There is no existence of a place without the people, and with civilization exists its culture. Madurai has its own share. My previous post (Madurai Part 1) was exclusively about the architectural landmarks spread across the city. But it would be injustice if the other things associated with this amazing city goes without a mention. Of course, the write-up could run into books if I had to write about each of them. And it isn’t necessary that everyone travelling is a pilgrim or a history buff or an architecture enthusiast. Hence, here’s an attempt to throw light on other aspects that any visitor to Madurai can expect. This is not a detailed one, but I touch upon various dimensions that you can theme your trip around Madurai. Do let me know if this post helps or if there is any other dimension I missed. Here goes my list.
- Sculptures: adorning every temple wall, pillar and their towers are a marvel in itself.
- Carpentry: Several wooden vahanas used to carry the idols of the various deities in the temple are something that need the attention of art afficionados.
- Handicrafts: Various accessories used for decorating Devi idols, made of delicate sequins, etc. are sold in several stall inside the large corridors of the Meenakshi temple.
- Mural paintings: This needs no introduction, the famous Madurai paintings are a gift of the Pandyan era, adorning the temple walls.
Listing just a fixed menu while in Madurai would just be an understatement. If you are a foodie, Madurai would need two full days to explore its culinary delights alone. It is famous for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian specialties. I’d probably write a separate post about it sometime later. But this list is the list that we had when my family visited. But believe me- it is BEYOND!
- Breakfast – Idly & Sambar, Pongal + a cup of filter coffee
11.00.a.m – Jigarthanda (it’s more like a combination of falooda & kulfi)
- Lunch- Puliyogare @ the temple store, curd rice, Sambar rice
4.00.p.m.- Karupatti (palm sugar) coffee
- Dinner- Anything after 7.00.p.m is called meals. Must try is the ghee roast & rava Masala dosa
- Sarees for women & Dhotis for men.
- Madurai cotton sarees with simple prints and zari borders with temple designs are popular.
Among the locals- particularly those belonging to the Thevar cast, it is believed that women are prettier with bigger earlobes. Hence, the girl child born in this community is made to wear a traditional earring called the ‘Thandatti’ when she is young. The thandatti is said to evoke the 3 levels of our world: terrestrial, astral and divine and these levels are associated with Mandala. Each piece of this weighs 27gms and is made of gold and this piece of jewelry is specific to Madurai.
Shopping at Madurai is all about wholesale vendors and there are specified streets for each of them.
- Cotton sarees/ dress materials: Shops are all around the temple complex
- Steel utensils: Plastic beads & girls’ accessories, gold plated imitation jewelry to name a few.
- Pooja related accessories & crafts: Particularly inside Pudumandapam (1000 years old market)
- Farm produce: Varieties of plantains / bananas and green groceries among the others.
A brief intro to a city full of life and activities. Justice yet to be done. Signing off with a hope that it has helped someone somewhere in some form who is seeking for some info on this Pandyan city….