Madurai

Map of India

Map of India

I got to know Madurai well, visiting it over ten times during my volunteer stay in South India. Madurai is a great place to see Dravidian culture – fantastic temples with intricate carvings abound. In particular, the spectacular Sri Meenakshi temple takes centre stage in both the city layout and as a focal point for worship and community. Madurai is also a good place to pick up reasonably-priced souvenirs, visit temple markets, shop and eat. There are plenty of tailors here who can make you whatever you like for the fraction of the price of tailored clothes elsewhere. If you need a break from the endless hustle of India, the hills surrounding Madurai are home to some secluded five-star hotels that are worthy of a semi-affordable splurge. Many are open to casual visitors for dinner. Just saying…

Tips: The bizarre spaceship bar at Hotel Supreme (a decent mid-range option) is worth stopping by for a drink. If you’re short on time the tourist office offers affordable half day tours starting at 7am and 3pm for groups of 6+. Make friends with your fellow backpackers!

Pros: Madurai is cheap, has great transport links (long distance buses and trains both leave regularly for destinations around the South) and is one of the oldest cities in India.

Cons: In a word, touts. And in a few more words: lots of them.
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