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.
Here are some popular itineraries for a trip to Madurai
If you are planning a Madurai holiday, have a look at some of the accommodation that we recommend. 'Our Rating' indicates how we feel each property rates according to normal Western hotel standards. 'Local Rating' indicates how the property is categorised/rated locally:
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
Madurai Tailor made suggestions
Here are some of the recent tailor made itineraries we have created for our clients which include a visit to Madurai.