It is often said that while Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu, Madurai is its soul. Also called the “Athens of the East“, Madurai is a vibrant city, bustling with energy. It lies on the banks of the Vaigai River of the state. Intrinsically associated with the quintessential Tamil culture, Madurai is an eclectic city that offers diverse sights that include those related to religion, art, history , tradition and culture.
GRT Regency in Madurai
I recently had the opportunity to visit this energetic city as part of the bloggers meet organized by the GRT group of hotels and resorts. Located in the heart of the city, GRT Regency is just about ten minutes from the world famous Meenakshi temple. Aesthetic decor, top notch facilities and quality service is what you notice as soon as you enter the hotel premises. Designed such, the hotel truly reflects the heritage and ethos of the city.
There are 57 deluxe and superior rooms that are well equipped with all facilities including free Wifi and round the clock dining and laundry service.
Other facilities include a swimming pool, business and conference centres, a popular lounge bar – Madhuram, a fitness centre as well as Ayush, which is the Ayurvedic Spa.
If you are looking for a great place to eat, then look no further than Ahaaram, which is the inhouse multi cuisine restaurant.
Serving a sumptuous spread for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the food is delectable and the variety is huge. The fare includes Indian (North Indian and South Indian), Chinese and continental cuisine.
The desserts are drool-worthy and will melt in your mouth.
The hotel stands out for its delectable food, courteous staff and superior service. It is located about 20 minutes from the railway station and airport and well suited for both business travelers as well as pilgrims. The perfect combination of style, luxury, comfort and convenience makes it a true winner!
To know more information about the hotel visit their website here .
Top things to see and do while in Madurai
While Madurai is often referred to as the soul of Tamil Nadu, the Meenakshi temple is literally the soul of Madurai. It is in fact the life line of the city whose skyline is dotted by the temple’s fourteen massive towers or gopurams. The gopurams are orante, opulent and covered with hundreds of detailed sculptures, painted in bright hues. The average height of the gopurams is 45-50 meters with the South tower at 170 feet being the tallest of them all.
Dedicated to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva (known as Sundareswarar), this ancient temple attracts millions of visitors. There are scores of intricate sculptures, paintings and pillars inside the temple premises which is one of the largest in Tamil Nadu.
There are several points on interest within the temple and some of these include the Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam (“Hall of 1000 pillars”), kilikoondu Mandapam (“bird cage”) and Puthu Mandapam (“new hall corridor”).
Koodal Azhagar Temple:
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this is yet another ancient temple in the city that is spread over a whopping 2.1 acres in area. With a massive five tiered gopuram, the temple is enclosed in a rectangular enclosure and houses the main deity, Koodal Azhagar, in sitting, standing and reclining forms.
Flanked by Sridevi and Bhudevi on either side, the temple also has smaller shrines of Lakshmi Narasimha, Rama, Lakshmi Narayana and Krishna. The annual 14- day Brahmotsavam festival held during the month of May-June is a highlight of the temple.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal (Palace):
This is a 17th century palace in the heart of the city and was built by King Thirumalai Nayak. Built in Dravidian and Islamic styles of architecture, this palace is believed to have been deisgned by an Italian architect. Made up of two portions originally, known as Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa, it is the former that has survived the test of time. In this portion, the Durbar hall and the Natakashala remain intact are the main attractions of the monument.
Gandhi Memorial Museum:
One of the five Gandhi Sanghralayas (Gandhi Museums) in the country, the museum is a treasure house that has some rare pictures, memoribilia and letters of Mahatma Gandhi. It is was here in Madurai that Gandhiji adopted the dhoti as his dress for the first time.
The museum has a detailed account of India’s independence struggle and also of the Mahatma’s life. The museum also has the original blood-stained dhoti that Gandhiji was wearing at the time of his assassination.
The government museum housed within this complex is also an insightful place to visit.
A slice of the local life, markets and culture:
One of the best ways to capture the native pulse of any place is to visit the local markets which includes the flower, fruits and other commodity markets. And when it comes to local flavors, Madurai offers a kalediscope of experiences.
Visit the flower market near Mattuthavani bus stand to see the world renowned Madurai jasmine or “Malli” being traded like hot cakes.
Equally popular are frangipani and roses. The banana market with its umpteen varieties also forms for a unique experience.
A stroll down the roads in and around the temple gives you an insight into the city’s traditional way of life. It is a delighful picture of rustic and old world charm.
While in the city, do make some time to shop for some of the snazzy local savories as well as the famous Madurai “Jigarthanda“.
Disclaimer: This post was made possible by GRT group of hotels and Firebrand labs. All views and opinions, as always, are solely mine.