The great temple town of South India, Madurai, is synonymous with the celebrated Meenakshi Temple. It is situated on the banks of river Vaigai. Madurai has a rich cultural heritage, which is more than 2500 years old. The city is believed to have been built by the Pandyan King, Kulasekara in the 6th century BC. It is also known as the Athens of the East and is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu.
The Meenakshi temple is the city's main attraction and is placed in the heart of the old town. Temple gives a splendid example of Dravidian architecture and is famous for Jasmine Flowers.
The present temple was designed in 1560 by Vishwanatha Nayak and subsequently built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak. There are four entrances to the temple with an area of six hectares. Each of its 12 towers has the height of 45 to 50 meters. The temple museum has 985 richly carved pillars and each one surpasses the other in beauty.
The Vishnu Temple is located at a distance of 21 kms northwest of Madurai. It is said that in this temple, 'Vishnu' presides as Meenakshi's brother 'Azhgar'. During the Chitrai festival a procession is carried out from Azhagar Kovil to Madurai for wedding ritual.
Palamudhirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya is on the same hill. A natural spring called Nuburagangai is also located here.
But unlike the other temple cities of Tamil Nadu whose fame relies heavily on the fabulous contributions of great empires, Madurai, though undoubtedly known first and foremost for the Meenakshi temple, is very much modern and progressive city.