When we finally arrived in Madurai after our awful six hour bus ride we learned that there were no buses to Kodaikanal until the next morning. We found a crappy hotel for $4 and explored the shop-filled streets. While the city itself was quite ugly, the stores had everything we could possible need including one filled with goods from the USA, a fresh juice stall across the street from the hotel and some amazing street food.
The one sightseeing activity we did in Madurai was to visit the Sri Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar for what our guidebook said was a half hour of priests singing lullabies before shutting down the temple for the evening. Before we could even get in the door we had to borrow a doti (traditional cloth worn by men and women that goes to the toes), as shorts were not allowed inside and Carrie was wearing a pair. Upon entering we found that only Hindus were allowed inside the area where the lullabies were sung and we had to wait outside with scores of other camera-touting tourists for the procession to begin.
The procession itself was a large puja consisting of holy men carrying flames, playing instruments and holding a chariot that held Shiva who was being put to bed for the night. We watched for a while, took some videos and photos and headed back to our hotel in a bicycle rickshaw driven by the friendliest 65 year old man who was so happy just to have our business. We wound up giving him double what he wanted (which came to $0.40) and I think his smile made our night more than the 20 rupees made his.
Click here to see a video of the Shiva procession.