MADURAI - City of Jasmine
Madurai is 130 km from Tiruchirapalli and 440 km from Chennai. It is yet another temple town, throbbing with lie and teeming with thousands of pilgrims who pour in the city every day. This is one place in the south where the temple continues to live almost at the same scale of action and activity for which it was originally designed ten centuries ago.
The pattern of life has remained unchanged and appears at the same time changeless. There is never a dull moment. The lotus shaped Madurai is an ancient city dating back to 2600 years. It was constructed by a Pandyan king, Kulashekhra, on the banks of River Vaigai. The name of this city emerges from a legend. In a forest near a lotus pond, Indra- the Rain god- worshipped lord Shiva. A drop of 'madhuram' (nectar) fell from the locks of lord Shiva at this place. Since then it has been called 'Madhurapuri', now Madurai.
Madurai Meenakshi temple, Swami Sundareswarar temple, Gandhi Museum, Government Museum, Koodal azhagar temple are the places of interest. The most notable in the Meenakshi temple is 1000 pillared hall carrying some beautiful sculpture of the seventeenth century.
Culture and Literature:
The city has been a centre of Tamil culture, sponsoring literatures, art, dance, music and other cultural events over the centuries. Madurai is the centre of the Tamil literature. Tamil literature was getting its shape with the formation of three Sangams, the first, second and third. Tamil Sangam was formed in Madurai to develop Tamil as "Muthamizh", the three forms of Tamil literature 'Prose, Music and drama'. The great Tamil literature 'Silappathigaram' wrote before centuries are based on this city. According to this epic, Kannaki (wife of Kovalan, a trader) burnt out the entire Madurai city with her diamond-in anklet, because of the wrong justice from the pandyan king on her husband.
There is an interesting legend about the temple. The daughter of one of the Pandyan rulers was born with three breasts. It was supposed to disappear when she met her spouse. The miracle did happen with the girl saw Shiva on Mount Kailash. Eight days later they were married in Madurai when Shiva appeared in the form of Sundareshwara.
The present temple was built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak (1635-55), the original temple having been destroyed. It is a unique example of Dravidian architecture where gopurams are covered from top to bottom with a profusion of multi-coloured images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.
Hotels and Guides in Madurai
Most of the hotels and restaurants used by visitors are within walking distance of the Meenakshi Temple. Outside the city is the Cantonment area where a tourist lodge is run by ITDC. The Pandyan Hotel - the best in town- YWCA, Circuit House, etc. are all here. The Tourist Office is on the West Weli Street.
Important Tourist Places in Madurai
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Thirumalai Naik Palace
Hotels & Guides