Day 5 – Madurai

Date: 17-Aug-16

Today was the last day of our trip and our plan was to visit two places in Madurai, viz, Meenakshi Amman Temple and Gandhi memorial museum and then take a long journey back to Bengaluru via NH44.

Located on the banks of Vaigai River, Madurai is a major city in Tamil Nadu and is the administrative headquarters of Madurai district. The excavations suggest that the existence of Madurai dates back to 300 BC and thus makes it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city has seen many great empires and dynasties ruling at different timelines. It has got many popular tourist attractions, most popular being Meenakshi Amman Temple, Gandhi Memorial Museum, and Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace. Due to time crunch, we did not include the palace in our itinerary.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple

We got ready early in the morning and left the hotel room at 8.30 AM, had breakfast in hotel Saravana Bhavan enroute, and then headed towards Meenakshi Amman Temple. The popular Meenakshi Amman Temple is located at the heart of the city and its beautiful towers can be seen from very far. Since we went early in the morning, the traffic was bit less and we reached the temple at 9 AM. There are well maintained rooms for keeping your luggage and shoes for a very cheap price. Cameras are not allowed inside the temple. You can safe keep them in the luggage counter. Only mobile cameras are allowed at the cost of 50 Rs. However, you cannot take photos in the inner corridor of the temple even in mobile camera.

Few interesting facts of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple are as follows (reference: Wikipedia):

  • The temple is dedicated to Parvathi, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar.
  • Though most of the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655 CE, it is said that the temple was originally built in the 6th century BC by survivors of the Kumari Kandam.
  • The temple is surrounded by Gopurams on all four sides. There are 14 gopurams – 5 large gopurams with a height ranging from 147 ft to 170 ft high and 9 smaller gopurams inside the temple complex. The tallest one is the southern tower with a height of 170 ft. Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods, and demons painted colorfully.
  • The sacred temple tank Porthamarai Kulam (“Pond with the golden lotus”), is 165 ft (50 m) by 120 ft (37 m) in size. In the Tamil legends, the lake is supposed to judge the worth of a new piece of literature. Authors place their works here and the poorly written works are supposed to sink and the scholastic ones are supposed to float, Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar was one such work.
  • The Thousand Pillar Hall contains 985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars. The hall was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar in 1569 and blends engineering skill and artistic vision.
Gopuram of Meenakshi Amman Temple

Gopuram of Meenakshi Amman Temple

As soon as we entered the temple complex, the first thing that we noticed was its beautifully carved colorful gopuram. The perfect combination of color and sculptures made the gopurams look spectacular. The temple complex is very huge and there will be a long queue for darshan. There are multiple denominations of special darshan tickets available (20 Rs, 50 Rs, and 100 Rs) which will help in reducing the time of standing in queues. We opted for 50 Rs ticket and since there were not many people, we could easily finish our darshan in 15-20 minutes. First we took darshan of Goddess Meenakshi and then took the darshan of Lord Shiva. If you are opting for special darshan, separate tickets must be taken for darshan of Meenakshi Amman and Lord Shiva (same categories of prices as Meenakshi darshan – 20 Rs, 50 Rs, and 100 Rs). The main sanctum of the temple is surrounded by wonderful pillar corridors decorated with spectacular stone sculptures. You can also find the amazing golden flagstaff inside the temple. There are many well carved figures, the beauty of which cannot be described in words and these collectively make this temple a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture.

Hall of thousand pillars

  • Entrance fee – 5 Rs/person, 2 Rs for below 5 years, and 50 Rs for foreigners.
    50 Rs for camera

Adjacent to the main temple, there is a hall of 1,000 pillars which is called as Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam. You can notice many skillfully carved sculptures inside the hall. The more prominent among them are those of Rati (wife of Kama), Karthikeya, Ganesha, Shiva, and never-ending number of yalis (mythical figures of lions commonly used as symbols of Nayak power). The hall also houses Temple Art Museum in which you can find historic photographs, drawings, and other exhibits of ancient Madurai city and the temple. Just outside this hall, there are Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when struck, produces a different musical note.

Hall of Thousand Pillars

Hall of Thousand Pillars

After spending an hour in the temple, we decided to head back to the hotel where we stayed (hotel Rajadhane). While returning, there was heavy traffic on the road and we reached the hotel at 11.30 AM. We quickly packed everything and checked out of the hotel at 11.50 AM and then proceeded towards Gandhi Memorial Museum and reached there by 12 noon.

Gandhi Memorial Museum

  • Entrance fee – none
  • Parking fee – 10 Rs
  • Camera fee – 50 Rs
Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai

Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai

As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and was established in the year 1959. The museum has amazing collection of few original artifacts used by Gandhi and also of few replicas. It has many letters written by Gandhi himself. There is a pleasing display of freedom movement moments captured wonderfully in the form of 265 illustrations. The main highlight of the museum is the display of bloodstained piece of cloth worn by Gandhi on the day when he was shot by Nathuram Godse. The cloth is preserved in a vacuum glass box and reminds us the tragic day of Indian history. Apart from this, the museum has large number of photos, paintings, and documents showcasing the life that Gandhi led. You can find few of the photos that we took inside this museum here.

After visiting all sections in the museum, we left Madurai at 1 PM, had lunch at hotel Saravanans on the way, and then continued our journey towards Bengaluru via NH44. The well maintained highway helped in covering the distance of 435 kms in a very less time and made us reach home by 9 PM. Thus, we ended our five day long expedition successfully.

The total toll fee that we paid during our return journey is as follows:

Toll Plaza NameFee (Single journey, Car)
Kodai Road53
Electronic City Flyover45

See also:

Route Map:

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2 Responses

  1. I so want to go and stand inside the hall of thousand pillars one day! Is there any dress code to visit the temple?

    • Do visit this place once. It is amazing.
      We did not observe any notice on dress code during our visit. But, it is better to dress in Indian attire than western. Also, if you are wearing sleeveless, better to cover with shawl.

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