Madurai
 
The highest point of visits to temple cities is Madurai. You find here a lot of religious attractions which present our unique history. Madurai spreads along the rocky banks of the river Vaigai in the state of Tamilnadu. Madurai has a rich historical background in the sense that Lord Shiva himself performed sixty-four wonders called "Thiruvilaiyadals". There are several places of tourist attractions in Madurai, but it is the Meenakshi Temple that is the hub of activity. Located at the heart of the city, the Meenakshi - Sundareswarar temple has long been the focus of both Indian and international tourist attraction as well as one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage. It is the hub of the religious and cultural life of the city. Planned in the shape of a lotus, Madurai is the second largest city in Tamilnadu with history that goes back to nearly 2,500 years. The cultural prominence of Madurai in ancient times has earned it the epithet of the 'Athens of South India'. The illustrious past of the city can still be witnessed in the architectural splendor of the temples and the palaces.
 
 
Meenakshi Temple
The life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. This magnificently carved temple is the main attraction of Madurai and its huge Gopurams towers over the city. There are 12 massive gopurams in the temple, the four tallest gopurams at the outer walls. The golden lotus pond (Potraamarai Kulam) is located to the left of the Meenakshi shrine. Sundareswarar gives darshan in the form of a lingam. The thousand pillared hall (Aayirangaal Mandapam) is an architectural and engineering marvel, built in the 16th century. The pillars have the Yazhi figure sculpted on them. These musical granite pillars, which when struck yield different musical notes. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a single granite rock. The temple also has an art museum. The city apart from temple is crammed with shops, street, markets,temples,hotels and restaurants. Though Madurai is considered as pilgrimage but it has also developed as a business centre and is famed for its traditional handicrafts in bronze and brass.
 
 
Koodal Alagar Temple
Koodal Alagar Temple is a Vishnu temple located 2km west of the city that has three altars, one on top of the other, in which Lord Vishnu is in three different poses: sitting, standing, and reclining. The main deity of the temple is Koodal Alagar, who is in a sitting posture. Above the shrine of this deity are the altars of Sri Ranganathar,in a reclining pose, and Sri Surya-narayan Perumal, in a standing pose. There are intricate woodcarvings here,including one of Lord Rama's coronation. This is one of the 108 Divya Desam temples. There is a Navagraha (nine planets) enclosure in this temple. Lord Alagar's (Vishnu) procession to the bank of the Vaigai River on the full moon day is one of the most interesting events of the festival. Lord Vishnu rides on a real- gold horse-chariot to his sister's wedding. Meenakshi is considered to be the sister of Lord Alagar.
 
 
Mariamman Theppakulam
Mariamman Theppakulam was built in 1636.This huge tank also known as the Mariamman tank is at the eastern end of the city and is almost equal in area to that of the Meenakshi Amman temple. There is a mandapam in the centre of the tank enshrining Lord Vigneswara. This idol was found here when earth was being dug for the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. A tank was created in this area with the Ganesha idol. This tank is fed with water from the Vaigai through an ingenious system of underground channels. A colourful float festival is held on Thai Poosam day (in January/February) to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tirumalai Nayakar. Various temple deities are taken in decorated floats. This tank,1000 ft length and 950 ft wide is situated at the eastern end of the city. At the center of this tank there is a mandapam (covered structure) surrounded by four small mandapams. This mandapam houses an idol of Lord Vinayagar. The float festival is celebrated here on the full moon day of Tamil month Thai. At that time the center mandapam is illuminated with colorful lights and temple deities are brought to it in decorated
floats.
 
 
Tirupparangundram
At a distance of 8 km south of Madurai is Tirupparankundram. You can find the Pandyan rock-cut shrines dating back to the 8th century and the later Nayaka Hindu temple here. The temple has a wide range of Hindu gods carved on the walls. The Subramanya cave temple has a shrine dedicated to Durga, with the figures of Ganesh and Subramanya on either side. Located at top of a hill, the temple is believed to be one of six abodes of Lord Subramanya.
 
 
Alagarkoil
Since the presiding deity of the temple is Alagar (the beautiful), the temple is called Alagar Koil. This is an important Vishnu temple, about 18 km northeast of Madurai, at Alagar Hill. This is one of the most ancient temples in India and round the temple are ruins of an ancient fortified town. The recently renovated gopurams of this temple look resplendent. The Mahabharata says that this temple was visited by both Yudhisthira and Arjuna. It is said that Koorattalwar, the chief disciple of Ramanuja, regained his eyesight by worshipping the deity here.2000 years old Sudarsana-chakra is worth visiting.
 
 
Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal
The Thirumalai Nayak's palace is open to the public from 9.00a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and 2.00p.m. to 5.00 p.m. The most imposing remnant is a huge Audience hall opening into a countryard with elaborately ornamented arches. A sound and light show depicting the story of Thirumalai Nayakar and Silappathikaram (a Tamil Epic) can be seen here daily. Timings: English: 6.45 p.m. Tamil: 8.15 p.m.
 
 
Gandhi Museum
The Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the distinct places to be visited in Madurai. This Museum housed in a 300-year old Tammukam Palance of Rani Mangammal is dedicated to Mahathma Gandhiji and promotes study and appreciation of the Mahatma's teachings. There is a picture gallery, personal memorabilia of Mahatma, a library and an exhibition of South India handicrafts and village industries. Regular classes related to Gandhi's thoughts and Yoga are conducted here. A Government Museum is also in this complex. Timing 10.00a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.
 
 
Pazhamudir cholai
Pazhamudir Solai is a holy place near Madurai.It houses one of the most sacred temples of Lord Muruga - also known as Arumugan, Karthikeya, Skanda and Kumara and is the sixth Aarupadai Veedu . Saint poet Nakkerar, in his songs in praise of Lord Senthil Andavar, places Pazhamudir -cholai in the sixth place amongst the six battle places( Arupadaiveedu ) that Lord Muruga has fought to win over evil. This shrine is located on a hill adjacent to the Kallazhagar Temple in the outskirts of Madurai,.Also near Madurai is another of the Aarupadai Veedu shrines, Tirupparamkunram. The Other five Temples in the Arupadai Veedu are: 1.Tiruparamkundram Subramanya Swami Temple     2.Swamimalai Swaminatha Swami Temple 3.Palani Dandayudhapani Swamy Temple                 4.Tiruthani Subramanya Swamy Temple 5.Thiruchendur Senthil Andavar Temple A few Murugan devotees do consider that Marudamalai Murugan temple also deserves to be mentioned as one additional Padai Veedu.
 
 
Kodaikkanal
Kodaikkanal is one of the best hill stations in India and one of the few in South India, Kodaikkanal or Kodai is a very beautiful place near Madurai. It takes just 121-km of travel to reach Kodai. Kodai is located 2,130 m above the sea level in the Western Ghats.

 
 
Vaigai Dam
Vaigai dam is surrounded by well-manicured gardens and has come up as a popular picnic spots, just 70-km from Madurai. This impressive dam on the River Vaigai is 69kms from Madurai on the way to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary near Andipatti. It is an ideal spot for a picnic.
 
 
Courtallam
It is located about 167-km on the Western Ghats and is an excellent health resort in this part of the country.This place is also known as the 'Spa of the South'. Courtallam is located just 160km from Madurai. This place has got nine splendid waterfalls, which attracts a large number of visitors.TTDC offers here a boathouse accommodation apart from the restaurant.
 
 
Palani
It is 118-km from Madurai the temple dedicated to Sri Dandyauthapani. The temple is located on top of a hill 180 meter high. The temple attracts many devotees during the festivals of Panguni Uthiram (during March-April) and Aadi Krithikai (during July-august and people coming to Madurai do not miss visiting Palani.From the hill top one gets an excellent view of the nearby
area.
 
 
Suruli Falls
It is 123-km from Madurai city is Suruli falls, which are located in a picturesque area. It is an ideal spot and an excellent picnic spot to spend one day.
 
 
Ramakrishna Mutt
The world-renowned Ramakrishna Mutt has a branch in Madurai. Yoga classes are conducted here once a week on Fridays.
 
 
Srivilliputhur
The Nayak kings constructed the Vatapatrasayi Temple at Srivilliputhur, but its story goes a long way back to the Pandya times, when moved by her devotion, Lord Krishna married the poetess-devotee, Andaal. which has one of the most impressive gopurams in the south. Also noteworthy is the temple chariot, which is decorated with carvings from the scriptures. The chariot festival every year attracts a large number of devotees.
 
 

Vandiyur Kanmoy Tourist Complex:
Located 6kms from the Periyar Bus stand, Vandiyur Kanmoy (tank) is an ideal picnic spot. T.T.D.C. operates a children's Train and boating service. There is also a restaurant in the tourist complex.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary:
At a distance of 155 km from Madurai is the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is renowned as the natural habitat for the Indian elephant among other wild animals. The forests of this sanctuary slope down to the manmade lake where you can see the elephants, gaurs (Bos gaurus) and sambhars (Cervus unicolor) wallowing in the waters over here. October to June is the best period to visit this sanctuary.
Megamalai: The tea estates on the slopes of the Western Ghats nestles Megamalai. This lovely place is bound to capture your imagination. Good place to stay and enjoy a lovely surrounding. One can also watch the animals roaming in the forest, which are close to Megamalai, Just 130-km from Madurai. Kumbakkarai Water Falls : This place serves as the base camp for the trekkers who venture in the hills of Kodai. Kumbakkarai Water Falls are 105-km from Madurai and form an excellent picnic spot. Waterfall surrounded by forests combined with the pristine beauty of the hills creates a very soothing atmosphere.
Viraganur Dam :
This ideal picnic spot is located just 8-km from Madurai.
Thirumohur:
Thirumohur There is a Vishnu Temple located here and it is 20 kms from Madurai and 3 kms from Othakkadi. The main deity of this temple is Kalamega Perumal or Thirumal and his consort Sembagavalli.
Thiruvathavur:
Thiruvathavur This Shiva temple is located 25 kms from Madurai and 5 kms.from Othakkadi. The presiding deities of this temple are Shiva and Parvathi. It is the birthplace of the famous poet Manikkavasagar.
Churches:
Web Memorial Church, Rosary Church, St.Mary's Church, West Gate Church, YMCA Church, Maninagaram Church and Lutheran Church.
Mosques:
South Gate Pallivasal, South Masi Street Sait Pallivasal, Sangam Pallivasal near the Vaigai Bridge and Goripalayam Pallivasal.
 
     
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