Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India, with a history dating all the
way back to the Sangam period of the pre Christian era. The glory of Madurai returned in a diminished
form in the earlier part of this millennium; it later on came under the rule of the Vijayanagar kingdom
after its ransack by the ravaging armies of Delhi (Malik Kafur). During the 16th and 18th centuries,
Madurai was ruled by the Nayak Emperors, the foremost of whom was Tirumalai Nayakar. The Sangam period
poet Nakkeerar is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal episodes of Sundareswarar - that are enacted
as a part of temple festival traditions even today.
Reasons to visit
Madurai is famous for its temples.The Aappudaiyaar Koyil Tevara
Stalam and the Koodalazhagar Divya Desam are the most important temples one should rarely
miss to go. In the vicinity of Madurai is Tirupparamkunram, one of the 6 padai veedu shrines
of Murugan (Glorified in Madurai Sangam Nakeerar’s Tirumurugaatruppadai). Also in the vicinity
of Madurai is Alagar Koyil, one of the prominent Divya Desam shrines of the Sri Vaishnavite faith.
Sree Meenakshi Temple
The enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known here as Sundareshvara
and his consort Parvati or Meenakshi. The original temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the entire
credit for making the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled Madurai from
the 16th to the 18th century and left a majestic imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi - Sundareswarar Temple.
The temple complex is within a high-walled enclosure, at the core of which are the two sanctums for meenakshi
and Sundareshwara, surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. Especially impressive
are the 12 gopuras. Their soaring towers rise from solid granite bases, and are covered with stucco figures
of dieties, mythical animals and monsters painted in vivid colours.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
This Palace was built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian
Architect. The building we see today was the main Palace where the King lived. The original Palace Complex was
four times bigger than the present structure. This palace consisted mainly of two parts, namely Swargavilasa
and Rangavilasa. In these two parts, there are royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armoury, palanquin
place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden. King Thirumalai Nayak celebrated festivals like Sceptre
festival, Navarathri, Chithirai festival, Masi festival and the Float festival. He conducted daily dance and
music performances in the palace. This palace was destroyed by his grandson Chokkanatha Nayak and the valuables
were transferred to other places. During 19th century, Lord Napier, governor of Madras between 1866 and 1872
made several renovation works. Today, only the spacious rectangular courtyard called the swarga Vilasam and
a few adjoining biuldings survive, their awesome scale evoking the grandeur of a vanished era. The courtyard
measures 3,900 sq.m and is surrounded by massive circular pillars. To its west lies the Throne Chamber, a vast
room with a raised, octagonal dome. This room leads to the Dance Hall.
The Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the distinct places to be visited in Madurai.
This Musuem is one of the rare living memorial of "The Father of India".
The Handlooms, Fabrics & Sarees are famous in Madurai.
Some of the festivals are Chithirai Festival, Avanimool Festival, Navarathri Festival, Float Festival.
How to get there
By Road : Madurai is connected by good motorable roads to Madras (472 kms), Trichy (142 kms), Rameshwarm (139 kms), Kanyakumari (232 kms), Tirunelveli (151 kms), Kodaikanal (120 kms), Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (136 kms), Palani (122 kms), Thanjavur (223 kms) & Bangalore (446 kms).
By Air : Indian Airlines connect Madurai with Madras, Calicut and Bombay.
By Rail : Madurai is Connected by rail via Madras with all the main places in India.
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