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Pritha Manchanda Apr 02 2014

Which are the famous things to see and do in Madurai?

Jigyasha Prasad Apr 02 2014
3 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

You can see Madurai in two days or more, depending how much and how far you want to experience Tamil Nadu’s second largest city. There are a world of famous things to see and do in Madurai and you will simply love the experience of exploring its beautiful architecture.

Mysterious Meenakshi:

It is difficult to grasp the dimensions of this great temple. There are no less than 12 gopurams, and the South Tower is the tallest at 150 ft. The temple complex and its surrounding areas are spread over 60,000 sq m. In order to imagine the temple as a whole, stop by the exquisite model placed in the Thousand-pillar-hall. It will help you gain a perspective of where you are and why Meenakshi Temple is so multi-faceted. The paintings, photographs and icons are a must-see. The temple itself is an extended art gallery of sorts, with over 30 million pieces of sculpture and stucco images. Madurai is also revered as one of the five Cosmic Dance Halls of Shiva. It is believed that Shiva performed the ‘Dance of Bliss’ at the Velli Sabha (Hall of Silver). The Thousand-pillared hall also the ingenuous venue of a museum.

Address: East Chitrai Street, Madurai, India
Entry: Free
Timings: 5:00 am to 12:00 pm & 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Cameras: INR 25

Photo of Madurai Temple (by Jorge Royan)

Spiritual Shrines

The Sundareswarar shrine precedes Meenakshi’s in antiquity. It is here that Lord Indra found a lingam by the banks of a lake, in a forest of kadamba trees. Today, the lake is venerated as the Potraamarai Kulam (the Golden Lotus Tank). Though it has more weeds than water now, it is still a lovely sight, lined by a colonnade of granite pillars. Lofty gopurams and huge edifices enclose a nearby rectangular space. Within it are several cloisters, mandapams (halls) and idols, and in the centre, surrounded by other walls with gateways and towers, are the shrines of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar, two of the famous temples in Madurai.

The Mukkuruni Vinayakar shrine, with a colossal deity of Ganesha, is particularly splendid. Sangam litterateur Ilango Adigal’s Thiruvilayaadal Puraanam (Divine Games) is painted on the temple walls — note the beautiful restoration near the Meenakshi shrine. The original Meenakshi Temple was razed to the ground in 1311 by Malik Kafur, a general of Delhi’s Khilji Sultanate. The sanctum sanctorum, however, survived and in 1510, Vishwanatha Nayak (1529-1564) reconstructed the temple at the same spot. Give yourself two hours to appreciate this temple and its surrounding structures. Other prominent temple is Murugan temple at Thiruparankundram which is also a major tourist attraction.

Photo of Murugan Temple (by Kramasundar at the English language Wikipedia)

Remains of the Day

Spend time at the Tirumalai Nayak Palace, just 1 and 1/2 km from the Meenakshi Temple. Built in 1636, large parts of the palace complex were dismantled by Tirumalai’s grandson while shifting his capital to Trichy. A fine synthesis of Indo-Islamic architecture, the superb rectangular courtyard endures the rubble of repairs with rare dignity. It is the backdrop for a passable Sound & Light Show.

The Gandhi Museum, located in the old palace of Rani Mangammal, gives a droll account of the Independence struggle. On view here is also the bloodstained shawl that Gandhi wore when he was shot dead.

Address: Old Palace of Rani Mangammal, Madurai
Entry: Free (INR 5 for cameras and INR 100 for Video)
Timings: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm & 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Photo of Gandhi Museum (by Online Catalogue for Indian Movie Locations)

Shopping in Madurai

Shopping here is a delightful experience for all the people who love to explore something interesting and unique on their vacation. Madurai is famous for its bright tie-and dyed cotton Sungudi saris. The collections at the locally popular Ranee Sarees and Alankar Textiles (both at South Masi Street) are definitely inadequate when compared to the range at the Rangachari Cloth Store in Chennai . Co-optex (West Chithirai Street) and Khadi Emporium (Town Hall Road) have dusty shelves that occasionally throw up a surprise.

For handicrafts it is the middling Poompuhar Sales Emporium (East Avani Moola Street). At the temple curio shops, look for golu dolls — idols of gods and goddesses. The workmanship of an artist identified as SG (look for initials behind the idol) is noteworthy. If you are feeling a tad adventurous, don’t miss the Madurai flower market, bustling between 4 and 11 am. Be warned that you’ll have to brave the slush, trucks and chaos. Look out for huge mounds of the famous Madurai malli (jasmine). With so much under its umbrella, no wonder shopping here is one of the many favorite activities for tourists. Also check out some nice places to eat when you are here!

I know reading is not enough for exploring the famous things to see and do in Madurai, so its time to pack your bags and head to the City of Meenakshi! And, just to add, if you have some spare time with you and you are planning to explore some nearby destination, don't miss checking out famous places to see and do in Pondicherry which is just about a 5-hour drive from Madurai.

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