Madurai is one of the oldest cities of southern India. It has
been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Legend has it that the
divine nectar falling from Lord Shiva's locks gave the city its name 'Madhurapuri', now known as Madurai. With a glorious history dating back to
over 2,000 years when it was the capital of the Pandyan kings, Madurai still
remains the cultural centre of the Tamils. It is also a flourishing commercial
hub today. Many of the establishments around the temple, where the city life
revolves, bustle with activity day and night. The tiffin joints around the
temple serve as soft as cotton idlis and strong filter coffee at throwaway
is a colourful city. To see its moods walk around the
streets, sit in roadside cafes and sip decoction coffee
or browse through the rows of small shops. The main city
area revolves around Meenakshi Temple, with its baroque
style of Dravidian architecture and the four tall
gopurams (pillars) with multicoloured gods, goddesses,
demons and deities.
1,000-pillared hall has stone figures carved on the
pillars, some of which sound like metal when hit with an
object. The musical pillar, although made of stone,
produces sounds of different metals. Other places of
interest include the Tirumalai Nayaka Temple and the
Temple Art Museum.
reach the temple, either hire a taxi (Rs. 50 from
railway station) or autorickshaw (Rs. 20).
Nayakar palace: A
magnificent structure constructed in 1636 famous for its
architectural excellence. The Sorgavilasam (Celestial
Pavilion) constructed entirely of brick and mortar
without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a
marvel of Indo-Saracen architectural style. Open:
9am-1pm and 2-5pm. Entrance fee: Rs. 1. There is also a
sound and light show that captures the history and glory
of King Thirumala Nayakar. Timings: 6.45 pm in English,
and 8.15 pm in Tamil. Fee: Adults Rs. 10, children Rs.
in the old Palace of Rani Mangammal, the Gandhi Museum
depicts the highlights of the freedom struggle and
contains a picture gallery of the Gandhian movement. It
has the blood stained dhoti worn by Gandhi at the
time of his assassination. The museum also has a gallery
of relics, Khadi and village industries and south Indian
handicrafts. Open: 10am-1pm, 2-5.30 pm, daily.
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