Madurai Travel Guide

Vivacious, mythical, chaotic and soulful-that's what best describe the city of Madurai which is steeped in Tamil culture. Often referred to as the city that never sleeps by locals-Madurai is worth visiting. Be prepared to be greeted by bright colours and tingle of temple bells taking over your visual and aural senses as you step into the city.  There are numerous places to visit in Madurai that include temples, churches and palaces. It is a unique place where the old and news co-exist. The ancient structures of the many temples and other architecture adorning the skyline of the city are enough to make the modern-day skyscrapers fade away. Despite being steeped in traditional Tamil culture and history, IT and urban developments have forayed in and coexist in harmony. The history of Madurai dates back to the 3rd century BC and finds reference in the works of Arab, Roman and Greek travellers, including Megasthenses. Today, it is one of the major centres of South India that promotes Tamil culture and traditions through Sangams. The city has been ruled by the Pandayas and the Nayak. Over the time, the city has transformed into a cultural hub that ends up attracting thousands of tourists round the year. Tranquil and graceful- Madurai is the place to lose yourself in the streets and take a journey to discover the divine.

Strategically located in Tamil Nadu, the city makes for an ideal weekend getaway for the people of South India. Madurai with its many colours, charms and idiosyncrasies is bound to make your tour memorable. Be it the famous Meenakshi Temple or the Koodal Azhagar Temple, Kalamegaperumal Temple or the St Mary's Cathedral Church, the experiences of visiting the numerous religious shrines of the city will make you feel a lot more blessed. One of the most famous places to visit in Madurai happens to be the Sri Meenakshi Temple. Dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, the temple is an absolute wonder. Built in the Dravidian style of architecture, it leaves pilgrims and travellers in awe who pay homage here to fill themselves with a sense of satisfaction and gratitude. Other places to visit in Madurai includes the Koodal Azhagar Temple, Alagar Koil, Vaigai Dam, Gandhi Museum, Idaikattur Church and pottery village. In our Madurai Travel Guide, we have compiled an extensive list of all the places to visit and things to do in and around the city. Whether its worshipping the Goddess at the Meenakshi Temple or the deities at the ISKCON temple, spending a day at Tirumalai Nayak Palace or a visit to the St. Mary's Church- our Madurai travel guide has it all.

Best Time to Visit Madurai

As a travel destination, Madurai can be visited any time of the year. However, the best time to visit Madurai is winters, especially the months of December to February. Thousands of travellers and pilgrims flock to the city during these months. Summers and monsoons comparatively attract less number of tourists as hot tropical climate characterizes the region.

  • Summer

    Summers are warm and sunny hence attract less number of tourists. However, while the early summer months (February and March) do attract some tourists, peak summers in Madurai are best avoided. Temperature often soars up to 40°C, making it somewhat uncomfortable for travellers.

  • Monsoon

    Monsoons in Madurai span from July to September and the region experiences somewhat moderate rainfall. Humidity levels go up substantially thereby making it unbearable for the tourists. Despite that, tourists do flock to Madurai, though in less number during these months. In case you want to visit, carrying an umbrella is a must.

  • Winter

    Winters are the best time to visit Madurai. This season in the city spans from November to early February and the temperature ranges anywhere between 20°C and 27°C making it soothing for travellers. Humidity in the air is reduced thus, making it easier for travellers to be able to enjoy to the fullest.

Popular Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit in and Around Madurai

Those who want to experience true Tamil culture and soak into its ethos, Madurai is a must visit place. Whether it's the numerous temples or the churches or getting lost into the narrow alleys or striking up a bargain with the shopkeepers in its colourful bazaars-the places to visit and things to do in Madurai are almost endless.

  • Sri Meenakshi Temple

    Probably the most popular place to visit in Madurai, the Sri Meenakshi Temple is almost synonymous to the city. The presiding deity here is Goddess Meenakshi (a form of Parvati) and her consort Sundareshwarar or Lord Shiva. The temple is an outstanding example of Dravidian architecture. It houses nearly 33,000 sculptures and is surrounded by four gopurams. The hall of thousand pillars is a magnificent structure and is worth a visit. Raed more

  • Pazhamudhir Solai

    Located roughly 20 kilometres from the centre of Madurai, the Pazhamudhir Solai Temple is yet another popular religious shrine in the region. Dedicated to Lord Murugan, the temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan. Devotees not only offer prayers at the Pazhamudhir Solai Temple but also take a dip at the nearby natural spring known as Nubragangai.

  • Aayiram Kaal Mandapam

    Located inside the Meenakshi Temple, the Mandapam houses nearly 1000 pillars that are intricately carved upholding exquisite Dravidian architecture. This exquisite masterpiece was made out of one particular rock. Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the monument puts every visitor in awe of its beauty. There's a Temple Art Museum that records the shrine's thousand year-old history.

  • Koodal Azhagar Temple

    Dedicated to Koodal Azhagar (Lord Vishnu), the temple is located right at the heart of the city.  It is an ultimate example of the Dravidian style of architecture. The religious shrine is believed to be built by the Pandyas more than thousands years ago with later additions made by the Vijayanagar Empire and the Madurai Nayaks. The temple is one of 108 Divyadesam and is highly revered by the Vaishnavite sect.

  • Alagarkoil Temple and Shrine

    The Alagarkoil Temple and shrine is located roughly 21 kilometres from the centre of Madurai. The shrine is surrounded by the ruins of a fort and is positioned atop a hill, Alagarmalai. The impressive tower at the entrance is believed to have been built by Pandya Kingdom. The Kalyana Mandapam and the pillars within it are specimens of Nayaka art.The presiding deity of the temple is Paramaswamy and his consort Kalyana Sundaravalli.

  • Gandhi Museum

    One of the most dedicated Gandhi Sangrahalaya of India, the museum is housed in the famous 17th century Tamukkam Palace, belonging to the Nayak Dynasty. The exhibits include a lot of personal belongings used by Mahatma Gandhi. This even includes a piece of the blood-stained loin cloth worn by him at the time of his assassination. Other exhibits include a letter written by Gandhi to Adolf Hitler addressing him as "Dear Friend". Read more

  • Tirupparankunram

    Tirupparankunram is a locality in Madurai famous for its Murugan Temple. It is popularly termed as the Tirupparankunram Murugan Temple. One of the six abodes of Lord Murugan,the temple is built in two major styles - rock-cut architecture and typical Dravidian style of architecture as well. Do remember to visit the Tirupparankunram Murugan Temple while in Madurai and seek blessings from Lord Murugan.

  • Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal

    One of the chief historical sites and a major place to visit in Madurai is the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. The palace was constructed in the mid-17th century by Thirumalai Nayak of the famous Nayak Dynasty. The palace was designed by an Italian architect and is an exquisite amalgamation of Dravidian and European architecture with subtle influence of Indo-Saracenic style.

  • St. Mary's Cathedral Church

    The St. Mary's Cathedral Church is a major religious shrine in Madurai. Built in the Roman style of architecture the church has an imposing structure and leaves its visitors awe. What sets apart the temple is the European architecture outside while the interiors look very absolutely Indian with bright-coloured walls. It has one of the best-looking cross station and an amazing Christ in three-dimensional glass coffin along with a statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering. Read more

  • Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam

    The term Teppakulam literally translates into temple pond mainly used for devotional festivals. It's a huge square-shaped tank spanning an area of 16 acres. The tank was constructed by King Thirumalai Nayak in 1646. At the centre of the tank, there's an idol of Lord Vigneshwara, installed on a platform. One of the largest temple tanks in Tamil Nadu, Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a major tourist attraction.

  • Kalamegaperumal Temple

    One of the prominent Hindu religious shrines in Madurai, the Kalamegaperumal Temple is located in Melur, the temple's presiding deity happens to be Lord Vishnu. The temple is one of the 108 Divyadesams and here Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Neelamegha Perumal and Lakshmi, his consort as Tirukannapura Nayagi. More than 2000 years'-old the temple is yet another example of the Dravidian style of architecture.

  • Idaikattur Church

    Located 36 kilometres away from the main city, on the Madurai-Rameshwaram Highway, the Idaikuttur Church is a prominent religious shrine of Tamil Nadu. The church was built in 1894 by a French missionary upon the request of a lady of the same nationality. Dedicated to the Roman Catholic sect, the church attracts several devotees and travellers throughout the year. Built in the typical Gothic structure, a visit to the church will make you feel more blessed.

  • Sri Ramana Mandiram

    Located very close to the Meenakshi temple, the Sri Ramana Mandiram is a sacred site dedicated to the Tamilian Hindu Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi. The place where the shrine is located is the dwelling where Maharshi lived for some time before attaining enlightenment.

  • ISKCON Madurai

    Though ISKCON temples are present in almost major cities in India, this particular one is a somewhat smaller compared to the ones in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Despite that, the temple is still praised for its architectural wonder and a lot of devotees throng to the shrine to seek blessings from the divine.

  • Puthu Mandapam

    Puthu Mandapam is a bustling area of commerce with traders and customers alike thronging the shops. If you want to experience shopping like a local Maduraiite, then you must visit Puthu Mandapam. The structure where the shopping complex now exists originally dates back to the 17th century and was constructed by the rulers of the Nayaka Kingdom. Over time, the mandapam has been transformed into a huge shopping complex.

  • Banana Market

    The banana market is yet another interesting and a popular tourist destination in Madurai. Whether you love eating bananas or not, do visit this market for gathering a completely different kind of experience. At the market you will come across 16 varieties of bananas. Needless to say, that you can taste as many bananas as you want. You can end up buying as many as you want - raw or ripe both.

  • Villacherry Pottery Village

    Opt for a one-day guided tour of the Villacherry Village, popularly known as the pottery village. Sunburned and sleepy, Villacherry is just like any other archetypal Indian village. Interact personally with the villagers and watch them turn creators as they fashion potteries with absolute dexterity. A tour of the Villacherry Pottery Village will fill you with an absolute sense of delight.

  • Keelakuyilkudi and Samanar Hills

    Located in the Keelakuyilkudi village, 12 kilometres away from Madurai, the Samanar Hills is one of the major attractions in the city. The Samanar Hills are a beautiful blend of history and nature. Preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India, the hills are an interesting site to visit that provides a glimpse of the historical richness of South India. Two sculptures, Settipodavu and Pechipallam are major attractions of the hill.

Where to Stay in Madurai?

As a popular tourist spot, Madurai has lots of accommodation options for all kinds of travellers. Whether you are a backpacker from a different country or a visiting local family - you will be spoilt for choice in terms of accommodation options in Madurai. Budget hotels, mid-range ones and high-end hotels - all are available even in prime locations of the city and also within the vicinity of the places of interest. Most of the hotels can be booked online beforehand.

How to Reach Madurai?

A prominent city of Tamil Nadu, Madurai is easily accessible from almost throughout the country. The city has its own airport and a railway station, making it convenient for all to commute to the city easily. Other nearest airports and railway stations happen to be Chennai and Coimbatore.

  • By Air

    Madurai has its own airport which is well-connected by the rest of India. Number domestic airlines operate on the route and several flights ply on a daily basis to Madurai. Another option is to take a flight to Chennai from any part of India and then take another flight to Madurai from thereafter.

  • By Rail

    Just like the airport, Madurai has its own railway junction which is well-connected to all major cities in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Even if you cannot avail a direct train to Madurai, you can avail trains either from Chennai or Coimbatore. Express trains from Trichy, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are also available connecting the cities to Madurai.

  • By Road

    Madurai can also be reached by road. Travellers can take either a bus or a car. National Highway 45 and 45B connects Madurai to Chennai. It is one of the amazing drives that one can experience. Apart from that, Madurai can be reached from Bengaluru via NH 49. Other cities from where direct buses for Madurai are available include Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

Tamil Nadu Travel Information at a Glance

There's an abundance of culture, tradition, art, craft, nature, and wildlife experiences awaiting in Tamil Nadu. Choose from our wide array of Tamil Nadu travel packages and get that incredible holiday experience at this colour palette kind of a destination. We design the finest tour packages keeping your likes and dislikes in mind so that you are guaranteed a holistic travelling experience that too in a budget of your choice.