Madurai in pictures: India’s bewildering temple
Madurai’s Meenaksi temple is one of those temples that you can not describe in words. It’s a place that you need to experience with all your senses. The sounds of the temple bells, the smell of sweets, the sight of beautiful carvings and paintings.
Madurai can be an explosion of colours, but there are also more sober shrines. Then there is the chaos and India’s characteristic hustle and bustle, but also the serenity and spirituality.
Madurai’s Meenakshi temple
India has thousands of temples, but the Meenaksi temple is something special. Of all the places and temples I have visited in India it remains on the top of my list. Don’t think that a sneek peek inside can satisfy you. A visit to this temple can easily take up your whole day.
It is a huge complex of high walls, impressive gateways and sacred spaces where it is easy to lose yourself among the more than 30,000 sculptures. There is even a bazaar and a museum. No matter how lost you are in time and space, at some point you will find yourself back at the courtyard pool. Here you can see some of the 14 gateway towers.
Madurai: The spiritual heart of Tamil Nadu
Madurai is the spiritual heart of Tamil Nadu. 20,000 pilgrims visit the temple every day. Just like Varanasi something interesting is happening around every corner. Families come here to seek their blessings after important life events. New born babies and couples that just got married all celebrate this in the presence of the gods with each other and with ayone that wants to join.
Madurai is also one of India’s oldest cities. According to the legends god Indra built the Meenaksi temple when he was on a pilgrimage somewhere in the 6th century. The current structure is an example of the Dravidian style common in South India.
Its history extends into the lively market opposite the temple where business continues among old temple ruins. Don’t miss this market to do some last minute souvenir shopping. Madurai is famous for silk, cotton and jasmine.
How to visit Madurai
Madurai is an easy detour if you are travelling in Kerala. There are buses from the following towns: Kochin (8 hours), Munnar (4 hours), Thekkady (3,5 hours), Kodaikanal (3 hours) & Chennai (8 hours).
From Mysore or Bangalore there is the daily Tutticorin express leaving Mysore at 18:00 & Bangalore at 21:15, arriving in Madurai at 07:20
To read where in Kerala is the best place to see Kerala’s backwaters read my post on the best places to see Kerala’s backwaters.