An ancient temple town once ruled by Pandya kings, Madurai is located in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Its skyline is dominated by the extraordinary and elaborately decorated Meenakshi Temple.
Situated on the banks of the Vaigai River, Madurai is a major religious centre with a deep, Tamil-rooted heritage. In fact, the city is considered the cultural capital of the state and boasts a history dating back several millennia. Attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists each day, Madurai is a real cultural gem with imposing palaces, living temples and a vibrant flower market to explore.
Of the city’s striking temple architecture, nothing catches the eye quite like the 16th century Meenakshi Amman Temple. One of India’s largest and most important temples, Meenakshi is alive with pilgrims, flower sellers and even a temple elephant. The nine highly decorated gopurams (temple towers) are covered in colourful stucco images and soar 50 metres above the surrounding cityscape. Within you’ll find the impressive Hall of Thousand Pillars.
Another of Madurai’s monuments is the colonnaded Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in the 17th century by King Tirumala Nayaka in a Dravidian-Mughal style. When it was built, it was one of the grandest palaces in southern India, and still impresses today with its richly decorated interiors, giant pillars and huge circular courtyard. Other sights include the Gandhi Memorial Museum which displays the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated.