Located in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is a city known for its historical and cultural significance. The city has said to be constructed in the shape of a lotus around the infamous Meenakshi Amman temple. It is known as the ‘Athens of the East’ as it has a similar architectural style, including alleyways. The rulers of the Nayak Dynasty constructed various magnificent temples and buildings making it one of the top places in India to attract pilgrims and tourists in large numbers. There are a lot of things to do in Madurai mentioned here.
Madurai is encircled by mountains of historic importance – Nagamalai, Yaanaimalai to name a few. The city is known as the temple city due to the presence of various Hindu temples of cultural value. There is no dearth of things to see in Madurai and you can explore the city the way you like.
Top 10 Things to Do in Madurai for Tourists
1. Shop and enjoy the heritage at Puthu Mandapam
This popular place is dedicated to Lord Sundareswarar and was built by King Thirumalai Nayakkar. With a 17th-century pillared entrance hall located opposite to Meenakshi Temple, this place is filled with tailors and stalls displaying scarves, handicrafts, fabric, artwork, jewellery, fashion accessories which are available for sale. If you are looking for special things to buy in Madurai, Pudhu Mandapam is a must-visit for you.
One can find good quality clothes and replicas as well. This place depicts architectural brilliance with a mandapam heightened at 25 feet. This place was used as a venue for festivals of the temple such as float festival, Avani Moolam, etc. There are 124 pillars surrounding the mandapam.
- Location: Madurai Main
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2. Drench in the interiors of Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
Thirumalai Nayak Palace is one of the important things to see in Madurai during your visit to this beautiful city. This palace dates back to 1636 AD constructed by King Thirumalai Nayak. The palace is a spectacular monument of the South with a perfect blend of Dravidian and Rajput styles. The interior is in Indo-Saracen style and this palace is considered as one of the breathtaking monument constructed by the Madurai Nayak Dynasty.
The palace used to be four times bigger than what is today. The stucco work on the domes and arches of the palace looks very rich. Divided into two main sections namely Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa, the palace contains some 248 pillars.
- Location: Panthadi, 1st Street Mahal Area
- Opening hours: All days of the week – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
3. Have scrumptious breakfast at Murugan Idli Shop
One must try cuisines at this authentic South Indian restaurant. Established in the year of 1993 this Idli Shop is an exquisite and vegetarian South Indian restaurant. One can relish the taste of the cuisines which is not only tasty to the tongue but is embodied in rich nutrients. Experience the authenticity of South India in every dish here.
The menu includes a wide variety of mouth-watering idli, crispy hot dosas, and lip-smacking chutneys, podis and others that are some of the best things to eat in Madurai. The speciality drinks ‘Jigarthanda ’ is a must-try. They have a lot of branches in Tamil Nadu but this is their first branch.
- Location: West Masi Street
- Opening hours: All days of the week – 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
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4. Reflect on the pre-independence era at Gandhi Memorial Museum
Among the many things to do in Madurai, paying a visit to the Gandhi Memorial Museum is highly recommended. This place is constructed in the remembrance of Mahatma Gandhi. It pays homage to his tribute to our country. Being one of the few Gandhi Museums in the entire wide nation this museum houses mementoes associated with Indian history like the bloodstained cloth Gandhi wore while taking his last breath in 1948. Historic Stamps of the British and few letters handwritten to and by Mahatma Gandhi are also there.
India’s freedom struggle is depicted here, in one of the five great Gandhi Museums in the country. This museum in Madurai falls under the ‘Peace Museums’ as selected by the United Nations Organization (UNO).
- Location: Tamukkam Park Road, Gandhi Nagar
- Opening hours: All days of the week – 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM to 5:45 PM
5. Feel divine at Mariamman Teppakulam
Another important and famous things in Madurai is this beautiful and astounding Vandiyur Mariamman Temple located close to the Meenakshi Temple. Dedicated to Lord Vigneshwara, this divine temple is a must-visit on our list. The temple compound has a huge tank which holds the record of being the largest one in the entire of Tamil Nadu.
History says that the god’s idol which is placed inside the temple was found at the bottom of the tank. That’s how the tank has gained popularity and this temple was thus constructed in its memory. Various famous festivals are celebrated here with great pomp and pleasure.
- Location: About 5 km from the Meenakshi temple
- Opening hours: all days of the week- 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
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6. Feel local at the Vilachery Pottery Village
If you are looking for some special things to buy from Madurai to gift your friends or family, or simply collect artefacts from various places you’ve visited, we highly recommend visiting Vilachery pottery village. Located 15km out of the city, Vilachery is a great place to explore the craftsmanship of the town. Visualising on how Hindu idols are created out of clay and painted in distinct hues is no less than a treat to the eye. You can buy a number of clay idols with intricate carving and drenched in vivid colours from this place.
This place is home to approximately 150-200 families of potters who make their living out of these crafts every day. Apart from Hindu idols they also make nativity sets for Christmas. Walking through the lanes of the village seeing the artisans at work can provide a glimpse into the local culture at Madurai.
7. Enjoy some peaceful time at Meenakshi Temple
This forms the focal point of Madurai as the city was formed around the Shiva lingam that’s inside its temple. Spread over a land of 15 acres with 4,500 pillars and 12 towers this is a living temple with a constant stream of couples who visit this place for the purpose of marriage.
This temple is dedicated to Parvati and Lord Shiva. This temple is unique from the others as God and Goddess are worshipped together. The interiors include the exquisite facade with great art pieces made in minute details and are mounted in the walls and pillars across the temple.
- Location: East Chitrai Street
- Opening hours: All days of the week – 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM, 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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8. Enjoy the warm sunrise and sunsets at Vaigai Dam
The Vagai Dam is one of the best things to see in Madurai. This is a magnificent man-made structure constructed over River Vaigai near Andipatti which is located at a distance of 70 kilometres from Madurai. This site is a popular picnic spot for group excursions and families. The mesmerising scenery makes it a must-go for photo fanatics.
The splendid view illuminated in the evening can make one stay here for hours. The river is bordered by scenic hills and lush greenery. The dam is about 111 feet tall with a beautiful garden known as Little Brindavan which has a variety of exotic flowers and plants and is visited by a lot of nature lovers.
- Location: Guest House Rd, Melmangalam
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9. Grab some lip-smacking food at Madurai Kumar Mess
Apart from temples, food is also one of the special things in Madurai that you must enjoy while visiting this place. It is a local Chettinad chain restaurant in Madurai with a conviction to serve its customers with the best quality dishes and consistent taste. The famous cuisine includes Chettinad and Chinese. Some of our recommendations are Prawn Pepper Fry, Mutton Curry, Mutton Chukka, Mutton Biryani, Mutton Nalli, Mutton Varuval and Chicken Biryani.
- Location: 165 & 167, 100 Feet Road, Vadapalani
- Opening hours: All days of the week – 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM, 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM
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10. Explore local stuff at Prithu Mandapam Market
No trip is complete without shopping. The Prithu Mandapam Market is an old pillared hall which is famous for purchasing cotton fabrics. The market is filled with shops dealing with handicrafts, metallurgical articles, and textiles. Inside the market, there is a famous government handicraft emporium which is known to offer handicrafts from all over India.
Apart from having a lot of historical monuments this place is education and industrial hub in South India. The cultural heritage of the city is sure to leave you in awe. Do let us know about your experiences in the comment section below and also places which are worth visiting which we may have missed.
If you are planning to visit Madurai sometime, do scroll through our list of the top 10 things to do in Madurai to enjoy a fulfilling trip in this amazing temple town. If you have already visited Madurai, share your experience with us in the comment section.