The ancient and historical city of Madurai (Tamil Nadu) celebrates the Chithirai Festival in the Hindu lunar calendar month of Chaitra or Chitirai in Tamil. It is a month-long festival in which the first fifteen days see the coronation ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi and her holy matrimony with Lord Sundareshwara. In the last fifteen days, devotees witness Lord Alagar’s journey from Kallazhagar Temple (Alagar Kovil) to the holy city of Madurai.
According to legends, the brother Lord Alagar was coming to attend the wedding of his sister Goddess Meenakshi from Alagar Kovil, but before he could reach her, the wedding had already taken place. Hearing this, he was angry and went away to Alagar Kovil without entering Madurai.
Chithirai Festival 2021
According to the Tamil calendar, the Chithirai Festival 2021 will take place between the 15th April – 30th April.
Like every year, the Chithirai Festival 2021 will start from the Meenakshi Temple premises and ends with a narration of the event in a mandapam built in the middle of River Vaigai in which Lord Alagar gets angry and goes back to Alagar Kovil.
Places to visit in and around Madurai
Known as the Temple city of Tamil Nadu, Madurai is dotted with temples, most of which were built during the ancient times.
Madurai Meenakshi Temple
During Madurai sight-seeing, this temple is first in the list of “must visit.” Also known as the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the Madurai Meenakshi Temple is a popular place of pilgrimage and is known for its architecture and is known for the beautiful work of art and sculptures. The Thousand Pillar Hall, which consists of 985 beautifully carved pillars and the musical pillars outside the hall are the architectural marvel of the ancient time.
As always, the annual Chithirai Festival 2021 will start from the Temple, which makes it one of the most important places in the city.
Timings: 5:00-12:30 and 16:00-21:30
About 20 kilometers from Madurai, high up in the hills, the Alagar Kovil Temple is dedicated to Lord Azaghar, the brother of Goddess Meenakshi. Like all south Indian temples, it is also known for the beautifully carved stone walls and the sculptures. The statue of the residing Lord is sculpted out of one single piece of rock.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
The beautiful palace was built by the Nayak King Thirumalai Nayak in the 16th century and is a “must-visit” during the Madurai sight-seeing. The palace is influenced by Indo-Saracenic architecture and has 248 tall pillars that stand 58 feet tall. The ceilings have beautiful Shaivite and Vaishnavite paintings. The palace also displays things and personal items which have been used by the Nayak Kings, including the throne.
Timings: 9:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00
Entry fee: Rs. 10 (Adults), Rs. 5 (Child)
Started in 1959 by Queen Rani of the Nayak clan, the Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the five museums that are dedicated to India’s “Father of the Nation,” Mahatma Gandhi.
The museum displays some remarkable and interesting personal things of Mahatma Gandhi, including the blood-stained clothes which he had worn during the time of his assassination. The museum also showcases the things that tell about his life and the freedom struggle of India.
Timings: 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:45 (Saturday-Thursday)
Entry Fee: No entry fee Camera fee: Rs. 50
After the Chithirai Festival, if you have a day or two in hand, a trip from Madurai to Rameshwaram is a must. The Madurai to Rameshwaram bus trip takes about 9 hours, depending on the traffic, road, and climatic condition. The holy city of Rameshwaram is a beautiful island that is separated from Sri Lanka by the Pamban Channel.
As per Hindu beliefs, it was here that the Monkey Goddess Hanuman, along with his “vanar sena,” had built a bridge across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka. The floating stone used in the making of the bridge by Hanumanji and his army is kept in the Five-Faced Hanuman Temple.
While in Rameshwaram, visit the famous Ramanathaswamy Temple, known for having the longest corridor in the world.
Many visitors prefer tour buses from Madurai to Rameshwaram since Madurai to Rameshwaram distance by road is 148 kilometers, whereas, by rail, Madurai to Rameshwaram distance is about 161 kilometers. However, for a Madurai to Rameshwaram bus journey, visit redBus and save big on online bus tickets.
*To experience the thrill of crossing slowly over the Pamban Bridge over the Indian Ocean, travel back from Rameshwaram to Madurai by train.
Instead of getting back from Rameshwaram to Madurai, tourists can take a 7-hour bus ride to the tip of India, Kanyakumari.
Kanyakumari is one of the most tourist-populated places in India. A few of the essential places to visit here are the Kanyakumari Temple, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, which is 100 meters away from the shore, and the 17th century built Padmanabhapuram Palace, the beautiful residence of the Kings of Travancore. Also, while there, do not miss watching the sunrise and sunset from the pristine beaches of Kanyakumari.
Visit Madurai and experience the festive fervor of the people during the month-long Chithirai Festival and continue your spiritual journey with trips to the holy city of Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari. Save big on online bus tickets through the redBus portal.
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