Madurai Temple Tour: Ultimate Destination for Attaining Spiritual Bliss With its Plethora of Temples (2021)
Madurai is a beautiful holy city located on the banks of the River Vaigai in Tamil Nadu. The town of Madurai is known by several names, including Koodal, Naanmadakoodal, Thirualavai, and Malligai Maanagar. The origins of the name Madurai is derived from the word ‘Madhura,’ meaning sweetness. This sweetness is believed to be from the divine nectar that Lord Shiva bestowed on this city from his hair.
Today Madurai is famous for the collection of ancient temples and shrines that showcases the town’s past glory and ancient spiritual wealth. There are many religious sites in Madurai, and visitors from all over India come to this historical city every year to have a glimpse of the brilliant architecture and divine presence in these temples.
Madurai is a religiously significant city, and therefore, apart from the usual tourists, Madurai is a popular place of pilgrimage as well. While the most popular temple in Madurai is the Meenakshi Amma Temple, there are many others as well that are worth a visit. If you are coming to Tamil Nadu, then make it a point to plan a visit to Madurai for a spiritual journey of a lifetime. Here are some of the best temples to check out when you are in Madurai.
Madurai Temple Tour: Ultimate Destination for Attaining Spiritual Bliss With its Plethora of Temples
Check out the top 5 beautiful and ancient temples to visit in Madurai for spiritual bliss
1. Meenakshi Amma Temple (also known as Meenakshi Temple)
The Meenakshi Amma Temple is not just one of the most famous temples in Madurai, but all of South India. It is a major pilgrimage spot, and people from all over India come here to pay obeisance to Goddess Meenakshi (a form of Goddess Parvati) and Lord Shiva.
This temple sites on the southern bank of the holy Vaigai River and is considered to be one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage in Madurai for Hindus. The Meenakshi Amma Temple of Madurai is an outstanding example of Dravidian architecture, and the sculptural artistry on display here is unlike any other Indian temple.
Throughout the year, The Meenakshi Amma Temple in Madurai hosts several religious festivals and celebrations, and the crowd swells to uncountable numbers during those days. The temple is also a popular destination for holding traditional Hindu marriages inside the premises.
Then there is the yearly ten-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam Festival, which is celebrated during the months of April and May and is believed to draw over a million devotees from all over the country.
Spread over a huge 45 acres of land, The Meenakshi Amma Temple complex contains 14 towers, the tallest one being the famous Southern Tower that rises to over 170 feet height and is believed to have been constructed in 1559. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures and many shrines, pillars, corridors that are adorned with exquisite artwork inside the temple premises. The sculptures on the walls depict many mythological stories such as Shiva and Parvati’s marriage scenes and scenes from the epic legend of Mahabharata.
Timings of the temple are as follows: 5:00 am to 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm
2. Azhagar Kovil Temple
Also known as Thirumaliruncholai Temple, the Azhagar Kovil Temple is located around 20 kilometers from the city center and is another highly celebrated temple in Madurai. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known for its beautiful and massive gopurams and pillared mandapams. The tower entrance contains the holy shrine of Karupana Swami and is permanently closed, opening only for one day in the entire year. The statue of Lord Vishnu in this temple is made up entirely of stone and is known for being a masterpiece of artistic sculpturing from Kallalgar.
There are many other statues that depict Lord Vishnu in different poses that are enshrined within the Azhagar Kovil Temple complex. The temple complex is made up of spectacular halls and other facilities that allow various rituals, including marriages, to take place.
The architecture of the Azhagar Kovil Temple is a traditional Dravidian style, and there are beautiful and colorful carvings on the temple facade. There is also a holy spring near the temple.
The golden canopy that covers the dome of the temple is believed to have been made sometime during the 13th century under the guidance of King Sundara Pandian. Owing to the rich history behind this temple, it is a must-visit when you are temple hopping in Madurai.
Timings of the temple are: 6:00 am to 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
3. Koodal Azhagar Temple
A breathtaking sight to behold, the Koodal Azhagar Temple is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located just 2 kilometers to the west of Madurai city. The distinguishing feature of the Koodal Azhagar Temple is that it has three altars dedicated to Lord Vishnu residing in three different poses. In the first altar, he is in a sitting posture. The second altar features him in a standing posture, while in the third altar, he is shown in a reclining posture.
The Koodal Azhagar Temple in Madurai is an ancient temple that truly reflects the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu and also keeps up the tradition of the land even today. Owing to its ancient roots, the temple not only attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over India, but it is also a popular spot for archaeologists and history buffs who come here to get a glimpse of the time long gone.
The Koodal Azhagar Temple is actually believed to be even older than the Meenakshi Amma Temple and is considered to be an important pilgrimage site in Madurai. The incredible architecture, beautiful artwork, and sculptures that adorn the walls and corridors around the main shrine are a testament to the exceptional skills of the craftsmen and stonemasons. The vimana located over the main temple sanctum is covered with beautifully carved sculptures that tell various historical tales. Another impressive feature of the Koodal Azhagar Temple is the ornamental windows that are adorned with spectacular carvings.
The best time to visit the Koodal Azhagar Temple in Madurai is during the ten-day float festival held in the months of February to March.
Timings of the Koodal Azhagar Temple are: 6:00 am to 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
4. Tirupparam Kunram Murugan Temple
This ancient temple goes back all the way to the 6th century and even finds a mention in many ancient epics. The Tirupparam Kunram Murugan Temple in Madurai is dedicated to Lord Kartikeya or Lord Murugan, who is the son of Lord Shiva and the Hindu God of War. The legend behind this temple is that Lord Murugan married Deivayani, who was the daughter of the King of Heaven, Indra, at this temple.
The main temple shrine houses the idol of Lord Murugan along with the idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Vinayaka or Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, and Goddess Durga. The Tirupparam Kunram Murugan Temple is entirely carved out of rock and was built during the reign of the Pandyan dynasty.
The temple’s life-sized sculptures that can be found in the mandapams are believed to be constructed during the Nayakar reign. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has been built by combining nine minerals known as Navabashana and contains the statue of Lord Murugan carved into it in a standing pose.
The Tirupparam Kunram Murugan Temple in Madurai also perfectly captures the many hues of the hilly terrain around it that is commonly known as the Southern Himalayas of India. Another exciting feature of the Tirupparam Kunram Murugan Temple is that the statues of the Gods Shiva and Vishnu in the main shrine face each other, which is rarely seen in any of the ancient temples.
There is a tranquil pond located outside the temple, and according to tradition, the fishes in this pond are served rice flakes and salt by the devotees who come to pay their respect at this famous temple.
The timings of this temple are: 5:30 am to 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
5. Sri Mavoothu Velappar Temple
Visit the Sri Mavoothu Velappar Temple only if you are ready to climb 300 steps to reach the entrance. Located in Madurai district, Sri Mavoothu Velappar Temple is situated amidst mountains, and the presiding deity is again Lord Murugan. In fact, you will find many other temples in Madurai that are dedicated to Lord Murugan.
The main worship here is performed by the local tribes. A unique feature of Sri Mavoothu Velappar Temple in Madurai is that there is a natural water source nearby that comes out from the roots of the mango trees planted there. This water has, over time, taken the form of a stream.
Local legend has it that taking a bath in this stream and cooking food with water from this stream can successfully cure even the worst diseases. Due to this legend, the Sri Mavoothu Velappar Temple is one of the most famous temples in Madurai city.
The Sri Mavoothu Velappar Temple is open from: 7:00 am to 12:00 am and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
A stopover at Madurai to visit the many beautiful and ancient temples of this city will be worth your time and leave you with a highly enriching spiritual experience. Madurai is the ultimate destination for attaining spiritual bliss with its plethora of temples, and this is why Madurai is also referred to as one of the temple cities of Tamil Nadu.