Madurai is the second 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. 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 centers. Madurai is also called as City of Junction, City of Jasmine flower, Temple city, City that never sleeps. 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.
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Best Time to Visit
By far, the most common reason for visiting the city is the Meenakshi Temple. Dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi (considered a form of Parvati) with a sanctum for her consort, Sundareshwarar (or Siva). Actually, historically, the Sundareshwarar 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. Within the temple, devotees line up for darshan or viewing of the deities. Please note, however, that 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. Timings: The temple is usually open between 0500hrs and 12.30hrs and again between 1600 Hrs and 21.30 hrs.
The flower market offers the many varieties of flowers especially Jasmine are exported to other parts of India as well as to countries like Germany, America and Italy. The jasmine of Madurai is at the top of the list because of its unique fragrance that is not found anywhere else. In Madurai, the jasmine flower is known as the Madurai malli. Though jasmine is the most popular flower in the flower market, other varieties of flowers are also available in the flower market of Madurai. For jasmine and rose, the Madurai flower market has also received an International Recognition as both of these flowers are extensively used in the fragrance industry. The fashion house of Dior visits the Madurai Flower Market each year just to get a motivation. It also uses these fragrances in its perfume creations. So, if you want to see different kinds of flowers in Madurai, then get up early morning and be here at the flower market. It is located between Central Market and the Maatuthavani Bus stand. You can take any inbound bus or hire a cab to reach the flower market.
Munnar (155 Kms)
The popular hill station
Periyar National Park (90 Kms)
Periyar is a protected area, and a nature reserve in the South Indian State of Kerala, set high in the mountains of the Western Ghats at the border to Tamil Nadu.