Madurai or the "city of nectar" is the oldest and second
largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River
and was the capital of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. The
Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had built a gorgeous temple around which
he created a lotus shaped city. Mythology says when city was being
named; Lord Shiva blessed the city and its people. On the auspicious
occasion some Divine nectar ("Madhu") fell from the matted
locks of Shiva and hence the city was named "Madhurapuri".
This sacred town of south attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors
from India as well as abroad.
Madurai's Pilgrimage - Meenakshi Temple
The life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar
temple. This magnificently carved temple is the main attraction
of Madurai and its huge Gopurams towers over the city. Meenakshi
temple has a thousand pillared 'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985
pillars and each of them is delicately and exquisitely carved. Among
these are the musical pillars, which produce music when tapped.
Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a single granite
rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been sponsoring
literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time.
The temple also has an art museum. The city apart from temple is
crammed with shops, street markets and temples, pilgrims choultries,
hotels and restaurants. Though Madurai is considered as pilgrimage
but it has also developed as a business centre and is famed for
its traditional handicrafts in bronze and brass.
History of Madurai
Madurai's history dates back to over 2000 years ago, when it was
the capital of the Pandyan kings. In the 10th century AD, Madurai
was captured by the Chola emperors. It remained in their hands,
until the Pandyans regained their independence in the 12th century,
only to lose it to the Muslim invaders under Malik Kafur, a general
in the service of the Delhi Sultanate. Malik Kafur's dynasty was
overthrown by the Hindu Vijaynagar kings of Hampi. After the fall
of Vijayanagar, in 1565, the Nayaks ruled Madurai until 1781 AD.
During the rule of the Nayaks, the bulk of the Meenakshi temple
was built, the main attraction for visitors, today. Madurai also
became the cultural centre of the Tamil people. Madurai passed
on to the East India Company in 1781, and in 1840, the Company
razed the fort which had previously surrounded the city, and filled
in the moat. Four streets, the Veli streets, which were constructed
on top of the fill, till today, define the limits of the old city.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
An excellent example of Dravidian Architecture, the Meenakshi
Temple attracts devotees from all over India and Tourist from
all over the world. One can climb to the southern Gopuram of the
temple to get a great view of the city.
Koodal Azhaar Temple
One of the most ancient temples in Madurai, Koodal Azhagar temple
is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In this temple he is seen in various
postures sitting, standing, reclining one over the other. There
are intricate woodcarvings in here, including one of Lord Rama's
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
This palace is an excellent example of Indo-Sarcenic architecture.
It was built in 1523 AD and originally was four times larger than
what it is today. The gardens, the defensive wall all have gone
and what remains are the main entrance gate, the dancing hall
and the main hall. Lord Napier renovated the palace in 1866-72
and later further restoration works were carried on. Today, the
main attraction of the palace is light and sound show, which is
based on the life of "Tirumalai Nayak" and "Silapathikaram".
Vanditur Mariamman Teppakulam
This huge tank is covers an area equal to the six of Meenakshi
temple. Tirumalai Nayak built it in 1646. It is said that channels
from the Vaigai River connect the tank. Today, this tank remains
empty for most of the year except during the Teppam Festival.
This is one of the abodes of Lord Sundareshwara, a rock cut temple
carved out of a mountain, just 8-km from the city.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located 18-km northeast
of Madurai on a picturesque hilltop. The gold image of Azhagar
travels for the Celestial marriage during the Chithirai festival.
On the same hills of Azhagar Koilthis is again one of the six
abodes of Lord Subramanya.
Vaigai dam is surrounded by well-manicured gardens and has come
up as a popular picnic spots, just 70-km from Madurai.
The tea estates on the slopes of the Western Ghats nestles Megamalai.
This lovely place is bound to capture your imagination. Good place
to stay and enjoy a lovely surrounding. One can also watch the
animals roaming in the forest, which are close to Megamalai, Just
130-km from Madurai.
123-km from Madurai city is Suruli falls, which are located in
a picturesque area. It is an ideal spot and an excellent picnic
spot to spend one day.
Courtallam is located about 167-km on the Western Ghats and is
an excellent health resort in this part of the country. This place
is also known as the 'Spa of the South'. Courtallam is located
just 160-km from Madurai. This place has got nine splendid waterfalls,
which attracts a large number of visitors. TTDC offers here a
boathouse accommodation apart from the restaurant.
118-km from Madurai is the temple dedicated to Lord Subramanyam.
The temple is located on top of a hill 180 meter high. The temple
attracts many devotees and people coming to Madurai do not miss
visiting Palani. From the hill top one gets an excellent view
of the nearby area.
This ideal picnic spot is located just 8-km from Madurai.
Kumbakkarai Water Falls
This place serves as the base camp for the trekkers who venture
in the hills of Kodai. Kumbakkarai Water Falls are 105-km from
Madurai and form an excellent picnic spot. Waterfall surrounded
by forests combined with the pristine beauty of the hills creates
a very soothing atmosphere.
General Info. :
22 sq kms
8,17,562 (1981 census)
101 m above sea level
Summer : Max: 37.1'C Min: 25.0'C
Winter : Max: 29.0'C Min: 20.0'C
Rainfall : 85 cms Average
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