Madurai is one of the largest cities of Tamil Nadu and is famous for its ancient temples. There is no dearth of popular tourist attractions in Madurai, which can make the trip memorable. This is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and is visited by tourists from all over the world, especially for Meenakshi Amman Temple. Madurai is brimming with architectural marvels and historical monuments, which allow tourists to get glimpses of the rich cultural heritage and glorious past of the city. Indian Holiday offers you the details of the major tourist attractions of Madurai.
Madurai is popularly known as the Athens of the East, owing to a large number of religious sites. This cultural capital of Tamil Nadu also known as ‘Lotus City’, is literally built in the shape of a lotus. Madurai's temples are one of the major destinations for the religious tour of South India. The temples of Madurai reflect the architectural splendor of the Dravidians and express the rich legacy and arts of our country. Here are some of the major tourist places in Madurai, which one should not miss during their Madurai trip.
Meenakshi Amman Temple:
One of the major tourist attractions of Madurai is Meenakshi Amman Temple. Located at the center of the town, the Meenakshi Temple is an architectural marvel of the 16th century. It is considered to be one of the most sacred temples in the country. Every day innumerable tourists from all over the world visit this temple to seek blessings from the Goddess Parvati and God Shiva to whom this temple is dedicated. Constructed by Vishwanatha Nayak in the year 1560, the temple is built in typical Gopuram style with towering spires. The Meenakshi Temple has 12 towers that rise to the height of 45 to 50 meters. The Thousand Pillar Mandapam is the major tourist attraction of Madurai's Meenakshi Temple.
Koodal Azhagar Temple:
Located at a mere distance from the Meenakshi Temple, another major tourist attraction of Madurai is the Koodal Azhagar Temple. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu, which is called Azhagar. He is believed to be Goddess Meenakshi's brother. During the Chithirai festival, a grand procession is carried from this temple to the Meenakshi Temple. This temple is the perfect depiction of the architectural excellence of ancient times. This stunning structure is constructed in the Dravidian style and has a glorious five-tiered Rajagopuram that stands over 120 feet tall. This temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams that is highly revered by the Vaishnavite sect.
Dedicated to Lord Murugan, Pazhamudhir Solai is located just 20 km from the center. It is among the most revered religious sites of Madurai which is thronged by pilgrims throughout the year. It is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya or Lord Murugan and the smallest temple dedicated to him. Nestled on the top of the hill, Pazhamudhir Solai Temple is encompassed by dense forest with a rich variety of flora. There is a natural spring near this temple where devotees take a holy dip before going to the temple to seek blessings from Lord Murugan.
Azhagar Kovil Temple:
Nestled in the foothills of the Alagar Hills and on the top of the Alagarmalai, Azhagar Kovil Temple is also known as Alagar Koyil Temple. It is one of the prominent temples of Madurai, which is encompassed by ruins of a fort. This is an architectural marvel, which has been believed to be built by the Pandya Kingdom. The temple is famous for its high religious significance as well as captivating architecture. The presiding deity of the temple is Paramaswamy and his consort Kalyana Sundaravalli. Azhagar Kovil Temple depicts the paintings of the early Sangam age and it belongs to Lord Vishnu.
Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple:
Built in the 8th century during the Pandyan reign, this temple has been carved out of a mountain by cutting rocks, which adds charm to this glorious shrine. The most prominent feature of this temple is that the idol of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu faces each other here, which is a unique aspect of this shrine. From this temple, the sun and moon can be seen together, which is the famous attraction of Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple among devotees. There are separate shrines for Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Durga, and other deities.
Dedicated to Goddess Radha and Lord Krishna, ISKCON Temple is also known as Radha Mathurapati. This beige and white palace-like temple is among the most popular places to visit in Madurai. The most striking attraction of the temple is the resounding Krishna hymns, the fragrance of incense, and a soothing atmosphere that is perfect for meditation.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal:
Constructed in the middle of the 17th century, Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal is an architectural marvel and was built by the Nayak dynasty. It is an exquisite amalgamation of Dravidian and European architecture. This palace was designed by an Italian architect with the subtle influence of the Indo-Saracenic style. The original complex was four times bigger than the present structure and was considered as one of the prominent structures of South India. The interior of the palace is decorated with Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes.
St. Mary’s Cathedral:
This is among the major catholic religious shrines in Madurai, which is being thrived by a large number of devotees throughout the year. This church is the perfect blend of the European, Roman, and Continental architectural styles. St. Mary’s Cathedral is dated back to 1840. The idyllic ambiance, pristine aura, and stunning artwork are famous among visitors. Fondly referred to as the Church of Lady of our Dolours, St. Mary’s Cathedral has many captivating features including its bell towers and façade.