Madurai is one of the biggest cities of Tamil Nadu and is the second largest municipal corporation in the state. It is one of the ancient cities of India that was inhabited two million years ago. This served as the seat of the Tamil empires namely Nayak dynasty and Pandya dynasty. Madurai served as their capital city and the city is noted for its Meenakshi Amman Temple that depicts the Dravidian style of architecture. As there are many Hindu temples located here, it is one of the important pilgrimage centers in India. So many pilgrims as well as tourists visit Madurai all round the year.
Madurai, also known as the Temple City of South India, is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. Situated on the banks of the river Vaigi, this city is tantamount with the Meenakshi Sundareswarar twin Temple. This gigantic temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known here as Sundareshwara and his consort Parvati who is known here as Meenakshi. This temple is the focal point around which the city of Madurai has developed over 2500 years.
Madurai Meenakshi Temple with its four immense gopurams in each direction offers a majestic sight. There is a Pottramaraikkulam here that is open to all. The temple has many halls in various names and shrines of Meenakshi, Sundareswarar and other gods and goddesses. Some other holy places near Madurai are Koodal Azhagar Temple, Thiruparankundram, Alagar Temple, etc.
The sprawling temple complex is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in our country and is almost like a city unto itself. It covers an area of over 65,000 square meters. Even though the temple was originally built by the Pandya King, Kulasekaran, the temple has grown due to the contribution of each dynasty and victorious monarchs. The Temple, as we see it today was built by Tiurmalai Nayakar who ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century.
The Temple itself is set within a high-walled enclosure at the centre of which are the two shrines for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara. There are four massive gateways enclosing there two shrines which are surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and majestic pillared halls. The complex also contains 14 impressive gopurams (gateway towers) which range from 45-50 m in height. The towers have solid granite bases and are covered with stucco figures of deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in bright colors. There is not a single visitor who is not overwhelmed by the vast number of paintings and sculptures. About 33,000 sculptures can be found in the temple complex.
The most stunning feature of this temple is the magnificent Hall of Thousand Pillars or “Ayiramkaal Mandapam”. It is an architectural marvel wherein each pillar features high, elaborate and bold sculptures that look life like. What’s more, these pillars appear to be in a straight line when viewed from any angle. The beautiful musical pillars are located in the outermost corridors and are carved out of stone. When tapped, each pillar produces a different musical note.
The temple is one of utmost importance for the Tamil people, which can be seen by the number of visitors it attracts. Around 15,000 people visit this temple daily with it increasing to 25,000 on Fridays. It was even in the list of Top 30 nominees of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” and gets annual revenue of sixty million INR.
You can find good hotels in Madurai in and around the temple and near railway station. If you are looking for luxury hotels then you can find some good ones in Alagar Koil Road. The cuisine of Madurai has the true tastes of Tamil people. It has its unique food items like paruthi paal, jigarthanda and panangalkandu paal. The varieties like appam, kuzhi paniyaram and malligaippoo idlis will melt into your mouth. Refer the right Madurai travel guide and choose the good Madurai hotels and Madurai restaurants to make your visit memorable in this temple city.
Opening Hours: 05:00-12:30pm and 4:00-9:30pm