Are you planning for Madurai trip? Looking to visit Meenakshi Temple Madurai? Do you want to learn more about timing and places to stay near Meenakshi temple? Are you looking for other places to visit in Madurai? If yes, you must check this complete Madurai tourist guide excursively prepared by considering all these queries and to provide best possible resource for tourist visiting Meenakshi temple Madurai.
The historic Meenkashi Temple of Madurai is situated at the banks of River Vaigai in Tamil Nadu state of India . The reigning deity of the Temple is Goddess Meenakshiaka Parvati and her companion Lord Shiva; here known as Sundareshwara. History says that in the beginning Lord Shiva was worshiped as the primary God, but later the significance shifted to revering Goddess Meenakshi as the chief deity. Visiting and leaving Madurai without visiting Meenakshi Temple is impossible. The aura of the city has the love and blessings of Goddess Meenakshi. It is a very beautiful place and one must visit it at least once. So without any further ado, let us dive into the details on everything that you must consider before your next trip to Madurai.
How to Reach Madurai?
- By Air – The adjoining airport is the Madurai International Airport. The city is well connected to major cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Tiruchirapalli. If you are visiting Madurai from outside India; the flights are available from Colombo, Dubai and Singapore.
- By Train – The Madurai Junction is well joined to numerous significant cities in India like Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Cochin, Goa, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Patna, and Trivandrum with many others as well. A number of trains link Madurai internally to other key towns like Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Karaikudi, Nagercoil, Rameswaram, Tanjore, Tiruchi, Tirunelveli, and Tuticorn.
- By Road – The city is well linked to all main cities in Tamil Nadu along with the adjoining states. Numerous private bus operators also run regular buses to the holy city until late night-time. The roads are spotless and well-built.
- From Kodaikanal. The easiest way to reach Madurai from Kodaikanal is by road only. Private taxi and state run transport bus services are regularly available from both sides. It takes 3.5hrs to cover 165kms by road.
- From Munnar. The easiest way to reach Madurai from Munnar is by road only. Highly recommend to use private taxi service as there is no regular state bus service is available from Munnar to Madurai or back. It takes approx 5hrs by road to cover 150kms. If you are having extra days and want to explore Kerala, you can easily plan your Madurai to Kerala trip and is a best combination must say.
- From Rameswaram. Madurai is well connected by road or by rail from Rameswaram. Though there are no frequent train service, state run buses and private taxi service is also ready available. It takes 3hrs by road to reach Madurai from Rameswaram.
- From Kanyakumari. The best route is by road in a private taxi. There is no direct train from Kanyakumari to Madurai as all the trains coming via Rameswaram.
- From Kumali. Best route is by road which takes 3hrs to cover 165kms. Private taxi is the best to save time.
About Madurai Meenakshi Temple
You visit Meenakshi Temple (Also know as : Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Thirukkoil) to witness the architecture style of Dravidian period. Sense of spirituality and tranquility is felt at its best here. The temple marks its existence 3500 years back. The historic informative books explain that the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai was the city center from which the boulevards ascended and spread in all directions. It has been adored in the respected Tevaram, a 7th century work.
With four main entrances; one in each prime direction; Meenakshi Temple holds its head high. The four Gopurams of each of the main entrances are tortuously engraved portrayal effigies of numerous Gods and Goddesses, divine animals and demons. Goddess Meenakshi can be markedly recognized wearing a green saree and holding a Parrot in her right hand. The name Meenakshi can be fragmented into “Meen” means Fish and “Akshi” means Eyes, hence giving the sense as the “Woman with the Eyes of a Fish”.
Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Pooja Or Darshan Timing
Temple Opening time : 0500hrs to 1230hrs & 1600hrs to 2130hrs.
Darsan time : 0500hrs to 1230hrs & 1600hrs to 2100hrs
Darsan charges : Free darshan available for all Hindus. Paid darshan of Rs 50 per head per temple separately. All foreigners need to pay an entry charge of Rs 50 per head. Depending upon the time, crowd, and patience; the devotees can decide on to have a free darshan or or a paid darshan.
10 Important Things One Should Know Before They Visit Madurai Meenakshi Temple
1. Foot wear needs to be removed before entering the temple and all gates have foot wear keeping place FREE OF CHARGE (by the Temple administration).
2. Mobile phone, camera, any type of electronic gadgets, bags, water bottles etc will not be allowed inside the temple. All these can be kept in a locker provided by the temple administration and available in all the gates for a price of Rs 30 each.
3. Hindus who are visiting for darshan entering the sanctum sanctorum either can go via free darshan or paid darshan queue. Both these queues are different.
4. Non Hindus or foreigners needs to pay an entry ticket of Rs 50 per head for entry. They are allowed to a certain place inside the temple, but not allowed to enter sanctum sanctorum.
5. No toilets or washroom for the visitors available inside the temple. But E-toilets are available outside temple premises at South Gate.
6. Entry from South Gate is by far easiest way than other entrance. Non Hindus or Foreigners who are visiting the temple experience, entry from East Gate is highly recommended due to its beauty.
7. Special darshan available for a price of Rs 50. In case you want to go direct in front of the deity Rs 100 needs to pay (Hindus only).
8. In case of old people, recommend to have darshan before 7am as its less crowded time.
9. Wheel chair is available with temple authorities for disabled persons.
10. Dress Code. There is no particular dress code is available for the visitors. But should wear decent dress while you visit. Dresses with open shoulders and legs are not permitted by the Temple Management Committee. You would not be even allowed to enter the premises.
How to do Darshan or Visit Meenakshi temple?
Visit to Meenakshi temple can be termed in two ways. Those who are visiting the temple for a religious rituals and tourist who are visiting to experience the temple and its architecture.
Hindus Visiting for Religious Purpose
In case you are coming for a darshan and pooja, it is always better to check with temple web site to know more about pooja offered and its prices etc.
Madurai Meenakshi Temple Website : www.maduraimeenakshi.org
Email id : firstname.lastname@example.org
Madurai Temple Contact number : 0091 452 2344360
In case you are coming for a simple darshan, its always advisable to take a ticket of Rs 50 for a direct darshan. Or else, you can follow below guide lines to have a darshan.
Tourists Especially Foreigners Visiting Meenakshi Temple
Meenakshi temple is must visit when in Madurai by foreigners due to its Dravidian style of architecture marvel. It’s believed that this has been constructed during AD 9th Century. Though foreigners are allowed to visit till a certain area inside the temple, this is enough for them to experience the architectural construction of the temple. The main shrines of Deity Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwara are accessible to only Hindus. Therefore,
The Best Way to Experience Meenakshi Temple by Non-Hindus or Foreigners
#1 Experience Gopurams (Towers)
The temple have four gopurams with entrance to temple faces each direction – South, West, North and East. The biggest one is South tower which has a height of approx 170ft high and constructed during 1559. Eastern tower is the oldest one which was constructed during the period of 1216 to 1238. These towers are made of lime stone. The main attraction of these towers is amazing array of sculptured and beautifully painted gods, goddess, animals and demons. Tirumali Nayak who is ruled during 1623 – 1655 has carried out remaining constructions and completed the work.. You can get battery operated buggy to travel from one gopuram to other gopuram for a fee of Rs 10 per person. Completely mesmerized by the architecture of Gopurams which have around 2000 figures engraved on each of these. The best time to visit the towers either in the morning or in the afternoon.
2. What to See Inside Temple?
Main attractions are Goddess Meenakshi shrine, Lord Shiva Shrine, golden lotus pond, Aayiramkaal Mandapam (Hall of 1000 pillars), musical pillars, Art Museum and especially the evening ceremony are the best. Irrespective of cast, creed and gender, all are allowed to enter the temple. But only hindus are allowed to enter inside the Goddess Meenakshi Shrine and Lord Shiva Shrine.
#3 Guideline for Visit
Enter from South Gate by paying Rs 50 entrance fee per person. Go straight inside the temple, right side you can see the golden lotus pond. You can walk around the temple and see the beautiful architecture, murals on the ceiling, art work on rock pillars etc. There are two deities – the moment you enter, left side is Goddess Meenakshi shrine. Once you experienced this, go straight, enter the next temple where you can see Ganapathy Idol (Elephant God) turn right from there, walk for 10mtrs and then turn left, you can see Lord Shiva shrine. The interiors of the temple have scriptural paintings, inscriptions which talk about the Nayak and Pandya period. The architecture of the temple shows a blend of cultures, as there are elephants, lotuses etc used as motifs on pillars and walls. Came out from Lord Shiva shrine turn left and you can see Aayiram Kaal Mandapam (Hall of 1000 pillars) on the right side.
#4 Best Entrance Gate
The best entrance for foreigners is East Gate due to its beauty. If you are entering from East Gate, you can walk straight (golden lotus pond on left side) to reach in front of Meenakshi Shrine. Turn right from Meenakshi Shrine to reach Lord Shiva temple.
#5 Aayiramkal Mandapam (Hall of thousand pillars)
After Lord Shiva shrine visit, came out from exist which just opposite of Lord Shiva shrine, turn left, walk for 15mtrs, on the right side you can see Aayiramkal Mandapam. Though it is called 1000 pillars, actually it has only 985 pillars. Each pillar have beautifully carved statue of yalli or damon and elephant. The ceiling of this has been beautifully painted. Within this hall, there is an art museum is also available for visitors. An entry fee of Rs 30 needs to be paid and it will be closed by 8pm.
#6 Evening Ceremony
Don’t Miss this!!!. Called Palliarai Pooja: The last Pooja of the day begins at 9:15 pm. This is an exceptional Pooja where the idol of Lord Sundareshwara(Shiva) is taken around in a palanquin carried by devotees followed by Nadaswaram (double reed wind instrument) and Thakil (Tavil or Thakil is a barrel shaped drum) to the shrine of Goddess Meenakshi and both as replaced to repose for the day. Some more time the rituals continue in front of Goddess Parvathi and after pooja, the ceremony ends. You can also see traditional dance or music right side of Lord Shiva shrine if you come half an hour early. Please note that 9:15pm time is not fixed and some time it may start at 9:30pm or little bit late as per the pooja schedule of Lord Shiva.
Note : If you are not having a guide service follow our guideline to see the evening ceremony. Enter from south gate, go straight to other end (in between you can see Goddess Meenakshi Shrine on the left side and pond on the right), you can see Ganapathi idol (Elephant God), turn right, walk for 10mtrs, then turn left, you can see Lord Shiva shrine entrance on the left side. The procession at 0915pm start from here, you can follow the procession till Goddess Meenakshi shrine. If you are entering from East Gate, go straight (pond on the left side), at the end (Goddess Meenakshi Shrine) turn right, walk for 2mins, you can see Ganapathi idol(Elephant God).
Hotels in Madurai near Meenakshi Temple
Entry of any type of vehicle near to the temple is prohibited. One needs to park the car approx one km away from the temple and devotees or visitors needs to walk to the temple. During some particular days, there will be a huge rush due to which visit to temple may take more time. Considering this, its always recommended to stay in a hotel which is located close to temple.
Where to Crunch Hunger In Madurai?
Madurai is entitled as “Thoonganagaram” which means “The City That Never Sleeps”. To crunch your hunger Madurai offers unmatched culinary joys to you on visiting the city for a day and night. When in Madurai you must taste Badam Halwa, Biryani, Curry Dosa, Idly, and Jigarthanda drink, and lastly Kotthu Parathas. You must also visit Amma Mess, Muniyandi Vilas, Murugan Idly Kadai and Simmakal Konar Kadai for delicious food.
How to Plan a Visit to Madurai Meenakshi Temple in a Short Time?
Come at 1600hrs, see the outer towers, enter from south gate, see all the interesting things in side Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva Shrine, came out from the East gate (this is just in front of Lord Shiva Shrine) turn left, walk 15mts, right side you can see the Mandapam (Hall of 1000 pillars), come back to Shiva shrine again to see the procession at 0915pm, came out from South Gate. Please note that the Mandapam will close by 08:30pm tickets will be issued till 08:00pm only.
Is Hiring a Guide in Meenakshi Temple A Must?
Govt approved guides are very expensive and they even do not give service for just temple only. If you feel yourself capable of discovering about the temple, its history and significance; you shouldn’t be hiring a guide. Alternatively, hiring a guide is far better decision than not hiring one. The hired guide can explain the temple premises in depth and saves your time.