on the banks of the Vaigai River, Madurai is an ancient city. Established in
the 6th century BC, Madurai was an important cultural and commercial
center in South India. Its importance down the ages has given Madurai a rich
heritage in buildings, arts and crafts. As a result, the city has always
attracted visitors and is a poulaar place to holiday in South India.
Madurai is popularly known as the temple city, it is also called the Athens of
the East for its fantastic monuments. It’s also known as the City of Festivals
and the City of Four Junctions. Since the city is always abuzz with activity,
it is often referred to as the Sleepless City!
What to See and Do in Madurai
There is much to see and do in Madurai. One of the
sights that is truly awe-inspiring is the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. Built
by the Pandya King Kulasekara and later rebuilt by Thirumalai Nayak, the
temple’s architecture is simply stunning. But that’s not the only reason why
the temple is so popular in the city. Over centuries, the temple has emerged as
the hub of all art, literature, dance and music. In fact, the Meenakshi temple
can be described as the soul of Madurai.
Other places that are a must-see in Madurai include
the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam, Azhagar Kovil, Thirumalai Nayak temple and
the Gandhi museum. The Gandhi Museum is a treasure trove and has nearly 27,000
letters written by Gandhiji as well as several reels of micro-films. Madurai is a popular pilgrim as well as holiday destination includes in most of Tamil Nadu tour packages.
There is also plenty to places to visit around
Madurai. The famous hill station Kodaikanal is 120 km away from Madurai, while the
holy town of Palani is 112 kilometers away. Palani is the most sacred site for
worshippers of Lord Murugan and thousands of pilgrims visit the temple here. The Float Festival and the Chithirai Festival are
important in Madurai’s cultural and religious calendar. During the Float
Festival, the deities of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundereswara are taken in a
procession before being placed on a float on the Mariamman Teppakulam. As the
float traverse over the surface of the lake, the entire area is illuminated and
the sound of music and hymns fills the air. The atmosphere in Madurai is truly
electric during the Float Festival. When in Madurai, tourists should not miss a trip to Rameswaram.
The Chithirai Festival is celebrated on the full moon
day that falls in the month of Chithirai. The festival is held to commemorate
the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundereswara and Lord Vishnu’s visit
to the city to attend the wedding. During the festival day, thousands of
tourists and devotees throng the city to see the wonderful processions. Madurai
also celebrates the Avani Moolam festival, which falls in the month of
September, which much fervor and vibrancy.
The Best Time to Visit Madurai
The best time to visit Madurai is from October to
March. The city is extremely hot during the summer months with the temperatures
touch a scorching 42 degree Celsius. It is also not wise to visit Madurai
during the monsoon season which lasts from June to August.
How to Reach Madurai
Visiting Madurai is easy as the city is extremely well
connected. The city has an airport with flights coming in from major cities
across the country. The rail connections are also good and there are trains
from Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkota and Mysore which touch Madurai. The city is also
well connected by road and there are bus services to nearby cities like Chennai
and Bangalore. The local transport infrastructure at Madurai is also well
developed and tourists can easily reach Madurai by taking up holiday packages from Chennai.