One of the most prominent tourist attraction as well as a religious place is the Meenakshi Sundareswarar twin temple. It is centrally located in the Madurai district. The complex of the Meenakshi temple is one of the largest and the oldest of its kind in India. The temple developed by suitable contribution of each dynasty and victorious monarchs which ruled over the district of Madurai, into an enormous complex covering an area of more that sixty five thousand square meters. The famous temple first came in to being about two thousand years ago and was expanded under the rule of Thirumalai Nayak from A.D. 1623 to A.D. 1655. Lord Shiva in his incarnation as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi, his fish-eyed spouse, are enshrined in this twin temple. There are four huge gateways enfolding these two shrines. One of the most striking features of this temple is the astonishing structure called 'Ayiramkaal Mandapam' or the Hall of Thousand Pillars and each pillar features high, ornate, bold life like sculptures. These pillars look to be in a straight line even if viewed from any angle. In the outermost corridors are located the matchless musical pillars carved out of stones. When tapped, each pillar generates a different musical note.
Another temple of importance in this district of Tamil Nadu state is the Thirupparankundram temple. The innermost shrine of this temple is carved out of a solid rock. It is situated at a distance of about eight kilometers to the south of Madurai Railway Junction. It is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya. Alagar koil is at a distance of twenty one kilometers to the North-east of Madurai. This is a celebrated Vishnu temple devoted to Lord Alagar. It is located on a hill amidst a panoramic surrounding. This shrine is known as Alagarkoil and the hill on which it is situated is Solaimalai. This Vishnu temple also possesses some of the most beautiful carvings.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal is situated at a distance of fifteen hundred meters from the Meenakshi temple. The palace was erected in the year 1636 by the ruler Thirumalai Nayak. The impressive edifice is famous for the Stucco work on its domes and arches. The Sorgavilasam or the celestial pavilion has been made entirely of brick and mortar without the help of a single rafter or girder. It is a marvel of Indo-Saracenic architecture in India. The palace contains massive white pillars, several of which line the corridor that runs along the courtyard. Linked by high decorated arches, these pillars measure twenty meters in height and have a circumference of four meters. There are also polished black stone pillars of varying heights in this palace. It was the grandson of King Thirumalai Nayak who destroyed much of the fine structure and removed most of the jewels and woodcarvings in order to construct his own palace in Tiruchirapalli.
Lord Napier, the then Governor of Chennai (Madras), partially restored the palace in 1866-1872, and the subsequent restoration works which were carried out several years ago helped to restore the Entrance Gate, the Main Hall and the Dance Hall as they are today. Another place of tourist interest in this district is the Gandhi Museum which is housed in the old Palace of Rani Mangammal. This museum depicts the highlights of the freedom struggle and displays a picture gallery of the Gandhian movement. There is also a gallery of relics, South Indian Handicrafts section and Khadi and village industries section in the Gandhi Museum.
A beautiful square tank known as the Mariamman Teppakulam spreads over an area of sixteen acres. It is situated at a distance of about five kilometers from the Meenakshi temple. The tank is the site for the celebration of the colourful float festival which is held in the month of January-February to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai Nayak, the founder of this tank. The deities of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed in a float, known as 'Teppam' and decorated with flowers and illuminated with hundred of lights. This is a very grand celebration and people in large numbers gather to enjoy the occasion. To the north of this tank is a temple devoted to a renowned village deity of Tamil Nadu known as Mariamman.
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