A colourful, vibrant city packed with pilgrims, vendors, sacred cows, rickshaws, shops and markets, Madurai in the state of Tamil Nadu is one of South India’s oldest cities. Tamil and Greek documents record its existence as early as the 4th century BC. A succession of power struggles and invasions ensued, with the British East India Company finally gaining power over Madurai. Today, its appealingly small size makes it easy to explore and its main attraction - the Sri Meenakshi Temple is a real draw.
Gopurams cover the temple from top to bottom and there is a breathtakingly colourful profusion of gods, goddesses, beasts and mythical images. Designed in 1560, within the temple complex is the Temple Art Museum, which houses one of the best Hindu deity exhibits along with brass images and friezes.
Another place of interest is the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, a graceful palace built in Indo-Saracenic style in 1636. Today, only the entrance gate, main hall and dance hall remain. The Gandhi Museum, set in relaxing grounds offers a clear account of India’s struggle for independence. A chilling artifact housed here is Gandhi’s bloodstained dhoti, the cloth garment he was wearing when assassinated.
Though Madurai is considered a pilgrimage centre, it is also famed for its traditional handicrafts in bronze and brass and textiles. Madurai teems with cloth stalls and tailoring shops, particularly in West Veli, Avani Moola and Chitrai Streets. South Avani Moola Street is packed with gold shops, and West Veli Street is good for souvenirs.
To get you started with planning your holiday to Madurai, we have showcased below some popular itineraries requested by our clients which we hope will inspire your visit to India
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