January 16th, 2011 by admin

On the night of 01/01/2011 I called up MMTT travel on the way back from Rameswaram to check if seats for package tour to Kanyakumari is available. To our luck it was available. After reaching Madurai we bought the tickets at MMTT office. Kanyakumari package tour cost per person was Rs 450 but the cost may be less during off season.


MMTT Tours and Travels
Hotel Ashoka (KPS)
12, Perumal Theppakulam East,
Town Hall Road, Madurai – 625001
Ph: 2340282, 2343572, 4231177
Email: anil_mmtt@yahoo.co.in

After taking our ticket we went to Sai Punjab Da Dhaba located little away from MMTT office. This is a veg restaurant and you will get here authentic north Indian food at reasonable price.


Sai Punjab Da Dhaba
22, Town Hall road,
Near Canara Bank,
Madurai – 1
Cell: 9626081105, 9488957443

During dinner we received a call that, our bus is ready. Hurriedly we went to said destination and boarded the bus. That was also a mini bus but was better in infrastructure. The bus started around 10.30 pm from Madurai and we reached Kanyakumari around 3.30 am. The bus parked in front of Hotel Shankar’s Guest House. There was no room available there. The other passengers whose stay was also included in the travel were taken by the driver to another hotel in the next by lane. But that hotel is not at all good. Taking the cost factor into account we decided from the beginning that we will not take room and will sit in the bus. However, the driver told that the bus will go to the parking depot and we cant sit in the bus. So with no option we sat at Hotel Sankar’s reception. There the boy offered to give a single room for Rs 500 which will be vacated by 4.30 am. By 5 am we got our room for which I ultimately paid Rs 450 after negotiations.


Hotel Shankar’s Guest House
Main Road, Kanyakumari – 629702
Ph: 04652 – 246260, 246360

We took bath and by 5.50 am boarded our bus. The driver dropped in front of Hotel Sea View and guided us through a nearby lane to the beach for viewing sunrise. The sea side at most places has been embarked with stone boulders and sitting arrangement has been made. As we reached the site it was still dark and I could see only the lights of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. Soon the sky was getting lighter and one could see the blue sea with Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvallur statue in the backdrop. The sunrise here is amazing as you can see the sun rising as it out of the ocean. This place is amazing for photography as well. After you finish watching sunrise, you can take a stroll on the artificial stone path which goes half km inside the sea. The seaside has two church. Please note that most of the places to see in Kanyakumari are within 1 km radius.

Meanwhile after finishing the sunrise point, we tried to contact the bus driver but was unable to find him anywhere. Also, tried to contact MMTT office and I was provided a number that seems to be of their another bus. This did gave us a scare but we decided not to loose time and start watching places. We kept in mind that we need to reach the hotel by 1 pm. While all these going on we stood in the line for the ferry to Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue. The ferry service is run by Poompuhar Shipping Corporation Limited – a government of Tamil Nadu enterprise.

Ferry service cost: Rs 20 per person to and fro
Entry fee to Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Rs 10 per person

Everybody boarding the ferry is given a life jacket but most of them do not wear it properly or just hold them on hand. First the ferry took us to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. While entering inside you will have to open your shoes. You can keep your shoes at the shoe stand. It is said that Swami Vivekananda meditated on this rock after he came back to India from the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, USA in 1893. In 1970 the Ramkishna Misson which Vivekananda founded constructed a memorial in his name on this rock. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is probably the last land formation in the Indian sub continent. Here you can see a solar time table and a direction finder marked on marbles. First I suggest you go and see the stone statue of Vivekananda by climbing the stairs. Also, from here you can get a bird’s eye view of the beaches of Kanyakumari and surrounding. Amazing place for photography. Then you can go the Vivekananda museum located on the opposite side. Here you can also see the sign of the foot of Devi Kanyakumari. I suggest you do take a walk along the length and breath of this rock island. If you would like to visit the Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari, check the following info:

Vivekananda kendra, Vivekanandapuram, Kanyakumari – 629702
Ph: 04652 – 247012, 246250
Email: info@vkendra.org
Website: www.vkendra.org

Check a video taken during 2004 Tsunami:

Then we were taken to Thiruvalluvar statue. Thiruvalluvar was a saint and poet in the Tamil Sangam era. He wrote the masterpiece Thirukkural. It talks about the code of conduct on how should man live life. The 133 feet of Thiruvalluvar was erected on minor rock island near the confluence of three seas – Indian ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea. It was built under the supervision of award winning sculpture Dr. V. Ganapthy sethupathi and weighs 7000 tonnes in granite. At the pedestal of Thiruvalluvar statue there is a little balcony where you can sit or walk around. To reach there you will climb some stairs. From here one can get a amazing view of the Kanyakumari beach side and surrounding.

Devi Kanyakumari Temple: Next we went to Devi Kanyakumari temple or Kumari Amman (virgin goddess) temple which located around 100 meters away by the beach side. The deity here also know as Bhagavathy Amman. She is one of the avatar of goddess Durga. I was told that the temple is more than 3000 years old.

Entry to the temple: One can go for the free darshan (view) for which time spent at the queue is long. Rs 20 for special darshan. Also, one of the temple people offered to give me direct darshan (without any queue) for Rs 100. But looks like this was unofficial.

Timings: 4.30 AM to 12.00 noon and 5.30 PM to 8.45 PM

Gandhi Mandapam: Gandhi Mandapam (house) was constructed at the site where his ashes were kept before immersion at the triveni sangam (confluence of three seas – Indian Ocean, bay of Bengal and Arrabian sea). The ashes of the Indian father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi is kept here. On the ground floor there is also a museum describing the life of Gandhiji. The building is built in such a way that on 2nd october (Gandhiji’s birthday) sun rays falls on where the ashes are kept. Gandhiji is said to have visited this place. The monument is a Orissa/Bengal type of temple built near the triveni sangam. Entry is free here. However, you may be expected to give Rs 1 or 2 for keeping shoes at the shoe stand.

Triveni Sangam: Little further was triveni sangam which means confluence of three seas – Bay of Bengal in the east, Arabian sea in the west and Indian ocean in the south. This place is considered very holy by the Hindus and taking bath here is considered very sacred. If you cant take bath at-least sprinkle water on your head.

Adi Sankaracharya Temple: On the opposite side of Triveni sangam is Sankaracharya Temple. Sankaracharya was a Hindu sage who traveled all over India and constructed many temples through out his journey while spreading Hinduism.

There are other places to see which are located outside Kanyakumari. Some of the prominent are Vattakottai Fort, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Pechiparai Dam, Maruthuvazhmalai, Mathur Aqueduct,Thirparappu waterfalls, Udayagiri Fort, St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Suchindrum Temple etc. I could not visit those places, if you have time you should visit them. However, as I mentioned earlier every sightseeing is located within a radius of 1 km.

For buying sea artifacts I suggest Kanyakumari as it is much cheaper here and you should bargain. We finished our sight seeing around 12.30 pm and on the way back to the hotel had lunch at Hotel Hari on the Main road. This hotel has a good simple menu. We ordered Bangra fish fry (sea fish – Rs 45) and rice – dal (Rs 25). Its a no frill hotel you can try. We reached hotel by 1 pm and took rest for sometime. By the time ( 2 pm) we left Kanyakumari it started raining. Keep in mind that during day time even in winter it can be hot and the sun is really scorching. The road from Kanyakumari to Madurai is excellent as it is part of the North – South corridor. Around kanyakumari one can see huge number of windmills which are used to convert wind energy to electricity. A ride/drive by personal vehicle will be amazing. We reached Madurai around 7.45 pm. This time we found a new hotel called Hotel Palace with the help of the bus driver.

Day 1: Trip to Madurai
Day 2: Trip to Rameswaram

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January 14th, 2011 by admin

on 31st night we have booked tickets for Rameswaram through Sree Devi hotel. At their reception I found the package trip per person to Rameswaram is Rs 275 including food. But dude to season time they charged us Rs 350. We were provided 2 seats on Subbu Travels. The scheduled timing was 7.30 am to 7 pm. on 1st Jan 2011 we were called around 7 am in the morning and by little after 7.30 am we boarded the bus. We were the first passengers on the bus. It was actually a mini bus and was of below average quality. At the next stop they picked up two Bengali families from Kolkata and goodness gracious the scenes they created on the trip was no less than a Govinda flick in terms of laughing intensity. We left Madurai city around 9 am.

Distance from Madurai to Rameswaram: 164 km

Travel time: 3.5 to 4 hours

Route: Madurai – Ramanathapuram – Rameswaram

The roads are very good. But the driver of Subbu travels was very slow and he took more than 4 hours to reach Rameswaram. I suggest you try the following travel agency:

MMTT Tours and Travels

Hotel Ashoka (KPS)
12, Perumal Theppakulam East,
Town Hall Road, Madurai – 625001
Ph: 2340282, 2343572, 4231177
Email: anil_mmtt@yahoo.co.in

About Rameswaram: Rameswaram is one of the 4 dhams of Hindu religion. It is a very important pilgrimage center for the Hindus from all over the World. Geographically Rameswaram is an island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel. It is also known as pamban island. The early rulers of Rameswaram were the Pandya kings and Chola kings. Followed by Nayak kings as feudals of Vijaynagara empire and then independently upto 17th century. Then earlier chieftains of Rameswaram – the Sethupathis came to power. It is said that the generation of Sethupathis were there when Ram visited Rameswaram.

Sight seeing in Rameswaram:

First we saw Pamban bridge which comes on the way to Rameswaram. Pamban Bridge is actually a set of two bridges – one rail bridge and a road bridge. It connects mainland India with Rameswaram island. The bridge is over Palk Strait or Pamban channel. The 2.3 km bridge is the first sea bridge in India and at present second largest sea bridge after Bandra – Worli sea link in Mumbai. The railway bridge is a cantilever bridge and it allows movement of ships. The railway bridge construction was started in 1887 and was completed on 1912. This British constructed bridge started operation on 1914. The road bridge called Annai Indira Gandhi bridge, named after late prime minister of India Indira Gandhi.

There is a light house and a nice beach on the Rameswaram side.

Sita kund or sri Sita Teertham which comes on the left hand side. It is a small tank which is associated with Sita (wife of Ram). The tank has many small fish. Entry fee is Rs 2 per person.

Then we went to Lakshman kund or sri Lakshmana Teertham. This place is located on the right hand side of the road near Sita Teertham. Before entering Lakshmana Teertham on the right had side you find Naganathar (Snake god) temple. Entrance is Rs 2 per person and the tank here is comparatively much bigger. Besides the tank is a well built temple dedicated to Lakshman in Nag avatar.

Next was Ramachandra temple which is little further on the right hand side of the road. In this temple Ram, Lakshman and Sita is worshiped together. Just after the entrance on the left hand side you can find a Hanuman statue and little further is the deity of Ram, Lakshman and Sita. Here, you can also see the amazing floating stones with which Ram built the Ram sethu (bridge) to visit Sri Lanka and bring back Sita. This stones are made up of limestone and are perforated. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside this temple.

Then we had food and moved to see Agni Teertham. To view Agni Teertham you have take the road opposite to Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. On the way you will find Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Amman temple. On the left hand side you will find a small temple for lord Shankar (Shiva) and on the right hand side a temple for lord Ram. Walk little further and you will see red and white gates built by Acharya Satguru Teoonram Ji Maharaj. On top the gates Agni teertham is written. The sea at Agni Teertham is very calm and water is very shallow. You should take bath in the clean blue waters of Bay of Bengal. This place is hold very holy as Ram after killing Ravan in Lanka came here and took bath. Typically people first take bath here and then go to visit Sri Ramanathaswamy temple.

The beach here has been embanked after Agni Teertham with tiles and railing so you can walk at least 1 km on the sea side up extended bridge into the sea. However, the entrance to the bridge is closed now. You can see some ships, steamers or small fishing boats on the sea here.

The last and the most important place we visited in Rameswaram is Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. This temple is has a wonderful architecture with four corridors surrounding the temple. The temple is said to be more than 12000 years old and built by Lord Ram. It is said that, sri Ram wanted to pray to lord Shiva and asked to Hanuman (Anjeneya) to bring a Shivalinga (idol of lord Shiva) from mount Kailash in the Himalayas. As Hanuman was late, meanwhile Sita built a Shivalinga with sand and Sri Ram prayed there. On his return, Hanuman was upset that his Shivalinga will not be worshiped. He tried to remove the sand Shivalinga but he could not. Then Lord Ram told him, that his Shivalinga will be first worshiped and then the sand Shivalinga will be worshiped. So we can infer that the installation of the idol was very old but the present structure of the temple is not that old. The temple was mainly built by the Sethupathi kings. However, apart from them many others also contributed in restoration and re-novation.

The temple has beautiful gopurams (tower) typical of Tamil Nadu but they are not colourful as in Madurai. Here the towers are painted in cream colour. It also has 108 teerthams (small tank) which are dedicated to sages and others. I saw people bathing with those water as they are considered holy. At the entrance of the temple you can keep your shoes. the other side of the entrance has a small market which sell religious artifacts and sea artifacts like shankh (sea shell) etc. We bought few items from shop # 32, 37. But make sure that you bargain your heart out. Also, if you are visiting Kanyakumari, I suggest you buy sea artifacts from there as it is cheap there.

Also, note that photography is not allowed in the inner shrine area.

One go for special darshan for Rs 50 per person which allows you to view the Shivalinga closely. The way to the special darshan is fitted with nice paintings and description of Lord Ram’s Vanavas (journey in the forest). The room in which the Shivalinga is kept, only deeps(soil lamp) are lit. It is a beautiful to see the Shivalinga amidts deeps and a silver snake keeping its hood on top of the Shivalinga.

Official website: www.rameswaramtemple.org

You should also see Kodandaramaswamy temple, Ramar Padam, Dhanushkodi which I could not visit.


1. Hotel Royal Park
Semma Madam,
Ramnad Highway, Rameswaram – 23526
Ph: (04573) 221680, 221323
Cell: 94431 59722, 9500459009
Website: http://www.hotelroyalpark.in

2. Hotel Tamil Nadu
TTDC, Rameshwaram

3. Hotel Hare Rama Hare Krishna
15/24,Ramar Padham Road
Thittakudi Street

4. Gujarat Bhavan
Sanadhi Street

I suggest you stay at Rameswaram for at least 2 days so that you can see everything at peace and enjoy the place.

Around 5 pm we started our backyard journey. We were lucky to see the sun set from Pamban bridge. We reached Madurai again by 9.45 pm.

Day 1: Tour of Madurai

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/

January 6th, 2011 by admin

On my recent trip to Madurai, I visited Thirumalai Nayak palace built by king Thirumalai Nayak of Madurai. The palace from outside looks like a medium sized godown. But once you enter inside it is another world in terms of architecture. The palace was built in a combination of Italian and Indian architecture.

Thirumalai Nayak was the 7th king of the Nayakkar dynasty of Madurai. The Nayakkars used to be the feudatory of the Vijaynagar empire before they declared themselves independent. He built the palace in 1636. Today only one fourth portion of the original palace exists. The existing portion includes king Thirumalai Nayak’s residence and his court room. The palace had two residential parts – Rangavilasam and Swargavilasam. What we see today is mainly the Swargavilasam part. The palace is also said to have had a palace shrine, band stand, theater, relatives and maid quarters, lotus pond, garden etc. Also, a portion of the palace was demolished by his grandson king Chokkanatha Nayak and took the materials to Tiruchirapalli to built a palace there. The palace was saved from further ruins by efforts of the then governor of Madras, Lord Napier who conducted restoration work in 1858.

The first day we just watched the sound and light show in the evening. It describes the reign of King Thirumalai Nayak as king and the history behind Nayakkar dynasty with sound and light effects. The palace looks amazing with the lighting effects.

Sound and light show timings:

1. 6.45 – 7.35 pm in English
2. 8 – 8.50 pm in Tamil

Ticket cost: Rs 50 per adult and Rs 25 for children (aged 5 to 12 years)

Note: There will be no refund for power failure or rain

To see Thirumalai Nayak Palace properly, we visited there again on the last day (4th day) of our stay in Madurai. We reached there by 4.15 pm. Now that I can see the palace in clear day light, I was pleased to see a very different architecture. The huge pillars are similar to what you can see in Roman temples or palaces. After the entrance what we see is the darbar hall or court room. At one end you can see a throne, from here king Thirumalai Nayak used to preside his court proceedings. The center of the court room is low compared to the surrounding with open space and no roof. I suggest you see the roof ceiling for the extensive painting and art work. It is a treat to the eyes.

From the right side to the throne, you can visit the Palace museum through a door. During my visit work was still on. They were installing ancient stone crafted and bronze crafted statues collected from various parts of Tamil Nadu. I have seen there statues as early as 6th and 7th century. From there you can go out through another door to see the exterior of the palace. There too a large number ancient statues has been placed. All these statues are related to Hindu religion or mythology. By the time we had just finished watching everything, it was 5 pm and we were requested to leave.

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm

Ticket cost:

Indian adult: Rs 10
Indian children: Rs 5
Foreign adult: Rs 50
Foreign children: Rs 25
Camera fees: Rs 30
Video camera fees: Rs 100

Auto fare from Town hall road or in and around Meenakshi temple is Rs 30. Do not give more than Rs 35.

Distance from Meenakshi temple: 1.5 km

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January 5th, 2011 by admin

This holiday season of 2010, I was planning a trip of 2 – 3 days. I checked for couple of options like Vishakapatnam (vizag) in Andra Pradesh or Thanjavur, Madurai and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. First went to check train tickets for Vishakhapatnam but no tickets were available. Then we were left with the option of Madurai. My research shown that it is not possible to cover Madurai, Rameswaram and Tanjavur in 3 days. So we restructured our plan for only Madurai and Rameswaram. Please note that, Tanjavur has many places to see and you must give time at Breehadeshwara temple to enjoy its architectural beauty. There are also many places around Tanjavur like Kumbakonam. There are direct buses from Bangalore and Chennai to Tanjavur and Kumbakonam.

Train tickets for Madurai were not available. So if you are going for holiday then plan early. Fix the date as soon as possible and execute it as early as possible too in terms of buying travel tickets, booking hotels etc. However, I was lucky to get tickets on KSRTC bus on 29th December 2010. But I had to cancel the ticket as my friend could not come on that day. The cancellation cost me Rs 90. So while booking ticket on KSRTC make sure about your date of journey and book the ticket. I booked tickets for 30th December 2010, 9 pm and return ticket from Madurai on 3rd January, 2011, 9.45 pm.

Ticket cost Bangalore to Madurai per person is Rs 312. If you purchase return ticket at the same time, you will get around 10% discount. All KSRTC Tamil Nadu buses these days leaves from Shanti Nagar bus stand platform # 4. On 30/12/2010 I left home around 7.15 pm and reached the bus stand in time. The Rajahamsa bus left around 9.10 pm.

Route taken was: Shanti Nagar bus stand – Dairy circle – Madiwala – Hosur road – Krishnagiri – Salem – Dindigul – Madurai

The bus given stoppage at Hotel Poli near Krishnagiri. Very tasty food there. After pet puja (stomach service) I slept on our onward journey to Madurai. Road is very good and saw a couple of toll gates on the way.

I will be giving the details of the trip on a day by day basis:

Day 1 – Madurai
Day 2 – Rameswaram
Day 3 – Kanyakumari
Day 4 – Madurai

Remaining details coming soon…..

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