Places to Visit in Madurai Tourist Places List Meenakshi Temple in Maduri
Madurai is a cultural and traditionally active city in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on the banks of the Vaigai River. Its life is still traditional today and its people are still primitive in many ways.
This city 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. Maduri is more than 3100 years old. The Pandya King Kulasekara in 6-century built a temple and founded a lotus shaped city around the temple. Today it is a bustling university town. It is the Third largest city in Tamil Nadu after Chennai. Next importance to Chennai and Coimbatore. It has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil era.This city is often referred as thoonganagaram. It means the city never sleeps because people of the city were busy during day and night. It is also a very popular travel destination for visitors to India.
It is in the the state of Tamil Nadu. This is also called as Koodal Nagar. The word Koodal means a group or an assembly of scholarly people. It refers to the 3rd Tamil Sangam held in this place. Naanmadakoodal means the junction of four towers, it refers to the 4 major temples. This city has its name in Tevaram, the 7th or 8th century Tamil compositions on Shiva by the three prominent Nayanmars. They are Appar, Sundarar and Thirugnanasambandar. They address the city in Thiruvalavai.
The Meenakshi Temple which has regulated much of the town-planning in Madhurai, has also extended its influence over the cultural and social life of the people. Meenakshi Temple is the heart land of Maturai. People from all over the world and not Hindus alone are drawn to Maduri by the Meenakshi Temple, one of the grandest temples in all India. Its awesome grandeur in irresistible. And for the frequent visitor, there is always something new to discover in its massive, intricately sculpted gopurams (towers), many-pillared halls and fascinating legends depicted in the innumerable sculptures and paintings that decorate its pillars and walls.
Madhurai Mayor : Tmt. V. Indirani
Deputy Mayor : T. Nagarajan
Maturai 110m above sea level in the heart of Tamil Nadu. It is about 447 km from the southwest of Chennai. This city is about 133km from Trichy. It is about 174km north-west of Rameswaram. This is well connected with all the major National Highway.
It's population is about 30,41,038 (2011) and an area of about 3710 Sq. Km. Most ancient cities developed on the bank of rivers and Maduri is no exception. The old Mathurai, which is the tourist’s Maduri, lies on the southern bank of the Vaigai, which rises in the Palani hills, to the west and flow south-eastwards past the city. On the other side of the river are hallmarks of modern civilisation – clubs, college’s hotels and other institutions.
The city is shielded by two striking rock formations in Yanaimalai and the Nagamalai. The Yanaimalai (Elephant Hill) in the north-east, which forms a backdrop to the Agricultural College and research Institute, look like an elephant in repose when seen from afar. The Nagamalai (Snake Hill) is near the Maduri Kamaraj University. The Palani hills lie to the west and the outliers of the Western Ghats skirt the city’s boundaries.
The streets of Madhurai run in almost concentric circles in and around the Meenakshi temple precincts. The Adi Streets lie within the temple compound itself and the Veli streets mark the out limits of the old city. In between are the Chitrai, Aani and Masi Streets, named after the month in the Tamil Calendar.
Famous foods in Maturai District in English
Maduri District has some important food recipes. They are Idly, dosa, vada, puri, chapatti, kari dosa, mutton balls rice, parotta, kothu parotta and chicken gravy. Jigarthanda is one of the famous recipe in this city.
About Madurai City Tamil Naud India
Madurai Area of this land is about 3,676 sq. km Rainfall of Maduri city is 839.8mm per Annual climate of this state is Max: 37.C. It is a legend that city was originally a forest known as Kadambavanam. It has an area of 147.97km or 57.13 square miles of Municipal Corporation. It is an ancient home of Tamil culture, considered as the Third largest city in Tamil Nadu and it is the seat of the famous temple dedicated to Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar. A city was planned with the Koil as its centre. Almost a city within a city, it is the focal point around which Maturai has developed. It 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.
People from all over the world and not Hindus alone are drawn to Maturai by the Meenakshi Temple, one of the grandest temples in all India.
It 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 Maturai.
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. The City admired and attracted the minds and soul of his devotees.
This city is a home town to some prominent Tamil film personalities Like T.M. Soundarajan, Vijayakanth, Vadivel, Vivek, Cheran, Shaam, Chimdudevan Kanika, Bala (Director), Ameer Sultan and Ramarajan.
Some famous personalities include Bharat Ratna M.S. Subbulakshmi and the biblical archeologist Vidhya Shankar.
There is a village town in the neighbouring District of Dindigul called Vada Madhurai and another is a neighboring District called Mana Maturai in Sivagangai District. These are the well features about Madurai district.
Madurai District in Tamil Nadu India
Madurai district is an interesting and it has 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 this District.
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. There are four main bus stands namely Mattuthavani, Arappalayam, Periyar, and Anna bus stand. It is about 447km from Chennai.
It 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.
The summer (April to June) is hot (Max 42˚C; Min 26 ˚C) and winter (November to January), warm (Max 37˚C; Min 20 ˚C). The monsoon rains last from August to November. The city gets an average rainfall of 89.3cm a year.
The best time to visit Maduri is between October and March, before the heat sets in.
Important Information About Madurai City Tamil Nadu India
Meenakshi Temple is the heart land of Maturai Tamil Nadu. About Maduri has become the greatest attraction for every tourist who visits the South India. 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, it is one of the most lively cities in South India Tamilnadu. It was originally known as 'Kadabavanam' or the "forest of Kadamba'(Nauclea Kadamba).
Legend says the Lord Siva has 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 "Maduri".
Tamil and Greek documents record its existence from the 4th Century BC. Being in the heart of Tamil Nadu, it has fostered an essentially Dravidian and Tamil culture. Famous for its cultural and Scholarly pursuits, This place had an academy consisting of critics, poets and savants that was highly esteemed by both kings and commoners. Three successful conferences of Tamil scholars called "Tamil Sangams" Flourished under benevolent Royal support in this city.
Mathurai 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 Koil.
The Pandya’s were great patrons of art and literature, and under them, Madhurai, the political capital of the ancient Tamil country, flowered into its cultural capital as well. It was also a prosperous commercial centre, for, the Greeks and Romans seem to have carried on a flourishing trade with this Pandya stronghold.
Madurai Tourist Places List
Kodaikanal is the nearest hill stations. It is about 116km. Sirumalai is about 90km, Munnar is about 154km, Kumily is about 138km, Alagar Kovil is about 21 km and Koodal Alagar Koil.
Madurai Temples List
Meenakshi Amman Temple in English
Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple is the main attraction of this Maturai District. It is a dedicated to Meenakshi, the lovely consort of Lord Shiva, the original temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya. The entire credit for making the temple as splendid it is today goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled here from the 16th to the 18th century. They left a majestic imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.
Meenakshi Amman Temple is an ancient Historic Hindu Koil. This Koil is located on the south side of the river Vaigai. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city.
Sree Meenakshi Temple is one of the greatest temple of South India. Its towers can be seen even from a distance an aerial view of the temple will be simply grand.
This Koil 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. The huge southern gopuram has over 1500 sculptures. It was built in the 17th century. This may give us the sense of the intensity of Hinduism. This temple complex covers 6 hectares right in the middle of the city and it is flush with visitors from all over, each and every day.
Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar marriage festival is celebrated in April and may. 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 Koil 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 Meenakshi 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 Pandya claim descent.
Pudhu Mandapa is the hall of audience of Thirumalai Nayak. This is outside the eastern wall of the Koil. 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 Koil.
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 Kovil 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 tample 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.
The towers that loom overhead are famous for detailed carvings of the gods and goddesses, mythological figures and running depictions of legendary tales. Meenakshi Temple is one of the important places to visit in this District.
Meenakshi Amman Temple History in English
Ever Monday, all the devas (gods) came down to Kadambavanam to worship the Siva lingam. On one such night, a merchant, Dhananjaya, a ardent devotee of Siva chanced upon the scene. In worshipful wonderment he watched the gods performing puja. The next morning, he rushed to the palace of the reigning sovereign, Kulasekara Pandyan, in Manavoor, then the capital of the Pandyas, and told him about spectacular scene he had witnessed. Kulasekara had the forest cleared immediately and a temple built, around the lingam. He also built a city around the temple. On the day the city was to be named, Lord Siva appeared. And as he blessed the land and its people, drops of nectar fell from his matted locks. This decided the name of the city, which was called ‘Madhurapuri’, Madhuram meaning ‘nectar’ in Tamil.
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 Mudurai. 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 Sanathi 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 tample and 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.
Inside the Meenakshi Temple
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.
This Mandapam is 160 feet long and 110 feet broad. Here we can see six rows of stone pillars numbering 110 each 22 feet high.
In each of these pillars, there is the figure of a Yali (a fabulous animal like a lion with an elephant’s proboscis possibly the mammoth) at the top and beautiful architecture work at the bottom. We find some unfinished statues also in this mandapam.
There is a ‘Thiruvatchi’ (Frame of lamps) at the western and of this mandapam, there are 1008 lamps in this Thiruvatchi its height is about 25 feet when lighted, and it presents a magnificent sight. Having been installed by the Marudhu Pandyas.
On the roof in front of this. Thiruvatchi areengraved the twelve Rasies (Planatory positions) in a square form. The test of the ceiling is painted with circular artistic decoration.
Beyond the Thiruvatchi, towards the amman Sannadhi we enter the base of a seven-storyed tower. This base is 78feet long and 38 feet broad. The height of the tower is 177 feet. There are 730 sculptures on this tower each one of them is an excellent piece of art, Because of this, this tower is sometimes referred to as the ‘Chitra Gopuram (Artistic tower).
A view of this tower can be had from the Adi Veedhi (first path way surrounding the shrines of Sree Meenakshi and lord Sundareswarar) at the place where elephants are tied or from the western side of the Golden Lilly Tank. This tower was built in 1569 by Kalathinatha Mudaliar son of Dalavoi Ariyanatha Mudaliar.
Mudali Pillai Mandapam
A splendid Chitra Gopuram invites us to the Mudali Pillai Mandapam, also known as Dark Mandapam. It is 60 feet broad. It was built in 1963 by Kadanthai Mudaliar.
On the both sides of this Mandapam, there are pillars with beautiful statues of women, Alegendary story is related about these women. Once the wives of the saints of Tharuga Forest fell in love with Lord Siva when He appeared before them in the form of Bikshandanar (beggar). They were so enamored with love that they stood spell bound by the Lord’s be witching beauty and grace. In such a gratitude they did not even notice the slipping of their clothes from their waists. The sculpture has showed a superb skill in making these statues. The statue of Lord Bikshandanar also exhibits the inordinate efficiency of the artist. There is a statue of a Mohini (The Lady who throws Charm). The idols of Ganesa and Subramania also find a place in this mandapam.
The mudali mandapam cannot not be termed Dark mandapam During the Temple Renovation in 1963, windows have been built on the northern wall of mandapam. These windows provide a free flow of air and light.
Meenakshi Amman Temple Golden Lotus Tank Or Potramarai Kulam
Golden Lotus Tank is 165 feet long and 120 feet wide. There are stone steps on all four sides leading almost to the bottom of it. The tank is filled with water for most of the year. Very rarely does the tank get dry.
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 south-western corner of Golden Lily Tank present a grand view to one coming in from the Mudali Mandapam. In the background. We see the upper part of the majestic southern tower of the temple.
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.
On the Western side of the golden tank, there is a small mandapam built in black marble. This is called the Oonjal Mandapam. Every Friday evening the golden idols of Sree Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswara are placed in a swing on the dais of this mandapam. A string is tied to this swing. A man sits on the floor in front of the swing and pulls it so that the swing moves to and fro. Now this mandapam is decorated fully with design mirrors. On other days, Tamil hymns are sung by Odhuvars sitting in front of the swing platform.
Six shrines of Lord Muruga are painted on the side walls above the platform in front of the swing mandapam, there is a small mandapam here and we can also see artistic paintings done during Rani Mangamma period. The statues of Rani Mangamma, Her minister Ramappayy and her grandson Vijayarangachokanathar, also find a place in this mandapam.
Parrot Cage Mandapam or Kilikoottu Mandapam
Next to the Oonjal Mandapam is the Parrot Cage Mandapam (Kilikudu Mandapam) at the entrance gate of Amman Sannadi. Some of the parrots were kept in a large cage and now this cage has been completely removed. 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.
The parrot is a sacred bird and is often shown in company with other Gods and goddesses. Particularly, goddesses are always seen with a parrot in their left hand. Obviously it means presence of place and happiness.
This hall has 28 pillars. Each of these is overflowing with artistic beauty. On these pillars we find figures of Pandavas, Vali, Sugriva and other deities, while another pillar has Yali carved on it. A stone ball spins in its mouth. It is truly an amazing piece of work.
Opposite the shrine of Goddess Meenachi, on one side is a Salipeedam (sacrificial) pillar with the figure of Bhima (Hercules of the Pandavas). On the pillar on the other side is the figure of a semi-human beast. Two figures are shown in a more realistic fighting attitude.
The Kilikkottu (cage of parrots) Mandapam was built by Abisheka Pandaram Thirumalai Naicker’s wives. Tholi Ammai and Rudrapathi Ammai built the Astha Sakthi (Eight Powers) Mandapam. The Nagara Mandapam (Drum Pavilion) in front of the Meenakshi amman tower was built by Achaya Rayer. Here we can now see fruit-stalls and other shops.
From the Parrot Cage mandapam one can go into Sree Meenakshi’s sanctum Sanctorum. There is a small tower at this entrance. It is a three storeyed tower, forty feet high. Its base is 27 feet long and 20 feet broad. There are 476 sculptures in this tower. This tower can be seen only from the eastern side of the Golden Lily Tank. This tower is called Vembathur. Tower after its builder, Ananda Thandavanambi of Vembathur. Inside the tower’s gate there are two paintings on wooden planks one depicts Sree Meenakshi’s Wedding and other her crowing. Non-Hindus are not allowed to go beyond the tower entrance. Passing the entrance. We can see a flag-post, covered with golden leaves at the south eastern corner of this outer Prakaram (path around the shrine), there are the statues of Thirumalai Naick and his two wives.
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 kolu mandapam is the western corner. During the Navarathri (Nine Nights) Festival in the Tamil Mont of Purattasi (September-October) an idol of Sree Meenakshi is adorned nine forms and kept in this marble mandapam.
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.
On the western side, there is the gate of a tower. This five storeyed tower can be seen from the west Adi Veedi also. This Amman Tower is 54 feet high. Its base is 50 feet long and 28 feet broad. There are 228 sculptures on this tower.
On the North-East junction is the idol of ‘Koodal Kumarar. Songs from from Thiruppugal. Sung by saint Arunagirinathar are engraved on stones in this Sannadhi. At its eastern end there is an entrance to Swamy Sannadhi.
After completing the round of the other prakaram, we can go into the inner prakaram, through a platform with six pillars. There are two beautiful copper statues of the Dwara Balakas (Gatekeepers) at the entrance. Some songs of Meenakshi Ammai Pillai Sung by Sri. Kumaraguraparar are engraved on the walls behind these gatekeepers.
Passing the entrance, we come to the Maha-Mandapam (Great Hall.) The pillars and ceiling of this Mandapam have exquisite pieces of architecture. A bell wholly made of stone is hanging from the top.
On the Western Side of this Maha Mandapam, we find Sree Meenakshi’s Sanctum sanctorum. This fish eyed idol, shrines in all its glory. Her benign eyes shows her blessings on the devotees standing on both sides in deep prayer.
At the South-western corner of inner prakaram is Lord Vinayagar’s temple and at the north-eastern corner is that of Muthkumarar.
The marble bedroom (Palli Arai) of Sree Meenakshi is also situated in this prakaram. East of this, there is a gateway leading to the second prakaram of Lord Sundareswarar. This Prakaram can also be reached by coming back to the Parrot Cage mandapam and entering through the tower gate at the north, (generally, in all temples of Lord Siva the idol of the Lord is worshipped first and then that of the Amman, however in Sree Meenakshi Temples. The Amman, is worshipped first perhaps to bring out the preference to ladies.
The five storyed tower was built in 1559 by sevvandhi moorthy Chettiar of Siramalai. It is 69 feet high with a base of 44 feet by 63 feet. There are 112 fine sculptures in this tower.
Passing this entrance. We are faced with gigantic idol of Lord Vinayaga. This idol is said to have been discovered when the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulamd (tank) at the eastern end of the city was dug.
On the day Vinayaga Chadurthi (Worship of Lord Vinayaga) a big Kozukkattai (boiled rice cake) made out of three “Kurunies’ equal to 18 measures is offered to this Vinayagar. Hence this Vinayagar is called Mukkurini Pillayar. This idol can also be seen from the southern outer tower of the temple.
The outer wall of this prakaram (pathway) is 420 feet lengthwise and 310 feet breath wise: the inner wall is 250 feet long and 158 feet broad.
There is a five-storeyed tower on the western side of this Prakaram. This was built in 1374 by one Maliappan. It is 72 feet high with a base of 48 feet by 31 feet. There are 40 sculptures in this tower.
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 (1000)
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.
The big mandapam (pavilion) at the junction of the northern and eastern Adi Streets has one thousand stone pillars. It was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar.
Krishna Veerappa Naicker built the nine-stored northern tower of the temple and kampathadi Mandapam (pavilion under the pillar).
Thiru Nokku Alagiyar constructed the outer walls of the temple. These walls form a rectangle with a length of 847 feet and a breadth of 792 feet.
The Veeravasantha Rayar mandapam before the Swami temple was built by Muthuveerappa Naicker in 1611 AD.
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.
The Pudhumandapam (New Pavallion), east of the Swami tower, was built by Thirumalai Naicker. It is used for the spring Festival. He also constructed the Royagopuram east of the Pudhumandapam.
The Meenakshi Naicker Mandapam before the Amman Tower was constructed in 1708AD by Shanmugam Meenakshi Naicker. Vijayaranga Chokkanatha Naicker built the Thirukalyana (Wedding) Mandapam in 1711 AD.
Thus we see that major part of the Temple was constructed between the twelfth and the eighteenth centuries.
In and Around Meenakshi Temple
A small mandapam joins the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam and the Meenakshi Naickar Mandapam. There is a verandha on each side of this mandapam. On the southern varandha there is a statue of Goddess Parvathi eight feet in height. She is in a dancing pose with a Soolayudham (a kind of weapon) in one of her hands. A five-hooded serpent shelters. Her head from the sun’s heat and rains. Some consider this statue to be that of a huntress.
On the northern verandha there is statue of a hunter. This statue is also eight feet high. The hunter has a majestic look. A reason is attributed for keeping these two statues near entrance of the temple. The legends say that lord Sundara and Sree Meenakshi appeared in the form of a hunter and huntress and blessed a villain who repented of his crimes and sought relief at the feet of the Lord. It is believed that these statues would relieve the sufferings of those who repented of their sins and come to the temple with faith and devotion.
Legends about Meenakshi Amman Temple
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 Maturai, 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 tample and the city of Madhurai became the famous capital of the Pandyas.
Malayadwaja Pandya was the king. He had no child for a long time. 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. The girl grew into a brave and beautiful princess. Thadathagai succeeded the king, conquered the neighboring countries, and reached Kailas itself, the abode of Lord Siva. She won many battles but eventually lost her heart to Lord Shiva, when she met him on the battle field in Kailas. 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 here, the princess was none other than Shiva’s wife, Parvathi. Lord Shiva married Thadathagai and they ruled 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.
Meenakshi Temple History
The origin of the Koil 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 Nayakkar mahal.
The greater part of the tample, 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 Koil during which the sudais in all the tower were repaired and remade, and painted with traditional colours. Faded paintings inside the Sanathi were repainted. Many new images depicting scenes from Thiruvilayadal Puranam were also put up on the walls of the inner prakaram of the Swamy Sanathi. A new mandapam dedicated to to Mangayarkarasi was put up with modern materials and technique to commemorate this great renovation.
Madurai Sightseeing Places List
Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank Or Vandiyur Mariamman Temple Tank
Vandiyur Mariamman Koil to its north, the gigantic Teppakulam tank (4km east of the centre of the city on NH-49) is one of South India's largest man-made temple tanks. This unique ritual was started in the 17CE by King Thirumalai Nayak as part his birthday celebrations. King Thirumalai Nayak born in ‘Poosa’ Star so in commemorating the birth of the King, Float festival is conducted in Tamil Month ‘Thai’ (Jan-Feb) in the tank in a colourful way, which attracts thousands of tourists.The legendary Float festival sees thousands of people gathering to take 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.
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.
At the eastern end of the old city, occupying an area greater even than that of the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple complex is the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam, built by the Thirumalai Nayak in 1646. The place was deemed sacred when an idol of Vigneshwara was unearthed while earth was being dug for use in the construction of the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. And so the excavation was continued and one of the most beautiful temple tanks in India constructed. The tank, one of the biggest temple tanks in the country, is fed by the Vaigai River through an ingenious system of underground channels.
Koodal Alagar Koil at Maturai
Koodal Alagar Temple is an ancient Vaishnavite Koil with beautiful sculptures; to the west of the Maturai 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 Koil has the idols of Navagrahas, (ie) nine planet deities. This is the only Vishnu Kovil which has Navagraha idols. All are enshrined in one vertical plane.
Koodal Alagar Koil has elegantly ornamental windows described as ‘miracles of the stone mason’s art’. There are intricate woodcarvings, including a panel of Lord Rama’s Pattabishekam (Coronation). It is just located at a walkable distance from periyar bus-stand.
Unlike other temples where the gopurams tower high above the rest of the structure. In this temple it is the vimana which dominates. It rises in an elegant pyramid shape to be capped by the usual pointed golden stupi(finial). In the interior of the temple are some elegantly ornamented some windows described as “miracles of the stone mason’s art which provide for light and air in an ingenious and beautiful way”. There are also some intricate carvings in wood. A small panel depicting Lord Rama’s pattabhishekam (crowning ceremony) – a scene from the Ramayana – is especially striking.
The inner temple walls carry many epigraphs of Vijayanagar rulers, while its outer walls are scarred with cannon shot marks caused during the battles for Madurai in the 18th century.
Elukadal and Temple of Kanchanamala
East of the Pudhu Mandapam of the Meenakshi Temple is the Elukadal (seven seas) Lake with a temple of Kanchanamala nearby. Kanchanamala was Raja Malayadwaja’s consort and Meenakshi’s mother. Long after Meenakshi’s marriage and Malayadwaja’s death, Kanchanamala desired to bathe in the waters of the seven seas. Her divine son-in-law, Sundareswarer, brought the water of the seven seas and formed a small lake in Madurai itself, to fulfil the queen’s desire. He also brought Malayadwaja back to life as it was considered most sacred for a couple ot bathe together in the waters of the seven seas. Her wishes fulfilled, Kanchanamala went to heaven with her husband. Elukadal is believed to be the very lake in which Kanchanamala bathed.
The temple at Tirupparangunram, which is about 8.4km south-west of Madurai, and can be reached by bus or train, shows a medley of architectural style, ranging from those of the 7th and 8th centuries to those of the Nayak period (15th and 16th centuries). The temple another of the Araupadai Veedu of Muruga, is at the foot of the Skandamalai hill.
Thirupparankundram 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 Koil there are separate shrines dedicated to Siva, Ganapathi, Durgai, Vishnu and other deities. At the entrance to the Koil, there are 48 pillars with artistic carvings. As per tradition, this rock was used in the construction of Meenakshi temple. The lowest of the halls is said to have been built by Tirumalai Naya. It is located near in 8 km from City.
Also on the hill are a cave temple of Siva and a tank called Saravana Poigai. The British used this temple as a hospital during their 18th century military campaigns.
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.
Alagar Kovil at Maturai
Alagar Kovil is About 21 km north east of the Madurai City. The shrine is known as Alagar Koil and the hill Solaimalai. A temple of Vishnu set amid hills and forests in picturesque surroundings, a fact borne out by its original name Thirumalirunjolai (Garden of Thirumal – Vishnu).
Sundararajar (Vishnu) temple here is at the foot of the hill. The Vishnu Koil is dedicated to Lord Alagar. The tample is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. For the daily abishekam of the bronze image water from a spring 3 km uphill is used, since any other water blackens the image.
The presiding deity, Alagar, according to Hindu mythology, is Meenakshi’s brother. During the Chitrai festival of the Madurai Temple, when the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar thirukalyanam is celebrated, Alagar travels the 20km to Madurai to give his sister away in marriage to Sundareswarar.
The utsavar (processional) idol of Alagar is called Sundararajar and is made of gold. The idol is carried all the way to Madurai by devotees in huge procession.
There is a legend that Sundararajar arrived late for Meenakshi’s wedding. As the ceremony had already taken place he felt offended and decided to return to his abode in the Alagar hills without entering the city. But scenes depicted in the Meenakshi Temple tell a different story; paintings and sculptures of the wedding scene show Sundararajar handing over a shyly smiling Meenakshi to Sundareswarar’s care.
The Mulavar (presiding deity in the sanctum) is Kallalagar, also called Sri Paramaswami. Standing on either side of his majestic frame are his consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi. A seven-storeyed gopuram surmounts the main entrance to the temple, but this gateway is seldom used. This gopuram is dedicated to the deity in the temple who is venerated next only to Kallalagar. Known as Padinettampadi Karuppanaswami, he is considered extremely powerful and is believed to be especially vengeful towards those who make false promises before him. Even litigations are settled by the contesting parties taking oaths before this deity. Padinettampadian is not idolized, but the two doors of the gopuram are believed to represent him.
Devotees enter the temple after cleansing themselves in the Silambaru, also called Noopura Gangai a stream, about 3km away. Its source is not known, but its water is believed to possess healing properties as it flows over an area of medicinal plants. The temple may be entered through the Vandi Vasal. In the courtyard are a number of mandapams. The largest is the Kalyana Mandapam (wedding hall), which has many monolithic pillars with sculpted figures of Vishnu’s avatars (incarnations), Anjaneya, Lakshmi and the God and Goddess of Love (Rati and Manmatha). The walls of the temple bear a number of inscriptions, the earliest of them dating from the reign of Raja Raja Chola (985 – 1014 AD). Alagarkovil is one of the 108 most sacred Vaishnavite shrines.
The Koil also contains some beautiful carvings and makes the visit rewarding one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya is located at the top of the hill.
Pazhamudhir Cholai 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.
Pazhamuthircholai temple of Muruga (Lord Subramanya), one of the Padai Veedus, is less than 3km from Alagarkovil, on the way to Noopura Gangai.
Muruga, as the General of the Divine Armed Forces, had led his warriors against many demon-kings and the places where he rested with his army, as listed by the poet Nakkeerar in his Thirumurugattrupadai, are known as Padai Veedu (houses of rest for the Army). There are six such Padai veedus Thirupparangunram. Tiruchchendur, Tiruttani, Palani, Swamimalai and Pazhamuthircholai. The last get its name from the wealth of fruit trees that grow on the hill slopes around it, ‘Pazham’ meaning ‘fruit’ in Tamil and ‘solai’ meaning ‘garden’.
Visitors to Alagarkovil generally go to this temple of Muruga too. Pazhamudhir Cholai is one of the important temples in Madurai Tamil Nadu.
Kochadai village Deity temple
Kochadai temple is about 5km from Periyar bus stand. This temple deity ‘Ayyanar’ attracts thousands of devotees from all over the world. It is believed that those who proxy to this deity receive blessings of health and wealth.
Thiruvedagam is a beautiful Siva temple 20km west of Madurai, at Thiruvedagam. It can be reached by regular bus service from Madurai, which provided a pleasant ride on a tree-lined road that runs through lush paddy fields.
In and around Madurai are many other temples, famed in legend and with as hoary a past as the Meenakshi Temple. Among these are the are the Madanagopalaswami Temple very near the Koodal Alagar temple, the temple of Virabhadra in West Masi Street, the Chellathamman Temple, Krishnan Koil and Old Chockanathar Temple in North Masi Street, the Thiruvappudaiyar Temple on the northern bank of the Vaigai, and the Kamatchi, Drowpadi Amman, Hanumar and Chappani Temples to the south of the Meenakshi Temple.
Places to visit in Madurai Tamil Nadu India
The Gandhi Museum is in the old palace of Rani Mangammal. The Gandhi museum dedicated to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi is amidst a beautiful garden. It depicts the highlights of the freedom struggle and contain a picture gallery of the Gandiam Movement. 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.
This institution housed in a 300 year old palace is dedicated to Gandhiji and promotes study and appreciation of the Mahatma’s teachings. There is a picture gallery, personal memorabilia of the Mahatma, a library and an exhibit of South Indian handicrafts and village industries. The Government museum is also housed in this complex.
This institution dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi – his life and work – has a good collection of paintings and sculptures, products of South Indian village industries and handicrafts associated with Gandhi. His letters and some of his personal belongings are also preserved with care. A model hut on the lines of Gandhi’s living quarters in Sevagram has also been built here.
The Sangrahalaya makes a determined effort to get youth to understand and appreciate Gandhi’s teachings. To this end, a library of Gandhi’s books is maintained, lectures are given, classes held and cultural programmes on Gandhian thought planned. Meetings are held in a big, open-air theatre inside the compound. The Sangrahalaya also encourages scholars to do research in Gandhiism and has a department of research.
The museum is housed in the three century-old palace of Rani Mangammal and is open from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5.45 pm on all working day, except Friday.
Government Museum is situated within the premises of the Gandhi Museum complex. It was established during the 5th World Tamil Conference (1981). Visiting Time: 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm.
Thirumalai Nayaker Mahal
Thirumalai Nayaker Mahal is about 1.5km from the Meenakshi Amman Koil. In the style of Indo Saracenic; this imposing palace was built in the year 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with help of an Italian Architect. The stuccowork on its domes and arches are very interesting and they are catching our eyes by its attraction. The building we see today was the main palace where King Thiurmalai lived. There are two pavilions; they are Swarga Vilasam and Renga Vilasam. The measurement of Swarga Vilasam is about 75m * 55m. In these two parts, there were royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armoury, palanquine palace, royal bandstand, quarters, pond, garden etc. In front of this is an open courtyard surrounded by a colonnade. The pillars of the courtyard are each 20m high and 4m in circumference and are connected by elaborately ornamented arches. He conducted daily dance and music performances in the Palace. 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 Maduri, art and architecture of Tamil Nadu.
King Thirumalai Nayak celebrated festivals like Sceptre festival, Navarathiri, Chithirai Festival, Masi Festival, Float Festival etc.
Thirumalai Nayak’s palace was a vast collection of open courts, gardens and ornamental tanks stretching over an area of almost 300m * 200m. The original palace complex was 4 times bigger than the present structure. This palace was destroyed by his Grandson Chokkanatha Nayak destroyed part of the palace and removed some of it for use in the construction of his palace at Trichy.
In front of this is an open courtyard surrounded by a colonnade. The pillars of the courtyard are each 20m high and 4m in circumference and are connected by elaborately ornamented arches.
To the west of the Swarga Vilasam is a cluster of rooms with slender, back, polished stone pillars which contrast vividly with the massive, white pillars found in the rest of the palace. (In what is left of the palace there are estimated to be 240 pillars, of heights varying from around 4m to 10m., and 15 domes, including 3 enormous ones.) It is conjectured that this area may have been the apartments of the ladies of the royal household. The palace once consisted of two main parts – the Swarga Vilasam and Ranga Vilasam – and a number of lesser buildings – theatre, shrine, harem, armoury, quarters for the king’s relatives and servants, a pond and a garden. All this was surrounded by walls 13m high. These were pulled down after the downfall of the Nayaks. At the beginning of the 19th century, the area around the Swarga Vilasam was laid out into streets and built upon.
The British rules in 1822 Lord Nepier made several renovation works. Then the palace was utilized to house some official duties of judiciary and district Administration. Then later on this palace was declared as a monument and rest with the maintenance of Tamilnadu Archeological Department. It can be visited from 9am to 5pm. In 1981, the Tamilnadu Government started sound and light show programme about history of King Thiurmalai Nayak with an addition scenes from Tamil epic Silappathikaram. Now the show is maintain by Tamilnadu Tourism Department.
Tourist allow to take photograph. The sound and light show depicts the story through the epic Silappdhikaram. Phone: 0452 - 2332945, 2338992.
The Kamaraj University was started in 1966. It is situated in Nagamalai Pudukottai. It is later made up of 72 departments. This university pioneered the concept of distance education throughout India. Its Directorate of Distance Education currently boasts of a student strength 1,30,000. Several other Arts and Science colleges are present in and around the city. Affiliated to Kamaraj University. It has departments where we can study traditional beliefs, legends, customs, etc. as well as intricate technologies like Geo informatics, Bio informatics and beyond. It is a complete academic pride for Maturai District.
Rajaji Park is a recreation park owned and maintained by the corporation of Maturai District. It is located near corporation office around Anna Maaligai. Timings: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm open on all days.
Annamalai Hills is about 100km from Maduri City. 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.
Tourist Places Near Madurai Tamil Nadu
Vaigai Dam is about 70 km from Mathurai. 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. Vaigai Dam is the best picnic spot in Madurai District.
Kutladam Patti Waterfalls
Kutladam Patti waterfalls is about 36km from Periyar bus stand on the way to Kodaikanal. An amusement park lies in a hill called Sirumalai with a natural beauty 7km away from Kutladam patti near Vadipatti village. It is about 87 feet high. Thousands of domestic tourists take bath and enjoy the natural beauty during holidays and festive days. A Goddess temple Thadagai Nachiamman is near the falls. This temple is about 500 years old.
Suruli Water Falls
Suruli Water Falls is about 128Km from Mathurai District. 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 in Madurai India. 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 away from this District. 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 in Madurai Tamil Nadu.
Tirukoshtiyur is about 46km away From Mathurai District. A heritage Vaishnava temple and a centre of attraction for pilgrims and visitors. Though it is a Vaishnava tample, 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 tample 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 is about 63km away from Mathurai District. 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 Nayak 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 Koil dedicated to Soundararaja Perumal. Originally known as Talapuri or Talavanam due to the prevalence of Palmyra forest around. The Koil 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 tample, which is worth a study.
It 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 12km away from the City. It is one of the theme parks in this city. It is situated at Mathurai - Dindigul Road at Paravai. Phone: 0452-2463848-51.
Thiruvadavur is about 30 km from Madurai and 15 kilometres further northeast of Thirumohur is the temple of Vedanadha in Thiruvadavur. The temple is set amid picturesque surroundings but the village is more famous as the birthplace of Kapilar, the Sangam poet, and Manickavasagar, the great Pandyan Prime Minister who become a saint. Thiruvadavur also has a shrine dedicated to Manickavasgar.
Kazimar Periya Pallivasal
Kazimar Periya Pallivasal is about 1km from the 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 this city. All his descendants lived in the same locality for 700 years. Since this Mosque is managed by them.
Syed Tajuddin was appointed as Kazi of the sultans, and till now his descendants have live at Kazimar Street are appointed as Kazis to the Government of Tamil Nadu. Al Syeds belong to the Sunni seet of Islam with Hanafi School. Most of the descendants of Kazi Syed Tajuddin are Shadhilis and follow the Sufi order Fassiyatish Shadhiliya.
Megamalai is about 130km from Maduri. It lies about 1500m above sea level. One has to climb up from Chinnamanur side. There are many cardamom estates and tea plantations in the hills. Wild animals like Sambhar, Tiger, Cheetah, Gaur and Spotted deer are found amidst thick vegetation. Transport service available from Chinnamanur.
Kumbakkarai Water Falls
Kumbakkarai Water Falls is 105km from Maduri and 6km from Periyakulam. It is an ideal picnic spot in Madurai Tamil Nadu. This area can serve as a Base camp of trekkers in Kodai Hills.
Madurai History in English
History of Madurei is about 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.
Megasthenes, the Greek traveler, who visited the Pandyan capital in the 3rd century BC, described it in such glowing terms the Greek and Roman merchants were tempted to visit it. They established trading settlements in Mathurai and soon the Pandyan kings were carrying on a flourishing trade with the rulers of Greece and Rome. This happy state of affairs lasted till the 10th century AD, when the Cholas seized Mathurai.
According to 6th century BC it is mentioned in the book of Mahavamsa. Prince Vijaya Married the king Pandu’s daughter of Madurei. Like that 700 men of Vijaya married 700 maidens of Maturai 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 It came under the control of Kalabhra dynasty, after them Pandyas ruled Madurei in 590CE. Chola’s captured in 9th century.
History attributes the foundation of Medurai to the Pandyan king. Kulasekhara, who flourished in the 6th century. The city has got improved after the 7th century and there was another golden age in the 13th century.
The Cholas ruled Maduri from 920 AD till the beginning of the 13th century. But they did not have lasting peace. The Pandyas unused to subordination, tried at every opportunity to re-establish their supremacy. The death of Kulottunga Chola I brought to an end Chola Supremacy in Mathurai. The Pandya broke the power to the Cholas in 1223 AD and built up the prosperity of Mathurai, which won the admiration of Marco Polo, the Venetain, who visited it in the 13th century. However, it was a brief period of glory.
Cholas and Pandyas fought for Mathurai in 12th century. Second Pandyan empire was established in 13th century as its capital. It came under the rule of Delhi Sultanate after the death of Kulasekara Pandian(1268 – 1308CE).
The Tamil literature was well 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 this city. 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 Maturai was at its height in art, architecture and learning.
It had trade links with Rome and Greece and it was the major trade center in the early periods.
Foreign writers have referred to Modoura (Maduri) in their writings. Megasthenes (302 BC) writes about a Pandyan king he knew, Pliny (77 AD) mentions “The Pandya King and the Emporium of Modoura” and Ptolemy (140 AD) speaks of “Modoura, the Kingdom of the Pandian”. Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta also visited this kingdom, in 1293 AD and 1333 AD respectively.
Maduri 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 this place. 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 Maturai 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 Maduri City of festivals.
Madurai Sultan History
Maravarman Kulasekara’s death precipitated a struggle for succession between his two sons, Sundara Pandyan and Vira Pandyan. The internal disturbances made it easy for the plundering Malik Kafur to establish the Muslim Sultanate in Mathurai.
Malik Kafur was trusted general of Alauddin Khilji, who was then ruler of the Delhi Sultanate and attempting to extend Khilji control over all Hindustan. When Malik Kafur reached Mathurai in April 1311, the Raja had already fled with his court. Kafur went away with a booty of over 500 elephants, 5000 horses and thousands of pounds of jewels diamonds, pearls, emeralds, rubies and other gems. The south was also; thus, subjugated by the Muslim power that had already swept the north.
Aladdin Khilji’s army under Malik Kafur had paved the way for raids by other Muslim Sultans. Qutb-ud-din’s army was sent in 1316 and, in 1323, the Pandya country became a province of the Delhi Empire, then under the Tughlaks.
The Muslim rulers however held Madhurai only till the Dravidian resistance found another champion, this time in the Hindu Vijayanagar dynasty of Hampi. Kumara Kampana overthrew the Madhurai Sultanate in 1371 and Madhurai become part of the Vijayanagar Empire. For a while this royal house reigned supreme in the south – a bulk against Islamic expansion.
Nayaks Rule in Mathurai
The Vijayanagar Kings, to make their task of ruling easier, distributed conquered lands to the governors they appointed. The governors, called Nayaks, paid fixed annual amounts to the Vijayanagar sovereign and assisted him in his battles against other in return for the viceroyalty. In course of time, the Nayakship became hereditary. And soon, the Nayaks, who were subordinate to Vijayanagar, rose to individual preeminence. After the death of Krishna Deva Raya in 1530, the Vijayanagar Kings began to lose their hold over their empire and by 1559, each Nayak became virtually supreme in the territory under his control.
Visvanatha Nayak founded the Nayak Dynasty in Mathurai in 1559. And under it, Mathurai grew in pomp and splendor. Between 1559 and 1736, the Nayaks evolved a distinct style of architecture characterized by the pillared halls found in many South Indian temples today. Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659), the most famous Mathurai Nayak of them all, is credited with building many magnificent structures in and around Mathurai. Much of the grandeur of the Meenakshi temple is due to Thirumalai Nayak. His fine taste and artistic fervor are reflected in many buildings which are still part of Mathurai the Pudhu Mandapam, Raja Gopuram and what is left of the magnificent Thirumalai Nayakkar palace.
The Nayaks’ hold on Maduri which lasted two centuries, started slipping in 1736 when the British used the city as a battleground during the wars of the Carnatic. By 1801, when the Third Mysore War ended, the East India Company had established itself in Maduri. But even before this, Madurai had ceased to be a capital city. Vijayaranga Chockanatha, Thirumalai’s grandson, had transferred his capital to Tiruchirappalli.
The British razed the strong walls that had once protected the city and filled the moat to form four broad streets, the Veli (outside) streets which define the limits of the old city even today.
Silk and cotton weaving have been Madurai’s stable industry for a long time. It still is. Its handloom industry is unrivalled for quality and sheer size. But modern textile mills are also a major industry, turning out cloth in an exciting array of colors and designs. Harvey Mills pioneered the textile industry and today the city is the home of some of the biggest mill in the country.
It is also the proud home of the sungudi dyed sarees, Saurashtra in Gujarat being the only other place where such sarees are manufactured. There are dyed cotton sarees with an array of dots scattered over their length. The Saurashtrians of this city are originally from Gujarat. In the 5th century AD, Kumara Gupta, the king of the Malwa country, promised rich return to Saurashtrains who would emigrate to Mandasor in his country. From Lata, their home-town in Gujarat, many Saurashtrians left for the Gupta country. When Mandasor was captured by the Muslims, the Saurashtrians migrated southwards through the Vijayanagar Kingdom to this town. They have contributed much towards modern town prosperity.
TVS (T V Sundaram Iyengar and Sons) – Pionners in road passenger and goods transport in the country and a leading name on the Indian industrial scene – have their headquarters in this town. Their workshops are models of modernity and industrial efficiency. TVS’s cultural contribution to this District is the Lakshmi Sundaram Hall, a magnificent building where regular performances of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam are held.
It was once the seat of the Tamil Sangam, is now the home of the Madurai-Kamaraj University, which has a number of affiliated arts and professional colleges. The university buildings constitute a colony called Palkalai Nagar.
The story of Madurai would be incomplete without a mention of the various Christian missions that have played a significant role in the development of the city and its surroundings during the last 400 years.
Christinity was introduced in this place by a Portuguese missionary, Fernandez, in 1592 AD. But it was the Italian Jesuit, Roberto de Nobili, who established the Madura Mission which became the centre of Roman Catholic missionary work in South India. De Nobili settled here in 1606, learnt Tamil, studied and adopted the manner of life of the local people and even assumed a Tamil name Tattuva Bodagar, meaning teacher of Philosophy. He pioneered Telugu prose work, learnt Sanskrit and wrote about 20 Tamil books. He was able to communicate with the people in their own language and met with some success in missionary work. But his unorthodox methods – based on Indianising the religion – made him unpopular with the Roman Catholics and a saddened de Nobili moved to Madras, where he died. A Statue was erected in 1981 to commemorate the fourth birth centenary of this man who was said to have combined “the sanctity of the Sanyasi with the erudition of the Pandit”.
John de Britto and Constantius Beschi were two other missionaries who belonged to the Madurai Mission. Beschi, like de Nobili, identified himself with the people. But Veeramamunivar, as he was known, was an even greater Tamil scholar and poet than de Nobili and has been recoginised as one of the pioneers of the modernization of this ancient language. His grammars, lexicons and literary works “have proved invaluable aids… to all students of Tamil after him”. Another important mission is the American Protestant Mission, which set up its headquarters in 1832 and started the American College in 1842, the first college in Madurai.
Madurai City Information
Maturai 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
Maduri to Chennai: 447 Km
STD Code: 0452
Passport Enquiry: 0452-2520794/95/96
Tourism Enquiry: 0452-2742888
Mathurai Airport Enquiry: 0452-2671333,2670433
Maturai Railway Enquiry: 0452-2743135
Madurai Photos List
Meenakshi Amman Temple
Pazhamuthir Cholai Murugan Koil
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
Thirumalai Nayak Palace