Things to Do in Madurai

Although when you think of Tamil Nadu, its capital might strike you as a place of major attraction. There’s no wonder that Chennai in itself is a versatile city with loads of ethnic practices to check out, nevertheless, India’s one of the oldest cities, Madurai, has attracted a lot of tourists for its rich history which started long before the existence of Chennai. Considering the best things to do in Madurai, the place thrives with the resonation of being one of the prevalent cities that traded with Rome, which is subtly reflected by its people’s lifestyle and culture.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple is renowned throughout the world and tourists both native and foreign to India craze over this majestic maze-like structure since its inception. Madurai is one of those prominent Indian spots that vehemently dictates a sharp disjunction between being a cultural hub of religious enthusiasts and historical fanatics and having an economy that is driven by IT. Its charmingly bustling crowd and hustling streets are crowned with the fact that this city is effortlessly managed by a well-rounded system that tourists absolutely adore.

Being an exclusive attraction for its temples built by the Pandyan kingdom and Madurai Nayak kings in the Dravidian style of architecture, it carries a sharply distinctive form of architecture that is unique to India and an inspiration for the world.

Madurai could be accessed by air, train, and road since it is a major hub of tourists throughout the year. Due to the limitation of its size, the city does not entertain any metro or local train facilities for touring within; however, one can always find bus, auto-rickshaw and hired cars for touring.

The best things to do in Madurai mainly include temple and monumental sightseeing, which is found extremely tasteful by those who are stoked with architectural senses. The rich history of Madurai gives this city a weight like no other place in the whole of India.

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Meghamalai, locally known as the ‘High Wavy Mountains’, is a picturesque mountain range and amongst the most beautiful places to visit in Madurai. Nestled amidst lush and fragrant tea, cinnamon, pepper, and cardamom plantations and dotted with green meadows, waterfalls, and wildflower patches, this is the perfect place to escape into the remarkable raw beauty of nature.

Meghamalai has beautiful and rugged nature trails that take one deep into the forests at the local wildlife sanctuary that house hundreds of species of exotic birds like spotted doves, blue robins, and the Great Indian hornbill. Some parts of the forests also provide habitat to leopards, Indian gaurs, elephants, and tigers.  Don’t miss to see the beautiful Suruli and Meghamalai waterfalls and visit dams like Manalar, Thekkady, Vanniar, etc. that are stunningly lush enclaves of nature. There are ancient temples like the hilltop Murugan and Mangala Devi Temples that are not only visited by thousands to pray but are also great viewpoints for people to soak in panoramic views of the place. 
Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple, also known as the Meenakshi-Sundershwara Temple, is a famous tourist attraction in Madurai and is one of the oldest temples in India. This temple holds great importance to the Indian people due to its mythological and historical significance. It is believed to be the site where Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati (Meenakshi), in the form of Sundareswarar (meaning the handsome one).

The temple is known for its astonishing architecture and is thronged by thousands of devotees every single day. The marvellous architecture of the temple surely makes it one of the Wonder of India. The Thirukalyanam Festival, which is quite famous in South India is celebrated over a span of 10 days and attracts over a million devotees. 

Temple visiting time: 5:00 am to 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Time spent in temple: 1 - 2 hours

Best time to visit: Early morning or evening, for the aarti

Best months to visit: October to March 

Things to remember: As it is a place of worship, visitors should dress respectfully and conservatively

Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
One of the most popular tourist places in Madurai, the Thirumalai Nayak Palace was originally the residence of the then king Thirumalai Nayak. This palace is a testimony to the perfect blend of Dravidian and Islamic style of architecture.

Erected in the year 1635, the palace was a magnificent vision by the king for his royal stay. If you’re a history lover and appreciate the marvels of architecture then this is the place to be. The light and sound show here, every evening, makes the visit even more memorable. 

Visiting time of the palace: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Time spent in the palace: About 2 hours to explore all the accessible areas

Entry fee: Rs 5 for children
                Rs 10 for adults
                Rs 50 for foreign nationals

Best time to visit: Mid-afternoon to explore all the accessible areas of the palace and catch the light and sound show.
Vaigai Dam

Located about 70 km away from Madurai, Vaigai is a magnificent dam that graces the beautiful Vaigai river. A blessing for the natives of Madurai, Theni and Dindigul, Vaigai Dam has provided for and been a source of employment for several families since its inauguration in 1959. The dam neighbours a lovely little garden known as the ‘Little Brindavan’, a favourite amongst picnickers and kids. It also harbours a musical fountain that operates on weekends and public holidays.

Monsoon is the ideal time to enjoy the beauty of Vaigai, when it is at its peak. The water level rises significantly, and there’s lush greenery for as far as the eyes can see. If you’re seeking some solitude and peace, Vaigai is the place to be.

06:00 AM to 06:00 

Entry Fee:
 No entry fee

Guest House Rd, Melmangalam, Tamil Nadu 625562

Alagar Koyil

Sitting about 21 km away from Madurai, Alagar Koyil, alternatively known as Azhagar Kovil, is one of the most visited temples of Madurai. Besides the religious significance that the temple holds, it is also an architectural marvel. Depicting the forms and styles of the early Sangam age, the era that it belongs to, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple walls are embellished with fine, captivating carvings, while several mandapams warehoused within.

The presiding deity here is Lord Sundararajan, the brother of Goddess Meenakshi. There are a few shrines dedicated to deities like Andal, Sudarshana and Yoga Narasimha in the temple.

Timings: 09:00 AM to 07:00 PM

Entry Fee: 
No entry fee

Alagar Koyil main road, Tamil Nadu

Goripalayam Dargah
This ancient dargah, one of the most intriguing places to visit in Madurai, dates back to the 13th-century and is dedicated to two famous saints Khwaja Alauddin Badusha and Khwaja Shamsuddin Badusha who came from Oman to spread the knowledge of Islam. The dargah, the largest in Madurai, houses the shrines of both these saints that are visited by people from all over Tamil Nadu to seek blessings and peace.

There is an interesting inscription here that details how the dargah came into being during the ancient Pandiyan regime when Madurai was mostly under Islamic rule and influence. The dargah, in shades of pristine white, is easy to spot amidst the surrounding winding alleys due to its tall minarets and its huge dome. It has a beautiful Islamic-Dravidian architecture that includes ornate arches, stone pillars, and cool marble floors. It even houses a shelter where people of all faiths stay for days and months to seek divine blessings amidst the serene ambience of Quran recitals and the holy azaan.

Timings: Every day from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm.
Samanar Hills
The beautiful views from the Samanar Hills make them among the top tourist attractions in Madurai. The hill complex is located in the Keelakuilkudi village, about 15 km away from the main city of Madurai. The significance of this spot is deep-rooted in the presence of Tamil Jain monks who resided here around 2000 years ago.

The carvings on the walls give an account of the way of living and the rules that monks followed. There is also a beautiful lotus temple situated on the premise.

Visiting time of the hills: Sunrise to sunset

Time spent in the temple: Around 2 hours

Best time to visit: Early morning, to beat the sun during the hike to the top

Things to remember: The trek to reach the top of the hill can take up to 2 hours
Koodal Azhagar Temple

For the worshippers of Lord Vishnu, the Koodal Azhagar Temple is surely one of the finest places to visit in Madurai. Originally built by the Pandyas, the temple is situated right in the middle of the city of Madurai. Koodal is another name for Madurai whereas, Azhagar means “beautiful one” in Tamil.

The temple is surrounded by a granite wall, enclosing all the shrines. Constructed in the Dravidian architecture style, the temple is beautifully sculpted and carved by adding hues of different colours.  

Visiting time of the temple: 5:30 am to 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Time spent in the temple: 1 - 2 hours

Entry fee: Rs 10 for children

                Rs 20 for adults

Best time to visit: Early morning or evening, to attend the aarti

Best months to visit: Mid February to mid March to attend the festivals

Things to remember: As it is a place of worship, visitors should dress respectfully and conservatively

Gandhi Museum
If you’re a Gandhian scholar or just a history enthusiast then, the Gandhi Memorial Museum is surely one of the places to visit in Madurai. Established in the year 1959, this museum is one of the five Gandhi Sangrahalaya (museum) in India.

Built as a memorial, the museum showcases a plethora of artefacts related to Gandhi, from letters to photos and sculptures and historical documents, that reflect the instrumental role he played during the freedom movement of India. But what attracts most of the visitors is the blood-stained cloth that was worn by him when he was assassinated. 

Museum visiting time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Time spent in museum: 1- 2 hours

Entry fee: There is no entry fee however, a Rs.50 fee is levied for the use of cameras

Best month to visit: October to January, as these are the months of birth and month of death of Gandhi; hence, special events are held during these months
No trip to Madurai is complete without visiting the beautiful and serene ISKCON Temple here. Dedicated to Radha and Krishna, the temple is also known as Radha Mathurapati, one of the most popular places to visit in Madurai. The beige and white palace-like complex of the temple has stunningly carved pillars, walls, and sanctums keeping in line with the ISKCON heritage and beauty.

Resounding Krishna hymns, curling clouds and fragrance of burning incense, and tinkling bells offer the perfect atmosphere for meditation here. The stark-white marble idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are adorned with beautiful ‘vastrams’ and jewellery. Don’t miss to attend the evening aartis, devotional lectures, and kirtans not only to gain more spiritual knowledge but to also lose yourself in an ambience that reverberates with hypnotic chants and divine rhythms. There is a small eatery inside the complex that serves simple but delicious vegetarian food.

Timings: Every day from 4:45 am-12: 30 pm and 5:00 pm-8: 15 pm.

Location: Mani Nagaram Main Road, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. 

If you feel caught up in the world of the countless temples that line the face of Madurai, Athisayam Water Park is the best outlet! One of the most entertaining places to visit in Madurai, the water amusement park is a favourite amongst kids and adults alike.

Whether you're seeking thrilling adventures or just a chill time in the water with friends, Athisayam has got you covered. What started off as a quiet entertainment centre five years ago, has flourished into the largest amusement park in the area! With an array of over 50 fun rides, there is hardly any other place that matches the glamour of Athisayam.

10:00 AM to 06:30 PM everyday

Entry Fee: 
INR 800 per adult, INR 500 per child

Madurai - Dindigul Main Road,Paravai, Madurai, Tamil Nadu 625402

Mariamman Teppakulam

Built by King Thirumalai Nayak, Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a tank located close to the temple of the same name. This temple tank is a place of worship where people can be seen performing devotional activities, also it is about 2 km away from the Meenakshi Amman Temple.

Connected to the Vaigai river, the tank is a magnificent structure with a system of underground channels and 12 long, granite steps on all four sides. In the middle of the tank, there is a main mandapam known as Maiya Mandapam or the Central Mandapam along with a garden and a Vinayakar temple.

Visiting time to the tank: 5:00 am to 9:00 pm

Entry fee: There is no entry fee

Best months to visit: January to February, during the float festival (Teppoothsavam)

Pazhamudhir Solai
Pazhamudhir Solai is one of the enchanting tourist places in Madurai. Known to be the smallest abode of Lord Murugan, the Pazhamudhir Solai is surrounded by dense forest with a rich variety of flora. Though it is the smallest of the abodes, the temple here still holds significance to the devotees.

It is located 20 km away from the city of Madurai and sits quietly atop a hill and is close to the Vishnu temple of Azhagar Kovil. 

Visiting time of the temple: 5:30 am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Time spent in the temple: 1 - 2 hours

Entry fee: There is no entry fee

Best time to visit: Early morning, for good darshan and to avoid queues for the spring water

Best months to visit: March, to witness Panguni Uthiram being celebrated with full grandeur

Things to remember: As it is a place of worship, visitors should dress respectfully and conservatively
Kazimar Big Mosque And Maqbara Mosque

Madurai's oldest mosque, the Kazimar Big Mosque was the creation of Kazi Syed Tajuddin back in the 13th century. Carrying stellar impression of the ages that the structure has witnessed, it is a frequent haunt for lovers of history, culture and religion.

The mosque, true to its informal name 'Big Mosque', is large enough to accommodate about 2,500 people at once! The shrine (known as dargah) of the descendants of Prophet Muhammad also lies within the mosque, where several devotees flock to pay homage.

07:00 AM to 07:00 PM

Entry Fee: 
No entry fee

Kazimar St, Periyar, Madurai Main, Madurai, Tamil Nadu 625001

St. Mary's Cathedral Church
St. Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Church of Our Lady Dolores was built in the year 1841. Due to its marvellous architecture, it is one of the top places to visit in Madurai. With a rich history of over 150 years, the church is an eclectic mix of Roman, European and Continental architecture. One can visit here to pray and attend the Mass or just adore this age-old structure. 

Visiting time of the church: 7:00 am to 7:00 pm 

Time spent in the temple: Visitors spend around half an hour while devotees can spend over an hour 

Best time to visit: Between 7:30 am to 6:00 pm

Best months to visit: Mid February to mid March to attend the festivals

Things to remember: As it is a place of worship, visitors should dress respectfully and conservatively

Yanaimalai is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Madurai, besides being a well-preserved tourist attraction. Home to several ancient sculptures, a Shaivite Temple and a couple of caves, the hill is spans over 3 km of lush green land, and is about 300 ft. high.

The structural beauty and historical significance of the hill has earned it a the title of a protected monument under The Ancient And Archaeological Sites And Remains Act. Rooted in various mythological tales and folklore, Yanaimalai is an unmissable place for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Location: Narasingam, Tamil Nadu 625104

Thirumohoor Kalamegaperumal Temple

Referenced in several ancient texts, including works of the Sangam literature, Thirumohoor Kalamegaperumal Temple is one of the most interesting places to visit in Madurai. Stretching across 2.3 acres of land, the temple has managed to beautifully preserve the architectural beauty that Madurai boasts of.

The prominent Dravidian style of architecture stands out beautifully, along with subtle glimpses of the Pandyan era being reflected within the walls. Surrounded by granite walls, there are four prakaramas centred inside the complex. 
 The temple now falls under the care of the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of Tamil Nadu Government.

07:00 AM to 12:00 PM, 04:00 PM to 08:00 PM

Entry Fee:
 No entry fee

Thirumohur, Tamil Nadu 625107

Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple
The Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple, with its rich cultural significance, should surely make it to your places to visit in Madurai list. It is one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan (Kartikeya). Legend has it, this is the very site where Murugan defeated the demon, Surapadman, and was married to Deivayani, the daughter of Lord Indra.

What makes this temple special is its rock-cut architecture which, in popular belief, was built by the Pandyas. People believe that it is auspicious to get married in the Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple for a happy and successful married life. 

Temple visiting time: 5:00 am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Time spent in temple: 1 - 2 hours

Best months to visit: Mid March to April, during the 14-day long festival

Distance: The temple is situated 8 km away from Madurai 
are the month of birth and month of death, respectively, of Gandhi
Pudhu Mandapam
One of the most serene places to visit in Madurai, this ancient temple dates back to the year 1628 when it was built by King Thirumalai Nayakkar in reverence to the Lord Sundareshwar and Goddess Meenakshi and to serve as their summer abode. One thing that immediately strikes the visitors is the temple’s architectural magnificence and finesse. You will see 124 pillars and columns intricately carved with Hindu scriptures and scenes from the wedding of the Lord and the Goddess and those of the Nayaka dynasty rulers. The mandapam is almost 330-ft. high and stands on a pedestal.

The temple hosts the popular festivals of Avani Moolam, Theppam, Navarathri, etc. that bring thousands of people from all over Southern India. The temple complex houses a traditional market that's been functioning since the 1920s, where you can pick up beautiful local textiles, holy books, jewellery, and sandalwood products.

Timings: Every day from 9:00 am- 8:30 pm.

Location: E Chitrai Street, Chinnakadai Area, Madurai.

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Madurai Things To Do FAQs

What are some of the must do things in Madurai?

Madurai is the third largest city in Tamil Nadu and reflects the cultural and historical might of the city with its temples and architectural stands. While most of the people come here due to the attraction of the Meenakshi Temple, however, the best things to do in Madurai do not end with this one spot. There are other places and activities to highlight that are a must if you are visiting:

  • Visit Nagamalai, Yaanaimalai and Samanarmalai mountains surrounding the city
  • Attend a temple concert
  • Visit the legendary Gandhi Museum
  • Shop for cotton fabrics, batiks, and handmade crafts
  • Experience Madurai’s bullion bazaar
  • Try the Murugan idli shop
  • Experience the Teppam (float) Festival

Which places are good for food trail in Madurai?

Several vendors in Madurai offer mind boggling tours throughout the city to experience the local Madurai cuisine that would be impossible if you are a stranger here. Most of the trails here start after dusk when all the local food stalls spring up their recipes for the people to try. As one of the best things to do in Madurai, the best places where you can try the local cuisine of this city are:

  • Prema Vilas Lala Sweet Shop
  • Murugan Idli Shop
  • Amma Mess at Thallakulam
  • East Marrat Street
  • Visaalam Coffee in Goripalayam
  • GobuIyengar near Meenakshi Temple

Is it worth going for Cycle Rickshaw tour of Madurai?

There is no literal another way to experience the raw intimacy with Madurai except through the cycle-rickshaw tour. Unravel the historical mysteries and local’s culture with this magical South Indian journey through the streets of Madurai. The marketplaces, exquisite architecture and the temples are what make this city what it is, and the cycle-rickshaw tours include some of the best things to do in Madurai.

It usually takes 2-3 hours per tour when you shall taste the local bites and meet the native people in the charming narrow alleys and the bustling streets. It is definitely worth a try as the city is hard not to love.

Is it worth visiting Potters’ village in Madurai? What is special about it?

If you have developed a keen interest in the artistry of human hands and minds, then Potters’ Village in Madurai is a necessary visit. This tour normally consists of walking or driving around the village to see the villagers bring outstanding creations out of mud to life and hear their stories about priests, Gods, and Goddesses.

Navratri Golu dolls and paper mache dolls are the two signature creations of this village; no wonder a visit here is considered as one of the best things to do in Madurai. You could even participate in trying your hand at the pottery and the doll making while you listen to their unique mythical stories.

Which are some famous temples to visit in Madurai?

Madurai is the most loved city in India, which is revered for its brilliance of architecture made by artisans. The city is a hub of temples, a religious cluster of people and is known by the name, ‘the city that never sleeps’. Madurai is busy during any time of the day or night, and you are usually sure to find food and entertainment if you stroll. Temple hopping is one of the best things to do in Madurai; check out the following:

  • Meenakshi Amman Temple
  • Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple
  • Koodal Azhagar Temple
  • Pazhamudhir Solai
  • AlagarKoil
  • Mariamman Teppakulam
  • Kallazhagar Temple

Which are some famous places to shop in Madurai?

The shopping experience in Madurai is not a piece of cake and if crowds do not bother you, then the shopping options are literally limitless. As the city is renowned for its textile industry, the cotton fabrics and batiks dominate the clothing industry while handmade crafts are a major gifting attraction. Shopping is unique and one of the best things to do in Madurai, so check out the following places to shop when in Madurai:

  • Vishaal de Mal
  • PuthuMandapam
  • Hajeemoosa Textiles
  • Cottage Industries Emporiums
  • Government emporiums

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