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India south Kerala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

MADURAI

2.3. - 3.3. 2017, travel book part IV.

 

Why to go to Madurai

Madurai, [Tamil Nadu, population 1 mil], is one of the oldest cities in India, and it is also one of the main places I wanted to visit. Its Meenakshi Amman Temple is as much of an architectural gem as Taj Mahal in Agra.

 

How to get to Madurai

I traveled to Madurai by train from Mysore [Mysore 18:00 – Madurai 07:20, 629 km]. It was my last night train and I was expecting the worst for the last. Maybe I brought it upon myself because I shared a coupe with someone who didn't just snore but nearly screamed from his sleep. He was the only person in the coupe who woke up fresh as a daisy in the morning. I barely slept for an hour and when I got out of the train on the platform I almost couldn't walk straight. I took a tuk tuk ride [50 INR] to my hotel, got breakfast and went for a nap. My carefully adjusted time shift was gone.

 

Acommodation tip

I stayed in BG Residency [1200 INR] on a main Netaji road which leads between the station and Meenakshi Temple. There was a restaurant on ground floor. I reserved it few days ahead via booking.com.

 

My experience in Madurai

After I slept through the worst, I went out on the streets. Not long after I set out, I was welcomed by one of fourteen magnificent gopuram temples. I haven't seen anything like it.

India Meenakshi Amman Temple Madurai

Streets around Meenakshi Amman Temple

Before going to the temple, I decided to roam the old streets for a while. I kept meeting cows on every step and at one point I got mixed in with a herd of sheep. I was watching local women as they were pumping water from huge tank into their jugs, butchers portioning meat and rikshaw drivers stepping in their pedals. I walked through a street where I saw live hens stuck in tiny cages. Right beside them was an ominous looking log. I could smell the fish market from far away, just like the slaughterhouse. In the smith shop I could see men sitting by a ditch, banging hammers on pots in a rhythm. I walked to river Vaigai, which was all dried out and full of cows feeding at the bottom.

India Madurai

Old Madurai streets

For lunch [150 INR], I got banana leaf instead of a plate, the waiters washed it and then gradually kept bringing rice, sauces and different sides from the pots. I asked for cutlery, but locals went ahead and ate with their hands as usual. I was always fascinated as they picked up rice with their hands, mixed it with the sauce and then transferred this mud like meals into their mouths.

I walked to Pudhu Mandapa bazaar, which neighbors with east gopuram of the Meenakshi temple. Stone pillar hall was full of stands, in one alley, men were working hard on their sewing machines.

India Madurai Pudha Mandapa bazaar

Pudha Mandapa bazaar

At first, I walked all around the Meenakshi temple, and then took few pictures of the whole area from a shop on second floor.

India Meenakshi Amman Temple 

Meenakshi temples

It is banned to bring a camera to Meenakshi temple, so I headed back to the hotel to drop it off. The temple was built in 1623 – 1655 and is made of 14 gopurams, few of which are as tall as 50 meters. They ask you to leave almost everything behind at the entrance, including shoes, phones are however allowed. The main entrance is located at the east gopuram and then continues through a hall with stone pillars towards the temple pond.

India Meenakshi Amman Temple

In Meenakshi temples

Next are temple halls and prayer rooms with ceiling paintings and sculptures of the gods. Some parts are unfortunately only for Hindus. The temple was full of etheric music and at one point I was passed by monks carrying some sort of ark on their shoulders. I sat on the floor, leaned against one of the pillars and enjoyed the atmosphere.

India Meenakshi Amman Temple Madurai

In Meenakshi temples

When I was walking back to the hotel in the evening, I stood in front of the west gopuram and took a picture. I inspired a lot of others to do the same and when I looked back they even formed a line...

it is me

Any selfie?

 

VISITED COUNTRIES

zeme 100

37

KM ON THE ROADS

km 100

48 560

DAYS ON THE ROADS

dny 100

397