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.
There are daily flights
to Madurai from Chennai, Bangalore, Tiruchirapally & Coimbatore.
Madurai Railway Station
is well connected with Chennai and other major cities of Tamil
There are excellent
roads connecting Madurai to all parts of South India.
The 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
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
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.
The Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the distinct places to be visited
This Musuem is one of the rare living memorial of "The Father of
Cave temples have been so much identified with the Pallavas (600-850
A.D.), that many people do not know that other rulers also excavated
similar rock-cut cave temples and monoliths. The Pandya rulers
especially could be credited with a large number of these cave temples
but for want of a more definite nomenclature, historians club all
these together under the common term, Pallava style even though these
temples are in the heart of the Pandya country where no Pallava ever
Many of the big and small temples around Madurai in Tamilnadu and the
Muruga temple at Tirupparankundram are popular. Situated almost on the
outskirts, only 7 kms away from Madurai, Tirupparankundram,
Parankundram, as it was known in the olden days, has been a place of
pilgrims throng to the shrine of Muruga (Subramanya) in their
multitude, but hardly one of these devout souls pays attention to the
beauty of the temple or the construction of the sanctum.
hh - heritage hotel ; ph -
palace hotel ; bh - boutique hotel ; gh - guest house ; hs - home stay