Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India and was ruled by Pandya kings over most of its history. The city is famous for is rich heritage and promoting Tamil language through “Sangams”. The city has been in existence since about 4th century BC and is mentioned in ancient texts of Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Meenakshi Amman temple situated in the heart of the city is famous, and there are a number of temples in and around the city. The “Maha Kumbabishekam” of the temple was performed in April 2009 after the renovation (re-painting) work on the gopurams (towers) of the temple. It is usually performed once every 14 years or more. There are numerous remarkable sculptures on the gopurams and inside the premises of the temple. Look out for the “yaali”, a mythical creature similar to a dragon on the pillars in the ‘praharam’ of the temple. Also, keep looking at the ceiling to catch a glimpse of the beautiful ancient paintings that adorn them. Madurai is also an important transit point for travellers bound south and also a local commercial hub. The cuisine of Madurai inherits the true taste of Tamils. If you are a food lover, restaurants like Kumar Mess and Amma Mess are a must try. A handful of dished are exclusive to Madurai, such as Paruthi Paal, Jigarthanda, Panakarkandu Paal and chettinadu varieties like Appam, and Kuzhi Paniyaram.
Sightseeing Points In Madurai
The Meenakshi Temple, is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River of Madurai. It is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and her consort, Sundareshwar, a form of Shiva. The temple is at the center of the ancient temple city of Madurai mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature, with the goddess temple mentioned in 6th century CE texts. According to legend, the sacred Suyambulingam discovered by the king of Gods indira at Kadambavanam, was later enshrined by him in Madurai. The fact that the Lord is seen on the vehicle of Indira in this temple is said to be proof for this.
The Thirumalai Nayakar Palace complex is four times larger than the current structure. This Palace in Madurai is considered as one of the wonders of South India. Madurai Nayaks ruled the kingdom from 1545 to 1740. Thirumalai Nayakar (1623-1659) erected various buildings in and around Madurai. Madurai was then a trading city for Indian and European traders. It is believed that Thirumalai Nayakar hired an Italian architect to build the palace. As Time Passed by the Governor of the Madras Presidency, Lord Napier, did some work in the palace in 1866-72. And the maintenance work was done several years ago. Today, the entrance hall, the Main Hall and the Dance Hall are in safe condition.
The National Gandhi Museum has a very rich collection of original relics, books, journals and documents, photographs, audio-visual materials, exhibitions, art pieces and other memorabilia closely connected with Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba and Indian Freedom Struggle. It is developing into a Resource Centre for the Gandhian and allied Studies and Research. The origin of this Museum goes back to the period soon after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on the fateful evening of January 30, 1948, when the slow process of scouting for, collecting and preserving the personal relics, manuscripts, books, journals and documents, photographic and audio-visual material, all that could go into a Museum on the life, philosophy and work of Gandhiji.
Alagar Kovil Temple Located at a distance of 21 km away from Madurai, is one of the prominent temples situated at the foothills of Alagar hills. This temple has high religious significance as well as presents a captivating architecture. What makes it even more enchanting is the natural setting surrounding this temple. With a history that dates back to early Sangam age, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known for its intricate sculpting and mandapams. this hill is called Alagar as the Lord Thirumal is known with the name of Alagar here, hence the hills are named on the Lord. The processional idol of this temple is Lord Alagar or Sundararajan, who is brother of Goddess Meenakshi.
Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a temple tank located near to Vandiyur Mariamman Temple and situated at a distance of about 2 km from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Literally, Teppakulam means temple pond mainly used for devotional festivals. The tank is connected to Vaigai River through an ingenious system of underground Channels. It has total of 12 long stairs made of granite on all four sides. The temple as well as the stairs was built by the King Thirumalai Nayak. In the centre of the tank there is a Madapam called Maiya Mandapam with Vinayakar temple and garden.
Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple, one of the Arupadaiveedu, the six main abodes of Lord Muruga, the temple at Thiruparankundram offers a mystic beauty. It is carved in rock and is monstrous in size for such an architecture. According to legend it is where Lord Muruga married Deivayanai, the divine daughter of the king of heaven, Indra, and he is said to have worshipped Shiva here as Parangirinathar. The Thiruparankundram Temple, Madurai dates back to the sixth century. The antiquity of Thiruparankundram Temple can very well be gauged from the fact that it finds mention even in the Sangam Literature.
Koodal Azhagar Temple is situated in the heart of Madurai city. In Tamil language, Koodal stands for Madurai while Azhagar means ‘beautiful one’. A popular pilgrimage and an intricate part of Madurai tour, this temple is considered to be one of the 108 Lord Vishnu’s holy abodes (divyadesams). This temple attracts devotees with its impressive architecture as well. The five-tiered rajagopuram which is the gateway is one of the most attractive features of this temple. The temple and all its shrines are surrounded by granite walls. The main shrine of the temple has the idol of main deity Koodal Azhagar. There is shrine of Goddess Madhuravalli who is the consort of Koodal Azhagar towards the south.
Pazhamudircholai Murugan Temple is one of the six of the holiest of Murugan shrines referred to as the Aarupadai Veedu. It is also known by the name Solaimalai Murugan Temple. This is a holy shrine venerated by the Skanda purana and by Nakkeerar Thirumurugatrupadai of the Sangam period. Arunagirinathar Thiruppugazh also reveres this shrine. This shrine is located on the solaimalai hill also known as Vrishabhadri, adjacent to the Kallazhagar Temple on the outskirts of Madurai at about 19 kilometers from Madurai and 4 Kms above Azhagar temple.
St. Mary’s Cathedral is also known with the name of Church of Our Lady of Dolours, is one of the most popular churches in Madurai With a history of more than 150 years, this parish presents beautiful blend of Roman, European and other architectural styles. Built in 1841, St. Mary’s Cathedral is more than 150 years old. Initially this church was built as a small chapel by Fr. Garnier over a piece of land bought in 1840 by Fr. Bertrand SJ. He had settled around 30 families of sailor who were outcasted by W. Pudupatti Church. This area later show high increases in number of Catholics to accommodate whom it was expanded a few times by Fr. Hibolite sj and Br. Lemothe SJ. The present structure of this church was built in 1916.
Shopping around The roads of the Meenakshi temple are choc a bloc with shops of all kinds. One of the popular buys is the hand made sarees. natural dyes are used to give the saris their vibrant colours. Usually, the body of the saris have bright colours and covered in polka dots while the borders have a contrasting colour design. At the eastern entrance of the temple is the Prithu Mandapam, an old pillared hall now occupied by textile shops. There are rows of shops where you can buy accessories and ornaments to don from head to foot. You can also buy brass wares in Madurai.
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FAQs About Madurai
Madurai is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and Madurai Nayak kings in the Dravidian style of architecture. It is also one of India’s most outstanding Hindu pilgrimage centres.
The best meals to have in Madurai are
Simmakkal Konar Mess.
Murugan Idli Shop.
Burma Idiyappam Kadai.
Sri Nagalakshmi Annex.
Madurai is popularly called ‘Thoonga Nagaram,’ the city that never sleeps. That nickname justifiably describes its nightlife. But it also appears to apply to the swelling ranks of the city’s insomnia and sleep deprived.
Madurai is as safe as any other city or town in Tamil Nadu but there is a small difference. In some areas it seems safer due to its geographical position as a junction between the highways to big cities and the omnipresent crowd of passengers, shops, eateries and buses.
Madurai – one of the oldest cities of Tamilnadu, documented since 4th century BC, seat of Kadai Sangam (a sort of ancient conference on the Tamil language). Once the capital of the ancient Pandiyas, the city is famous for the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Shrine.
Located in the heart of the city of Madurai, the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, the consort of lord Shiva. It has long been the focus of both Indian and international tourist attraction as well as one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage.
“According to myth, Meenakshi is said to have a dusky complexion, an indication of her Dravidian origin. And when dusky women apply turmeric on their faces, they get a greenish tint. And that’s why Meenakshi is shown green.”
The main icon of Meenakshi shows her holding a parrot, symbol of Kama, god of love. She also has a small dagger on her waist band, reminding everyone who is the overlord. On the temple wall is the image of her marriage.
As per the new code, male devotees should wear dhotis or pyjamas with upper cloth, or formal pants and shirts. Women should wear sarees or half sarees with blouse, churidhars with upper cloth. The children should wear any fully covered dress.
The city is referred by various names including “Madurai”, “Koodal”, “Malligai Maanagar”, “Naan Maada Koodal” and “Thiru Alavai”. The word Madurai may be derived from Madhura (sweetness) arising out of the divine nectar showered on the city by the Hindu god Siva from his matted hair.
Another legend goes that the King of Ayodhya, Parthan devoutly worshipped Lord Shiva in a forest full of jasmine vines. A commonly held belief is that the goddess’ love for the flower makes the unique variety of jasmine grown in and around Madurai, called Madurai Malligai, the most coveted one of all.
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