Madurai or the "city of nectar" is the oldest and second largest
city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River and was the capital
of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. The Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had
built a gorgeous temple around which he created a lotus shaped city.
Mythology says when city was being named; Lord Shiva blessed the city and
its people. On the auspicious occasion some Divine nectar ("Madhu")
fell from the matted locks of Shiva and hence the city was named "Madhurapuri".
This sacred town of south attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from
India as well as abroad.
Madurai's Pilgrimage - Meenakshi Temple
The life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple.
This magnificently carved temple is the main attraction of Madurai and its
huge Gopurams towers over the city. Meenakshi temple has a thousand pillared
'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985 pillars and each of them is delicately
and exquisitely carved. Among these are the musical pillars, which produce
music when tapped. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a
single granite rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been
sponsoring literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time.
The temple also has an art museum. The city apart from temple is crammed
with shops, street markets and temples, pilgrims choultries, hotels and
restaurants. Though Madurai is considered as pilgrimage but it has also
developed as a business centre and is famed for its traditional handicrafts
in bronze and brass.
Prime Attractions of Madurai
& Festival in Madurai
Most important festival of Madurai is the sacred wedding ceremony of Goddess
Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar. This festival is held during March -April.
During this festival the city displays a colourful and joyous mood. Images
of the divine couple are taken around the city in a tastefully decorated
chariot, amidst the presence of a huge gathering of devotees. The notes of
Nadaswaram and drums further aggravate the festive ambience.
The annual float festival marks the images of Meenakshi and her consort
floating on the Mariamman tank on an illuminated raft bedecked with flowers.
As such there are festivals throughout the year in Madurai. All most 11 big
annual festivals are celebrated in Madurai, which are spread through the
year with exception of the monsoon months.
Shopping in Madurai
Madurai has been a textile center since ages. The streets and lanes are
lines with shops and tailors offering readymade as well as fabric material
manufactured in Madurai. The Puthu Mandapam, an old pillared hall along the
entrance to Meenakshi temple is popular among the visitors and locals for
the cotton fabric and the Batiks. The lovely Sungundi Sarees are in great
demand among Indian women. Collectors are delighted to have the Brass lamps
Premier shopping areas are Chithirai, Avanimoola, Puthumandapam and
Thevangu Chetty Choultry. The handicrafts Emporiums of the states are also
here, which offer a varied range of handicrafts from all over the India.
Climate in Madurai
The climate of Madurai is warm. The temperature seldom comes below 20°
C even during the winters. The rainfall is very frequent and spread
throughout the year, just like the flow of pilgrims and tourists is the same
during the year.
Places to stay in Madurai
Madurai has got a wide range of accommodation, varying from reasonable ones
to luxurious that cater for the flocks of pilgrims and tourists. Most of the
reasonable places to stay are located at Town Hall Road and West Perumal
Maistry Street, not far from the railway station.