Madurai is a lively and ancient city that is located on the banks of the river Vaigai in Tamil Nadu. The town is well known for the colourful gopurams or the gateway towers one can find of the Meenakshi Amman Temple.
The tower is covered with countless figures of various Hindu gods and goddesses in bright colours. There are 14 such towers, and 4 out of the 14 face the directions of East, West, South and North. The southern tower is tallest out of the four that rises to 170 ft. The oldest tower is the one that faces the East.
Madurai is not only famous for the Meenakshi Amman Temple, but also for the textile industries, Jasmine flowers and the delicious cuisine.
Also Read: 3 Most Famous Devi Temples In India
Starting Point: Bengaluru
Best Time To Visit: October to March
By Train: The main railway head is the Madurai Junction. It is well linked to all the major cities of Bengaluru, Chennai and others.
By Road: Madurai is very well connected by roads. The driving distance to Madurai from Bengaluru is 437 km. There are plenty of buses which ply from Bengaluru to Madurai and vice versa.
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Route 1: Bengaluru - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Namakal - Dindigul - Madurai, via NH44.
Route 2: Bengaluru - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Erode - Dindigul - Madurai, via NH544 and NH44.
Route 3: Bengaluru - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Attur - Perambalur - Tiruchirappalli - Madurai, via NH38 and NH44.
For someone who wishes to take Route 1, it would take around 7 hours to reach Madurai via NH44. The road takes you through some of the major district headquarters in the state of Tamil Nadu like Salem and Dindigul.
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Dindigul is known for its biriyanis and the roads are in an immaculate condition, which make it a bliss to drive through.
For those who opt to reach Madurai by Route 2, it would take you around 8 hours to reach Madurai via NH544 and NH44; and for those who would like to choose Route 3, it would take you around 9 hours to reach Madurai via NH38 and NH44.
The drive can be planned as a weekend drive. One can choose to leave the city of Bengaluru on an early Saturday morning and after spending a day, one can return on Sunday afternoon and reach the city by night.
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If you're opting for Route 1, either Krishnagiri or Dharmapuri would be an ideal place to stop over for breakfast, and later proceed towards Dindigul for lunch. Dindigul is famous for its delicious biryanis, so make sure you stop over at the Dindigul Venu Biryani for the biryanis.
After lunch, one can proceed towards Madurai, which is around 64 km and would take you around an hour and half or so to reach the destination.
Once you reach Madurai, a visit to the Meenakshi Amman Temple is a must to catch the view of the huge temple towers from below and once inside, make sure you walk through the thousand pillar hall.
Another attraction inside the temple is the Kilikoodu Mandapam (Birdcage Corridor). This space is used to keep the green parrots which are trained to utter the name of the Goddess Meenakshi. One can find two cages full of squawking green parrots.
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The Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a must visit monument , the tourism department hosts a sound and light show every day which traces the history of King Thirumalai Nayakar. This show is something not to be missed.
Take a stroll through the streets of Madurai and one can buy textile materials at throwaway prices. Also, one can enjoy the street food (offering different varieties) if you are a hard core foodie.