One of the prominent temple towns of Tamil Nadu, Madurai can be traced back in history to as early as the pre-Christian era. A center of rich culture, tradition and history, the city is visited by tourists throughout the world and will take you for a journey into the stories of the bygone era through its religious and historical monuments. The city’s popularity has made finding hotels in Madurai a simple task, with most of them being located close to local attractions including the city’s most iconic landmark – the Meenakshi Amman Temple.
Places to visit in Madurai:
1. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
Over 2500 years old, the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati. The most striking feature of this shrine is its 14 majestic towers or Gopurams, displaying intricate carvings. Another captivating part of this Dravidian-style temple is The Hall of Thousand Pillars, yet another example of architectural excellence. You must visit the museum within the temple complex which offers a glimpse of the cultural and historical past of Madurai. The temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims every day, who come here to seek blessings and admire its overwhelming beauty.
- Timings: 5:00 am to 12:30 pm, 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm
To dive deeper into the myths associated with this temple, its history, festivals celebrated here and its splendid architecture, read our blog on ‘Why you should be visiting Meenakshi Amman Temple on your Next Trip?’
2. Azhagar Kovil, Madurai
Azhagar Kovil, sometimes also referred to as Alagar Koil, is situated a few kilometers away from Madurai at the foot of Alagar Hills. The temple is surrounded by the ruins of an ancient fort that add to the beautiful natural setting of the place. Paramaswamy is the main deity at this temple. The processional deity is Kallazhagar or Sundararaja Perumal, who is believed to be the brother of Goddess Meenakshi and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Tucked away in the hills, this shrine is a quiet, serene abode of faith which you must visit when in Madurai.
- Timings: 6:00 am to 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm to 8:00 pm
3. Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, Madurai
Under the care of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department, the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal is a fine example of splendid architecture and rich history. Built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak, this palace is a blend of Dravidian and Islamic architectural styles featuring majestic pillars and brilliant stucco work done on its domes and arches. Divided into two sections – Swarga Vilasam and Ranga Vilasam, a tour of the palace will let you into the royal residence, workers’ quarters, ponds and gardens, religious places, the throne room and other areas of importance.
- Timings: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
- Sound & Light Show Timings: 6:45 pm (English), 8:15 pm (Tamil)
- Ticket Charges: INR 10 (Adults), INR 5 (Children)
4. Koodal Azhagar Temple, Madurai
One of the oldest and most popular temples in the city, Koodal Azhagar Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Sri Koodal Azhagar. The five-tiered gopuram and the three statues of Lord Vishnu in sitting, standing and lying down postures are the most attractive features of this shrine. One of the 108 Divya Desams, this temple remains crowded all year round, especially at the time of the 10-day float festival celebrated in the months of February-March. Read also – Things to do in Madurai
- Timings: 5:30 am to 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
- Entry Fee: INR 20 (Adults), INR 10 (Children)
5. Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai
The Gandhi Memorial Museum in Madurai is built inside the historic Tamukkam Palace, which was once the residence of Rani Mangammal of the Nayak dynasty. Dating back to 1670 AD, the palace was converted into a museum detailing the life of one of India’s most admired freedom fighters and opened for public in 1959. The exhibits at the museum take you through Gandhi’s pre-independence struggle and include photos, manuscripts, quotations, photocopies of letters and other significant articles from the time. It also displays a part of the blood-stained dhoti of Mahatma Gandhi from the day of his assassination.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm to 5:45 pm (Closed on Friday)
6. Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple, Madurai
The Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple is one of the six temples in India dedicated to Lord Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva. According to legends, Lord Murugan married the daughter of Lord Indra at this site, which is why the temple is considered a sacred place for marriages even today. The shrine is located at a place from where the sun and the moon can be seen together at different times of the day. Carved out of a rock, this 8th-century temple is a kaleidoscope of colors and makes for a gorgeous sight.
- Timings: 5:00 am to 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
7. Kazimar Big Mosque, Madurai
Considered to be the oldest mosque in Madurai, the Kazimar Big Mosque holds both historical and cultural significance. The mosque got its name owing to its capacity to include 2500 people at one time. Visited by devotees throughout the year, the mosque is known for its spellbinding architecture and intricate artwork depicted on the walls. It was established in the 13th century by Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad.
- Timings: 5:00 am to 9:00 pm
8. Yanaimalai, Madurai
Far from the chaos of Madurai city, Yanaimalai is a welcome break from packed schedules and crowd of devotees. Known as Elephant Hill owing to its shape, the hill is home to a number of Shaivite and Vaishnavite temples as well as Jain sculptures. The temples are located at the base of the hill while the Jain sculptures are at the top. The lush greenery on the backdrop of harsh rocks, the remnants of rich history and the serenity at this place are reasons enough to include this beauty in your itinerary.
- Distance from Madurai: 10 km (approx.)
Places to Visit in Madurai (Video):
Frequently Asked Questions About Madurai:
Q: What is Madurai famous for?
A: Madurai is one of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage sites in India, known for its colourful Dravidian-style temples like Meenakshi Amman Temple, Azhagar Kovil, Koodal Azhagar Temple and Thirupparankundram. It is also famous for the Chithrai Festival (April-May) which is accompanied with vibrant processions, performances and a fair.
Q: Are there any shopping places near Madurai temples?
A: Yes, you can’t visit Madurai and not pay a visit to Pudhu Mandapam. Adorned with stunning sculptures, this 16th-century pillared hall now encompasses multiple shops and stalls selling handicrafts and textiles. Other shopping places in Madurai include Banana Market, Bullion Bazaar and Hajeemoosa.
Q: Where can I try authentic food in Madurai?
A: Head to Amma Mess to try bone marrow omelet, Simmakal Konar Mess for kari dosa, Murugan Idli Shop for idlis, Sri Nagalakshmi Annexe for sugar candy and at any of the sweet shops in Madurai for the super-sweet jigarthanda.
Q: Is there an airport in Madurai?
A: Yes, Madurai has an international airport with daily flights to Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Foreign cities like Singapore, Colombo and Dubai are also connected to this airport.
Q: How to travel to Madurai by road?
A: Madurai is well-connected to NH 7, NH 45B and NH 49, which makes it easily accessible by road. The city is also serviced by a number of government-run and private buses plying from across Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Most of these buses terminate at Mattuthavani or Periyar bus stands.