Must-Visit Places In Madurai

Posted by-Kalki Team

If you are keen to visit a place that has a glorious past and a busy present with great temples that flaunt the architectural brilliance of the artisans, you need to be in Madurai. The 2500 plus years old city, which has a rich heritage, is located on the banks of Vaigai river. Famously called ‘The city that never sleeps’, Madurai is always busy regardless of the time of the day. Anytime you venture out, you are sure to find the city busy and even if you are hungry in the middle of the night, you will find ‘idlis’, the famous south Indian dish served here. Incidentally, Madurai is famous for idlis too. If you are planning to visit Madurai, ensure that you include the following six famous places to visit in Madurai in your “list”.

1. Sree Meenakshi Amman Temple ;

Sree Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most famous temples in South India. The huge temple that extends beyond 6 hectares of land is dedicated to god Shiva and it is named after goddess Parvati. The temple was constructed by Kulasekara Pandya. The temple has been mentioned in the songs sung by ancient saint as early as the 7th century. Invasion of Malik Kapur in 1310 resulted in the ancient temple being destroyed. When Hindu kings returned to power, the temple was restored and the present form is a contribution by Nayaks who ruled Madurai between 16th and 18th centuries. The thousand pillar hall is one of the amazing works in the temple that is famous for architectural brilliance. It is the temple’s museum and the statues here are exquisite.

Timings : The temple is usually open between 0500hrs and 1230hrs and again between 1600 hrs and 21.30 hrs.

2. Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple :

Thirupparankundram gains importance as it is one of the six places chosen by god Murugan as his abode. It is said that this was where Lord Murugan married Devasena. It is also considered as the place where sun and moon abide. This cave temple is dedicated to the element of earth among the five elements and various Tamil classical texts mention this hill as ‘Southern Himalaya’. It might interest you to learn that the hill not only houses Murugan temple but also an Islamic Shrine, which is dedicated to Sekunder. The architecture is amazing.

3. Gandhi Museum :

Gandhiji and Madurai share a bond. It was after his visit to Madurai that Gandhi changed his dress code, which he followed until he met his end. Gandhi Museum was constructed in memory of Gandhiji after his assassination. The building, which houses the museum, was constructed around 1670 AD by Nayak Queen Rani. The construction was completed and inaugurated in 1959. The museum houses a Picture Gallery, which presents Gandhiji’s visual biography. The history of Freedom struggle is depicted with 265 illustrations in the Special Exhibition section. The ‘Hall of Relics’ preserves some original and replicas of Gandhi’s personal belongings. Cultural programmes are conducted in the open air theatre here, which can accommodate 8000 people. The library in Gandhi Museum has a vast collection detailing India’s cultural background and books by Gandhiji.

Timings: 1000hrs to 1300 hrs and 1400 hrs to 1730 hrs. (Open all days)

4. Thirumalai Nayak Palace :

About 1.5 Kms from the Meenakshi temple, this palace was built in 1636 by the ruler whose name it bears. The imposing edifice is famous for the “Stuccowork” on its domes and impressive arches. The Sorgavilasam (Celestial Pavilion), measuring 75m x 52m, constructed entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a marvel of indo-Saracenic architectural style. Among other striking features of the palace are the massive white pillars, several of which line the corridor that runs along the courtyard. Connected by high decorated arches, these pillars measure 20m in height and have a circumference of 4m. Elsewhere, there are polished black stone pillars of varying heights. It was King Thirumalai Nayak’s grandson who demolished much of the fine structure and removed most of the jewels and woodcarvings in order to build his own palace in Tiruchirapalli. (His dream never came true).

Thanks to Lord Napier, the then Governor of Madras, who partially restored the palace in 1866-72, and the subsequent restoration works carried out several years ago, today, we get to see the Entrance Gate, The Main Hall and the Dance Hall. There’s daily sound and light show in English at 1845 hrs and in Tamil at 2015 hrs. This half an hour show extols the virtues of King Thirumalai, particularly his passion for arts, his victories in battle and his love for his subjects.

Tickets for the show: Adults Rs.10/-- Children Rs.5/-

Timings : The Palace is open for visitors between 0900hrs and 1300 hrs and again between 1400 hrs and 1700 hrs. Entrance Fee. Rs.1/-

5. Mariamman Teppakulam :

Mariamman Teppakulam is a beautiful square tank spread over a huge area of almost 16 acres, located about 5Kms East of Meenakshi Temple. The tank is the scene of the colourful float festival held in January/February to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai Nayak, who built this tank. The deities of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed in a float, called “Teppam”, decorated with flowers and illuminated with hundred of lights. This float is taken around the tank to the sound of traditional music. On the Northern side of the tank a temple is dedicated to Mariamman , a famous village deity of Tamil Nadu.


Vaigai Dam : The Vaigai Dam is built across the Vaigai River near Andipatti about 70 kms from Madurai. Near the dam, The Government of Tamil Nadu has established an Agricultural Research Station for studies on various crops. Vaigai Dam was inaugurated on 21 January 1959 by then Tamil Nadu chief Minister K .Kamarajar.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary : This is located 15 Kms from Madurai, at Thekkadi on the Kerala Zone. Visitors oriented and park centered community based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Spread over an area of 925 Sq. km, this sanctuary is one of the 27 Tiger Reserves of its kind in India. Repository of rare and endangered flora and fauna forms a major ridge between the Periyar and Pamba rivers. Prospect of spotting Elephant, Bisons, Sambhar and the Barking Deer in its natural habitat is a regular feature of this sanctuary.

Kumbakkarai Waterfalls : It is 100 Kms from Madurai and 9 Kms from Periyakulam. They are lesser known falls originating from Kodaikanal Hills and flows down to reach the foot hills. This happens in two stages : In the first stage water gets collected in huge rock recesses named after Wild Animals; the Pambaru River then flows as the second stage before falling as the main waterfall. It is a very good picnic spot and also serves as the base camp for trekkers who head for the Kodai Hills. For more information about Kumbakkarai Water Falls contact : The Tourist Office – Kodaikanal – Phone: 04542-241675

Megamalai : Located at an altitude of 1500m and 130 Kms from Madurai. The Unexplored best landscape was opened to public few years ago and the trekking through the forests and the tea estates promise a thrilling journey with a possibility of sighting Indian Gaurs, Wild boars, Elephants, Leopards and Tigers. Camping out on a mountain cliff or bathing under a waterfall will find priority in the tourist’s program list. Transport services are available from Madurai via Megamalai.

Surili water Falls : It is 120 Kms from Madurai. It is a two stage Cascading Water Fall. The Suruli river originates from Meghamalai Mountain range which forms the source of water for this Water Fall. Suruli Water Fall drops from a height of 150 ft and gathers into a pool, flows a little distance and plummets from a height of 40 ft .

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