1.Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, also known as Meenakshi Amman Temple, is located in the heart of Madurai and is considered as one of the most popular Hindu pilgrimages in India. Selected among the top 30 nominees for Seven Wonders of the World, Meenakshi Temple is no less than an architectural marvel. The foundation of the temple was initially built by Kulasekara Pandya but was rebuilt by Nayak king of Madurai, Viswanatha Nayak during 1559-1600. The entire complex occupies around 45 acres of land that owns a 254 by 237 meters massive building. While the temple has four entrances on each side, the entrance on the east side is the primary one. The temple owns around 33,000 sculptures of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The biggest attraction of the temple is the artworks and sculptures carved out of the walls. The sculptures signify Hindu mythological stories like the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. An annual 10 days festival is celebrated during the months of April and May, which attracts around 1 million visitors.
2. Koodal Alagar Temple
Also known as Arulmigu Koodalazhagar Thirukoil, Koodal Alagar Temple is another major temple and among the best places to see in Madurai. The temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu and depicts three different postures of him, which are standing, sitting and reclining. All the three positions have different names, the first one Sri Surya Narayana Perumal, the second one, which is the most important one, called Lord Koodal Alagar, and the last one is known as Sri Ranganatha. The temple showcases wonderful architectural design along with magnificently carved ornamental windows.
3. Alagar Koil
An alluring temple located at a little distance from the city of Madurai, Alagar Koil offers you both scenic views and magnificent architecture. This temple is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu and visited by millions of devotees every year. Here, Lord Vishnu signifies the brother of Meenakshi Devi named Azhagar and so is also known as Azhagar Kovil. The temple has several statues of Lord Vishnu is different postures. There is also a tower located at the entrance of the temple and is believed to have been built by Pandyan Kings.
4. Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
Built by Thirumalai Nayak in 1636, the original structure was four times bigger than what is present today. The original structure was divided into two parts, namely Swarga Vilasa and Ranga Vilas, among which only Swarga Vilasa survived. The palace was designed by an Italian architect and showcased some really enthralling designs. The ceilings of the palace are decorated with large beautiful paintings showcasing Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes. The most beautiful parts of the palace are its Darbar hall and the Natakshala. The palace constitutes 248 pillars in total. There is also a large museum in the north-western part of the palace that is the Natakshala that has several paintings, sculptures, utensils and photographs.
5. Thiruparankundram Temple
Also known as Thirupparamkunram Murugan Kovil, Thiruparankundram temple is renowned for its rock-cut cave structure. The temple is devoted to Lord Murugan and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madurai. It is one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan and is believed to be the foremost temple of them all. The temple has several myths, one of which is that this is the place where Lord Murugan defeated a demon named Surapadman and married the daughter of Lord Indra named Devayani. There are numerous mandapas named Kambathadi Mandapam, Ardha Mandapam, and Mahamandapam located in different parts of the temple. The most popular feature of the temple is that it has Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu facing each other in the shrine. Also, there is a beautiful pond, located outside the temple. Every month, an annual festival is celebrated in the temple during the month of March or April, in which millions of devotees participate.
6. Srivilliputhur Andal Temple
Situated in Srivilliputhur, Srivilliputhur Andal Temple is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage and is one of the most famous places to see in Madurai. The temple is also one of 108 Divya dreams of Lord Vishnu. The temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu who resides there as Vatapatra Sai and his wife Goddess Lakshmi as Andal. The temple is believed to be associated with the life of Andal, who was the daughter of an Alwar named Periazhwar. Andal is believed to have found the tulsi plant in the garden inside the temple. She wore a garland of Tulsi before offering it to the presiding deity of the temple. After this, Periazhwar was highly disappointed by the act and so he stopped her from doing so. Later, Lord Vishnu appeared in his dreams and asked him to offer the garland of Tulsi worn by his daughter every day. The temple has two parts, namely Vatapatra Sayanar and Andal Shrine.
7. Vandiyur Mariamman Temple
Vandiyur Mariamman Temple is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madurai, where the presiding deity is Lord Vigneshwara. The temple has a huge tank in the temple compound that is the biggest tank in the state of Tamil Nadu. The main idol of the temple too was obtained from the bottom of the tank when the place was being dug and so a temple was built over the place.
8. Gandhi Museum
Gandhi Museum is situated at a distance of 4 km from the Madurai Railway Station and has its own significance in terms of historical records. The museum is square in shape and is an architectural masterpiece. It was built by Nayak Queen Rani around 1700 AD. Later, the museum was named after the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, by the government of India. If you like to visit places that have several ancient items, Gandhi Museum should definitely be in the list of places to see in Madurai.
9. Vaigai Dam
Set in the outskirts of Madurai, Vaigai is a must visit place in Madurai for nature lovers. The dam is built across the river Vaigai near Andipatti. It is used to provide water for irrigation in Madurai district and Dindigul district. Also, the Tamil Nadu government has constructed an Agricultural Research Centre near the dam. A small and alluring park is built on both sides of the dam that is maintained by the Water Resource Department. The parks are connected by a small bridge that adds sparkles to the beauty of the dam. So whenever you plan to visit Madurai, Vaigai should be in the list of places to see in Madurai.
10. Kumbakarai Waterfalls
Located near the Madurai-Kodaikanal road, Kumbakarai Waterfalls is among the famous tourist attractions near Madurai. The waterfall boasts of a charming view of water falling through a cliff and greenery all around the area. It also serves as a popular place for trekkers who want to trek in the southern part of India. The best part is that the place is the amalgamation of both scenic beauty and cultural heritage, and a 500 year old temple is located near the spot. The temple’s presiding deity is Goddess Thadagai Nachiamman. Also, there is an amusement park at a distance of 7 km from the waterfalls.
A beautiful cave temple with the presiding deity of Yoga Narasinga Perumal, Narasingam temple is a must see in Madurai. The temple was built by the minister of Madurai King Parantaka Nedunchezhiyan named Madhurakavi in 770 AD. In the western part of the cave, there is one more cave temple constructed by a Pandian king in the 8th century AD. The temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan and Goddess Devsena. Numerous designs and sculptures are carved on the outer side of the cave.
12. Pazhamudhir Solai
Constructed in the memory of Lord Subramanya, Pazhamudhir Solai temple is another popular temple in the list of famous tourist attractions in Madurai. The most appealing feature of the temple is the sculptures of Lord Subramanya engraved in wood and marble along with the architectural beauty of the temple. The temple is located on the hills of Alagar Koli. There is a myth associated with the temple that whoever walks several times around the periphery of the temple, his or her wishes are granted by the Lord himself.
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