The cultural heritage

DQW Bureau
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Madurai is the cultural city of Tamil Nadu and most importantly the

birthplace of the language 'Tamil'. Located in the heart of Tamil Nadu, this

city is known primarily for Meenakshi Amman Temple and Vaigai River. NR

Sethuraman shares his experience about his visit to 'the city of tempels'

I had heard that Madurai is a wonderful place to visit in the southern region

of Tamil Nadu. So when I got a chance I roamed around the city to visit some of

its well-known spots. Though one has heard that Madurai is a temple city, but

only once you visit do you get to know how many the city has and very ancient

ones at that. Usually Madurai is known to be a hot city, but the pleasant

weather in the peak summer was more than a surprise to me. I hired an auto and

thought of covering as much as places I could, as I did not want to waste the

opportunity provided by the pleasant weather.

Meenakshi Amman Temple: The temple in the southern side is dedicated to Sri

Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva) and the other to Lord

Sundareswarar. This is one of the biggest temple complexes of India. It is about

258 meters in length and 241.4 meters in breadth. Of the five Gopuras (towers)

that surround the 48.8 meters high southern tower is the tallest. This temple

was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the entire credit for making the temple as

splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks, who ruled Madurai from the 16th to

18th century and left a majestic imprint of their rule in the

Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple. The temple has many inscriptions of the rulers

in the 16th century. The places to visit in this temple includes Raya Gopuram,

Chitra Gopuram Potramaraikulam, Mudali Mandapam, Rani Mangammal Mandapam,

Ooonjal Mandapam, Ayirankal Mandapam and Musical Pillars. Timings to visit are

5.00am to 1pm and again 4pm to 9.30pm.


Azhagar Kovil: It is situated at a distance of 22km from Madurai city. The

idols of Vishnu and Lakshmi are huge and beautiful. The temple finds mention in

Sangam literature dating back to 2,000 years. The tower consists of three tiers

depicting Vishnu in three postures-sitting, standing and reclining. The shadow

of the vimanam never falls on the ground. It is one of the few temples in the

country built in tiers.

Rakkayi Kovil: One needs to walk a kilometer to reach this hilltop temple.

This walking is very adventurous, as one should climb a steep road to reach the

temple. Though it has a small waterfall, but taking a bath in it is considered

to be a scary task. Its time to visit coincides with the timings of Meenakshi

Temple, and only a planned trip can help the tourists to view both these

important places. (Note: This place is full of monkeys and one needs to be

careful with their belongings)


Tirupparankundram: It is located five miles southwest Madurai. This is the

place where Lord Muruga and Devayanai, daughter of Indra married. This temple is

built between the hills. Tirupparankunram is also mentioned in legend as the

place where the sun and moon abides. The timing of this place also coincides

with the other two temples in the temple town.

Gandhi Museum: This museum is a great historic tamukkam palace of Rani

Mangammal, built during 1670. The importance of this museum is that in 1955, the

palace and the land of 12 acres were dedicated to Gandhi Samak Nidhi by the

Government of Tamil Nadu in remembrance of the life and work of the Father of

our Nation. Gandhi Memorial Museum has a remarkable collection of Gandhiji's

paintings, sculptures, Gandhian quotations, articles of village industries and

khadi crafts. The collections of varities of Gandhiyan thoughts are been

portrayed as paintings in this museum. The handicrafts and the articals used by

Gandhi are been preserved here. Timings to visit are 10.00am to 1.00pm and

2.00pm to 5.45pm (open on all days).

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal: Thirumalai Nayakar palace was built by Thirumalai

Nayakar in 1636. The paintings, carvings and designing of the mahal shows the

amazing talents of the Nayak kings. This Mahal is situated 2km southeast of

Meenakshi Amman Temple. A classic example of the Indo-saracenic style, the piece

de resistance of this mahal is its carved dome outsoars without the support of

girders or rafters. It has 248 pillars of each, 58ft tall and 5ft in diameter.

The gigantic pillars and paintings of the events that took place before, the

ethics impress ourselves and takes us to the 16th century. The timings for

visiting the palace is 9.00am to 1.00pm and 2.00pm to 5.00pm.


(The author is a Correspondent at CyberMedia)