We booked a train ticket from Verkala to Madurai at tone of the local travel agencies (385 Rupees p.p. for sleeper class). Even though it is not a really big train station, it is a busy one so make sure you get on the right train. We left with a 55 minute delay but the train ride was oké. We knew in sleeper class you don’t get a blanket and a pillow and that there are no curtains so we put on some extra clothes to stay warm.
We arrived at Madurai Junction around 6.46 am and we only had to walk about 700 meters to our hotel.
Finding nice places to eat was a bit difficult. One of the places we sort of liked was the Taj Restaurant. They are renovating so it will probably look better by know, but their Sweet and Sour Chicken and Garlic Chicken are dishes we recommend when going here.
Another place we did like, was College House. An Indian restaurant where locals get their dishes on bit bamboo leaves and the waiters just scoop the rice and curries on there. Great way to serve the food. We as foreigners got a normal plate and enjoyed our delicious meals. We had the South Indian Meal, which comes with a lot of gravies, chapati and rice, and the Paneer Tikka Massala with a Garlic Naan. It was way to much and really tasteful.
We started of at Hotel Golden Park. Even though the hotel was a bit overpriced, we enjoyed our stay. The breakfast is fine and you get a newspaper in the morning at your doormat. We asked if we could check out late, they told us we had to pay for an extra night so we decided to book another cheaper room for the last hours at another nearby hotel to leave our luggage behind and take a quick shower before we left. During our check out, the ‘trouble’ started. We still had to pay for an extra night because we checked in early. If somebody would have told us, that would have been no probleem, but since we already booked and payed for another room, we did not agree. Long story short: we got into a big argument that lasted for a while but eventually did not have to pay extra. This did give us a bad taste in our mouth and we saw the real face of the owner, that wasn’t a pretty one.
Hotel International was just a few steps away and this one was overpriced over well, but we were fine with everything after our exit at Hotel Golden Park. They did probably give us the worst room since we booked a single room for just a few hours for the two of us, but we could leave our luggage behind and take a quick refreshing shower before getting on the train again.
We did some sightseeing and started of with the Palace. The entrance fee was one 50 Rupees and there honestly isn’t that much to see. It’s a big empty hallway with an open area in the are and all there is to see is a royal chair. We walked around the vegetable market a bit and visited the Sri Menaakshi Temple and the Koodal Alagar Temple which are both free. We especially liked the Sri Menaaksi. You have several entrances of which some have large lines with pilgrims. It’s an impressive sight and not only the inside of the temple is interesting to see. You should certainly walk around the temple on the outside as well. And if you have time, go into some of the little shops nearby. You’ll be surprised what fun stuff they are selling.
If you like musea, you can visit the Ghandi Museum, which is a bit out of the centre.