

Try the hot "raw banana bhajia' or Kela Bhajia or valakkai bhajji Tamil. Be wary of drinking water, better to buy water bottles with seals.

  • Vaigai mess, out post Tallakulam (Opposite to Canara Bank ATM which is on the way to K.K. Nagar), +91 9789547957. A first class non-veg hotel. It is popular in the noon. you can have your lunch there. Chicken biriyani, mutton biriyani are famous there. Fish fry, mutton fry, chicken fry and a lot of spicy dishes to taste.
  • Konar Kadai, Near Railway Station & Tamil Changam Rd. Non-vegetarian. taste is very good
  • The banyan, Heritage madurai hotel (next to fenner), +91 452 2385455. 24. Geoffery Bawa designed this hotel so the restaurant faces the old banyan tree and has a lot of daylight. The food is delighfully moderate on both price and spices! They offer Indian and continental menus. The staff speaks English , its probably the best place to eat quality food in Madurai ₹400.
  • Arul Anandam Mess (near vilakku thoon). Quality non-vegetarian dishes at reasonable prices.
  • Taj Restaurant, Town Hall Rd. Quality non-vegetarian restaurant catering to foreign tourists.
  • Chetty Nadu mess $$/NN/[S]/[T]/[NV] is the famous mess and serving more than 45 years in Madurai, it is popular for its tasty foods includes Ayirai, Keluthi fishes and prawn fry, and Nandu boneless. It is located in Thiyagi Thayammal Lane, North Avani Moola Street (near Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple North Tower).
  • Amma Mess, 125 Alagar Kovil Road , Tallakulam, Madurai 625002 (Located at Tallakulam, it is at a equal distance from Tamukkam post office bus stop as well as Tallakulam perumal kovil bus stop. If you alite at the former, head north east else head South West if latter. Buses to Mattuthavani should take you to this place.). Amma (Tamil for mother). This mess (restaurant) is a popular among the locals residents and those travelling from neighboring cities. Their lunch is very popular. Don't miss their speciality dishes like rabbit biriyani, dove biriyani, crab omelette and bone marrow omelette.

Drink[edit]

Try the tender coconut drink. The tender coconut drink is sold by roadside sellers on their tricycles parked under the shade of a tree. Tea shops are always around the corner. Madurai is famous for its unique drink "Jigardanda". Try having Jigarthanda in the "Famous Jigarthanda" store in the Vilakkuthoon ( This shop is the on the way from Meenakshi Temple to Thirumalai Naicker Palace).

Alcohol is served in up-market hotels and it is advised to avoid other places for a drink.

  • Saraswathi Mess, Town hall Rd (near peruma Teppakulam).

Sleep[edit]

There are many hotels around railway station, particularly on the streets coming off West Tower St as you walk away from the station and towards the temple. The more luxurious ones are situated a little further from the station.

Budget[edit]

  • Sree Devi, 20 West Avani Moola St (Near Shri Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar Temple), +91 452-2600883, +91 452-2347431. Check-out: 24 hours. Nice, clean hotel with lots of rooms. Due to its value for money and its spotless non-a/c double rooms, it is always filled with foreign tourists. Located next to the temple, their a/c double rooftop rooms have matchless view over the western gopuram. They don’t have an in-house restaurant, but they will order in food and beer for you. Great location and lovely view of temples from the roof. Update Mar 2012: Not so clean and don't even provide soaps and towels. Blankets at extra cost which are OK. single: ₹450.
  • College House (Near Railway Station). Also a popular landmark. A no frills, neatly maintained place.
  • M.M Lodge, town hall Rd (Opposite to Railway Station), +91 9791392717. ₹200.
  • Hotel Sethu Tower, 35 Nanmai Tharuvar Kovil St (No Nethaji Road), +91 452 2343326.
  • TM House, Perumal veli street. Claims to be cost effective, safe & comfortable.
  • Hotel Aarathi , Ph: 0452 2331571 / 2336341, Just behind the Koodal Azhakar Temple. Safe & comfortable. You can enjoy good viewing of the pictorial temple towers from the room or roof top of the hotel.
  • Hotel Pearls, West Pedrumal Mainstry St (Five minutes' walk from the Railway Station.), +91 452 2341566. ₹800.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Meenakshi’s Sunshine Hotel, # 14 Meenakshi Mission Road, Lake Area, Madurai 625107 (It’s outside Madurai but only 10 minutes by auto rickshaw. Located in a quiet and calm neighborhood, on the outskirts, overlooking the tranquil waters of the Sundaram park lake about 10 minutes from Meenakshi temple, 15 minutes from the Railway Station, a 20 minute drive from Madurai Airport and the Mattuthavani Bus Stand is 2 minutes away), +91 452 4524444, e-mail: . Check-in: 24 hours, check-out: 24 hours. The Sunshine hotel has good size well designed rooms, well laid out, working lifts, working fast Wi-Fi and good room service. The restaurant is not bad, but the room service has a much better choice and is reasonably priced. The included buffet breakfast had lots of choice and was very good. The front desk staff were excellent always helpful and efficient. Unless you need to stay in the centre of the city this is the hotel for Madurai. They offer complimentary temple drop to the Meenakshi temple.
  • Hotel Supreme, 110, West perumal maistry ttreet, Madurai 625 001 (12 Km from the airport, 2 minutes walk from railway station and bus terminus), +91 452 2343151, +91 452 3012222, e-mail: . Check-in: 24 Hours, check-out: 24 Hours. Established in 1988, it has the very first roof top restaurant, the only hi-tech spaceship bar in the city. The hotel celebrates a 'dosa festival' in Jan/Feb, featuring South Indian cuisine. There are suite, super deluxe, deluxe, duplex a/c & non a/c rooms, a total of 69 rooms. For the best night view of the city and the temple, take this place.
  • Hotel North Gate, Opposite to American College, Goripalayam, Madurai 625002 (Although it is a bit far from the railway station, but not too far from other main regions in Madurai.), +91 452 2523030-0452 4383030, e-mail: . The rooms are of fairly good size, though the front side rooms over looking the road are bit noisy. The cleanliness of the rooms and bathroom is very good. The room service is fast. The roof garden restaurant with kebabs in the evening with city view is good, but the food is bit spicy. The complimentary breakfast had nice tasty south Indian and continental food. The basement car parking at rear side was not convenient, but valet parking helped.
  • Hotel Rathna Residency, 109, West Perumal Maistry Street, Madurai 625001 (Very Close to Railway Station & Central Bus Stand, Walkable Distance to Meenakshi Amman Temple), +91 452 4374444, +91 452 3050501, +91 452 4371912, e-mail: . Check-in: 24 Hours, check-out: 24 Hours. This hotel is close to the station and to other hotels and restaurants, with a bar and rooftop terrace, usually filled with smoking foreigners. Genuine 24 hour charging period. About cleanliness of the room and bathroom- they were spotless, towels, toilet paper, bathroom products all provided. The room does smell of stale cigarette smoke. Some say third floor rooms are better than the rest. Not sure about car park. Staff extremely helpful and the complimentary Indian breakfasts are plentiful and delicious. Rooms ₹900 Onwards.

Splurge[edit]

  • 1 [dead link]Hotel Chentoor, 106 West Perumal Maistry St (Near the railway station), +91-4523042222, fax: +91-4523012765, e-mail: . Check-in: 24 hours. Hotel located not far to Shri Meenaski. Hot water and TV are available. Restaurant on the top of the hotel with a nice view on the town and the temple. From ₹1350 to ₹3500.
  • Pandiyan Hotels. Alagar Koil Road, Madurai-2 (Starting from ₹2000)
  • 2 [dead link]Hotel Sangam, Alagarkoil Road, Madurai 625002 (14 Km from the airport and 5 Km from the railway station), +91 452 4244555-2537531, e-mail: . Check-in: 12 Noon, check-out: 12 Noon. The hotel is part of the network, Sangam hotels are also in Trichy and Thanjavur. The Sangam is situated away from the centre of Madurai but in a good location. It is really a 4 star hotel with good service and friendly staff. The rooms are clean and well maintained. Restaurant is good and prices are reasonable. Also the breakfast in the morning has a good spread right from the south Indian variety to the continental food. Neat and clean swimming pool and also the place overall has a welcoming look and which makes your stay really comfortable. Choose rooms above the ground floor and which face the back side of the hotel. Very quiet. ₹5700 Onwards.
  • 3 The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai (Formally Taj Garden Retreat), No. 40 TPK Road (It is 15 km from the airport, 6 km from the railway station and 15 minutes drive from the city centre), +91 452 2371601-6633000, e-mail: . Perched atop the Pasumalai hill, amid 62 acres of peaceful, landscaped gardens, this hotel has 63 chalet-style centrally air-conditioned rooms. High-speed Internet & Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel. There is large banquet hall for 500 guests and smaller conference rooms for meetings of 20. Starting from ₹6000 or 110+ US$.
  • 4 Regency Madurai by GRT Hotels, 38 Madukkulam Main Rd, Palanganatham (Just a short drive from the Meenakshiamman temple / Thirumalai naickar mahal and 15 minutes drive from the airport.), +91 452 2371155, e-mail: . Check-in: 12 Noon, check-out: 12 Noon. Its a 3/4 star Hotel. The staffs are cordial both the breakfast and dinner buffet are nice. The rooms are a little old fashioned but clean. Free Wi-Fi throughout good. Pool is clean and the bar ok. Beer is pricy. Starting from ₹4500 or US 100$ upwards.
  • 5 Hotel Germanus (Formerly Best Western), 28, By Pass Road (Located on the by-pass road, two km from the railway station,14 Km from the airport and a 10 Km drive from the Meenakshiamman temple and the city’s business centre.), +91 452 4356999. Check-in: 24 Hours, check-out: 24 Hours. Hotel Germanus is one of the old 5 star hotels. It used to be one of the best hotels in Madurai until some time ago. The rooms are functional, comfortable, not spacious though, but acceptable. But for ₹3000+ standard single per night in Madurai one expects more. It’s now comparable only to a Mid- Budget hotel. The complimentary buffet breakfast included idlis, vadas, parathas and eggs to order, is quite ample but not tasty. The view from the rooftop is simply amazing. You can catch the glimpse of the Meenakshi Amman Temple from here. ₹3000 upwards.
  • 6 Heritage Madurai, 11, Melakkal Main Road, Kochadai (Next to Fenner factory. Taxis are limited in this part of town, thererfore one has to depend on auto rikshaws for transportation), +91 452 2385455-3244185, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. The major part of this property is the result of the conversion of what was originally company accommodation, then a British club, into a hotel complex. Some newer rooms and facilities have been added. The basic rooms are in 2-storey blocks of around 6 units. Each room is very spacious; they have business class rooms and the luxury villas with plunge pool and a huge bathroom is really unique. The food, which is good in choice, presentation and quality, however, the bar is surprisingly average. Very good service and all the amenities of a modern hotel. Starting from ₹3500 upwards to ₹8000.

Connect[edit]

Landline phones and mobile phones are available throughout the city, and services are like anywhere in India. Broadband is also available from various providers. Internet cafes are dotted all around the city and it will cost from ₹15-₹30 per hour. Prominent cybercafé chains like i-Way and Reliance Webworld are also available.

Wi-fi access is very limited and is available at the airport, railway station and a few hotels.

There are many post offices and couriers available in the city. The main GPO is located near Meenakshi Bazaar, about 10 minutes walk from railway station.

The international dialing code for Madurai is +91-452

The STD code for dialing within India is 0452

Stay safe[edit]

Madurai is a relatively safe place and the city stays awake through night to do business. But, there is no such nightlife in Madurai and it is better not to wander/shop during night time. There have been incidences of violence in the past, though it is extremely rare to affect the common man. Be aware of touts and pick-pockets, and do not hesitate to contact local police in case of trouble. Emergency contact numbers are displayed at many prominent places in the city. Also, Madurai is a politically active area for many parties, so it is not unusual to face traffic diversions, shop shutdowns etc. in case of an occasion.

Women are advised not to wear extreme (provocative) clothes during any time.

Stay healthy[edit]

Water is supplied by the Madurai Corporation. But it is advised to drink bottled water, which is available everywhere.

The local food served in restaurants are hygienic however it is best avoided eating at roadside eateries.

The city can get hot and dusty during peak summer, hence drink lot of fluids like coconut water.

There are sufficient medical shops and nearly all major medications are available, but do bring the ones you use regularly.

Petty theft and pick-pocketing occur in crowded locations, so take caution with your belongings. Incidences of mugging though are quite rare. It is safe to hire an auto to get around, but exhibit caution at night. There have been stray occurrences of auto-drivers mugging the passengers, though this is extremely rare. As usual be aware of touts and cheats at places of interest.

Hospitals[edit]

Below is a list of major hospitals in Madurai

Cope[edit]

Emergency phone numbers[edit]

Emergency phone numbers are displayed in various prominent locations is the city. Landlines number in case of emergency:

  • Emergency police: 100
  • Emergency Fire: 101
  • Emergency Traffic: 103
  • Emergency Ambulance: 108 (Government Rajaji Hospital)
  • Railway enquiry: 131
  • Maattuthaavani Bus Stand:
  • Government Rajaji Hospital blood bank: 2532535, 2580680
  • Apollo emergency ambulance services: 1066

Respect[edit]

The people of Madurai are proud of their city and heritage, so jokes on it are mostly not tolerated. Refrain from making jokes about a person or his family, as it could be disastrous sometimes. The most accepted way of greeting is "Vanakkam" with hands folded at chest level. The locals are of friendly sort who will help you in times of need, but beware of touts.

Go next[edit]

Madurai is an ideal hub for touring the extreme south of India. Most places are accessible within a day's travel by bus or train. Prominent destinations near Madurai include Kodaikanal, Munnar, Rameswaram, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Thekkady and Kuttralam. On the way from Kodaikanal to Madurai, you can visit many important historical places of interest and picnic spots near Vaththalakundu like Manjalar Dam, Siddhar Malai, Peranai dam. There are also many temples like Sendrayaperumal Temple in Old-Batalagundu, Anjaneyar Temple in Anapatti, Kamakshiamman Temple in Devadanapatti, Kasi Visalakshi-Vishwanathar Temple in Kunnuvarankottai or Kannapatti.

  • Palani - Palani Andavar Temple - Famous temple of Lord Murugan or Karthik
This city travel guide to Madurai is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.