About Temple City

The city of Madurai has been in existence for atleast 2400 years.Throughout its history the city has nurtured Tamil literature.Over the centuries,Madurai has become famous for its temple complex.Rich in traditions,this ancient temple town has acquired its very own mythologies,evolving its own customs and festivals. Madurai being called as the “Temple City” manifests the the various illustrations at places like Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, Azhagar temple, Vandiyur Mariamman Theppakulam, Thirumalai nayak palace, Gandhi museum and Thirupparankundram.All these temples remain as the living demonstrations for the craftsmanship!!
Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple,adorned with exquisite carvings & sculptures,is at the heart of the city and is a definite feast for the eyes. The temple is a significant symbol for the tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built in 1600. An adominant landmark of the northeastern outskirts of Madurai is Yaanai Malai,a solid rocky hill.When seen or approached from Madurai,this hill has a rather striking resemblance to a seated elephant,hence the name Yaanai Malai(Elephant hill).
Historians and archeologists tend to praise the Nayak Dynasty’s expertise in town planning,as seen in Madurai-its lotus-like shape,with concentric roads, cross streets and by-lanes.Now a part of Madurai,Vandiyoor,was once a rural village on the bank of Vaigai,a couple of miles south east of Madurai. Located at Vandiyoor,Mariamman Teppakulam is declared the largest water tank in South India and is surrounded by well laid out roads on all four sides.A man-made tank, it is fed by water from an ingenious system of channels from the Vaigai river. The enormous tank is filled with water all year round. But the best time to visit would be during the Float festival(in the month of January or February) on the day of Thai Poosam. About 1 lakh visitors come to Teppakulam during the Float festival to see Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar taken in a procession in a grand float (raft) around the tank.
Thirumalai of the Nayak Dynasty was one of the greatest rulers that Madurai ever had.During his reign,there was strong patronage for the arts.Above all,Thirumalai Nayak became known as a prolific builder,raising religious and secular structures of excellence.The enormous palace,Thirumalai Nayak Mahal was his crowning achievement.