MY TRAVEL DIARY : “Cool yourself with jigarthanda” -Madurai’s famous beverage
Madurai situated on the banks of 258 km long Vaigai river is famous for Meenakshi Temple. This is the place where Sundareshwar (Shiva) and Meenakshi’s (Parvati). wedding was solemnised. Meenakshi Amman Temple is one and the only temple in India which has 14 Gopurams (entrance gates) for various shrines and Mandapas in the complex. These colourful 14 gopuram have carvings of more than 33000 gods and goddesses. Unlike other gopurams carved out of granites, these have used plaster to create 33000 figurines of gods and goddesses which get a colourful coat of paint every two years. Due to Covid the gopuram had missed a cycle of paint giving them a dull look when we visited the temple on March 16.
A visit to Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai begins with a basket of coconut offering and fresh flower garlands. Equally popular is the jasmine flower string for adorning hair. The flower sellers even sell hairpins.
Madurai is famous for two of its products which have GI ( Geographical Indication) tags. The first is for saree Madurai Sungudi and the second is for intoxicating fragrance laden jasmine flower Madurai Malli. Another jasmine flower to have a GI tag is Mysuru Malli. Madurai Malli is cultivated in Madurai and its neighboring districts.
Madurai wakes up to well-brewed Tea and Filter Coffee. Giving company to these two are Parppu Bonda (not Aloo Bonda), Vada, Daal Vada and Appam (a sweet savory). Parppu Bonda is made of lentils. Filter Coffee is the state’s special brew. Brew from the brass Coffee Filter is mixed in a tumbler of milk with a spoon of sugar and served.
Jigarthanda is Madurai’s famous beverage enjoyed especially in summer season. Simple ingredients — milk, vanilla essence, orange coloured sugar syrup, almonds, two scoops of ice cream — shaken and stirred with a handful of crushed ice work wonders.
Added to this cocktail is a spoon full of protein and carbs rich Sabja seeds (Tulsi seeds) soaked overnight. The drink helps in cooling the Jigar (liver). Imagine a Persian/ Urdu word, combined with Hindi’s thanda (cold), is the most popular in the ancient city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
(Sharat’s Sharma Travelogue)