January 10th, 2011 by admin

On 31st December 2010 around 6.45 am we reached Madurai. The outstation bus stand is at Mattuthavani which is around 7 – 8 km from Town Hall road or Meenakshi temple area. From the bus stand itself you will be offered tours and hotel booking by tourist agents. Judge properly and if you like you can go for it. We decided to go to the city. The auto fare from Mattuthavani to Town Hall road or Meenakshi temple area is Rs 50 – 60. Do not give more than Rs 70. However due to our ignorance we have been charged Rs 80. The auto driver also shown us a hotel according to our budget of within Rs 500/day. The first day we stayed in hotel Sree Devi.

Hotel Sree Devi
West Avani Moola Street, Madurai – Main
Madurai, Tamil Nadu 625 001
Ph: 0452 2347432

This is one of the worst hotel I have ever been to. They do not even understand the ABC of service. I am pretty sure they over charged us. After seeing the room one waiter told Rs 505 and at the reception another boy told Rs 525. At this I responded, I am told Rs 505 and the boy murmured ok ok!! So you can well understand. We asked for a cup of tea and the room boy got a small flask and asked for Rs 25. We asked for a blanket and we were told it will cost Rs 20 extra. However, the blanket never arrived. Room and bathroom were not clean enough. You may visit this hotel only and only if you do not have any better option. Read other reviews of this hotel on Indiamike.

I found a better hotel later on Town Hall road at Rs 450.

Hotel Palace
8, Perumal Tank south,
Town hall road,
Madurai – 625001
Ph: 0452 – 2342335

This is a nice hotel with spacious double bed room, clean bathroom and with TV. The room boy was efficient and prompt.

The first thing we saw in Madurai was Meenakshi temple. I suggest you leave early in the morning by 6 – 7 am as you will need at least 4 hours to enjoy the beauty of the temple and complete darshan (see the deities). Visit the above link to read about Meenakshi temple in detail.

For sightseeing in Madurai, I inquired at Sree Devi hotel. The man at the reception told me he can provide a Indica car for Rs 1000 and auto will cost Rs 700. A travel agent at Mattuthavani bus stand told Rs 950 for Indica car. We decided to go for an Auto and started bargaining with a autowallah in front of hotel Sree Devi. He agreed only at Rs 700.

We first went to Gandhi museum located at Tamukkam. The white building is actually Tamukkam Palace built by Rani Mangammal of Nayak dynasty in 1670. During British times, this palace used to be the residence of the then collector of Madurai. In 1955 the Tamil Nadu government gifted the palace to All India Gandhi Smarak Nidhi for Gandhi memorial museum. The museum has a large collection of pictures and artifacts of Mahatma Gandhi. It also describes the freedom movement of India. It has a book store on the right hand side of the museum. This museum was inagurated in 1959 by the then prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.

Timings: 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5.30 pm
Entry is free.

Website: http://www.gandhimmm.org/

Next we went to Alagar koil. Alagar is the Tamil name of lord Vishnu. It is located around 21 km outside Madurai city at the foot of Alagar hills. It was nice ride through the country side of Madurai district along paddy fields, dry vegetation and small hill range. We reached there around 3.30 pm and the temple was closed then. We saw it from outside. Alagar temple has a large gopuram (tower) in typical colourful Madurai style. On the right hand side of the entrance there is a pond. The temple is said to be very old and built by the Pandyan kings. On the way to Alagar temple you can see a giant statute of lord Vishnu sitting on Ananta Nag and Goddess Durga.

At the top of Alagar hills, you can see a temple dedicated to Lord Muruga (Karthik). It is also called Pazhamudircholai temple. You can reach the top by private vehicle or use a public mini bus which shuttles every 30 minutes. You can use Madurai city bus # 44. One can get a nice panoramic view from the top of Alagar hills.

Mariamman Teppakulam: Mariamman Teppakulam is a beautiful square shaped tank spread over 16 acres. At the middle of the tank there is a temple. The tank was built by Madurai king Thirumalai Nayak. On the birth anniversary of king Thirumalai Nayak a festival takes place every year. Mariamman (Durga) temple is located on the north of the tank. On the east of the tank there is a statue of king Thirumalai Nayak holding sword. It is located around 5 km from Meenakshi temple.

Next we went to St. Mary cathedral. It is one of the oldest Roman catholic church in India. The church was built in Gothic style with two parallel towers at the entrance. It was nicely decorated as it was new year time.

By the time we reached Thirupparankundram Temple, it was evening. It is located at the base of a hill around 8 km from Madurai on Madurai – Kanyakumari national highway (NH 7). On way to Kanyakumari on NH 7 take a left turn and cross a railway line to reach Thirupparankundram Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Subramanya Swamy (Karthik).

The temple priest told me the the temple is more than 1500 years old. At the entrance of the temple you will see stone carved pillars with various deities on them. Among them you can see Bhadra khali. In the evening deeps (soil lamp) are lighted which is a beautiful sight. I saw a large wooden peacock which a partner of Lord Subramanya. The temple also imparts training to budding priests.

As you go further, you can see a large Nandi. The inner shrine and the scantam sanatorium is carved out of rock. The deities include lord Subramanya, Sri Daivanai, goddess Durga and Lord Vishnu.


1. Photography is not allowed in the inner shrine area
2. You can obtain special darshan(view) ticket for Rs 50/person to view the deities from close distance

You can also climb the hill located at the back of Thirupparankundram Temple to see a Karthik temple. There are well laid steps to reach the top. You will enjoy the beautiful panoramic view from the top. On the right hand side of NH 7 near the temple there is a large lake dotted with small hills at its periphery.

Website: http://thiruparankundramtemple.org

At last we reached Thirumalai Nayak palace around 6.45 pm. By then palace had closed for public viewing. The light and sound show had already started. So quickly bought a ticket and went in. Read the complete details about Thirumalai Nayak palace by visiting the link at my other post.

Following this we were done for the day and we wanted to have dinner. The auto driver suggest Hotel Amrutha but it was closed. Then he took us to another upscale restaurant where we had chicken biriyani.

Hotel Milagu
#414, North Masai Street (opp. Gowri Palamudircholai)
Madurai – 625001, Tamil Nadu
Ph: 0452 – 4230363
cell: 9965568048

However, quantity was less in proportion to the price and taste is very average. Then we winded up for the day and returned to Hotel Sree Devi.

Day 2: Trip to Rameswaram

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January 7th, 2011 by admin

This is the first time I visited Meenakshi temple in Madurai. We went to see the temple at around 11.30 am. We entered the temple through the west tower. To give you the details the temple has 4 gates know as east tower, west tower, north tower and south tower. If you enter from the east tower, Meenakshi amman (devi) shrine is near and if you enter through the south tower Lord Sundareshwar (Shiva) shrine is near. On top of Lord Sundareshwar and Goddess Meenakshi shrine there is a gold gopuram (tower).

The temple is said to be more than 2000 years old and has been built by Pandya king Kulasekara Pandya. Meenakshi temple is mentioned in Tamil literature as early as 7th century and references to it has been found as early as to 1st century. Madurai city is said to be around 2500 – 3000 years old and Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple has been at the heart of its existence. The temple stands over an area of 17 acres and the city of Madurai has been built around it. The temple had been destroyed by Malik Kafur in 1310, a general of Alauddin Khilji – the then ruler of Delhi sultanate. The reconstruction work was started by the first Nayak king of Madurai Viswanatha Nayak. The most notable contribution was made by king Thirumalai Nayak.

At the entrance of each tower, you will be frisked by plain cloth police man. Women and men have separate line. Please not carry knives, scissors, chemical items etc as such and do not wear half or medi pants. There are free shoe stand at the south, east and north towers. However, the keepers will ask for some money (you may give Rs 1 or 2). At the north tower entrance there is a small market. Shops here sells pooja and religious items. After the shops in a front of a door you will find a bronze decorated ring on which deeps (soil lamps) are lighted every evening.

I have visited Meenakshi temple three times during my visit. First time we quickly saw Sundareshwar shrine and then proceeded to Meenakshi amman shrine. You were lucky to finish it before 1 pm.

special darshan – Rs 15 per person (special queue – less waiting time)
Special direct darshan – Rs 100 per person (no need to stand in queue)

We visited again on the morning of the 4th day of our trip. However, after sometime the battery of camera was over and we had to leave. We again came back in the evening by 6 pm. This time we took a lot of time to appreciate the beauty and holy atmosphere of the temple in peace. This time we entered through the east tower and first went for dashan of Meenakshi devi. We took the special darshan for Rs 15. As you move on the queue you will see two beautiful bronze statues near to the pedestal which you will climb to see Goddess Meenakshi. While moving on the pedestal you will see a beautiful statue of Nataraj (an avatar of lord Shiva) made of silver.

At both Meenakshi devi and Sundareswar shrine only soil lamps are used in the inner shrine area. There are also deities of lord Ganesha (by name Vinayakar), Navagraha, Nandi, Bhadra kali, Hanuman etc. The temple is made up of beautifully crafted stone pillars which are painted at the top along with the ceiling. An elephant blesses people on receiving offerings typically Rs 1 or 2 coin by placing its trunk on people’s head. Near to Meenakshi devi shrine, here is Golden lotus pond. Here you find a lotus made of gold and a golden statue in the middle of the pond. The water of golden lotus pond is considered very holy and if one takes bath here on a auspicious day and then pray to Shiva (Sundareswar shrine) then his or her will be fulfilled. You can also take good pictures from this area as many of the towers can be seen from here.

Finally we visited the Meenakshi temple art museum and thousand pillar mandapam located inside the temple complex. This area is called thousand pillar mandapam as it made of a thousand pillars. Entry free for the museum is Rs 5 per person. If you have already paid camera fees it will cover the museum too. The museum has an amazing collection of old bronze statues, coins of Madurai sultanate, coins of other Madurai kings, a sample structure of Madurai temple, stone carves statues of deities like lord Ganesha, an old door and artifacts. At the center of the museum it has beautiful lined stone crafted pillar leading to a statue of Nataraj (an avatar of lord Shiva). Visit the Meenakshi temple Museum photo gallery

Temple timings: 5 am to 12.30 pm and 4 pm to 9.30 pm
However in dhannur or Chaitra month (in between December 15th to January 15th) the temple remains open from 3 am to 1 pm and 3.30 pm to 9.30 pm.

Entry is free
Camera fees: Rs 50


1. Photography is prohibited in the inner shrine area
2. Only Hindus are allowed in certain areas like the inner shrine
3. Prasad is available inside the temple complex near the Hanuman shrine. A tasty laddoo cost Rs 10. You can purchase other items too.

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Official Website: http://www.maduraimeenakshi.org/

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