Tourist Places in Madurai
Meenakshi Temple is also known as Meenakshi Amman Temple and attracts tourists and pilgrims alike. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is named after the deity and goddess Parvati. Sundareswarar means beautiful Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati is called Meenakshi. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva visited Madurai to marry Parvati since Madurai has been her abode.
The temple complex extends over an area of 6 hectares and dates back to 2500 AD. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture and has 12 gateways ( Gopurams ), which are 45 to 50 metres in height. The tallest Gopuram of the temple is the southern Gopuram. This gateway is as high as nine storeys, with images of numerous gods and goddesses.
The temple comprises 985 pillars and 14 towers, with two towers dedicated to the main deities. The present structure of the temple has been built in 16th century by Nayak King of Madurai Vishwanatha Nayak. Tourists can also get a bird’s eye view of the city from the southern Gopuram of the temple.
Alagar Koil is a temple situated in the nearby hills, around 20 km towards the north of Madurai. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and comprises three sanctuaries of diminishing size holding the idol of Lord Vishnu. The temple is known for its intricate stone carvings and sculptures. It is believed that Lord Vishnu resides in this temple as Meenakshi’s brother Azhagar.
The statue is carved out of a stone and is a masterpiece. The temple also houses statues of the lord in various postures. The temple is located at the top of the hills from where a natural stream of water runs. The fresh water of this stream is carried daily by the temple priest for Lord Krishna.
Gandhi Museum consists of memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi and is one of the five Gandhi Museums in the country. The museum houses blood stained dhoti that he was wearing at the time of his assassination along with photographs of his lifetime. The museum was earlier the palace of Rani Mangammal of the Nayak dynasty. It was later converted into Gandhi Museum by the Gandhi Memorial Trust after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
The premises of the museum have a bookshop, which provides a collection of books on the life and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. The museum encompasses an open air theatre which can accommodate around 8,000 people. This theatre is used to organise cultural programmes, weekly film shows and public meetings on special occasions.
Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam
Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a huge square tank which covers an area of 16 acres. Built in 1646 by Thirumalai Nayak, this tank is located 5 km east of the Meenakshi Temple. The centre of the tank holds an idol of Lord Vinayaka or Vigneshwara, which is installed on a platform.
According to legend, the place was found when the earth was dug to make bricks for constructing Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. The place was converted into a tank and was dedicated to lord Ganesha.
This tank serves as the site of annual Teppakulam Float Festival, which is celebrated in the months of January and February. Furthermore, it is one of the major tourist attractions as it is the largest temple tank in Tamil Nadu. It is said that the lake get its water from River Vaigai.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace was built in 16th century by Nayak ruler Thirumalai Nayak. This palace depicts beautiful Indo – Sarcenic architecture. The main highlight of the palace is the light and sound show which is based on the life of Silapathikaram and Tirumalai Nayak.
Originally, the temple was four times bigger than what is present today. The palace consists of 248 pillars, each 58 feet in height. The ceiling of the palace has paintings depicting Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes. Moreover, the stucco architecture works on the domes and arches of the palace exhibit architectural mastery.
Furthermore, items like furniture and utensils used by the kings are displayed in the palace. The major attractions of the palace are the entrance gate, dancing hall and the main hall. The palace was renovated in 1866 – 72 by Lord Napier.
Timing : 9 am – 5 pm
6:45 pm ( Sound and Light Show in English )
8:15 pm ( Sound and Light Show in Tamil )
Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara
Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara is situated at a distance of a kilometre from the Madurai Railway Junction and within 500 m of the Periyar bus stand. This mosque was constructed in 13th century by Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, who came from Oman. He had received this piece of land from Pandya king, Kulasekara Pandya.
The mosque is popularly known as Periya Pallivasal, meaning the Big Mosque, which can accommodate around 2,500 people. The Maqbara, which is the dargah of descendants of Prophet Muhammad, is located within the premises of the mosque.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church is located on the East Veli Street in Madurai. Situated within 2 km towards south – east direction of Madurai Railway Station, this church is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in India. It attracts lots of tourists owing to its European and Continental style architecture.
The church encompasses bell towers which are Roman in style and are 42 m high. Furthermore, it was found in the year 1840 and dedicated to Viagulamatha, who was known as Viagulamatha Koil. The church was rebuilt again in 1916 and in 1938 the bishop’s throne was installed. The church was elevated to the status of cathedral in 1969.
Koodal Azhagar Temple
Koodal Azhagar Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is a large statue of Lord Vishnu, which is carved in front of the temple. It is believed to be one of the oldest temples of South India. This temple is located near the main bus stop in the centre of the city.
Furthermore, the idol of lord Vishnu can be seen in three different positions including sitting, standing and reclining. The temple also consists of wood carvings which depict Lord Rama’s coronation.
Pazhamudhir Solai is a temple situated close to the Alagar Koil temple. Located on the hills, this temple is dedicated to Lord Subramanya. The temple is also considered as one of the six abodes of the lord. Devotees visit this temple in large number as in the evening the deity is carried on the golden chariot daily. Pilgrims also take a dip in the natural spring called Nuburagangai.
The temple houses sculptures of deity carved in wood and marble. One of the highlights of the temple is the giant steps.
Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple
Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple is located at a distance of 8 km from the centre of Madurai city. A rock – cut temple carved out of the mountain is considered as one of the abodes of Lord Murugan.
Built in 8th century by Pandya King, the shrine in the temple is cut out of a solid rock. The temple houses shrines of Lord Subramanya, Lord Shiva, Lord Vinayaka, Goddess Durga, Lord Vishnu and other deities.
There are number of cubical pillars with lotus medallions at the entrance of temple. The temple has innumerable cave shrines that are small and approached through narrow dark passages. The inscriptions on the chamber walls are believed to date back to the early medieval period.
The temple is a place from where sun and moon can be seen together at different times of the day. This temple is considered holy for conducting marriages, as it is believed that marriage of Lord Subramanya was celebrated in this temple.
Goripalayam Dargah was built in 13th century and is the largest mosque in Madurai. The dargah encompasses graves of two Muslim saints and rulers of Madurai. The saints, Hazrat Sulthan Alauddin Badusha ( Radiyallah ) and Hazrat Sulthan Shamsuddin Badusha ( Radiyallah ), belonged to Oman.
Located on the northern bank of the River Vaigai, it was believed to be built by Thirumalai Nayak. The remarkable feature about the dargah is that it has two tombs along with a dome. The size of the dome is 70 ft in diameter and 20 ft in height. The dome is made of a single piece of stone. The entrance of the dargah holds an inscription in Tamil language. This inscription is considered as an evidence of the existence of dargah since the 13th century.
Tourists and devotees throng this dargah during the annual Urs Festival, which is held on the 15th night of Islamic month of Rabi – al – awwal by the hijri calendar.
Adhisyam Theme Park
Adhisyam is a water theme park established in 2000 in Madurai. It is now the largest water park in Madurai, located at a distance of 15 km from the city centre. This water park is the getaway to relax and unwind.
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