The temple is named after the daughter of a Pandyan king who, according to
legend, was born with three breasts. At the time of her birth, the king was
told that the extra breast would disappear when she met the man she was to
marry, and this duly happened when she met Siva on Mt Kailasa. Siva told her
to return to Madurai and, eight days later, arrived there himself in the
form of Lord Sundareshwara to marry her.
Tirumalai Nayak Palace
About 1.5km from the Meenakshi Temple, this Indo -Saracenic palace was
built in 1636 by the ruler whose name it bears. Much of it has fallen into
ruin, and the pleasure gardens and surrounding defensive wall have
disappeared. Today, only the entrance gate, main hall and dance hall remain.
Housed in the old palace of the Rani Mangammal, this oddly moving museum
provides some little-known facts about the Mahatma, although the only real
piece of Gandhi memorabilia is the blood-stained dhoti from the
assassination, displayed behind a bulletproof screen. The museum also has an
excellent History of India display with some fine old photographs.
Madurai celebrates 11 big annual temple festivals with only the monsoon
month, called Ani in Tamil, devoid of festivities. Another festival which
attracts pilgrims from all over India is the 12-day Teppam (Float) Festival
held in January or early Meenakshi and Sundareshwara are mounted on floats
and taken to the Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank.
Madurai is a great place to buy locally manufactured cottons as well as the
batiks loved by many travelers. Here you'll find lines of textile stalls
opposite rows of tailors, each busily treading away and capable of whipping
up a good replica of whatever you're wearing in an hour or two.
Accomodation in Madurai