Madurai an ancient city, historically called the Athens of the East, has been visited by the Romans and Greeks as there were sound trade connections till the 10th Century. Lord Shiva is said to have appeared in the dream of King Kulasekara Pandya and dropped madhu [nectar] from his matted hair, and hence it was called Madhurapuri – which got truncated as Madurai with the passage of time.
The Meenakshi Amman temple is the city’s most important landmark. It is one of the five sabhas [divine dance stages] called as Velli Ambalam [Silver Hall]. Madurai is also famous for its trade mark Chungudi cotton saris, colour dyeing, motifs, handicrafts and brassware. It is called as ThoongaNagaram, which means a city that never sleeps.
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple:
This palace is a fusion of Dravidian and Islamic architecture and is situated close to the temple. The domes and arches are outstanding, and faced huge damage during early times. Lord Napier, the then Governor of Madras, had partially restored the palace in 1866-72. After independence, ThirumalaiNayakar Mahal was declared as a national monument.
The Vandiyur Mariamman Theppakulam is a man-made temple pond close to the Meenakshi Temple. Built in 1645, during the rule of ThirumalaiNayakar, an idol of Lord Ganesha was unearthed during evacuations which has been enshrined in the temple.
The National Gandhi Museum:
Located inside the Old Palace of Rani Mangammai, it is a treasure trove related to the Mahatma, his wife Kasturibai and the Indian Freedom struggle.
The Government Museum:
It has an interesting collection of artefacts and also conducts training programs on Tanjore paintings and batiks.
Sri AravindarAnnai Trust and Relics Meditation Centre:
Dedicated to Aurobindo and the Mother, it is one of the earliest meditation centres to have been established in Madurai.
Prayer sessions are held every day and yoga sessions are conducted on Fridays.
The ThirumogoorKalamegaperumal Temple has been glorified in the Divya Prabhandam by the Alwar saints from the 6th Century. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and is an important Vaishnavite shrine.
The important place of worship here is the ancient Thirumarainathar temple.
Rajaji Children’s Park:
A fun place for kids to indulge in some water sports and enjoy the toy train ride.
Famous for the Andal temple, Srivilliputtur is of special significance to Vaishnavites. There are two temples here. The first temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu worshipped as VadabadraSayanar at Srivilliputtur. It occupies the foremost place in the 108 Divya Desams. Periya Alwar constructed the tall tower with the help of King Vallabadevan.
The second part of the temple is known as Andal Sannadhi. The 11-tier raja gopuram is the tallest in Tamil Nadu.
Built in the 9th Century by Cheran King Cheraman Peruman, it stands at a height of 150 meters and has 693 steps. Known as Arulmigu Dandayithapaani Swami Temple, it is one of the most sacred shrines of Lord Murugan. The idol of the lord here was created and consecrated by Sage Bogar, one of 18 great siddhas, out of an amalgam of navapashanam or nine-herb combination. The temple celebrates Thai Poosam and Panguni Uthram and is visited by more than 7 million pilgrims each year.
A famous hill town set amidst granite cliffs, forested valleys, lakes, waterfalls and green carpeted hillsides. At the center of it all is a big manmade lake.
This two-stage waterfall originates from the Meghamalai range. These falls find mention in an epic as ancient as the Silapadhikaram. Near these falls one can also visit 5 caves which exhibit rockcut architecture from the 11th Century.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: This is in the Kerala zone and is part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Spread over 925 sq. kms. it is one of 27 tiger sanctuaries in India.
Built across the historical, 258 km long Vaigai River at Andipatti, the Vaigai Dam is 111 feet high and can store up to 70 feet of water. There is a Government Research center nearby, experimenting on better ways to grow and harvest rice, sorghum, black gram, cowpea and cotton here.
Kumbakkarai Waterfalls: These falls are not too well known and originate from the hills of Kodaikanal. A good picnic spot that serves as the base camp for trekkers.
The Meenakshi Amman Temple, Azhagar Kovil, Thiruparankundram and Koodal Azhagar Temple.
Web Memorial Church, Rosary Church, St. Mary’s Church, West Gate Church, YMCA Church, Maninagaram Church and Lutheran Church.
South Gate Pallivasal, South Masi Street, Sait Pallivasal, Sangam Pallivasal near the Vaigai Bridge and Goripalayam Pallivasal.
It is also called as "PacchaKumachi”. Since the peak is always covered with clouds, locals call it as Meghamalai.
Avanimoolom Festival August/September
Float Festival January/February
Chittirai Festival April/May
Govt. Chittirai Exhibition April/May
Oonjal Festival or the Festival of the Swing is a ten-day festival held at the Meenakshi Amman Temple. It falls in the Tamil month of Aani (June/July). During this time, Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi are placed on a swing and rocked gently in a mirror chamber. Songs of praise are sung with the accompaniment of the Nadaswaram. This festival is celebrated in the 100 pillared hall of the temple.
The Float Festival:
A Float Festival is held at the Vandiyur Mariamman Theppakulam with pomp and gaiety annually, during the month of Thai [January/February], to mark the birth anniversary of Thirumalai Nayak.
Chittirai Festival :
This festival takes place for 12 days and is celebrated to commemorate the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar with Goddess Meenakshi. Thousands of devotees throng the place to pull the chariots of the Lord and the Goddess.
Tourist Festival :
There is a tourist festival that is organised by the tourism department within the precincts of the Thirumalai Naicker Mahal to showcase the tradition and culture during Pongal.
Avani Moolam Festival:
This unique festival is celebrated every year at the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple during the month of Avani [August/September]. The festival enacts the miracles of Lord Shiva.
This 90-foot waterfall get its name from the village called Kutlampatti.
The term Navarathri means nine nights, and it is celebrated over nine days. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of India. In Tamil Nadu it is associated with Golu, a festival with a display of dolls in most homes and temples. These displays are generally thematic to narrate a legend or story. During the Golu display, families visit each other, share specially prepared food or sing devotional songs. It is part of the annual Dasara-Vijayadashami festival of Hindus and the figurines represent everyday scenes along with the divine presence of Saraswathi (representing Knowledge), Lakshmi (representing wealth) and Parvati (representing power). This festival is celebrated in the months of September/October.
This harvest festival is celebrated with much pomp over a period of four days, beginning 14th January. The Tourism Department makes special arrangements for foreign tourists to view Pongal festivities. During these festival days famous and thrilling Jallikkattu [bull fight] at Alanganallur takes place.
Road: Well-connected Public/ Private transport systems
Rail: Madurai Railway Junction connects to all towns in Tamil Nadu and other Indian states
Air: Airport at Madurai