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Madurai

India

1/5 Temple elephant on the way to work, Madurai
Temple elephant on the way to work, Madurai
2/5 Painted ceiling inside the Sri Meenakshi temple, Madurai
Painted ceiling inside the Sri Meenakshi temple, Madurai
3/5 Towering gopurams of brightly coloured statues of deities are typical of Hindu temples
Towering gopurams of brightly coloured statues of deities are typical of Hindu temples
4/5 The Tirumalai Nayak palace, Madurai
The Tirumalai Nayak palace, Madurai
5/5 The temple complex bazaar, Madurai
The temple complex bazaar, Madurai

The second largest city in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is one of India’s most sacred pilgrimage centres and has been mentioned in Tamil literature for more than 2000 years

The second largest city in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is one of India’s most sacred pilgrimage centres and has been mentioned in Tamil literature for more than 2000 years. Built at around the same time as the Muslim Taj Mahal, the Sri Meenakshi temple is an equally impressive example of south Indian Hindu architecture in terms of scale and the vast number of gods and goddesses that cover 14 massive towers.

The whole complex is like a town in itself with a labyrinth of pillared halls and courtyards filled with devotees.  Nearby at the Tirumalai Nayak Palace built for the ruler of the same name, all that remains of a huge 17th century complex is the Celestial Pavilion which was used as a throne room.  The massive circular columns linked by pointed scalloped arches are finished in exquisite shell lime and egg white stucco to to obtain a smooth texture that remains surprisingly glossy to this day. Elsewhere in the city the Gandhi Museum in a former Nayak queen’s palace is a poignant reminder of India’s struggle for independence and exhibits include the dhoti the Mahatma was wearing when he was assassinated.

Madurai can be visited during a tour of Tamil Nadu but if you are visiting Kerala it is also worth crossing the Western Ghats and the state border to include Madurai in your trip.

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A few of our favourite places to stay:

The Coffee Shop, Heritage Madurai is a part of the original building designed by the architect Geoffrey Bawa

Heritage Madurai

In the 1970’s the world renowned Sri Lankan architect was

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A large swimming pool sit in the lovely gardens at the Gateway Hotel Pasumalai

Gateway Hotel Pasumalai

After exploring the fascinating but noisy and hectic sites of

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Andrea Hulme

Andrea Hulme’s travel experiences could fill a small novel; from a bit-part in a Tamil movie, to leading expeditions in Kyrgyzstan and negotiating landslides along the Karakoram highway.

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At Natural High, we've had long experience putting together trips in Africa that really work. Whether it's intimate bushcamps in out of the way places, or a private lodge in one of Africa's top-billing wildlife areas, light mobile camping or remote island escapes, we know there is a lot to choose from. We're absolutely confident that we can recommend the right places for you.

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