You will find the main chunk of tourist flow to Madurai, in Tamilnadu, India, (which is in thousands every day), is from Chennai, the State Capital of Tamilnadu. The “Temple City” is widely popular due to its 2500 years’ old Meenakshi Amman Temple, apart from other temples.
As Madurai is situated 447 KMs by road (495 KMs by Railway track) on the National Highway No.7 to Kanyakumari, on the southwest direction, this route (reaching Madurai via Chennai) is the most preferred one for many. Air-travel to Madurai (although there are 49 domestic flights from Chennai Airport per week), is being used mainly by business people and high-tech Company Executives.
So that leaves the Train services on a majority and Bus services to a lesser extent, for people intended to go to Madurai from Chennai. This city is on the Chennai-Tirunelveli- Quilon (Kerala State) route of the Southern Railway (with a diversion at Tirunelveli for Kanyakumari).
That is why there are as many as 20 Express Trains available (destination Madurai or passing through) from Chennai Egmore or Chennai Central Railway Station (which connects almost all the major towns of India with Chennai) Formerly Chennai Egmore had only meter-gauge railway track and has been totally modernized now. The Expresses are run throughout from the morning (7.50 am Guruvayur Express) upto late night (11.45 pm Tuticorin Express).The trains starting from Chennai Egmore will pass through Villupuram-Vriddhachalam-Trichirappalli-Dindigul-Madurai(running time 8 to 9 hours) The trains from Chennai Central will pass through Arkonam-Katpadi-Jolarpet-Salem-Erode- Karur-Dindigul-Madurai.(somewhat round-about route – 698 KMs - and so running time will be not less than 10 hours). The train fare for Sleeper Class is Rs.232 (Egmore) and Rs.292 (Central) for Madurai.
You can reserve tickets online and at the counters 2 months in advance (Tatkal Reservation 5 days before with extra Rs.200 – Senior citizens above 60 years are allowed 30% concession on fares except Tatkal Reservatiion).All these trains do not have pantry cars and you have to get eatables at in-between Junctions.
On reaching Madurai there is no need for any local transportation for reaching hotels, since majority hotels are just lined up opposite to Railway Station and you can walk the distance.
For availing Bus Services from Chennai to Madurai you have to go to Koyambedu Central Bus Stand, wherefrom Government route express busses are run frequently at 15 minutes interval for Madurai and other places via Madurai. The busses will be reasonably comfortable, but day-time travel in the hot-climate throughout is not advisable. Rather you can take up night-services (fare Rs.176) and sleep over the journey of 9 hours (in the sitting posture of course). The bus goes on the National Highway No.7, which is very well maintained by the Tamilnadu Government – touching Villupuram; Trichy; Dindigul; Kodai Road (bottom of Kodaikanal hill – a resort).
At Madurai you will reach Madurai Periyar Bus Stand (before the ultimate Mattuthavani Bus Stand) which is at the center of the city and nearer to all hotels and Railway station by walk.
Chennai to Madurai by road is about 455km. NH45 & NH45B connects the two cities
See Also : Chennai to Madurai