Madurai is one of the oldest and the largest city in Tamilnadu. Referred as the cultural capital of Tamilnadu, the city is known for Madurai Meenakshi Temple and is considered as Athens of the East and Temple Town. Madurai is also known for its food, cuisine, architecture, shopping and endearing people. Madurai has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission. Here are the top tourist places to visit in Madurai.
Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Meenakshi Temple is an old historic Hindu temple situated on the banks of the Vagai River. Dedicated to Meenakshi Devi and Shiva, it is the major landmark in Madurai and one of the top places to visit in Madurai. The temple complex houses with 14 gopurams, two golden sculptured vimanas and 33,000 sculptures, Porthamarai Kulam, the sacred temple tank and several halls. With Musical Pillars outside the thousand pillar hall, each pillar produces a different musical note when struck. Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival is a ten day annual festival celebrated during April and May which allures huge number of devotees.
Gandhi Museum is a memorial museum for Gandhi located in Madurai and was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959. Earlier, it was the palace of Rani Mangammal of Nayak dynasty and later it is converted into Gandhi Museum by the Gandhi Memorial Trust after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. It is one of the five great Gandhi Museums in the country which depict the life of the Father of the nation. The museum houses blood stained dhoti that he was wearing at the time of his assassination along with photographs of his lifetime. A new wing has been constructed on the northern side which includes a library and open-air theater.
Koodal Alagar Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Koodal Alagar Temple is one of the ancient temple and the popular places to visit in Madurai. Also known as Arulmigu Koodalazhagar Thirukoil, the temple is one of the 108 Divyadesams (Vaishnavite Shrines) of the holy abodes of Vishnu. The temple tower followed by the main shrine has a large rangamandapa and the sanctum. A unique feature of this temple is the three different postures of the same God. With beautifully carved ornamental windows, the temple attracts large number of devotees.
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal is a beautiful palace in Madurai built by Thirumalai Nayak in 1636. Divided into Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa, it is one of the important tourist places to visit in Madurai. Enclosed with 248 pillars, the ceilings are decorated with large paintings showing Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes. Also, there is a large museum that houses with wonderful collection of Painting, utensils, photographs of the palace showing its full glory and several sculptures. The major and the remarkable part of this palace is the dome of Swarga Vilasa which lies beyond a huge courtyard.
Thirupparankunram Murugan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is one of the six abodes of Murugan and considered as the first and foremost temple of Lord Muruga. It is a cave temple and the entrance is built with 48 Nayaka period pillars with artistic carvings. There is a belief that people who get married here get special blessings from Lord Muruga. A unique feature of this temple is that the Gods Shiva and Vishnu face each other in the main shrine, which is a rare scene in ancient Hindu temples. Also, this rock cut temple has separate shrines for Lord Ganapathy, Shiva, Durgai, Vishnu and other deities.