Madurai Temple Tourism
ASHTA SHAKTHI MANDAPAM
This is an interesting place to visit. It has a temple inside. Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholiammal, both the wives of Thirumalai Nayakar, constructed this Mandapam. Some year’s earlier food was regularly served to the devotees who come to visit this hall. There is yet another hall near this one that is the Meenakshi Nayaka mandapa. This hall is now used as a shopping plaza. The hall consists of 1008 lamps, which glow gloriously during festive occasions. Some of the inscriptions found here are the sculptures of Lord Shiva’s performance of miracles and the rebirth of Meenakshi and her life as the princes of Madurai.
OONJAL AND KILLIKOONTU MANDAPAM
The swing and the parrot cage halls lie near the Golden Lotus Tank, which is yet, another beautiful site to watch. Every Friday the golden statues of goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareeswarar are placed in the swing and songs are sung in praise of their wonders and glory. The parrot in the cage is well trained and it pronounces the name of goddess Meenakshi. There are 28 pillars inside the hall and these pillars are full of carvings.
This hall comprises a wonderful idol of Lord Shiva also called Lord Nataraja and this is covered with silver coats and so it is called Velli Ambalam. There is also a kadamba tree in front of the hall, which is said that Lord Indra might have worshipped the Sivalinga.
THE HALL OF THOUSAND PILLARS
This beautiful architecture is called Ayiramkal Mandapam. There are 985 carved pillars in it. The pillars are arranged and lie in straight order. The sculptures in the pillars are bold. It is a marvelous architecture. There is an Art Museum in the hall, which has collection of icons, photographs and paintings. A single block of granite stone stands to the west of the hall, where the carvings are the musicals. When one bangs the pillars it produces lovely musical notations.
THE NEW HALL
This is called as Vasantha or Pudu Mandapam. This is set in the eastern tower, which lies unfinished. There lies also an unfinished tomb, which was built by the then king Thirumalai Nayakar. The sculptures here are portrayals of Shiva, Meenakshi and the Nayak kings. The spring festival of April and May- Vasanthosavam is celebrated in this hall.
THE HEAVENLY PAVILLION
This is called Swarga Vilasa. It is the only surviving building which is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architectural style. This has the shape of a rectangle and it measures 75 mts into 52 mts. The building is a fine construction of Brick and Mortal. There are no supporting rafters or girder in it. There is a beautifully decorated Colonnade, very tall and with high arches. There are shows conducted in English and Tamil everyday for half an hour each. The story of the great Tamil Epic Sillapathigaram by Elangovadigal and the glory of king Thirumalai are enacted.
This matt in Madurai is a branch of the world renowned Ramakrishna matt and Mission. The headquarters are at Belur and Howrah.
Sri Aravindar Annai Trust Meditation Center
This meditation center is located 10 Km south of Madurai junction at Thirunagar. This center is dedicated to Sri Aravindar and Sri Annai. This is one of the oldest places of meditation. The meditation center is opened between 4.30 pm and 8.30 pm in the evenings daily.