Places to Visit in Madurai Tourist Places Meenakshi Temple
Madurai is the ancient capital of the Pandya kings and it is one of the world’s oldest cities it is still an important repository of Tamil culture. Today it is a bustling university town. Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu after Chennai. Next importance to Chennai. This city is often referred as thoonganagaram. It means the city never sleeps because people of the city were busy during day and night.
History of Madurai is 3100 years old. We can know it by Keeladi excavations. It is popularly known as the Athens of the East is a place of great antiquity, historic importance and Tamil culture.
According to 6th century BC Madurai is mentioned in the book of Mahavamsa. Prince Vijaya Married the king Pandu’s daughter of Madurai. Like that 700 men of Vijaya married 700 maidens of Madurai as their wives. Valuable items were sent with the Princess and Maidens to Sri Lanka. They Landed in Mahatittha, now it is called as Mannar.
At the end of Sangam age Madurai came under the control of Kalabhra dynasty, after them Pandyas ruled Madurai in 590CE. Chola’s captured Madurai in 9th century.
History attributes the foundation of Madurai to the Pandyan king. Kulasekhara, who flourished in the 6th century. The city improved after the 7th century and there was another golden age in the 13th century.
Cholas and Pandyas fought for Madurai in 12th century. Second Pandyan empire was established in 13th century as Madurai as its capital. Madurai came under the rule of Delhi Sultanate after the death of Kulasekara Pandian(1268 – 1308CE).
The Tamil literature flourished due to the kings, nobles and poets who dwelled in this part of the ancient Tamil Nadu. According to mythologies and history, this is the oldest city of Tamil Nadu. Ramayana and Arthasasthra the great epics had something to do with Madurai. It was spell under the Cholas till the Muslim invasion by Malik Kafur (1290 -1320 A.D.) and it was ruled by the Pandyas. Afterwards, it came under Vijayanagar rule and their governors, the Nayaks from 1371. The Nayaks ruled over 200 years and their reign is the “Golden Age” when Madurai was at its height in art, architecture and learning.
Madurai had trade links with Rome and Greece and was the major trade center in the early periods. Great travelers and traders like Megasthenes, Pliny and Ptolemy visited this glorious city. Even Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta also visited this place.
Megasthenes has visited Madurai in the 3rd century BC. He mentioned Madurai as Methora in his documents.
This City was an important cultural and commercial center even as early as 550AD. It was the capital city of the great Pandya kings. Pandyas were ruled here for over four centuries up to the 10th century. After Pandyas, the city was ruled by the Cholas and then by the king Vijayanagar empire. The Nayak came into power during the 16th century and carried on the great works of Pandyas.
The Pandyan splendour was extinguished by the invasion by Malik Kafur in the 14th century. After seventy year of Muslim rule, the Pandyan rulers re-established themselves and built the tamples and towers that we see today. After the decline of the Vijayanagar, the Nayak dynasty became the supreme masters of Madurai. The greatest among the Nayaks, Tirumala Nayak added several monuments to its splendor and pomp.
Archeological Survey of India excavated the signs of human settlements and Roman trade links of 300BCE in Manalur.
The temple and old city adorn the southern bank while the modern city has spread over the vast extensions. The many religious festivals celebrated with elaborate ritual and pageantry has earned for it the name of City of festivals.
Madurai City Tamil Naud India
It is the ancient home of Tamil culture considered as the second largest city in Tamil Nadu and it is the seat of the famous temple dedicated to Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar. Madurai is a charming city and it is one of the India’s most ancient cities with a history dating back to the 6th century BC.
Madurai is also called as the seat of the Tamil learning; the last of the three Tamil Sangams (Academies) flourished here nearly 2000 years ago. They are the glowing tributes which were given by the bards and poets.
The name Madurai is associated with ‘Maduram’ which means honey. When Lord Siva came here to marry Devi Meenakshi, few drops of honey fell from his locks and therefore it is named as Madurapuri, this land of honey was shortened later as Madurai.
In Madurai Lord Shiva and Sakthi incarnated themselves as immortal and in mortal views according to their miracles. Goddess Sakthi herself reigned as the Pandiyan princess and married Lord Shiva who already performed 64 majestic performances to render his victory. It admired and attracted the mind and soul of his devotees.
At present, Madurai is an interesting and it is possible for one of the famous handloom industries in India, textile mills and thriving commercial centres. The Kamaraj University is one of the most famous University in India it is also located in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
The View of art galleries and amazing towers is a cluster of small and large ones; according to the sculptor’s mind they have sculptured the statues which are most wonderful and it arrests the attention of the visitors. Amidst the Verdure of the smiling landscape and its performance is capturing the concentration of the people even from the distance.
It is special due to vast growth and the sweet smelling, fragrant jasmine flowers. The city is well connected by air, rail, and road transport. Madurai is the headquarters of the district. There are four main bus stands namely Mattuthavani, Arappalayam, Periyar, and Anna bus stand.
Madurai has the typical climate of the rest of the Deccan Plateau. Climate of this city is very hot and humid. May is the hottest month in summer. We can wear flimsy cottons in these seasons. The winter is very cold during the months of December, January and February.
Madurai Important Information
Madurai has become the greatest attraction for every tourist who visits the South. It leaves an indelible impression in their minds and enriches their knowledge of Tamilian art, architecture and culture. They cherish sweet memories of their visit, and the soaring towers will continue to attract the visitors again and again to visit this Temple City.
A centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries, Madurai is one of the most lively cities in South India. It was originally known as 'Kadabavanam' or the "forest of Kadamba'(Nauclea Kadamba).
Legend says the Lord Siva appeared in the dream on the King, Kulasekhara Pandya. The King was amazed to see drops of nectar, "Madhu", falling down of earth from Lord Siva's matted hair. The "Madhu" was so sweet that the place where it fell came to be known as "Madhurapuri", which in course of time became "Madurai".
Tamil and Greek documents record its existence from the 4th Century BC. Being in the heart of Tamil Nadu, Madurai has fostered an essentially Dravidian and Tamil culture. Famous for its cultural and Scholarly pursuits, Medurai had an academy consisting of critics, poets and savants that was highly esteemed by both kings and commoners. It was in Madurai that three successful conferences of Tamil scholars called "Tamil Sangams" Flourished under benevolent Royal support.
Madurai is famous for housing one of the five traditional "Dance halls" where Lord Siva, in his form as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer is said to have danced. Known as the "Silver Hall" (Velli Ambalam). It is situated in the Meenakshi Temple.
Madurai Meenakshi Temple
The famous MEENAKSHI AMMAN temple is in Madurai. This temple is dedicated to a pre Hindu “fish - eyed goddess" taken into the pantheon with her husband Shiva is Sundareshwara his shrine is next door. This temple has 11 towering gopurams. It was built in the 17th century. This may give us the sense of the intensity of Hinduism.
The Madurai festival in April and may celebrate the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar marriage. It is a grand reconciliation with the indo - Aryan invaders.
By entering the temple we have to take a short walk to the Meenakshi shrine. The interior of the shrines is off limits to non-Hindus. We can get a view of the entire temple and the golden roofs by climbing the slippery stairs to the top of the gopuram. We can see the arcaded golden lotus tank at the ground level. It is the temples bathing place. The detail model of the whole temple complex is at the west end.
The Kambattadi Mandapa is the busiest place in the temple. It is ambulatory to the Sundareswara shrine. Worshippers prostrate themselves in procession. They offer coconuts and fruits. Devoties toss tiny balls of butter onto blackened statues of Shiva. The hall of 1000 pillars is in the north east corner. They were full of carved, bizarre lion –elephants and the Pandava brother. The heroes from the Mahabharatha from whom the Madurai Pandya claim descent.
Pudhu Mandapa is the hall of audience of Thirumalai Nayak. This is outside the eastern wall of the temple. It is now a bustling bazar of tailors, metalworkers and other artisans. It was built by Thirumalai Nayakar stop of Thirumalai’s palace is about 1 km southeast of Meenakshi Temple.
An elegant relic of former splendor, the palace boasts cusped archer and Massive pillars modeled on the style of the great Rajput palaces of Rajasthan, but also some tubby Dravidian gods on a frieze running around the courtyard.
The Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple dominated the old city, which has evolved around it. Located at the heart of the city, the temple is a superb example of Dravidan architecture and sculpture. It has for long been the greatest attraction for the tourist as well as one of the most important places of pilgrimage. The temple has two shrines, one dedicated to Shiva as Sundareshwarar, and the other to his consort Meenakshi. There are four lofty towers in the four directions profusely carved and restored to their original splendor recently. The oldest tower built in the 13th century is in the eastern side, built by Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan. The southern tower is the tallest built in the 16th century. There are 11 amazing and exciting towers with the main entrance from the East. There are two divine shrines; one is dedicated to Sundareswarar (Shiva) and the other to his consort Meenakshi. The hall in front of Shivan Sannithi is known as Kambatthadi Mandapam. The different manifestations of Lord Shiva are depicted on the pillars of this hall.
Meenakshi Amman Temple History
The magnificent twin temple complex sprawling over an area of about 65000 sq.m in the heart of the old city, dominates and life and landscape of Madurai. It was originally built by Kulasekara Pandya and was dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar (Siva). According to the legend, Goddess Meenakshi was born as a Pandyan Princess and got married to Lord Shiva, who came to her disguised as Sundareswarar.
During the reign of Tirumalai Nayak (1623-55) major portions of the temple were built and the entire credit for making the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks. The temple complex within a high-walled enclosure is dominated by four gigantic gopurams (gateways) and eight smaller gopurams, decorated with multicoloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The southern gopuram is the tallest and affords a fine view of the temple and Madurai City. The huge temple complex has several exquisite mandapams and shrines.
The hall of thousand pillars is the most interesting feature. This remarkable structure was built in the 16th century. The outer enclosures are covered by the musical pillars each pillar sounds with a different note when struck. The pillars have a repeated motif of the stylized dragon.
Ashta Sakthi Mandapam
Ashta Sakthi mandapam shows the fond sculptural representation of the wedding of Meenakshi. The images of Ganesha and Subramanaya are seen on either side. Mandapam is so called after the figures of eight Sakthis represented on the pillars of two sides. The walls have the paintings and sculptured figures of depicting scenes from the Thiruvilayadal Puranam. The figures of the four great Saivite Saints adorn the Mandapam on the eastern end.
Meenakshi Naicker Mandapam
After, the Ashta Sakthi mandapam we come to the extensive Meenakshi Naicker Mandapam, named after its builder. It has five aisles separated by six rows of stone pillars on which are carved and other figures. Connecting this Mandapam with the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam is a hall where the idols of Siva and Parvathi in their manifestation as a hunter and huntress never fail to evoke over admiration. At the western end of this Mandapam is the massive Thiruvatchi containing 1008 brass oil lamps.
Mudali Pillai Mandapam
A splendid Chitra Gopuram invites us to the Mudali Pillai Mandapam, also known as Dark Mandapam. Of the numerous carvings here, the figures of Bikshadanar, of the infatuated wives of the rishis of Tharugavana and of Mohini, are the most outstanding, and each one has a tale to tell. The images of Muruga and Vinayaka and that of Kadanthai Mudaliar who built this Mandapam are also admirable monolithic pieces of art.
Golden Lotus Tank Or Potramarai Kulam
A pillared portico surrounds the sacred Potramaraikulam (Golden Lotus Tank). According to our tradition; Indra bathed in tank; in order to purify himself of his sin and worshipped Lord Shiva with golden Lotus flowers picked from this tank. According to legend, this tank was once used to judge the merits of “Tamil Literary works”. The Art Gallery of this temple is wonderful and exciting. The tank is surrounded by spacious corridors. On the pillars of the northern corridor are figures of 24 poets of the Third Tamil Sangam. Figures of Dananjayan, the merchant who discovered the main shrine in the forest Kadambavanam, and of Kulesekara Pandyan who built the temple and the city are also seen on two pillars in this corridor. On the wall of the northern and eastern corridor, we can see the golden domes over the sanctum sanctum sanctorum of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. The verses of Thirukkural are inscribed on marble slabs embedded in the wall of the southern corridor.
The Temple Art Museum
The most interesting feature of the temple is the hall of Thousand Pillars built in the 16th century, popularly known as Ayira Kal Mandapam. The hall has actually 985 pillars each being a piece of sculptor's art. They feature ornate bold sculptures that come alive. In the outermost corridor, are the musical stone pillars carved in a block of boulder. When tapped gently, each pillar produces a different musical note.
Adjacent to the tank, on the western side is the Unjal Mandapam. In the marble platform the gold images of Sundareswarar and Meenakshi are placed on Fridays for worship. The ceiling of the Unjal Mandapam is richly painted with pictures of Lord Muruga's six famous temples (Arupadai veedu). Projecting into the tank, on the western side, is a balcony where the figures of queen Mangamma and her minister Ramappayyan can be seen.
Adjacent to the Unjal Mandapam is the Kilikoottu Mandapam so called after the parrots kept in cages here. The long row of pillars and the delicately carved figures impart grandeur to the hall. The sculptures of the Pancha Pandavas, Vali, Sugriva and Drowpathi are marvelously chiselled. Opposite to the shrine of Devi the two large paintings, one of the coronation and the other of the wedding of Meenakshi enhance the beauty of the hall. The mural paintings of the Gods on the ceiling fill us with wonder and admiration.
Crossing the Kilikoottu Mandapam, we enter the shrine of Devi Meenakshi. A three storeyed Gopuram stands at the entrance. In the outer prakaram, the golden flag staff, Thirumalai Nayakar Mandapam, brass images of Dwarapalakas, shrines of Vinayaka and Koodal Kumarar are seen. Thirupugazh stanzas sung by Arunagirinathar are inscribed on the walls of the koodal Kumarar shrine.
The Maha Mandapam or the inner prakaram can be reached through the doors in the Arukal Peedam where Kumaraguruparar sang his Meenakshi Ammai Pillai Tamil.
In the Maha Mandapam, the shrines of Ayravatha Vinayakar, Muthukumarar and the celestial bedroom can be seen. To the west are the Artha Mandapam and the sanctum sanctorum. We worship Devi Meenakshi, the fish-eyed Goddess, who stands with a parrot and a bouquet, radiating love and compassion. The sublime grace of the divine Mother and Her infinite mercy are beyond words.
From the shrine of Meenakshi we retrance our steps through the Kilikoottu Mandapam. At the northern end. Mukkuruni Vinayakar, facing south, welcomes us. This eight feet high image of Vinayakar was found when Thirumalai nayakkar was digging the vandiyoor Theppakulam.
The shrines dedicated to Gnanasambandar, poets of the Third Tamil Sangam and Nataraja are found in the outer prakaram of the Swami shrine. The famous Kambathadi Mandapam is built just in front of the shrine in this prakaram.
Kambathadi Mandapam contains charming statues which are unparalleled in their exquisite beauty and intricate carvings. The golden flagstaff, nandi and balipeedam are at the centre. Lord Siva in His different manifestation is represented on each of the eight ornamental pillars of the mandapam. There are also many images depicting the avatars of Lord Vishnu. Of all these, the finest work is the one depicting the wedding of Meenakshi. This is a striking illustration of the excellence of Dravidian Art. The sculptor's ingenuity infusing so much life in the stone is quite astounding. Near the mandapam stand the colossal statues of Agni Veerabadra, Ahora Veerabadra, Kali and Siva in Urdhva Thandava pose. Each of these mammoth statues is a treat to our imagination and this mandapam remains sculptural museum where we are lost in wonder.
Images of Dwarapalaksa 12ft. in height keep watch at the entrance to the Swamy Shrine. In the first prakaram, we can see the Arukal Peedam (pedestal with six pillars) where the Thiruvilayadal puranam was inaugurated. Two brass covered Dwarapalakas stand here. There are shines dedicated to Saraswathi, 63 Nayanmars, Utsava moorthi, Kasi Viswanathar, Bikshandanar, Siddhar and Durgai in this prakaram. On the northern corridor of this prakaram we see the holy kadamba tree, the Kanaka Sabha, the Yaga sala, and a well which is seen by the side of the Vanni tree.
In the next prakaram is the shrine of Nataraja. This is called Velliambalam and we worship the Lord in the danching pose with His right foot raised. Passing through a small door we come to the immediate precincts of Sundareswarar in the sanctum sanctorum. Sixtyfour boothaganas, eight elephants and thirty-two lions support this. The lingam, which bears so many named like Chokkanathar, Karpurachockar inspires a deep devotion.
Hall of Thousand Pillars
From the Swami Sannithi we proceed to the Hall of Thousand pillars, Crossing The Kambathadi Mandapam. The equestrian statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar who built this treasure-house of art, greets us at the entrance. On either side are the statues of Kannappar, Bikshadanar, Chandramathi, Kuravan and Kurathi. As we enter, the Chakram carved on the ceiling, denoting the sixty Tamil years, astonishing. The 985 pillars in the hall are so arranged that from whichever angle one views, they appear in a straight line. The images of Manmatha, Rathi, Arjuna, Mohini, Kali-Purusha, Lady with a lute, are magnificent carvings. a beautiful image of Nataraj is installed in a mandapam at the farthest end of the hall. An exhibition of many antiques, idols and interesting pieces of art arranged here. They are worthy of one's admiration and the time spent here is well spent.
South of the Thousand Pillared Hall in the newly built Mangayarkarasi Mandapam which contains the statues of Koon-Pandiyan, mangayarkarasi, Gnanasambandar and a Lingam.
On the southern side is the Servaikar Mandapam constructed by Maruthy Pandyas. Nearby is the Thirukalyana Mandapam, the ceiling of which is an example of the finest piece of woodwork.
The street surrounding the main shrine is called Adiveethi. It is adorned by four gigantic 9 storeyed towers. The South Tower, 160 feet high, with parabolic curves at the sides, is the tallest. It was constructed by Sevvanthi Chettiar in the 16th century. The North Tower, otherwise known as Mottai Gopuram, is without any striking artistic work. Maravarman Sundara Pandyan constructed the oldest tower on the eastern side in the 13th century, and Parakram Pandyan constructed the West Tower in the 14th century. There are also smaller towers, which add to the beauty of the temple.
By the side of the North Tower there are five Musical pillars each consisting of 22 smaller pillars carved out of a single stone, and producing musical tunes when tapped.
In front of the East Gopuram stands the Puthu Mandapam, otherwise known as Vasantha Mandapam, constructed during the reign of Thirumalai Nayakkar. It is the summer resort of Sundareswarar and Meenakshi. On the granite pedestal at the centre of the hall, the deities are placed during festivals. Wonderful stone images of Thadathagai, Meenakshi's wedding, Ravana lifting Mount Kailas and the stone elephant eating sugarcane decorate this mandapam. The Nayakkar rulers are immoratalised by their statues here.
As we come out of the Puthu Mandapam, the unfinished Raya Gopuram arrests our attention. Considering the plinth area, we feel that, if completed, this tower might have been the biggest in India.
Legends around Madurai
Once Indra, the king of Devas, was burdened with the sin of Brahmahathi. To expiate the sin he did penance at various shrines. While traversing near the Kadamba forest of Madurai, he was suddenly purified. On further search, he found a swayambulingam under a Kadamba tree. He worshipped the deity with golden lotus flowers, built a vimanam over the deity and returned to Devaloka.
Later a merchant by name Dananjayan, who chanced to stay for a night near the shrine, found deva poojas being performed at the shrine, found deva poojas being performed at the shrine and informed King Kulasekara Pandyan who ruled in Manavoor, of this incident. The king came to the forest and worshipped the Lord. It was built at the proper temple and the city of Madurai became the famous capital of the Pandyas.
After Kulesekara Pandyan, Malayadwaja Pandyan succeeded to the throne. As he had no children, he and his wife Kanchanamala performed a yagna to get a child. They were astounded and worried when a three-year-old girl with three breasts appeared from the yangna-kundam. A divine voice consoled them telling that her third breast would disappear when she meets her husband. The child, Thadathagai, was brought up like a prince and she mastered all the arts of war. Thadathagai succeeded the king, conquered the neighboring countries, and reached Kailas itself, the abode of Lord Siva. But on the battle field when her eyes met the gaze of Siva, her third breast disappeared. She realized she had met Lord Siva came to Madurai, married Thadathagai and they ruled Madurai for a time. Then, after making their son Ugra Pandyan, an incarnation of Muruga, as the king, they assumed the divine forms, as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi.
Madurai Temple History
The origin of the temple goes back to legendary times. Only a shrine of Siva and the walls surrounding it were existing in the 7th century AD. The shrine of Meenakshi was built during reign of Chadayavaran Sundara Pandyan, in the 12th century. The 9 storeyed towers were constructed between the 13th and 16th century. The reign of the Nayakka rulers for 200 years saw the construction of many mandapams and other additions like the Hall of Thousand Pillars, Ashta Sakthi Mandapam, Puthu Mandapam, Vandiyoor Theppakulam Na;yakkar mahal.
The greater part of the temple, as it exists today, it was built between the 12th and 18th century. In 1877 renovation on a large scale was done by the Nagarathar, especially by the Vainagaram family. During this renovation, many of the fine sculptures in the Kambathadi Mandapam were installed and the unfinished North Tower was completed. In 1960-63 a Committee headed by Sri. P.T. Rajan undertook a complete renovation of the temple during which the sudais in all the tower were repaired and remade, and painted with traditional colours. Faded paintings inside the temple were repainted. Many new images depicting scenes from Thiruvilayadal Puranam were also put up on the walls of the inner prakaram of the Swamy temple. A new mandapam dedicated to to Mangayarkarasi was put up with modern materials and technique to commemorate this great renovation.
Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank Or Vandiyur Mariamman Temple Tank
Vandiyur Mariamman Temple to its north, the gigantic Teppakulam tank (4km east of the centre of Madurai on NH-49) is one of South India's largest man-made temple tanks. It is also the setting for one of Madurai's biggest events, the Float Festival, celebrated in the month of Thai (Jan-Feb). This unique ritual was started in the 17CE by King Thirumalai Nayak as part his birthday celebrations. The 335*290m/1100ft*950ft area was excavated to make bricks for building the Thirumalai Nayak Palace and was later converted into a stepped tank fed by the Vaigai River through a network of underground channels. Twelve rows of granite steps lead to the tank, which has an island pavilion in the centre with a garden shrine dedicated to Lord Vinayaka.
The legendary Float festival sees thousands of people gathering to take Madurai's presiding deities, Lord Sundareshwarar and Goddess Meenakshi, on a royal boat ride around the tank. The procession idols are brought in a palanquin at dawn, placed on a bedecked theppa (float or raft) and slowly tugged in circles round a specially built pavilion in the kulam(tank). The deities are placed in th central shrine until evening and ferryboats take people to and fro for darshan. At dust, oil lamps, garlands, festoons and fairy lights illuminate the place and on the final day, a dazzling display of fireworks marks the end of the festivity.
Koodal Alagar Temple
Koodal Alagar Temple is an ancient Vaishnavite temple with beautiful sculptures; to the west of the city. One of the celebrated temples of Tamil Nadu having been extolled in the hymns of the Alwars. Tirumangai Alwar addressed this deity as Koodal Kovil Konda Alagiyava. The idol of Vishnu can be seen in three poses, sitting, standing and reclining. The chief attraction of the place is its magnificent three storeyed Ashtanga Vimana which dominates the entire complex.
This place is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya Padai Veedugal. It was here that lord Subramanya Married Devayani, the daughter of Indra. On the hill is the rock-cut cave temple. Out of live rock, whole structures are hollowed out complete with pillars ambulatories, platforms and inner shrines with decorative relief and carvings on all surfaces. In the temple there are separate shrines dedicated to Siva, Ganapathi, Durgai, Vishnu and other deities. At the entrance to the temple, there are 48 pillars with artistic carvings. As per tradition, this rock was used in the construction of Madurai Meenakshi temple. The lowest of the halls is said to have been built by Tirumala Nayakan. It is located near in 8 km from Madurai. At the top of the hill, there is a tomb of a Muslim saint known as Sikander; so it is also considered as a Muslim pilgrimage.
About 18 km from Madurai this temple is located. Sundararajar (Vishnu) temple here is at the foot of the hill. For the daily abishekam of the bronze image water from a spring 3km uphill is used, since any other water blackens the image. The image of Alagar is taken in a procession to the river vaigai to participate in the marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareswar on Chitra Poornima day. (Alagar, according to Hindu mythology Sundararajar is the brother of Meenakshi). This temple is surrounded by the ruins of an ancient fortified town. The beauty of the temple lies in the exquisite sculptures in the front hall. Some of them surpass the workmanship found in the Meenakshi temple. An interesting feature of this shrine is the set of eighteen steps leading to the temple of Kannappaswamy, the deity of Kallars, where devotees cannot dare to tell a lie. The adjacent hill has a temple of Subramanya and a few water springs.
This is also one of the six shrines of Lord Subramanya. According to tradition, it is said that Lord Subramanya offered black barriers at this place to his devotee, the famous Avvaiyar, the great Tamil Saint. It is located nearer 2km from Alagarkoil on a hill.
Places to visit in Madurai
The Gandhi museum dedicated to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi is amidst a beautiful garden. It has several galleries depicting photographs, Khadi and Village industries and handicrafts. Some of the personal belongings of Gandhi are also exhibited here. The Government Museum is also located in the same garden. It has interesting sculptures of the Pandyan period, bronze figures of deities, paintings and many historical objects. Working hours of this museum is (10.00 am to 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm) and it is open for all days. Government museum is also situated within this Gandhi Museum complex itself. Sunday and second Fridays are holidays. The working times are same only.
Thirumalai Nayaker Mahal
Thirumalai Nayaker Mahal is about 1.5km from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. In the style of Indo Saracenic; this imposing palace was built in the year 1636 by the Nayak rulers. The stuccowork on its domes and arches are very interesting and they are catching our eyes by its attraction. There are two pavilions; they are Swarga Vilasam and Renga Vilasam. The measurement of Swarga Vilasam is about 75m * 55m. The celestial pavilion is an arcaded octagon and it is made up of brick and mortar without a single girder or rafter support. This Indo-Saracenic building has massive white pillars. The main attraction is the Swarga Vilasam which serves as an audience hall. A part of the palace has now been converted as a museum dealing with the history of Madurai, art and architecture of Tamil Nadu.
The original palace complex was 4 times bigger than the present structure. His grandson Chokkanatha Nayak destroyed it. The valuable things of Mahal were transferred to other places. Tourist allow to take photograph. The sound and light show depicts the story through the epic Silappdhikaram. Phone: 0452 - 2332945, 2338992.
Annamalai Hills is about 100km from Madurai. This place has the ancient caves where the Jain monks lived in the olden days. There are a few inscriptions in Brahmi script and some idols of Jain Tirthankaras.
Vaigai Dam is about 70 km from Madurai. This is a beautiful picnic spot on the way to Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary in Kerala. Below the dam a beautiful garden with many artificial fountains has been laid out which will be illuminated during weekends.
Suruli Water Falls
Suruli Water Falls is about 128Km from Madurai. On the way to Periyar Wild life Sanctuary, the river Suruli takes a plunge at this place to form a beautiful cascade and present an enchanting view with the wooded surroundings. This is also a popular picnic spot. This is said to be the best among other water falls in the Cumbam valley. The place is also a summer resort as the water falls is considered as a Punya Tirtha.
Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary
Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary is about 55km from madurai. This is a well known spot for the bird watcher as it abounds in large number of migratory birds during the winter months. It is also an excellent place for picnic.
Tirukoshtiyur is about 46km From Madurai. A heritage Vaishnava temple and a centre of attraction for pilgrims and visitors. Though it is a Vaishnava temple, it has shrines for Shiva. Subramanya, Vinayaka and Devi. Tradition says that all the gods assembled here in a group Koshti to pray for Maha Vishnu. Thus, it acquired the name as Koshityuror the Place of Divine Assemblage. The presiding deity is Vishnu as Uraga Mellnayam meaning Vishnu reclining on Adisesha. The most significant feature of this temple is the 32m high Astanga Vimanam crowned by glittering gold kalasham. The sacred tank is called as Amavn Pushkarini. This place can be reached by bus from Sivaganga.
Dindigul Fort 63km from Madurai. Of all the forts in South India, no other fort has such colourful past dating back to three centuries as the Hill Fortress at Dindigul. It has survived therise and fall of varius Hindu and Muslim dynasties that held sway over this region till the Britishers took over finally. The hill rises almost vertically to a height of 340m. Tirumala Nayakan of Madurai built the fortress. The place is very popular among young mountaineering enthusiasts and also as a place of picnic.
Thonducombu Temple 8km From Dindigul. A small village having an ancient temple dedicated to Soundararaja Perumal. Originally known as Talapuri or Talavanam due to the prevalence of Palmyra forest around. The temple looks like an old fortress with a few subsidiary shrines including one depicted to Andal. It has many interesting pieces of sculpture all around the temple, which is worth a study.
Madurai is connected by air, rail and road with many parts of the country. The state bus services operate from the three Bus Stations of the city to almost all the places in South India. All the places of interest are connected by regular bus services. Excellent lodging facilities are available in the city in addition to the choultries founded by Rani Mangammal. Taxi and autorickshaws can be hired for local transport.
Athisayam Them Park
Athisayam Them Park is about 15km from Madurai. It is one of the theme parks in Madurai. It is situated at Madurai - Dindigul Road at Paravai. Phone: 0452-2463848-51.
Kazimar Periya Pallivasal
Kazimar Periya Pallivasal is about 1km from the Madurai railway junction. The Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin started this Pallivasal. He came from the Oman during the late 12th century. He got this land from the king Kulasekara Padiyan and constructed this mosque. It is the first Muslim place of worship in Madurai. All his descendants lived in the same locality for 700 years. Since this Mosque is managed by them.
Madurai City Information
Total Area: 3,741 Sq. Km
Population: 30,41,038 (2011)
Male Population: 1,526,475
Female Population: 1,303,363
Weather: Max 37.5°C Min 20.9 °C
Madurai to Chennai: 447 Km
STD Code: 0452
Passport Enquiry: 0452-2520794/95/96
Tourism Enquiry: 0452-2742888
Airport Enquiry: 0452-2671333,2670433
Railway Enquiry: 0452-2743135
Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
Pazhamuthir Cholai Murugan Temple
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
Thirumalai Nayak Palace