Let’s move along with our previous post on some of the must-visit places in one of Tamilnadu’s most bustling cities–Madurai. Here are a few places you can add to your travel bucket:
6. Thiruparankundram Dargah (also, Sulthan Sikandhar Badhusha Shaheed shrine):
The Thiruparankundram Dargah is located at the top of the Thirupparamkundram hill. Housing the grave of the Islamic saint Sultan Sikandhar Badushah shaheed, this shrine is frequented by people of all religious faiths and stands as a symbol of inter-faith harmony, secular and pluralistic values. Devotees gather in large numbers during the annual Urs (anniversary ) festival to pay their respect to the great Sufi saint.
7. Gandhi Memorial Museum:
Situated across the famous Vaigai River and tucked in the Summer Palace of Nayak queen Rani Mangammal, is the Gandhi Memorial Museum, one of the seven museum galleries dedicated to the ‘father of the nation’ Gandhiji. It has some of the rarest collections of Bapuji such as the spectacles, shawl and the bloodstained dhoti (loincloth) worn by him at the time he was shot dead in 1948. Gandhi turned to wearing the dhoti only on his visit to Madurai in 1921 and termed it “national pride”. Don’t miss out on the Madurai Government Museum located within the same campus.
8. Koodal Azhagar Temple:
This is another famous temple in Madurai dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the 108 Divya Desams, the holy shrines of Vishnu. Located near the Meenakshi Amman Temple, this temple holds significance as much as the Thirupallandu. According to legend, the great Tamil poet Periyalwar sung the first 12 verses of the 4000 Divyaprabadam eulogizing the Hindu deity Azhagar. The lord was so pleased that he appeared in the form of ‘Koodal Azhagar’. Koodal is also the ancient name of the city.
9. Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam:
The Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a huge square water tank spread over a sprawling 16-acre land. Constructed in 1646 by Thirumalai Nayak, this tank is situated 5km east of the Meenakshi Temple. In the middle of the tank is placed an idol of Lord Vinayaka or Vignesh resting on a platform. Legend has it that this place was unearthed when the earth was excavated to make bricks for building the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. The place was turned into a temple tank and was dedicated to Lord Ganesh, one of the supreme deities of the Hindu religion. The annual “Teppakulam Float Festival” takes place here with great fanfare and celebrations, during the months of January and February. It is said that the water from River Vaigai flows into the largest temple tank in the state.
10. Azhagar Kovil Temple:
Situated at a distance of 21km from the city, Alagar Koyil Temple (or Alagar Kovil), dedicated to Lord Vishnu holds a lot of religious significance. Nestled in the foothills of the Azhagar (Alagar hills), the temple features an enthralling architecture; even more mesmerizing is the natural setting encircling this temple. The main deity the temple is Lord Paramaswamy, with the processional idol being Lord Alagar or Sundararajan, considered to be the brother of Goddess Meenakshi. The Kalyana Sundaravalli, the consort of Lord Alagar, has a separate shrine enclosed within the temple complex. You can also find separate shrines for deities Yoga Narasimha, Sudarshana and Andal.
Though built by the Pandyas, the temple known for its intricate sculpting, detailing and mandapams, was later renovated by the Nayak rulers. Many Theerthams are located nearby including the “Noopura Ganga”, believed to have descended directly from the heavens.
Madurai is just not about temples, it is also famous for its wholesale banana market, Murugan Idli Shop, Vilachery Pottery Village, Keelakuyilkudi and Samanar Hills and many more attractions that will bring out the complete ‘traveler’ in you. So if you come down south, Madurai is the place for you to refresh your spiritual as well as your nocturnal quotient as this city never sleeps at night!