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Madurai is the godfather of ‘temple towns’. You can’t go far without stumbling upon a Hindu temple – some vast and ornate, others dusty, shabby and hidden down alleyways. The city is 2,500 years old, and thousands of Hindus flock here every year as an act of pilgrimage. Expect bustling streets and delicious food.
The main event here is the Sri Meenakshi Temple. Its intricately colourful towers rise dramatically into the air while hundreds of worshippers wander around its grounds, praying, offering or simply reflecting. It’s quite a sight to behold.
The foodies among you will remember Madurai for the flavours. Visit locally loved street-food vendors and authentic restaurants not yet discovered by the guidebooks. Try idli: a type of soft rice cake that’s a South Indian breakfast staple, but that tends to divide tourists. Sound like your thing? There’s only one way to find out.
For a unique experience, take a trip to one of Madurai’s nearby rural villages and watch the local people make mud dolls. It’s as bizarre and spectacular as it sounds; the dolls get moulded from clay by the residents, and then packed – hundreds at a time – into a fire to bake and harden, ready to be painted. Weird and wonderful in equal measure.
While Southern India is known for its relatively chilled-out atmosphere, the colourful chaos of Madurai will be sure to remind you that you are in India after all.
Embracing Madurai is all about embracing the joys of an Indian city: ride in auto rickshaws, pay 7p for a samosa on the side of the road, and chat to the locals about their days. Go on, dive in.
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Walk around a Hindu temple fizzing with colour, 33 million carvings, ornate decorated pillars, elaborate shrines and 14 spectacular towers. The Meenakshi Temple is a celebration of the love and marriage. Rumour has it that all gods, goddesses and living beings were invited. Some party.Discover more
Take in the sights, watch the crowds and savour the snacks. It’s busy, but infectiously fun. Head over to our blogs to get insider tips on how to get the most out of Madurai on your trip.
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