Meenakshi Temple
Meenakshi Temple is also known as Meenakshi Amman Temple and attracts tourists and pilgrims alike. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is named after the deity and goddess Parvati. Sundareswarar means beautiful Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati is called Meenakshi. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva visited Madurai to marry Parvati since Madurai has been her abode.

The temple complex extends over an area of 6 hectares and dates back to 2500 AD. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture and has 12 gateways (Gopurams), which are 45 to 50 metres in height. The tallest Gopuram of the temple is the southern Gopuram. This gateway is as high as nine storeys, with images of numerous gods and goddesses.

The temple comprises 985 pillars and 14 towers, with two towers dedicated to the main deities. The present structure of the temple has been built in 16th century by Nayak King of Madurai Vishwanatha Nayak. Tourists can also get a bird's eye view of the city from the southern Gopuram of the temple.

Thirumalai Nayak Palace
Thirumalai Nayak Palace was built in 16th century by Nayak ruler Thirumalai Nayak. This palace depicts beautiful Indo-Sarcenic architecture. The main highlight of the palace is the light and sound show which is based on the life of Silapathikaram and Tirumalai Nayak.

Originally, the temple was four times bigger than what is present today. The palace consists of 248 pillars, each 58 feet in height. The ceiling of the palace has paintings depicting Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes. Moreover, the stucco architecture works on the domes and arches of the palace exhibit architectural mastery.

Furthermore, items like furniture and utensils used by the kings are displayed in the palace. The major attractions of the palace are the entrance gate, dancing hall and the main hall. The palace was renovated in 1866-72 by Lord Napier.

Gandhi Museum
Gandhi Museum consists of memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi and is one of the five Gandhi Museums in the country. The museum houses blood stained dhoti that he was wearing at the time of his assassination along with photographs of his lifetime.

The museum was earlier the palace of Rani Mangammal of the Nayak dynasty. It was later converted into Gandhi Museum by the Gandhi Memorial Trust after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

The premises of the museum have a bookshop, which provides a collection of books on the life and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. The museum encompasses an open air theatre which can accommodate around 8,000 people. This theatre is used to organise cultural programmes, weekly film shows and public meetings on special occasions.

Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara
Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara is situated at a distance of a kilometre from the Madurai Railway Junction and within 500 m of the Periyar bus stand. This mosque was constructed in 13th century by Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, who came from Oman. He had received this piece of land from Pandya king, Kulasekara Pandya.

The mosque is popularly known as Periya Pallivasal, meaning the Big Mosque, which can accommodate around 2,500 people. The Maqbara, which is the dargah of descendants of Prophet Muhammad, is located within the premises of the mosque.

Vaigai Dam
The giant Vaigai Dam on the river Vaigai is located close to Andipatti and is the source of water of irrigation to the farms in and around the region. The Agriculture Research Institute is close by the dam so that comprehensive research can be carried out on pulses, cereals and grains. Lush greenery flourishes in and around the dam while the reservoir is perfect for boating.

Tirupparankundram Murugan Temple
Thirupparankundram Murugan Temple is located at a distance of 8 km from the centre of Madurai city. A rock-cut temple carved out of the mountain is considered as one of the abodes of Lord Murugan.

Built in 8th century by Pandya King, the shrine in the temple is cut out of a solid rock. The temple houses shrines of Lord Subramanya, Lord Shiva, Lord Vinayaka, Goddess Durga, Lord Vishnu and other deities.

There are number of cubical pillars with lotus medallions at the entrance of temple. The temple has innumerable cave shrines that are small and approached through narrow dark passages. The inscriptions on the chamber walls are believed to date back to the early medieval period.

The temple is a place from where sun and moon can be seen together at different times of the day. This temple is considered holy for conducting marriages, as it is believed that marriage of Lord Subramanya was celebrated in this temple.

St. Mary's Cathedral Church
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church is located on the East Veli Street in Madurai. Situated within 2 km towards south-east direction of Madurai Railway Station, this church is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in India. It attracts lots of tourists owing to its European and Continental style architecture.

The church encompasses bell towers which are Roman in style and are 42 m high. Furthermore, it was found in the year 1840 and dedicated to Viagulamatha, who was known as Viagulamatha Koil.

The church was rebuilt again in 1916 and in 1938 the bishop’s throne was installed. The church was elevated to the status of cathedral in 1969.

Padmanabhapuram Palace
The Padmanabhapuram Palace of Kanyakumari, a symbol of rich cultural heritage, is one of the chief attractions of Tamil Nadu. Padmanabhapuram Palace is located in Padmanabhapuram village of Kanyakumari District, nearby Thuckalay, at a distance of about 15 km from Nagercoil and 55 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

Padmanabhapuram Palace is rated among the top ten palaces in the world. The Rajas of Travancore ruled the city of Travancore from this fort till 1790. Later the capital of Travancore was shifted from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram, situated in the adjacent state of Kerala.

Padmanabhapuram Palace that spread over a sprawling 6 acres is situated at the foot of Veli Hills of Western Ghats. This Palace was built by Iravipillai Iravivarma Kulasekhara Perumal in the 17th century. Padmanabhapuram Palace is mostly a wooden structure that exhibits the traditional architectural style of Kerala.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Vivekananda Rock Memorial is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the founder of Ramakrishna Mission. Vivekananda Rock Memorial was built between 1963 and 1970 in red and blue granite. It is situated on the top of a rock island, at a height of about 17 meters above sea level, covering an area of about 6 acres.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial is about 490 meters offshore nearby the confluence of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. In 1970, Swami Vireshwarananda, the president of Ramakrishna Mission, consecrated Vivekananda Rock Memorial and it was opened to the public by V.V. Giri, the then President of India.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial consists of two main structures – Vivekananda Mandapam and Shripada Mandapam. Shripada Mandapam is situated on Shripada Parai, an ancient sacred spot believed to be blessed by Goddess Kanyakumari.

Gandhi Memorial
The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial or Gandhi Mandapam is one among the frequented tourist attractions in Kanyakumari. The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial was built to honour Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.

The Memorial was built in 1956, in the Orissa temple architectural style. The memorial is built in the same place where his ashes were kept for the public to pay homage, before its immersion in the confluence.

The central structure of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial is 79 feet high, which represents his age at the time of his death. The Gandhi Memorial is designed in such a way that at noon, on October 2nd every year, the sun rays fall on the exact spot where the ash of Gandhiji was kept before immersion.

Thiruvalluvar Statue
Thiruvalluvar Statue is a popular tourist spot in Kanyakumari. Thiruvalluvar Statue is one of the biggest statues in India located atop a small island in Kanyakumari, nearby the confluence of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.

Thiruvalluvar Statue was built in the year 2000 to commemorate Thiruvalluvar who was a renowned ancient Tamil saint and poet who wrote Thirukkural.

The statue of Thirukkural stands on a 3 – tier pedestal, known as Atharapeedam. Atharapeedam is surrounded by the 38 feet high Alankara Mandapam. There are ten elephant statues surrounding the Alankara Mandapam that symbolise the ten directions – eight for earth, one for sky and one for the space down.

The statue of Thiruvalluvar is so designed that it reflects the structure of Thirukkural. Thirukkural, ‘The Sacred Couplets’, has three sub sections, which are the Books of Aram, Porul and Inbam.

Kanyakumari Beach
Kanyakumari Beach is a beach destination as well as religious spot located towards the southern-most tip of peninsular India. The sun set and sun rise at Kanyakumari Beach, especially during Chaitrapurnima (full moon days in April), are highly popular among visitors. During Chaitrapurnima, visitors can watch both sunset and moon rise simultaneously at Kanyakumari Beach.

Kanyakumari Beach has rocky shores and the sea is rough due to the confluence of the three waters – Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. The sand of Kanyakumari Beach is famous for its softness and various hues.

There is a light house at Kanyakumari Beach from where panoramic views of the sea are available.

Kanyakumari Temple
Kanyakumari Temple or the Kanyakumari Bhagavathiamman Temple is a chief attraction of Kanyakumari and is dedicated to the virgin Goddess Kanyakumari, an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi.

Goddess Kanyakumari is the presiding deity of Kanyakumari. As per legends, the marriage between Goddess Kanyakumari and Lord Shiva did not take place, as a result of which the Goddess determined to remain a virgin. It is believed that the rice and cereals which were meant for the marriage were left uncooked and they turned to stones. The stones resembling cereals can be seen even today.

The Kumari Amman Temple of Kanyakumari has a peculiar architectural style which is an amalgamation of the architectural styles of different eras. Kumari Amman Temple was originally built by the kings of the Pandya Dynasty in the 8th century. It was later renovated by the Chola, Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers.

Udayagiri Fort
Located at a distance of 14 km from the town of Nagercoil at Puliyoorkurichi on the Thiruvananthapuram – Nagercoil National Highway, Udayagiri Fort stands as a remnant of the historic Travancore power.

Udayagiri Fort is an ancient fort which was constructed in 1600 AD. It was later re-built by the Travancore King Marthanda Varma between 1741 – 1744. Udayagiri Fort was an important garrison town for the Travancore kings. Later it came under the control of the East India Company in the 19th century.

During the reign of Marthanda Varma, Udayagiri Fort was known by the name De Lannoy's Fort or Dillannai Kottai. De Lannoy was a Dutch general who was defeated by Marthanda Varma in the battle at Vattakottai Fort. He became the trusted General of Marthanda Varma and remained loyal to him for 37 years.

Udayagiri Fort encloses the tomb of De Lannoy, inside a chapel. The tombs of De Lannoy's wife and son can also be seen here. A foundry for casting guns can also be seen in the fort. The fort also encloses a Biodiversity Park where visitors can see deer, ducks, birds and more than 100 varieties of trees.


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