MADURAI FACTS & FIGURES
Location: South of Tamil Nadu state, India.
Best time to Visit: Throughout the year:
Significance: Sri Meenakshi – Sundareswarar Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Palace, Thirupparankundram Temple, Alagar koil , Gandhi Museum, Mariamman Teppakulam .
Madurai is surrounded by several mountains. The Madurai city has 3 hills as its city boundary. Yanaimalai, Nagamalai, Pasumalai named after Elephant, Snake and Cow respectively. It is famous for Jasmine Flowers. Jasmine flowers are transported to other cities of India from Madurai.
After India’s independence, Madurai is one of the major districts of Tamilnadu State. In 1984, the Vast Madurai district was bifurcated into two districts namely Madurai and Dindugul Districts. Subsequently in 1997, Madurai district was bifurcated into two districts namely Madurai and Theni Districts. In Madurai District, there are 10 State Assembly constituencies and two parliament constituencies.
It is narrated in legend that Madurai was originally a forest known as Kadambavanam. One day, a farmer named Dhananjaya who was passing through the forest, saw Indra (The king of the gods), worshipping a swayambhu (self created Lingam ) under kadamba tree. Dhananjaya, the farmer immediately reported this to King Kulasekara Pandya. Kulasekara Pandya cleared the forest and built a temple around the Lingam. A city was soon planned with the temple as its centre. On the day the city was to be named, Lord Shiva is said to have appeared and drops of nectar from his hair fell on the town. So, the place was named Madurai – mathuram meaning “sweetness” in Tamil.
Madurai has a rich historical background in the sense that Lord Shiva himself performed sixty-four wonders called “Thiruvilaiyadals”.
Prominent Pilgrimage Attractions of Madurai
Sri Meenakshi – Sundareswarar Temple
Madurai is the Meenakshi Sundareswarar twin Temple, the pivot around which the city has evolved. The Meenakshi Temple complex is literally a city – one of the largest of its kind in India and undoubtedly one of the oldest too. The temple grew with the contribution of each dynasty and victorious monarchs, into an enormous complex extending over an area of 65000 Sq m. The temple first came in to being 2000 years ago and was substantially expanded during the regime of Thirumalai Nayak(1623-55 AD).
Lord Siva in his incarnation as Sundareswarar and his fish-eyed spouse, Meenakshi, are enshrined in this twin temple. There are four massive gateways enclosing these two shrines. Even a casual visitor is fascinated by the many paintings and sculptures.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
About 1.5 Kms from the Meenakshi temple, this palace was built in 1636 by the ruler whose name it bears. The imposing edifice is famous for the “Stuccowork” on its domes and impressive arches. The Sorgavilasam (Celestial Pavilion), measuring 75m x 52m, constructed entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a marvel of indo-Saracenic architectural style. Among other striking features of the palace are the massive white pillars, several of which line the corridor that runs along the courtyard. Connected by high decorated arches, these pillars measure 20m in height and have a circumference of 4m. Elsewhere, there are polished black stone pillars of varying heights. It was King Thirumalai Nayak’s grandson who demolished much of the fine structure and removed most of the jewels and woodcarvings in order to build his own palace in Tiruchirapalli. (His dream never came true).
It is located 8 Kms South of Madurai Railway Junction. The temple here is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya. Its innermost shrine is cut out of a solid rock.
How to Reach Madurai
- Air : Maduai is connected by air with the Mumbai,Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Tiruchi and Coimbatore etc.
- Rail : Madurai railway station falls under Soutern Railways and the station has direct connections with Bangalore,Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli,Tirupathi and Tirunelveli etc.
- Road : The city has regular bus services to all the towns in nearby regions and rest of the Tamil Nadu.