The Meenakshi Amman Temple: The Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple (twin temples) is one of the biggest temples in India. The original temple built by Kulasekara Pandyan was in ruins. The plan for the current temple structure was laid by Viswanath Naikar and was completed by Tirumalai Nayakar.
There are 12 massive gopurams in the temple, the four tallest gopurams at the outer walls. The golden lotus pond (Potraamarai Kulam) is located to the left of the Meenakshi shrine. Sundareswarar gives darshan in the form of a linga.
The thousand pillared hall (Aayirangaal Mandapam) is an architectural & engineering marvel, built in the 16th century. The pillars have the Yazhi figure sculpted on them. There are musical granite pillars here, which when struck yield different musical notes.
Koodal Alagar Temple is a Vishnu temple located 2km west of the city, that has three altars, one on top of the other, in which Lord Vishnu is in three different poses: sitting, standing, and reclining. The main deity of the temple is Koodal Alagar, who is in a sitting posture. Above the shrine of this deity are the altars of Sri Ranganatha, in a reclining pose, and Sri Surya-narayan Perumal, in a standing pose.There are intricate woodcarvings here, including one of Lord Rama’s coronation. This is one of the 108 Divya Desam temples. There is a Navagraha (nine planets) enclosure in this temple.Lord Alagar’s (Vishnu) procession to the bank of the Vaigai River on the full moon day is one of the most interesting events of the festival. Lord Vishnu rides on a real-gold horse-chariot to his sister’s wedding. Meenakshi is considered to be the sister of Lord Alagar.
Mariamman Theppakulam was built in 1636.This huge tank also known as the Mariamman tank is at the eastern end of the city and is almost equal in area to that of the Meenakshi Amman temple. There is a mandapam in the centre of the tank enshrining Lord Vigneswara. This idol was found here when earth was being dug for the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. A tank was created in this area with the Ganesha idol. This tank is fed with water from the Vaigai through an ingenious system of underground channels. A colourful float festival is held on Thai Poosam day (in January/February) to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tirumalai Nayakar. Various temple deities are taken in decorated floats.
Thiruparangundram: At a distance of 8 km south of Madurai is Tirupparankundram. You can find the Pandyan rock-cut shrines dating back to the 8th century and the later Nayaka Hindu temple here. The temple has a wide range of Hindu gods carved on the walls. The Subramanya cave temple has a shrine dedicated to Durga, with the figures of Ganesh and Subramanya on either side. Located atop a hill, the temple is believed to be one of six abodes of Lord Subramanya.
Alagarkoil: Since the presiding deity is of the temple is Alagar (the beautiful), the temple is called Alagar Koil. This is an important Vishnu temple, about 18 km northeast of Madurai, at Alagar Hill. This is one of the most ancient temples in India and round the temple are ruins of an ancient fortified town. The recently renovated gopurams of this temple look resplendent.
The Mahabharata says that this temple was visited by both Yudhisthira and Arjuna. It is said that Koorattalwar, the chief disciple of Ramanuja, regained his eyesight by worshipping the deity here. Don’t miss the 2,000 years old Sudarsana-chakra in this temple.
Unlike the other five temples, there is no grand edifice surrounding the central shrine of worship. However, this is a holy shrine venerated by the Skanda puranam and by Nakkeerar’s Thirumurugatrupadai of the Sangam period. Arunagirinathar’s Thirupugazh also reveres this shrine.
This shrine is located on a hill adjacent to theKallazhagar Temple in the outskirts of Madurai, a fortified temple complex, revered as one of the 108 abodes of Vishnu glorified by the hymns of the Alwars. Also near Madurai is another of the Aarupadai Veedu shrines, Tirupparamkunram.