Over 2000 years old, Madurai is one of India’s oldest cities. Madurai’s crowning glory and iconic landmark – around which the city is built – is the exquisitely constructed Meenakshi Amman Temple, dedicated to the Goddess Meenakshi (‘fish-eyed), the consort of Siva. The continued existence and significance of the centuries-old Temple is what makes Madurai so historic.
Considered one of the most sublime examples of Dravidian architecture, the ancient Temple has 14 majestic gopurams (gateway towers) the tallest of which is the southern tower – it rises to over 170 feet and was built in 1559. Inside, are the stunning mandapams (pillared pavilions), that lead to the sanctum sanctorum. One of the mandapams has walls embellished with splendid paintings and sculptures depicting scenes from the Tamil epic Thiruvilaiyadal; another has richly sculpted pillars; yet another one has a massive pillar depicting the celestial wedding. At the entrance to the magnificent Hall of a Thousand Pillars is a statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar, the Temple’s architect. There’s more to marvel at – stone inscriptions, corridors, paintings, shrines, and the sacred temple tank. The Temple is renowned for its glorious festivals, celebrated with great fervour every year. And on any given day, you’ll be one among 20, 000 visitors or so at the Temple complex!
The other highlights of Madurai are the grand 17th century Thirumalai Nayak Palace, and the Mariamman Theppakulm, a colossal tank built by King Thirumalai Nayak, where the famed float festival of the Meenakshi Amman Temple is held every year.
Explore the markets surrounding the temple. Each street is dedicated to a particular item – stationery, flowers and fruits, utensils, prayer items, and, even bananas! For those who want to see the Thekkady wildlife reserve, Madurai serves as the ideal gateway into Kerala.
Holxo Tours in Madurai