5 things to do when you visit Madurai

The second largest city in Tamil Nadu has a unique South Indian vibe and culture. Here’s how to experience this ancient city even on a short visit

Marvel at the Meenakshi Temple: This magnificent edifice, abode of the Goddess Meenakshi, is the beating heart of Madurai. While much of the temple in its present form was rebuilt during the 14th century and again in the 16th century by the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire, ancient records trace its origins to the 4th century. Visit the temple at dawn or in the evenings, when it is cool and looks its best. The pillar-lined corridors, the temple tank, the intricate sculptures and the air of devotion are all worth taking in.


Walk through the old city: Like most old cities across India, Madurai’s ancient quarters are packed with quaint streets full of character. These are arranged in concentric squares with the Meenakshi Temple at the centre.  These streets are lined with shops selling an array of goods – from silks to brassware, stationery, grains, oils and snacks.


Visit the Thirumalai Nayak Palace: This royal abode was built in the 17th century by Thiruamalai Nayak and is an example of the graceful architecture of the time. Several film songs have been shot here and you will recognize the backdrops. There’s a sound-and-light show every evening which narrates the history of Madurai in a captivating way.


Get away to Azhagar Kovil: About 20 km from Madurai town, set amidst the Azhagar hills and surrounded by greenery is this ancient Vishnu temple with impressive architecture. This is a good place for you to have a quiet picnic. From here, you can climb uphill to Pazhamudhir Solai, an abode of Lord Muruga and enjoy the scenic beauty of the place.


Eat local: Madurai has a well-deserved reputation as a foodie destination. The original Murugan Idli Shop is here, quite close to the Meenakshi Temple, and you should stop here for the white-as-jasmine idlis and chutney podi. Amma Mess is another Madurai institution known for its non-vegetarian fare, which includes specials like kola urundai and mutton sukka. 

Published on: Oct. 9, 2021, midnight Last modified on: Nov. 1, 2021, 7:23 a.m.
Priya Bala
Written by

Priya Bala

Writer specialising in food and restaurants, travel and lifestyle, contributing to The Times of India, Bangalore, Hindustan Times Brunch, Discover India, Upper Crust. Author of Start Up Your Restaurant (HarperCollins India), Secret Sauce (HarperCollins India) & FoodPrints - A Trail of Meals & Memories (Popular Prakashan). Home cook-turned-professional chef presenting Sri Lankan cuisine in pop-up formats