One of the main hubs of Tamil Nadu, Madurai is known for its rich and extensive history, as exemplified by its wealth of iconic and spectacular temples. One of India’s most historic cities, it is known for its deep closeness with the Tamil culture. One of the most unique and interesting cities in the country, it s well worth seeking out.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
One of the most important temples in the Hindu religion, Meenakshi Temple is located in the temple city of Madurai, a Tamil epicentre. The site has been of major importance for many centuries with the first temple being built in as early as the 7th Century. The current temple dates back to the 14th Century, with significant renovations occurring in the years thereafter. The temple has been a major pilgrimage destination, drawing over a million visitors during the major 10-day festival-the Meenakshi Tirukalaynam.
Gandhi Memorial Museum
Established eleven years after his assassination in 1948, the Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai pays tribute to the iconic former Prime Minister’s life. The museum contains a number of important relics to do with the leader’s life, including his blood-stained garments from his assassination as well as a number of his personal letters. The museum also offers visitors a biography of his life and his cause-the struggle for peace and freedom in India.
Located in the outskirts of the city, Alagar Koyil is a small village known for its major historical significance. The village’s history stretches back to at least the 6th Century and is best personified by its centre-piece-the Kallazhagar Temple. An iconic landmark of Dravidian architecture, the temple wad dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It is one of the most important Hindu temples in South India and serves as the backdrop for a number of religious festivals including the Tamil celebration of Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Tirumalai Nayak Palace
One of India’s most spectacular palaces, the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal was built in the mid-17th Century, completed in 1636. A short distance from the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the Palace is one of the city’s most prominent tourism attractions. Built under the orders of the eponymous King, it is known for its rare synthesis of Islamic and Dravidian architectural styles. One of the most grandiose palaces in the entirety of India, it is well-known for its distinct design and opulence.
India is well-known for its many colourful, elaborate and jubilant religious festivals. The Teppam Festival is unique to South India and is celebrated with particular vigour in Tamil Nadu. Celebrated in the astrological month of Chitthrai (Late March-Late April), it sees the region transform into a decadent and colourful festivity, evident across the region’s many temples.
main image: image courtesy of Francisco Anzola, Flickr Creative Commons