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:
|Meenakshi Amman Temple||Azhagar Kovil|
|Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal||Koodal Azhagar Temple|
|Gandhi Memorial Museum||Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple|
|Kazimar Big Mosque||Yanaimalai|
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?
Explore recommended places to stay in Madurai at best price
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 that 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.
- Timings: 5:30 am to 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
- Entry Fee: INR 20 (Adults), INR 10 (Children)
Suggested Read – Things to do in Madurai
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.)
9. Vaigai Dam, Madurai
Built on Vaigai River, Vaigai Dam is one of the best places to visit in Madurai for nature-lovers. Although the dam is located about 70 km from the city, it is a popular attraction among the locals and tourists. Apart from admiring the beauty of this magnificent manmade structure and the lush green surroundings, you can spend quality time in the Little Brindavan garden here. This lovely garden situated on one side of Vaigai Dam houses a musical fountain, a play area and a variety of exotic plants and flowers. The unpolluted air and verdant surroundings make Vaigai Dam an ideal spot for kids, picnickers and peace seekers.
- Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
10. Athisayam, Madurai
If you are looking for some fun in the middle of temple-hopping, Athisayam water and amusement park is the place to be. This huge park is spread over an area of 70 acres and is one of the best places to visit in Madurai for couples and families. Athisayam has around 60 games and water rides and a 7D theatre. Water Chute, Aqua Bowl, Crazy River, Multi-Play System and Dry Raft are some of the many popular rides here. The park also boasts a recreation garden for kids and an eatery that serves a range of delicacies. So, you can easily spend an entire day packed with fun and entertainment at Athisayam. It is undoubtedly one of the best tourist places in Madurai.
- Timings: 10:30 am to 6 pm
- Ticket Price: Adults (over 130 cm): INR 800, children (below 130 cm): INR 500
11. Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam, Madurai
Associated with Vandiyur Mariamman Temple, Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a popular temple pond complex in Madurai. This temple tank, which is the largest in South India, is spread over an area of about 16 acres. It is at a distance of 4 km from Meenakshi Amman Temple and is frequented by devotees from across the country.
The temple pond complex features a small manmade island in the middle with Maiya Mandapam/Central Mandampan and a temple of Lord Vigneshwara/Lord Vinayaka. Elegant granite stairs surround this massive pond on all 4 sides. The best time to visit Madurai’s temple pond is in the month of January or February when the colourful and vibrant “Float Festival” is celebrated on a full moon night. Thousands of lamps illuminate the temple pond complex and lend a mesmerising look to the entire place. You can also pay your respects to the idols of Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi that are brought here during the festival.
- Timings: 5 AM to 9 PM
12. Pazhamudhir Solai, Madurai
Popular as one of the 6 important abodes of Lord Murugan, Pazhamudhir Solai holds a special place in the hearts of devotees. In this temple, Lord Murugan is seen with Goddess Valli and Deivayanai in one shrine. There is a separate shrine for Lord Ganesha as well. Devotees from across the country visit Pazhamudhir Solai Temple to seek blessings and experience spiritual bliss. The beautiful sculptures carved in wood and marble and the divine aura of the temple make it one of the most important Madurai tourist places. The temple is situated on the top of a hill and is surrounded by dense forests. Hence, it is frequented by nature-lovers as well.
- Timings: 6 am to 6 pm
13. Mary’s Cathedral, Madurai
Also known as Church of Our Lady Dolores, this gothic-style cathedral is one of the most beautiful places to see in Madurai. The church was built in 1841 and is particularly popular for its construction, which is an impeccable amalgamation of European, Roman and Continental architectural styles. Two tall bell towers and a stunning façade accentuate the charm of the church and make it a must-visit. Another striking feature is the saree-clad statue of Mother Mary. Hence, apart from devotees, the church is frequented by architecture buffs and tourists alike.
- Timings: 7 am to 7 pm
14. ISKCON Madurai
Madurai is also home to the revered ISKCON Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha. This popular Hindu temple boasts a unique charm that draws devotees from far and wide. One can hear devotional songs and mantras any time they visit this holy place. ISKCON Temple is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Madurai, especially if you are seeking peace of mind and clarity during uncertain times. The simple yet distinctive architecture and beautifully adorned interiors are worth a visit too.
- Timings: 4:45 am to 12:30 pm, 4:45 am to 8:15 pm
15. Goripalayam Dargah, Madurai
Apart from many Hindu temples, Madurai also has a famous dargah that was built in the 13th century. Goripalayam Dargah, also known as Hajha Syed Sultan Alaoudeen Syed Sultan Samsudeen Aouliya Dargah, is the largest mosque in the city. Featuring a white dome and tall colourful minarets, the beauty of the mosque is impossible to ignore. The 70 feet wide and 20 feet high dome made from a single block of stone is the focal point of this holy shrine. Goripalayam Dargah is particularly popular for housing the tombs of two Muslim saints – Hazrat Sultan Alauddin Badusha and Sultan Shamsuddin Badusha.
- Timings: 7 am to 7 pm
16. Samanar Hills, Madurai
Located in Keelakuyilkudi village, Samanar Hills or Samanar Malai is one of the most beautiful places in Madurai. The amazing hill rock complex with caves boasts a wonderful blend of nature and history. The caves in the hills were occupied by Jain monks and Tamil Brahmins over 2000 years ago; you can see many inscriptions and carvings on the walls bearing testimony to this fact. The carvings throw light on the life of the monks and the rules they followed. A lotus temple on the premises is a major attraction here. Even though the place offers a delightful glimpse of the rich history of Southern India, it is counted among the unexplored places in Madurai.
- Timings: Sunrise to sunset
17. Thirumohoor Shri Kalameghaperumal Temple, Madurai
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his consort Goddess Lakshmi, Thirumohoor Shri Kalameghaperumal Temple is one of the 108 revered Divya Desam temples. The temple is spread over an area of 2.5 acres and is known for its impressive Dravidian style of architecture. Since the temple was originally built by the Pandyas, one can also admire touches of the Pandian era on its walls. Four prakarms, granite walls surrounding the main temple with shrines, columned pillars and the five-tiered Rajagopuram are some of the many attractions here. The temple houses many separate shrines of Hindu gods and goddesses. Hence, it is frequented by devotees looking to offer prayers and spend some time in tranquillity.
- Timings: Sunday – Friday: 7 am to 12 pm, 4 pm to 8 pm, Saturday: 5:30 am to 1 pm, 4 am to 8:30 pm
So, if you are planning a trip to the city soon, our list of Madurai sightseeing places is sure to come in handy. The charm of the city lies in the many ancient temples here that will take you back in time. Apart from paying your respects at the religious places and exploring other attractions around the city, you must also treat your taste buds to the delectable street food and South Indian delicacies. So, prepare your itinerary accordingly and book your stay and flights in advance to take advantage of the best deals.
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.