Madurai airport is mostly domestic, and there are no direct flights from Europe. There are several daily flights to Chennai, and there are direct flights to Mumbai, though not every day. Chennai is also connected by train - the fastest is the Tejas Express, at 6 hours 15 minutes to and from Madurai Junction station.
A very good hotel option is the JC Residency: compared to the Hotel North Gate (see below) it's somewhat more expensive, but newer, a category higher, and more spacious, quieter and overall more comfortable. It's very clean, with air-conditioning, ceiling fans, en-suite bathrooms, wifi, laundry service. Good restaurant, small garden, small pool, small shop. It's 2km from Madurai Seed. Very hospitable and recommended - it's where we stay!
Another hotel, slightly closer to Madurai Seed (1.7km), is the Hotel North Gate: it's less expensive than the JC Residency. It's clean, with air-conditioning, ceiling fans, en-suite bathrooms, wifi, laundry service and a restaurant. Generally rather noisier and more "economy" class. We used to stay there, but now prefer the JC Residency.
The neighbourhood around this hotel (Goripalayam) has shops, open-air markets, cash dispensers, a post office, small temples, a mosque. Towards Madurai Seed is the Gandhi Memorial Museum.
Some practical information
The best time to visit Madurai is December to March, when temperatures are at their lowest and humidity levels are tolerable.
Visitors to India need a visa. You should apply for a Tourist Visa - there is also an e-visa version that you can obtain online. Do this only through the official Government Visa website - there are other websites that charge you an extra fee for performing the same service (and who may not even perform it at all!)
Check with your doctor regarding vaccinations.
Use bottled (sealed) mineral water to clean your teeth. Wash fruit in mineral water, not tap water. Avoid ice in drinks.
Take mosquito repellent spray.
Check on adapters you may need for your electrical devices (laptop and phone chargers especially).
Check on mobile phone roaming packages to avoid excessive data costs.
Buy some rupees before you leave to pay for a car to your hotel (etc) when you arrive. India is still in many aspects a cash economy - you'll need rupees for tips, buying water at kiosks, for auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) rides, and so on. Credit cards are accepted in hotels, and increasingly more local shops, but not everywhere. There are many more ATMs now, but not always in service...
Tipping is widespread - I always tip room service, laundry service, hotel porters etc. In Madurai 20-30 Rs seems OK, in Mumbai 50 Rs
seemed acceptable for small services. For the driver to your hotel, 100 Rs.
Cash dispensers (ATMs) accept major credit cards and also the Swiss Bankers TravelCash Card.
If you would like visit Madurai Seed, please contact me and I can help facilitate your visit.
And if you would like to volunteer to teach there (even if only for a very short time), then please do contact me first so that your visit can be co-ordinated with Karthik and his team. We value all kinds of teaching input - for example, one of our members teaches maths and general science when he visits, another gave a presentation on Switzerland, another a music lesson (and so on).