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Madurai Temples

Madurai: Athens of the East


Kanyakumari

Madurai is located on the banks of the river Vaigai in Tamil Nadu and is revered for being one of the important cities for pilgrimage in Hindu tradition. It was initially called as Madhurapuram because it was believed that Madhu (Honey) fell down from the locks of Lord Shiva in this sacred town. Along with being lauded as the 'Athens of the East', Madurai is also known for being one of the continuously inhabited cities of the world.


It is believed that the famous Green explorer and ethnographer Megasthanes had travelled to Madurai during 3rd century BC. The city also witnessed the advent of more Europeans during the reign of Pandayas. In the 10th century AD, when Cholas conquered over Pandaya's territory, Madurai developed as a major trading strategic point. The city also witnessed the rule of Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, the Vijayanagar Dynasty and the Nayaks. Along with its rich history and traditional value, the city of Madurai is known for its jasmine flowers and exquisite architecture. More than 1 million people come to celebrate the Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival in April that goes on for 10 days.

Following are the main attractions of Madurai:


Meenakshi Amman TempleMeenakshi Amman Temple: Archaeologically, Madurai is said to be built enveloping the Meenakshi Amman Temple, located at the centre. Goddess Parvati's re-incarnation known as Goddess Meenakshi is worshipped here along with her consort, Lord Shiva who is also known as Sundareswarar. The aesthetic heritage of Meenakshi Amman Temple is as revered as Taj Mahal of North India. The temple was built under the reign of Tirumalai Nayak during the 17th century. This temple is known for 14 huge gopurams (gateway towers), mandapams (pavilions), sculptures and paintings.

Gandhi Memorial Museum: This museum is lauded for preserving the intricate details of India's struggle for independence, especially from 1757 to 1947. It was established in 1959 and is currently the five main museums dedicated to Mahatama Gandhi in India. It is located in the 17th century palace of the Nayak Queen. Along with it, the exhibition also included the blood stained dhoti ( men's garment) worn by Mahatama Gandhi during the time of his assassination in 1948.

Tirumalai Nayak Palace: The Islamic Dravidian style of architecture is the main attraction of the Tirumalai Nayak Palace. King Tirumalai Nayak constructed this palace in 1636 AD. Unfortunately, with time and invasions, only one-fourth of the Tirumalai Nayak Palace remains. With its exquisite stucco work and 248 pillars, it still continues to be known as India's architectural grandeur. It was declared as a national monument after independence.

 

Pudhu Mandapam: Tourists love visiting Pudhu Mandapam which is always bustling with life, commercial activities, colours and crowd. It is also known as the 'New Hall.' Its construction began in 1628 when Tirumalai Nayak wanted to dedicate a structure to Lord Sundareswarar. Cultural dances and festivities are also organised in Pudhu Mandapam especially during the Chithirai Festival, which denotes the wedding on Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank: It was built by Tirumalai Nayak in 1646 and it is connected with the River Vaigai through underground channels. It is 2km away from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. It is lauded for being the biggest tank in Tamil Nadu.
Shopping in Madurai
Excursions from Madurai: Tourists can also travel to the following places like Vaigai Dam (70 km), Kodaikanal (115. 2 km), Pazhani (127 km), Thekaddy (139 km) and Munnar (154 km)

Shopping in Madurai:
Sarees, fabrics and garments are the main attractions of years old textile industry in Madurai. Bell metal lamps, stone and wood carvings, bronze images and hand-woven cotton remains to be few other favourites for shopping aficionados.

When to Reach: The best time to travel to Madurai is from October to March. Tourists also come to witness the 10 day long Chitirai Festival is the month of April.

How to Reach:
Air: The Madurai Airport is well connected with regular flights from the main cities of India. It is located 10 km away from the main town.
Rail: The Madurai Railway Station is easily connected with other railheads of Southern India.
Road: The private and State buses connect Madurai with cities like Bangaluru, Trivandrum, Kochi and Coimbatore.



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