Madurai Temples Tour Information
Madurai is known all over the world because of the magnificent temple of Goddess Meenakshi. It is the second largest city in the state. Madurai is well planned and laid out in the pattern of lotus flower, with the famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in the center. It is situated on the banks of river Vaigai. Lord Siva appeared and drops of nectar (Mathuram) from his locks fell on the town and so it came to be known as Madurai.
Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
This is a twin temple. The temple in the southern side is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi and the other to Lord Sundareswarar. This is one of the biggest temple complexes in India. The temple is about 258 meters in length and about 241.4 meters in breadth. It is also an ancient centre of worship as well as an art gallery of vast proportions.
The original temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandiyan. There are 12 temple gopurams (towers). The gopurams covered from top of bottom with multi-coloured images of celestial beings and mythological figures. The towers are noted for stucco work.
The Meenakshi shrine is one of the 51 Shakthi peetams. It is one of the five (panch) sabhas of Lord Nataraj. The Shrine is glorified as the Velliambalam.
Golden Lotus Tank
Inside the temple there is a tank called Golden Lotus Tank. It is believed that the king of Devas Indra worshiped Lord Shiva with Golden Lotus Flowers from this tank. The tank is surrounded by spacious corridors. Scenes from Thiruvilaiyadal Puranams are painted on wall of the northern corridors and on the wall of the southern corridors verses from the ancient famed Tamil devotional poems and Thirukkural have been inscribed on marbles slabs. On the Pillars of northern corridors are figures of 24 poets of the Third Tamil Sangam (Period), the merchant Dhanajeyan who saw the temple at first and then King Kulasekhara Pandiyan who first built the temple.
Thousand Pillared Hall
This famous Thousand Pillared Hall is north east of the temple it was built Dalavai Ariyanatha Mudaliyar in 1569 AD who built this treasure house of art.
Now this hall actually contains 985 pillars only. These spaces for the remaining 15 pillars were taken up for two small temples. The images of Narthana (dancing) Ganesh, Shiva, Radi, Manmatha, Arjuna, Bhima, Chandramathi, Saraswathi, Mohini, Bitchandanar are magnificent carvings.
Koodal Alagar Perumal Temple
In the west of the city there is a ancient Vaishnavite temple with beautiful sculptures. This temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is older than the Meenakshi Temple.
This temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams. The Moolavar (presiding deity) is known by the name “Koodal Alagar” and his consort is known as “Maduravalli”. Periyalvar sang the holy “Thirupallandu” in the Koodal Alagar temple in Madurai which is appraised of Lord Vishnu. Periyar’s loving daughter is Andal.
Other Temples in the City
Sri Mandanagopala temple, Sri Inmail Nanmaitharuvai temple, Thiruvappudauar temple, Sri Muktheeswarar temple, Sri Mariamman temple, Thalakulam Sri Prasanna Venkatachalapathy temple.
Temples around Madurai
It is located 8km south of Madurai Railway Junction. One of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya the second of Lord Siva is located here. It is a 6th century rock cut temple. Subramanya married to Deivanai here here and many centuries before this has been regarded the most auspicious play to conduct marriages. The rock cut temple of Subramanya here is thronged with pilgrims on all das of special worship.
Alagarkovil is about 21km from Madurai. This temple is one of the 108 Divya desams. It is called Alagar Hills or Alagarkovil. The God Alagar comes to Madurai Vaigai River and goes to merit manduga Rishi who was living us a frog, he comes in correct form that he prays God Vishnu being as Alagar. The temple is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. The shrine is known as Sundararaja Perumal and the hills Solamalai. The temple also contain some beautiful carvings making a visit regarding. About 2k away from Alagarkovil one small hillock is Palamudir Cholai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya.
Thirumohur Sri Kalamegaperumal Temple (12km), Thiruvathavur Sri Thirmarinathar Temple (24km), Othakkadi Sri Narashimhar Temple(10km), Thiruvedakam Sri Etakanatheswarar Temple (18km), Kuruvithurai Sri Siddharathavallaba Perumal Temple (30km).
Srivilliputhur is about 70km from Madurai. It is the birth place of two Vaishnavite Alwar Sri Andal and her father Periyalvar. Andal is the greatest devotional poet in Tamil. The Vatapatrasayi temple has one of the most impressive gopurams in the South. The wooden car of the temple with nine massive wheels is said to be the biggest and heaviest in the country.
The main attraction at Srivilliputhur is the shrine of Lord Ranganatha and Andal where their images are installed in bridal attire. Garuda Alwar is enshrined by the side of Sri Ranganatha.
Andal’s devotional Tamil songs, known as Thiruppavai, are as popular as Meera’s bhajans. The shrines of Sri Vatapatrasayee (Vishnu reclining on Adi Sesha), Sri Navaneeta Krishna and Sri Srinivasa Perumal in Srivilliputhur are noteworthy too.