Of all the places to see in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is one that many people are enamoured by. The historic city is mostly known for the vibrant Meenakshi temple, one with a very colourful facade. But the iconic temple is not the only thing there is to the city. Madurai has a dynamic food culture, striking architecture (the Meenakshi Temple is at the centre of the ancient temple city), and locals who are quite hospitable. And if you do plan a visit, here's a list of things to not miss when in Madurai:
Getting the most obvious one out of the way first, Meenakshi temple is that beautifully colourful temple down south, one with four gopurams (gates). The temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Goddess Parvati, and Sundareshwar, a form of Lord Shiva. Those gates though are not something you can easily pull your eyes away from. With intricate details and many mythological stories depicted on the facades, one will find a hard time taking their eyes off. Even the insides of the temple are very interesting. Take some time and relax in some corner of the temple once you are done exploring.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace
Yes, that's right, palaces aren't just a thing of Rajasthan. Built in 1636 AD by Madurai's King Nayaka, the Dravidian and Rajputana inspired architecture and intricate work in stone at the Nayaka Palace is as interesting as it is welcoming. After you are done admiring the building, spend some time relaxing in one of the benches for sure. It feels like you are in another era.
One of the best idlis are served in Madurai, thanks to the legendary chain of restaurants called Murugan Idli Shop, which is said to have started there. Besides that there are a host of local eateries to eat at - Amma Mess and Konar Mess are just not to be missed. And when you are done hogging it all, drink a Jigarthanda right at the end - a speciality drink from Madurai made of full-fat milk, almond gum and other ingredients. Must, must try.