Places to Visit in Madurai Tourist Places Meenakshi Temple

Madurai is Tamil Nadu’s cultural and Traditional active city. It is situated on the banks of River Vaigai.  Madurai , life is still traditional and its people are still quaintly old-fashioned in many of their 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. Madurai 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.

Madurai 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 Madurai, has also extended its influence over the cultural and social life of the people. Meenakshi Temple is the heart land of Madurai. People from all over the world and not Hindus alone are drawn to Madurai by the Meenakshi Temple, one of the grandest temples in all India.

Mayor : Tmt. V. Indirani
Deputy Mayor : T. Nagarajan

Madurai Geography

Madurai 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.

Madurai has a population of 30,41,038 (2011) and an area  of about 3710 Sq. Km.

Madurai History

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. 

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 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 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. 

Cholas and Pandyas fought for Madurai 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 Madurai 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 (Madurai) 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.

Madurai 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 Madurai 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 Madurai City of festivals.

Famous foods

Madurai 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 Madurai 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 Madurai 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.

     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 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. 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 Madurai and another is a neighboring District called Mana Madurai in Sivagangai District. These are the well features about Madurai district.

Madurai District in Tamil Nadu India

Madurai district 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 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.

Madurai Climate

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.

Important Information About Madurai City Tamil Nadu India

Meenakshi Temple is the heart land of Madurai Tamil Nadu. About Madurai 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 "Madurai".

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, Madurai, 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

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. These are the well important places in Madurai district.

Madurai Temples

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple is the main attraction of this Madurai 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.

India’s cultural and architectural landmark the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Koil was built by the early Pandya king Kulasekara.

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 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 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 Koil 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 Amman Temple History

One day a former named Dhananjaya who was passing through the forest, saw Indra worshipping a Swayambu under Kadamba tree.  Dhananjaya the former immediately reported this to King Kulasekara Pandya. Kulasekara Pandya cleared the forest and built a temple around the Lingam.

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.

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.

Meenakshi Amman Temple 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.

 Unjal Mandapam

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 Sanathi (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.

Kilikoottu Mandapam

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.

Meenakshi Shrine

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.

Mukkuruni Vinayakar

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

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.

Sundareswarar Shrine

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.

Mangayarkarasi Mandapam

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.

Towers

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.

Musical Pillars

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.

Puthu Mandapam

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 tample and the city of Madurai 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.

Madurai 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

Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank Or Vandiyur Mariamman Temple Tank

Vandiyur Mariamman Koil to its north, the gigantic Teppakulam tank (4km east of the centre of Madurai city on NH-49) is one of South India's largest man-made temple tanks.  It is also the setting for one of the 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 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 Koil at Maturai

 Koodal Alagar Temple is an ancient Vaishnavite Koil with beautiful sculptures; to the west of the Madurai 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 Koil which has Navagraha idols. All are enshrined in one vertical plane.

Thirupparankundram

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 Tirumala Nayakan.     It is located near in 8 km from City. 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 Madurai City. The shrine is known as Alagar Koil and the hill Solaimalai.  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 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 Koil is surrounded by the ruins of an ancient fortified town. The beauty of the tample lies in the exquisite sculptures in the front hall.  Some of them surpass the workmanship found in the Meenakshi Koil.  An interesting feature of this shrine is the set of eighteen steps leading to the tample of Kannappaswamy, the deity of Kallars, where devotees cannot dare to tell a lie.  The adjacent hill has a Koil of Subramanya and a few water springs.

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

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.   It is located nearer 2km from Alagarkoil on a hill.

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.

Places to visit in Madurai

Gandhi Museum

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. Sunday and second Fridays are holidays.  The working times are same only.

Government Museum

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 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 Maduri, 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.

Madurai Kamaraj University

The Madurai 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 Madurai 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 Madurai District.

Rajaji Park

Rajaji Park is a recreation park owned and maintained by the corporation of Madurai District.  It is located near corporation office around Anna Maaligai. Timings: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm open on all days.

Annamalai Hills

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.

Vaigai Dam

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.

Kutladam Patti Waterfalls  

This 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 Madurai 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.  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 Madurai 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.

Tirukoshtiyur

Tirukoshtiyur is about 46km away From Madurai 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

Dindigul Fort is about 63km away from Madurai 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

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 15km away Madurai City. It is one of the theme parks in this city. It is situated at Madurai - Dindigul Road at Paravai. Phone: 0452-2463848-51.

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.

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

Madurai 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

Meenakshi Amman Koil Photo

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Palamuthircholai tamil nadu india Photo

Pazhamuthir Cholai Murugan Koil

Thirumalai Nayak Palace

Thirumalai Nayak Palace

Thirumalai nayakar mahal tamil nadu india Photo

Thirumalai Nayak Palace