Which business is suitable in Madurai
Thali, temples and culture shock - a trip to Madurai
The detour to the southern Indian city of Madurai was rewarded with two highlights. On the one hand there is the Sri Meenakshi Temple. I have never seen such an impressive Hindu building before. And then there is the new number 1 on my list of my favorite restaurants. But is that enough to come back?
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Table of Contents
Madurai: a travelogue
We reach Madurai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu early in the morning at half past five. The city is still in the dark and hundreds of people are sleeping in the open air on the station forecourt, wrapped in blankets. We cautiously sneak past and pass the main street. Traders are making the first tea of the day and food preparation is in full swing.
Hotel with obstacles
We manage to avoid all rickshaw drivers and start looking for accommodation on foot. The problem in this part of India is that there is no fixed checkout time and instead you rent the room for exactly 24 hours. This can be an advantage when you arrive in the evening. However, at 6 a.m. it's more of a downside. Especially since we already know that in a few days we will be driving on at night. Nevertheless, we check in, with a double room price of 7.50 euros that is bearable.
Since we are not in the mood for breakfast yet, we go to sleep first, but are awakened quite roughly at 9 o'clock. First knock, then there is a drum on the door. A hotel employee asks whether we want coffee or tea. Since the temperatures have meanwhile climbed properly, it is difficult to fall asleep again.
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Can you get used to India?
Around noon we have recovered from the exertions of the night and leave. After the relaxing days on Varkala Beach, Madurai is like a slap in the face. It's muggy and dusty. There is a lot of traffic. It smells like piss and trash. And it's loud, even louder than we remembered from Mumbai. Are they honking on a higher frequency here?
We find the relaxing oasis with the restaurant New College House (2 Town Hall Rd.). A large room with huge fans in the ceiling, including simple tables and chairs and lots of guests who dine there at all times of the day. We take a seat and are well looked after by the nice staff. In the first attempt, we found our local hangout for the next few days. The waiters show us the jewels on the menu, we try up and down and are happy about the excellent thali. We are told the art of "mixing tea with milk" and are the only western tourists here every time. At one point, an Indian wedding party is even sitting at the next table. Finding a good restaurant in India is not difficult, but this is perfect.
We explore the city with renewed strength. Crowded streets lead to the huge, six-acre Sri Meenakshi Temple. Its towers, some of which are 50 meters high, are visible throughout the city. Impressive. However, we don't want to go in on the first day, but instead take a look at the area.
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The highlight at the flower market is the return trip
The next morning we visit a flower market that is much praised in the travel guide, but it is rather boring. We prefer the return trip by rickshaw because we left early and Madurai is only just waking up. The streets are almost peaceful, we see small shops open and the vendors put fresh fruit on display. Bananas seem to be particularly popular. They pile up meters high and are brought in on bicycles or in a rickshaw.
Temple highlight Sri Meenakshi
In the afternoon we finally go to the temple. Before that we have to hand in our shoes outside, access is only allowed barefoot. Inside, a huge religious supermarket awaits us. Images of saints, figures, flower arrangements, incense sticks and other knick-knacks. Here, as everywhere, religion is huge business. The Hindu pilgrims shop eagerly, we walk by slowly and admire the temple architecture.
Unfortunately, many areas are only open to Hindus, but it is an interesting tour for us. Photos are allowed, but we have to pay an extra fee of around one euro. Later we come to a place where a monk is in prayer with a believer and touches his forehead. We don't want to disturb this process, so we quietly walk by and take a photo of a mural a little further on. Suddenly the monk yells: “Show camera ticket, please!” Amazed by the abrupt end of the ceremony, we follow the request and show our permission.
Shortly afterwards we leave the temple and have some trouble outside to get rid of the beggars and traders who promptly surround us. Therefore we retreat to the roof terrace of a hotel. Here you can have a drink and enjoy the view of the Sri Meenakshi. And of course the rest.
How was it? - OK.
The city tour the next day is rather boring, so saying goodbye in the evening is not difficult. Madurai, I don't know what to think of you. But I'll definitely come back to you for a Thali someday.
What is your opinion on Madurai?
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About the author
Stefan has been traveling to the countries of Southeast Asia since 2006 and often spends several months there. In 2013 he founded Fascination Southeast Asia and since then has also written several eBooks and books on the subject (including the insider travel guide “555 Tips for Bangkok”). Between his travels he lives and works in Düsseldorf.
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