Madurai South India

Destination - Tamil Nadu, South India

Madurai

Madurai is an ancient pilgrimage city that houses the great temple to the goddess Meenakshi. The temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture with four major brightly painted towers and countless smaller ones. The city itself is a densely packed warren of streets, shops and bazaars. Our hotel is a luxurious oasis just on the outside of town that will allow us a peaceful base from which to explore.

Madurai meenakshi temple tower South India

Meenakshi Temple

This spectacular temple is a sacred place of pilgrimage for Hindus the world over. The hallways and chambers are crowded from dawn to dusk, filled with pilgrims eager for darshan (sight) of the Goddess Meenakshi in the sanctum sanctorum. Pilgrims come offering prayers, to have wishes fulfilled, to atone for misdeeds or simply to offer their love to the Goddess for Her presence in their life. The Hindu religion is alive in this temple and your senses will ensure you know this when you walk into this divine citadel.

Meenakshi temple tower

meenakshi temple

street roti maker

Street Food

Some of the most delicious offerings of South Indian food are only available from street vendors by the side of the road or tiny food stalls tucked away down an alley. Although this kind of dining needs to be done with some care, the rewards are well worth it. South Indians love their coffee and street vendors serve it dramatically, pouring a 3 foot arc back and forth between glasses to froth it with hot milk. Also available on the street are mango slices sprinkled with chili powder, lacy rice breads called "string hoppers" served with sugar and grated coconut and crispy slices cut from the center of a coconut palm.

kids on bicycle madurai india Street food vendor Madurai, South India

Madurai's long history has left it with a distinctive local cuisine, with dishes found nowhere else.

Two unusual drinks from Madurai are Jigar Thanda, made from a local seaweed mixed with cold milk and cane sugar and Paruthi Pal made from cotton seed extract, rice flour, palm sugar and spices. Some shops in Madurai also sell an extra puffy idli made with castor beans called a "Kushboo Idli" after a popular Tamil actress.

Photo (right) shows two young boys running a stall selling freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, a great thirst quencher on a hot day.

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