Photo Credit : prasanna_devadas
Madurai, a major city of Tamil Nadu popularly called the Athens of the East is located on the banks of River Vaigai
It is the third largest city by population in Tamil Nadu and one of the largest urban agglomerations in India. It has been a major settlement for two millennia and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
Let’s have a look to the divinity and entertainment of Madurai.
- Meenakshi Amman Temple:
A historic Hindu temple located on the southern banks of River Vaigai is also known in different names like Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Tiru-aalavaai and Meenakshi Amman Kovil.
A temple which is said to be the soul and salvation of the 2500 year old Madurai is devoted to Parvati and her consort Shiva, acknowledged as Meenakshi and Sundareswarar respectively.
According to Tamil literature, the present structure was built between 1623 and 1656.
It houses 14 gateway towers known as Gopurams in India, among them the tallest is the southern tower, the two golden sculptured towers and the shrines over the sanctums of the main deities.
The temple attracts visitors of 15,000 a day and around 25,000 on Fridays. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple.
It was on the list of top 30 nominees for the “New Seven Wonders of the World”.
The temple is the most prominent landmark of Madurai and most visited tourist attraction in the city.
- Koodal Azhagar Temple:
A famous temple devoted to Lord Vishnu located in the center of the city of Madurai. Koodal is another name for Madurai and Azhaghar means the beautiful one, in Tamil.
This ancient temple is very close to the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple and it is one of the 108 divyadesams of the holy abodes of Vishnu.
- Pazhamudhir Solai:
It‘s temple of Hindu that is located atop a hill covered with dense forests and one of the six important abodes of Lord Muruga. It is close to the Vishnu temple of Azhagar Kovil.
It is said that the actual temple, Azhagar Kovil, has been relocated now as Pazhamudhir Sholai during the reign of Thirumalai Naikkar in Madurai.
- Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple:
A Hindu temple complex devoted to Lord Muruga also famed in the name, Thiruchendur Murugan Temple.
It is also one of the six major abodes or sacred temple complexes of Kaumaram religion. Sri Subramanya Swamy temple is the only temple complex among the six sacred temple complexes to be situated near the sea shore.
It is known as Jayanthipuram in Puranas and History and it is one of the largest temple complexes by area of India and also it is the most visited temple complex in India by the devotees from countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, England and Australia.
The other features of the temple are it has longest Sannathi Street , Raja Gopura in Western gate, no Eastern gateway, sanctum sanctorum is below the ground level, richest temple by wealth, ISO certification and the major attraction of this temple is that it is the largest temple among all the temples built by three holy saints.
The 133 feet Raja Gopura that has been built in the shores of Bay of Bengal is still a ambiguity and an astounding example of the Tamil Temple architecture and also an illustration of extreme civil engineering of Ancient Tamils.
The state has provided a separate bus terminal and separate parking facilities for devotees and tourists.
- Gandhi Memorial Museum:
Established in the year 1959 as a memorial museum for Mahatma Gandhi, the “father of nation” is located in the city of Madurai. It is known as Gandhi Museum and it is now one of the five Gandhi Gandhi Museums in the country.
It comprises a part of the a replica of blood-stained garment worn by Gandhi while he was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, an Original letter written personally by Gandhi to Narayanan Sathsangi of Devakottai, a congratulatory message sent by Gandhi to freedom fighter and poet Subramania Bharati and another interesting letter is the one, written by the Mahatma to Adolf Hitler addressing him as Dear Friend has been preserved in this museum.
The museum does conduct Special Exhibition on “India Fights for Freedom” with 265 illustrations, depicting the history of the Freedom Movement.
It also incorporates a “Visual Biography of Bapuji” containing photos, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, quotations, Xerox copies of selected letters written by him and some of his renderings.
The 124 rare photographs depicting various phases of Mahatma Gandhi right from his childhood days until being taken to the crematorium is really journey through his life and an inspiring tale to the new generation.
- Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal:
This Palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar was erected in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, a king of Madurai’s Nayaka dynasty who ruled Madurai from 1623–59.
This Palace is a classic fusion of Dravidian and Islamic architectural styles. The present building was the main Palace where the king lived and the original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure.
In its glory days, Tirumalai Nayak Palace at Madurai was considered to be one of the wonders of the South.
- Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam:
It is the pond located near to Vandiyur Mariamman Temple and literally, Teppakulam means temple pond for devotional festivals.
The tank is connected to River Vaigai through an ingenious system of underground channels and it has long flight of steps made of granite on all four sides.
At the centre of the tank there is a Mandapam called Maiya Mandapam with Vinayakar temple and garden.
The temple as well as the stairway was built by the King Thirumalai Nayak.
- Vaigai Dam:
The Dam which is built across the River Vaigai provides water for irrigation as well as drinking water to Madurai.
In the vicinity of the dam, the Government of Tamil Nadu has constructed an Agricultural Research Station for researching the growing of a variety of crops, including rice, sorghum, blackgram, cowpea and cotton.
- MGR Race Course Stadium:
It is a well-known stadium in Madurai which hosts several sporting events, including both, national and international Kabadi Championships. This stadium provides an attractive sports venue to its citizens, and adds a special feature to its home city.
Recently, a paralympic sports meet was organized here. Facilities at MGR Race Course Stadium include a world-class synthetic track.
The stadium includes several other amenities for athletes, including badminton courts, basketball courts, a cricket field, a football field, tennis courts, and a swimming pool.
- Samanar Hills:
A hill rock complex also known as Samanar Malai and Thiruvuruvagam is located in Madurai. The hill has been declared as a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Samanar means Jain in and malai means hill in Tamil language. This hill has caves where Tamil Jain Samanar monks have dwelled.
Samanar Malai has several Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions which is about 2000 year old, Vatteluttu writings, a number of stone beds where the monks take rest and many sculptures, which shows influence of Jainism in the primeval Tamil state. The inscriptions reveal that hundreds of Jain monks took fast unto death here.
The hill contains two famous sculptures, Settipodavu and Pechipallam, which shows images of Jain Tirthankaras made by Jain monks in the 9th century BC. The Settipodavu contains the image of Mahavira, the last Tirthankara of Jainism. The Pechipallam contains eight sculptures, including Bahubali and Mahavira.
The findings through the Tamil and Kannada inscriptions show that there was a Jain monastery at the top of the hill known as Maadevi Perumpalli, which has been served as an educational academy in which both Jain monks and nuns studied. The kings from the Pandyan Dynasty, who ruled Madurai, used to visit the academy. The Kannada students and senior monks from Sravanabelgola also stayed there.
At the foothills, there is a Karuppanasamy temple and lotus pond. Some idols made by Jain monks are in Karuppanasamy temple.
- Athisayam Water Amusement Park:
An amusement theme park located in Paravai on Madurai Dindigul NH 7. The park is located on a 70 acres site and features about 40 games and 20 water rides.
The park is popular for its water rides and recreating the experience of Courtalam waterfalls.