Madurai is more than 3,500 years old and has remained a major center for Tamil culture and learning. The city is often referred to as the "Athens of the East" because of its similar architectural style, including many alleyways. During the heyday of its history, when the Nayak dynasty ruled, many magnificent temples and buildings were constructed. These days, Madurai attracts pilgrims and tourists in equal numbers.
The four hour walking tour led by Madurai Inhabitants is an excellent way of exploring and immersing yourself in the city. The company's guides are very knowledgeable and they offer a range of customizable tours.
Don't miss these Madurai attractions and places to visit.
One of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in India, Saint Mary's
was first constructed in 1840 although the present structure was built in 1916.
Its architecture, featuring two tall bell towers, blends various European and
Continental styles. The cathedral is located on East Veli Street in Madurai.
The Meenakshi Temple, a must-see
south Indian temple, is the focal point of Madurai. Apparently, the city was built
around the Shiva lingam that's inside its sanctum. The temple complex covers 15
acres, and has 4,500 pillars and 12 towers.
Situated around a kilometre southeast of Meenakshi Temple,
Tirumalai Nayak Palace is Madurai's second biggest attraction. Built in 1636 by
King Thirumalai Nayak, in Indo-Sarcenic style with the input of an Italian
architect, it was his residential palace. Only a quarter of the original
structure is intact, consisting of entrance hall, courtyard, dance hall, and
If you have time, head out to Thiruparankundram, around 10
kilometres southwest of Madurai. There you'll find one of the city's other
impressive ancient temples, dedicated to Hindu god Murugan (handsome son of Lord
Shiva), who's revered as a favorite god of Tamils. At the top of
Thiruparankundram hill, there's also a 14th century grave shrine of the Islamic
saint Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badhusha. Time seems to have stood still there,
and a single family has taken care of the shrine generation after generation.
Gandhi Memorial Museum
Across the dry Vaigai River, housed in the Tamukkum Summer
Palace of Nayak queen Rani Mangammal, is one of the seven museums in India
dedicated to Gandhi. It contains a number of items used by him including a
shawl, spectacles, yarn, and the dhoti (loincloth) that he was wearing when he
was assassinated in Delhi in 1948.