Historical Monuments in Madurai
Madurai is a vibrant city settled on the banks of the river Vaigai in Tamil Nadu, India. This ancient city has a history dating back to around 3,000 years ago and is resplendent with historically important monuments with a rich heritage that will entrance you. This makes Madurai a great destination to watch history unfold, and is a top historical destination in the country.
Madurai is also famous as a temple city in Tamil Nadu and its skyline is dominated majestically by the 14 colourful ‘gopurams’ (gateways) leading into the ancient Meenakshi Amman temple. The city sees thousands of tourist footsteps every month as it holds historical as well as religious significance. Here is a little peek into some of the historical monuments you mustn’t miss out on when you visit Madurai.
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
This royal palace was built by the King of Madurai, Thirumalai Nayak, during the Nayaka dynasty. He ruled from 1623 to 1659 AD with the royal palace being built in the year 1636. The architectural style of the palace is a fusion of Dravidian and Rajput styles and was around four times bigger than what it is today. It included a special royal residence along with servant apartments, main hall, dance hall, armoury, and gardens. It’s been declared a National Monument and shouldn’t be missed.
Gandhi Memorial Museum
The museum was an original palace built in the 17nth century that was later converted into a museum by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959. It houses over 100 precious belongings of Mahatma Gandhi including the blood-stained clothes he wore when he was brutally assassinated after India’s independence. There are numerous articles of historical significance here including a letter he wrote to Hitler.
Sri Meenakshi Amman temple
Covered in brilliant carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses, this Dravidian-style temple is a historical pilgrimage site located on the banks of the Vaigai River. This magnificent temple is dedicated to goddess Parvati (also known as Meenakshi) and her consort, Shiva. The original temple structure is believed to have been built in the 6th century BC by the survivors of a mythical lost continent. The temple is divided into concentric quadrangles enclosed within a stone wall. It has 14 gopurams, 33,000 spectacular sculptures, a temple tank and numerous intricately designed halls and is the most-visited destination in Madurai. The ‘Ayiram Kaal Mandapam’ is a must-see hall with its 985 intricately-carved pillars all hewn from a single rock piece.
Other places of historical significance here include the Putthu mandapam, the Kazimar big mosque, St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Kailasanathar cave temples.